WJ Looks to Use Lessons Learned to Finish on Top in Topeka GM Performance Parts crew works to have a memorable Memorial Day Sugar Hill, Ga., May 25, 2005 -- The first of four blocks on the 2005 NHRA schedule containing races on three ...
WJ Looks to Use Lessons Learned to Finish on Top in Topeka
GM Performance Parts crew works to have a memorable Memorial Day
Sugar Hill, Ga., May 25, 2005 -- The first of four blocks on the 2005 NHRA schedule containing races on three consecutive weekends come to a close with the running of this weekend's O'Reilly Summer Nationals in Topeka. KS. It has been a long and arduous stretch, starting in Atlanta, GA and stopping in Columbus, Ohio, before arriving at Heartland Park Topeka.
With his early success, few people remember that the GM Performance Parts Pontiac with which Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson won two races and catapulted himself into the championship points lead was a completely new and untested vehicle at the start of the season. Therefore, after two No. 1 qualifying performances and a semifinal and quarter-final finish in the last two weeks, "The Professor" will look to continue the familiarization process and close the "Spring Swing" with a win.
"We're finally starting to get a better handle on this GM Performance Parts Pontiac," said Johnson. "It's a standard production Haas car, with which we had never had any experience, so there was a lot for us to learn about it. Combine that with the ever-evolving DRCE III program, and the season has been one continuous learning process.
"For example, we were a little suspect in sixty feet at the beginning of the year, and began getting a grasp on it in Columbus. We had been hesitant to make wholesale changes prior to that, because we had abbreviated qualifying at some of the earlier races, which prevented us from trying new combinations, and we certainly were not going to experiment during eliminations.
"As a result, we've slowly started to hone in on better sixty-foot performance, until it started to bear fruit last week. I'd have to say it's starting to come around."
Over the last two weeks, the competitors in the POWERade Drag Racing Series have faced constantly changing weather conditions, which historically has been the norm at the Kansas quarter-mile With over sixty years of combined Pro Stock experience, the veteran Johnson crew is well versed on determining the necessary adjustments to extract the maximum performance from their naturally-aspirated hot rod. Having reached a working familiarity with their race car, they will now look to put it all together and celebrate Memorial Day weekend in the Topeka winner's circle.
"The weather is usually the big story in Topeka, and you can virtually guarantee that we will have to deal some sort of wind," stated Johnson. "Fortunately, one of this team's strong points has been its ability to adapt to whatever we find when we get to a track.
"Running at this time of year, before it gets too hot, the racing surface shouldn't be too bad. But as tight as the competition has become in Pro Stock, we have no room for error if we plan to win. Therefore, we'll assess the weather when we arrive in Kansas, evaluate the track conditions and come up with a game plan. It's a philosophy that has served us well for many years, so we should be in good shape this weekend, as long as we don't see Dorothy and Toto."
Notes on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team entering the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals:
* WJ in Topeka: This will be Warren's 22nd NHRA appearance at Heartland Park Topeka, where he has five wins in six final round appearances, and seven No. 1 qualifying performances. Overall WJ has an elimination round record of 36-16 in his previous Kansas races.
* One year ago: Warren qualified 14th with an elapsed time of 6.903 seconds and a top speed of 199.61 mph, but fell in the first round.
* WJ's No.1 Qualifying Performances Often Come in Bunches: Warren will be looking to score three consecutive No. 1 qualifying performances, having been the top qualifier in Atlanta and Columbus. If he accomplishes this feat, it will be the fifth time he has done so in his career, which he did most recently in 1999, when he was the top qualifier at the Brainerd, Indianapolis and Reading races. WJ has also been the No. 1 qualifier at four consecutive races five times, at five consecutive races once, at six consecutive races four times, and once qualified No. 1 at seven consecutive races.
* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 94 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 four weeks ago at the O'Reilly Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals in Bristol, TN.
* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.679 seconds, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05
* Career best top speed: 206.70 mph, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05