St. Louis: Warren Johnson preview

WJ Tests to Improve his Grade in Madison GM Performance Parts GTO crew looks to build on Atlanta final round finish Sugar Hill, Ga., May 3, 2007 -- Fifteen hours after their stirring runner-up finish in last week's race, Warren Johnson and...

WJ Tests to Improve his Grade in Madison
GM Performance Parts GTO crew looks to build on Atlanta final round finish

Sugar Hill, Ga., May 3, 2007 -- Fifteen hours after their stirring runner-up finish in last week's race, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team were back at Atlanta Dragway making numerous test runs as part of their never-ending search for performance. Encouraged by their strong showing of the day before, where they charged from the 15th starting position to come within a car's length of scoring Johnson's 97th career win, they looked to shore up any areas requiring attention heading into this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals in Madison, Illinois.

"Although we still have some areas we need to cover in the short term, we're pleased with what we accomplished this past weekend, and look to maintain that forward momentum in St. Louis," said Johnson. "With our tight schedule, we often have to use qualifying attempts to test, which is what we did in Atlanta. As a result, we employed a set-up on race day with which we were not completely comfortable, making things a little difficult.

"However, between Terry, myself, and everyone on both my GM Performance Parts and (son) Kurt's ACDelco crews, we had enough ability and track experience to muddle through it rather successfully. On Monday after the race, we took advantage of the track's proximity to our shop to test. We made several productive runs, gathering information which we hope will help us to continue closing the gap."

Located across the Mississippi river from the city of St. Louis, Gateway International Raceway has been a member of the POWERade Drag Racing Series since 1997. Throughout its history, this event has been held in the middle of the summer, where the oppressive heat forced organizers to hold the race in the late afternoon and early evening for the sake of both the fans and competitors. Therefore, this year's move to an early spring date was a popular choice, although teams will now have to adjust their tuning notes from previous years to reflect the improved atmospheric conditions expected this weekend.

However, as the race-savvy Professor is quick to point out, any horsepower gained through the twenty-degree cooler temperatures must still be effectively transferred to the demanding racing surface, something he has shown himself quite capable of doing with two wins in his previous nine starts.

"The track at Gateway is smooth enough, but characteristically, has been very tough to get a hold of," said Johnson. "It's just that it's old and has endured the extreme cold and hot temperatures typical of the Midwest, putting available traction at a premium, particularly at the starting line. The rest of the track is fine, but it's hard to get the ball rolling fast enough.

"Fortunately, our GM Performance Parts GTO seems a little more adaptable to certain situations, as evidenced by our being able to negotiate both lanes in Atlanta, with some of the quickest 60-foot times in the category. After testing, we have additional data that we believe will prove useful in St. Louis. We've made some significant strides over the last four races, qualifying solidly in the top half of the field in three of those events, and have gone a few rounds on Sunday. I guess you could say things are falling together steady by jerks."

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson