WJ Preps for Another Pacific Pick-Me-Up in Seattle The Professor looks to better GM Performance Parts GTO's performance Sugar Hill, Ga., July 18, 2007 -- One year ago, Warren Johnson and his GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team came to...
WJ Preps for Another Pacific Pick-Me-Up in Seattle
The Professor looks to better GM Performance Parts GTO's performance
Sugar Hill, Ga., July 18, 2007 -- One year ago, Warren Johnson and his GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team came to Seattle in search of a miracle. After all, in the previous three races they had struggled to find the right combination to maximize their race car's performance, making only one of a possible three starts. Despite having only a few days in which to make the 1,350-mile trip from Denver and diagnose and repair their mount, the Johnson-led crew proved up to the challenge, scoring a solid semi-final finish at Pacific Raceways.
As Johnson returns to the Pacific Northwest for this year's edition of the Schuck's Auto Supply Nationals, he is once again in need of another strong showing, and will have spent the days prior to the race looking for ways to restore his race car's performance. However, coming off a semifinal finish in Colorado, the six-time champion believes it is now more a matter of fine-tuning his program rather than performing a complete overhaul.
"Although the two situations may seem similar, we're actually in better shape than we were a year ago," said Johnson. "For one thing, we qualified in Denver and went a few rounds, whereas a year ago there we were spectators on Sunday. But being slightly improved doesn't diminish the importance or necessity of our GM Performance Parts GTO qualifying well and going a few rounds this weekend in Seattle.
"With the number of races before the end of the first round of the Countdown dwindling, the sense of urgency increases as we fight for one of the top eight spots. The easiest way to put it is that our program is headed in the right direction, but we just have to go faster.
"Last year's issues were with the chassis, whereas this year our problems are related to the tune-up. However, you use the same method to find the solution, namely looking over your notes, thinking through every scenario and figuring out what needs to be done. At this point, we'll go back to what we used in Norwalk, where we were consistently within striking distance of the top cars and combine that with what we saw in Denver. It won't be easy, but I'm confident we can come up with a solid game plan for this weekend."
One potential obstacle in the team's effort may be their location. Having to head directly to the Pacific Northwest, they will not have the luxury of working in their fully-equipped race shop in Sugar Hill, GA, nor access to any of the spare parts located there. Even so, between Johnson's and crew chief Terry Adams' many years of experience, there is little concern a workable solution will not be found, as evidenced by the Hall of Famer's light-hearted response when asked about the subject.
"We're at the mercy of what we brought with us, what we can buy on the road, and what can be shipped from the shop, so we may have to 'MacGyver' a thing or two to get us through," joked Johnson. "Of course, between Terry and myself, we've patched up our share of race cars, so this shouldn't be a problem. I've long contended the only thing I can't fix is the crack of dawn and a broken heart, and I might even be able to tape those together."
Finally the racing surface at Pacific Raceways will present racers with its own series of challenges. However, as an unknown factor until their arrival later in the week, Johnson will simply concentrate on his own program, dealing with it when the time comes.
"We've had reports as to what has been done at Pacific Raceways, but can obviously not confirm anything until we see it in person on Thursday," said Johnson. "Right now, it appears the track will be about the same as it was last year, although the slightly cooler temperatures that are being forecast should help. It's not a pool table, but it's better than it has been.
"Even then, the situation will be the same for everyone. So for now, our focus will be on getting our GM Performance Parts GTO ready to handle whatever's thrown at it. After all, we're not looking for a miracle, just the winner's trophy."