SUGAR HILL, GA., July 23, 2003 - Over the course of his illustrious career, GM Performance Parts Grand Am driver Warren Johnson has competed in 20 NHRA national events at Pacific Raceways. Since his first visit in 1975, when he qualified fifth...
SUGAR HILL, GA., July 23, 2003 - Over the course of his illustrious career, GM Performance Parts Grand Am driver Warren Johnson has competed in 20 NHRA national events at Pacific Raceways. Since his first visit in 1975, when he qualified fifth but fell to Bob Glidden in the first round, Johnson has forged an unparalleled elimination round record at the track located in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, with four wins in six final round appearances.
In that same period, Johnson has also witnessed a change in both the ownership and the track name. However, as he arrives in Kent for the Carquest Nationals, the fourteenth event of the 2003 POWERade Drag Racing season, Johnson points out that the racing surface remains much like it was twenty-eight years ago, which actually favors someone with his many years of experience.
"The track at Pacific Raceways is one of the most challenging on the circuit, and really hasn't changed much since I first raced here in 1975," stated Johnson. "The racing surface has a split personality. On one hand, you have an extremely good concrete launching pad. However, once you hit the asphalt, you have to deal with a series of bumps that are notoriously bad.
"The winter weather tends to roughen the surface up, and since the asphalt is so thin, they really can't address the issue by grinding it. As a result, it is getting increasingly more difficult to stay on a successful run all the way down the track.
"Ironically, these conditions seem to work in our favor, as I learned to race at some places where calling it a racetrack was a rather liberal use of the term. This has allowed me to become rather proficient at getting down marginal surfaces, including four wins in six final rounds in Seattle."
The GM Performance Parts crew arrives in Washington on a high note, having scored their third win of the season in Denver just a few days ago. However, there has been little time to celebrate, as the first qualifying session in Seattle will come less than five days after the Colorado final. First came the lengthy drive from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest, followed by the normal between-race maintenance. Finally, time will be spent studying notes from previous races at Pacific Raceways, as Johnson & Co. formulate a game plan for the weekend.
Making this assignment somewhat easier is the ever-increasing bank of knowledge they continue to compile on their race car. Although this event will be only their sixth with this particular chassis, all signs point to this being a very special machine.
"We know we'll have a 300 horsepower increase from last week, but we have to put that power down on a marginal racing surface," detailed Johnson. "Fortunately, with every race, we're getting more and more comfortable with this current GM Performance Parts Grand Am, and this weekend's race should solidify the picture we have of it.
"The Denver race showed us that we have a much wider window to work in than we expected, which should really play in our favor in Seattle. We should be able to adapt it rather quickly to the characteristics of Pacific Raceways, which we hope will ultimately give us a performance advantage."
Facts on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing Team entering the NHRA Carquest Nationals:
* WJ Reigns Supreme in Seattle: This will be Warren's 20th NHRA Pro Stock national event appearance in Seattle, where he has accumulated four wins (the most by any Pro Stock driver) in six final round appearances, while compiling a 36-15 elimination round record.
* Warren is a Top Qualifier in Kent: In his 19 previous races at Pacific Raceways, WJ has six No. 1 qualifying efforts, and an amazing average starting spot of 2.421, having qualified outside the top half of the field only once (10th in 1989, when he won in Seattle for the first time.)
* One year ago: WJ qualified second in Seattle, but was upset in the first round.
* Winning Streak: Warren Johnson has now won at least two races in 18 of the past 22 years. In addition, his current streak of winning at least one race a year for 22 consecutive years is the longest in NHRA history.
* POWERade Points standings: After the thirteenth of 23 events, WJ stands third in the 2003 POWERade points standings with 871 points, 250 behind leader Greg Anderson, and 179 points behind second place Kurt Johnson.
* Doubling Up: Warren will be looking to win consecutive races for the 19th time in his career (including winning three in a row five times and four in a row once), having last done so in 2001, when he won the Columbus, Ohio and Madison, IL races.
* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 91 national event victories are the most ever in the history of the Pro Stock division and place him second on the all-time NHRA win list. His most recent win came at last weeks Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO.
* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.715 seconds, Englishtown 2003
* Career best top speed: 205.69 mph, Englishtown 2003