Sonoma: Warren Johnson preview

A Restless WJ is Ready to Lead His Team in Sonoma Sugar Hill, Ga., July 21, 2008 -- In a Hall of Fame career spanning over four decades, GM Performance Parts Pontiac racer Warren Johnson has, quite simply, done it all. From winning ...

A Restless WJ is Ready to Lead His Team in Sonoma

Sugar Hill, Ga., July 21, 2008 -- In a Hall of Fame career spanning over four decades, GM Performance Parts Pontiac racer Warren Johnson has, quite simply, done it all. From winning countless races and championships in multiple sanctioning bodies to playing a role in the design of the modern Pro Stock race car, most notably General Motors' Drag Racing Competition Engine (DRCE), The Professor has left an indelible mark on the sport of drag racing.

However, Johnson prefers to consider his personal successes a team effort, the result of a well-coordinated group working together effectively at the shop as well as on the track. As the POWERade Drag Racing Series heads to California for its annual visit to Infineon Raceway, WJ explained his competitive philosophy, as well as the effect the three-race Western Swing will have on his program.

"I see what we do as a team effort, with every member of this GM Performance Parts crew doing their job to the best of their ability," said Johnson. "Throughout the course of the season, we set goals for ourselves, which naturally include winning rounds and races. However, we always make sure to keep the big picture in mind, looking at everything involved, taking care of the work that allows us to be successful on the track, including a continuous research and development program.

"That is what I find most difficult about the Western Swing. I have a list of things to accomplish that I believe will help both Kurt's and my programs, but we're on the other side of the country from our shop in Sugar Hill, unable to do the work. I find that extremely tough, and the only way to possibly ease the pain is to win the race, which we hope to accomplish this weekend."

Having participated in every NHRA national event held there, Johnson has seen both ends of the competitive spectrum at Infineon Raceway. Naturally, his experience is highlighted by his three wins and inclusion into the Infineon Raceway Wall of Fame in 2005 (making him the first member of the drag racing community to be so honored). However, his memories are somewhat tinged by the end of his 303-race consecutive qualifying streak at this race in 2002. Taking it all in stride, he approaches this race with a typically pragmatic attitude.

"Infineon Raceway is typical of any of the SMI facilities, designed with both the competitor and fan in mind," said Johnson. "As such, you always look forward to racing there, especially since the major refurbishing they did a few years ago. We'll be at a lower elevation but with slightly higher temperatures, so the performance numbers might not be as good as they were in Seattle, but they will be fairly similar, so we should be able to build on what we learned there, which should put us in pretty good shape.

"We've been working on getting our GM Performance Parts GXP to hook up in the first thirty feet, and I believe we may have hit on something in the first round last week in Seattle. We were a little too aggressive with the clutch, causing it to rattle the tires a little bit, but it still showed promise. That at least showed us we could get it off the line. We'll try to fine tune that approach this weekend in Sonoma, which I believe will put us right in the thick of things."

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson