Warren Johnson Is Ready to Turn Up the Heat in Topeka Warm forecast has GM Performance Parts crew primed for Memorial Day race weekend Sugar Hill, Ga., May 24, 2006 -- This weekend, the nation celebrates Memorial Day, one of our biggest and...
Warren Johnson Is Ready to Turn Up the Heat in Topeka
Warm forecast has GM Performance Parts crew primed for Memorial Day race weekend
Sugar Hill, Ga., May 24, 2006 -- This weekend, the nation celebrates Memorial Day, one of our biggest and most traditional holidays, honoring the brave men and women of the military services. Over the years, it has become the unofficial kick-off to the start of summer, as well as a tremendous weekend for racing, with major events held in every professional series. For members of the straight-line set, this means a trip to Topeka, KS for the O'Reilly Summer Nationals, the ninth stop on the 23-race POWERade Drag Racing circuit.
Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team are aiming for a strong performance heading into Heartland Park Topeka as they look to gain ground in the championship chase. One facet that may be working in their favor is the weather forecast, which is calling for temperatures in the high 80's and low 90's, a marked departure from what the "factory hot rods" have experienced so far in 2006.
"Somehow, the weather always seems front and center when we come to Topeka," stated Johnson. "Fortunately, we pride on ourselves on keeping as good a notebook as possible on every racetrack and situation. Therefore, we can deal with almost any weather conditions, as long as it's not raining, snowing, sleeting or hailing.
"However, this current GM Performance Parts GTO seems to be at its best in warmer temperatures, so we hope the forecast for the weekend holds true. In any case, we'll assess the weather when we get there, take a look at the track to see how it's changed and come up with a game plan."
This race will mark The Professor's 23rd national event appearance in the Kansas capitol, and by all accounts, it has been a successful pairing. Since 1989, when he captured the No. 1 qualifying position and defeated Bob Glidden in the first round of Heartland Park Topeka's NHRA debut, Johnson has established a solid record of success. His five HPT wins lead all Pro Stock competitors, giving him an unparalleled perspective on this unique, multi-faceted motorsports facility.
"Sitting in the middle of the Kansas plains, Heartland Park Topeka's location in unlike any other on the POWERade tour," described Johnson. "What's funny is that it sits at an altitude of about 2,000 feet, but the land is so flat, you can pretty much see where you can get to in two days.
"Historically, the surface has been pretty good, although we haven't run as fast there as the conditions would indicate. However, they've done some work to the facility since last year, so we really won't know what kind of track we'll have until we get there. One thing I certainly hope does not change is the parity between the two lanes. They've always been pretty even in the past. Of course, a lot has to do with how the track is prepared, which also has been an issue of late.
"Fortunately, one of this GM Performance Parts GTO team's strengths has been our ability to adapt to the situation, so we should be in good shape. We've got the weapons in our arsenal -- we just have to make sure to fire them at the right time."
Quick Notes on Warren Johnson & the GM Performance Parts GTO team entering
The 18th annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals:
WJ is the Top Dog in Topeka: This will be Warren's 23rd career NHRA national event at Heartland Park Topeka. In his previous 21 starts in Kansas, he has five wins (in 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1998) in six final rounds, which the most by any Pro Stock competitor.
Warren Qualifies Up Front in Kansas: In 21 Heartland Park Topeka starts, WJ has seven No. 1 qualifying performances, 15 starts in the top four positions and a strong 4.27 average starting position.
One Year Ago: Warren qualified 10th with a 6.764-second elapsed time with a top speed of 204.39 mph, and advanced to the quarterfinals.