The Professor Turns Boy Scout for Crucial Stretch Starting in Topeka GM Performance Parts GTO crew spends unexpected hiatus working to be prepared Sugar Hill, Ga., May 30, 2007 -- By the time the POWERade Drag Racing Series reconvenes in ...
The Professor Turns Boy Scout for Crucial Stretch Starting in Topeka
GM Performance Parts GTO crew spends unexpected hiatus working to be prepared
Sugar Hill, Ga., May 30, 2007 -- By the time the POWERade Drag Racing Series reconvenes in Topeka, KS this weekend for the O'Reilly Summer Nationals, it will have been over a month since the racers faced each other in national event competition following the unexpected postponement of the Bristol race two weeks ago. Now facing an arduous stretch of eight races in nine weeks, teams employed different strategies during the break, including some taking impromptu vacations in order to recharge their batteries for the fight ahead.
Not surprisingly, Hall of Fame drag racer Warren Johnson and his GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team opted to use the time productively, shifting their strategies slightly from simple pre-race preparations to put additional emphasis on being ready for the long haul.
"This upcoming stretch of races will be quite an ordeal for all the race teams, so we put plans in motion to help us endure it and succeed," said Johnson."Therefore, over the last few weeks, we turned our attention towards building a larger inventory of parts for both my GM Performance Parts GTO and (son) Kurt's ACDelco Cobalt. We've also tried to squeeze in a little testing since time will be extremely limited once we get started in Topeka.
"Our goal is to be as ready as we can be to deal with any eventuality that comes up over the next two and a half months. It's a crucial part of the season that has now been compacted, and we can only hope that Mother Nature will give us her full cooperation. For now, we're just a bunch of Boy Scouts -- being prepared for whatever gets thrown at us."
Located just outside of the city of Topeka, Heartland Park Topeka is a multipurpose motorsports facility capable of hosting virtually any racing event, from heart-stopping acceleration on its quarter-mile and mud-slinging powerslides on its dirt tracks to high-speed precision on its 2.5-mile road course. A member of drag racing's premier circuit since 1989, HPT has witnessed its share of historic straight-line events, including the first four-second and 300-mph NHRA Nitro Funny Car runs.
Since the first race there eighteen years ago, Warren Johnson has been an integral part of the action in the Sunflower State, becoming the first No. 1 NHRA Pro Stock qualifier in the track's history. This weekend marks his 24th appearance at HPT, where he leads all Pro Stock competitors with five wins and seven No. 1 qualifying positions, an enviable record he would like to improve upon.
"The owner has been putting a tremendous amount of money into the facility since he purchased the track in 2003, and though the improvements were primarily centered around the road course, we have also indirectly benefited," said Johnson. "But, overall, it's been a pretty decent place to race over the years. We typically don't run a lot of speed there because of the elevation and the warmer temperatures we have there, but the conditions are the same for everyone, so it's up to us to get after it as best as we can.
"The last time we raced, our GM Performance Parts GTO's performance was certainly headed in the right direction, and we're looking to maintain that forward momentum in Topeka this weekend."