St Louis Pro Stock Preview

JOHNSON LOOKING TO TURN UP THE HEAT ON PRO STOCK FOES IN ST. LOUIS MADISON, Ill. -- In the blink of an eye, Warren Johnson is beginning to pull away from the Pro Stock pack and make a serious charge for a fifth NHRA Winston championship. ...

JOHNSON LOOKING TO TURN UP THE HEAT ON PRO STOCK FOES IN ST. LOUIS MADISON, Ill. -- In the blink of an eye, Warren Johnson is beginning to pull away from the Pro Stock pack and make a serious charge for a fifth NHRA Winston championship. After starting the season in an uncharacteristic fifth spot in the point standings, Johnson has quietly put together five victories and is leaving a scattered trail of rival Pontiac Firebirds, Oldsmobile Cutlasses and Dodge Avengers in his wake as he powers toward another championship and Bob Glidden's all-time win record (85). Not only is Johnson winning races, but he's also commanding attention with the outstanding performance of his GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird. In 10 events Johnson has earned eight No. 1 qualifying positions and produced top speed at all 10 events. He also reset the speed (202.24 mph) national record as well. The Buford, Ga. driver is hoping to extend his winning ways at the third annual Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 24-26, at Gateway International Raceway. It is the 11th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. "We've been having a fairly good season and have been able to maintain the consistency that's needed to win races," Johnson said. "At this point of the year we're getting into the heat of summer so performance won't be quite as impressive as was at the beginning of the year. The key to being successful during this stretch of races is knowing the limits of each track and being able to adapt and run the numbers you need at that partciular time." The Buford, Ga. driver won NHRA's inaugural visit to Gateway and qualified No. 1 at last year's event. He anticipates track conditions much like he conquered in Chicago and Columbus. "I expect about 97 percent of what we had in Columbus to be the same in St. Louis," Johnson said. "If the weather is the same I'm sure we'll use the same setup. There might be a little more horsepower advantage there simply because the altitude is a little lower. Running at night is going to be an equalizer for some of the guys who can't get the car down the racetrack in hot weather." Johnson, who struggled somewhat last year in the early summer months with his race day setup, has had much better results in 1999 with his Rick Jones-built chassis. "It's turning out to be a pretty good hot weather car," Johnson said. "Now that we've been able to run well at Joliet and Columbus under rather inclement weather conditions, we feel pretty confident with what we've got going to St. Louis." * All in the Family: Johnson's last two victories were over the upstart Coughlin brothers, Troy at Chicago and Jeg in Columbus. Both were hard-earned victories where he had to overcome holeshot starts. Johnson enjoys the competition with his young rivals. "That Jeg's group is awfully tough," Johnson said. "They have plenty of manpower and money isn't a problem, so when you can beat that camp you've done a day's work." * Mystery Tour: After leading the NHRA Winston Pro Stock standings through the first seven races and recording two victories in three finals, Kurt Johnson has ran straight into a midseason brick wall. He posted a first round loss at his hometrack in Atlanta, failed to qualify at Englishtown, N.J., qualified No. 1 but lost in the first round at Chicago and then qualified 12th and lost in the first round at Columbus, Ohio. He hopes to regain his performance magic with a strong showing at the Sears Craftsman Nationals. "Obviously we're going to have to change our game plan again," Kurt Johnson said. "We changed it once, and it put us back on top in qualifying. There's no reason why we can't change it again and get back on top on race day as well."

SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS GENERAL INFORMATION * Schedule: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. (CT) on June 24 and June 25. Final professional eliminations start at 4 p.m. June 26. Qualifying and eliminations for Federal-Mogul categories begins June 24 at 9 a.m. * Tickets: Tickets are available for the Sears Craftsman Nationals. Call (618) 482-2400 or Ticketmaster for ticket information. * On TV: ABC will televise one hour of race highlights on July 4 at 1 p.m. (ET).

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Bob Glidden