Topeka: Warren Johnson preview

WJ Looks to Finish What He Starts in Topeka GM Performance Parts GXP crew aims to turn horsepower into round wins at O'Reilly Summer Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., May 28, 2008 -- Over the last forty years Warren Johnson has built a Hall of Fame...

WJ Looks to Finish What He Starts in Topeka
GM Performance Parts GXP crew aims to turn horsepower into round wins at O'Reilly Summer Nationals

Sugar Hill, Ga., May 28, 2008 -- Over the last forty years Warren Johnson has built a Hall of Fame career by getting the most from every aspect of his racing program. From spending countless hours massaging engine blocks and cylinder heads to create the horsepower for which his rides are so well known to designing new components to use that power more efficiently, The Professor has worked tirelessly to maximize the productivity of whatever resources he has at his disposal.

Therefore, one can see how the six-time champion views his efforts in the early part of the 2008 POWERade Drag Racing season as unfinished business. In the first eight races, Johnson's GM Performance Parts Pontiac GXP has consistently been among the best in the closely fought Pro Stock category, setting top speed five times and earning two No. 1 qualifying positions. However, they have to translate this performance into a trip to the winner's circle, an oversight the entire team is working towards correcting at this weekend's O'Reilly Summer NHRA Nationals in Topeka, KS.

"We had a team meeting at the shop after the last race in Bristol to discuss our season to date," said Johnson. "Although we agreed that we had collectively accomplished the first part of our objective in raising our GM Performance Parts GXP's performance level to where it needs to be, we also acknowledged that we had yet to seize the opportunities put before us.

"If we're guilty of anything, however, it would have to be tunnel vision, because we have been so focused on developing horsepower, which was far from an overnight project, and one that continues today. With that aspect under control, our goal now is to take what we have discovered and apply it to the racetrack more consistently.

"We also need to get better alarm clocks for the drivers. Our competition knows what our cars are capable of, and, as a result, every one of them goes up there trying to mow down the tree, so we need to be on our game every time. We're going to test some things before Topeka, trying to get the whole package to react a little quicker than it has been. If we can do that, I believe we'll be in good shape in Kansas."

Located on the outskirts of Kansas' capital city, Heartland Park Topeka is a multipurpose motorsports facility covering 750 acres. Throughout its 19-year history, it has hosted events for numerous sanctioning bodies including stock, sprint and sports cars. It has also been the site of an NHRA national event since 1989, with WJ among the select few who has participated in every straight-line competition held there.

"Although the facility in Topeka is quite nice, the racing surface can be pretty tricky, as we saw last year when the starting line was as smooth as a terrazzo floor," said Johnson. "I thought they were supposed to resurface it, but I'm not sure what work they have done, so we'll have to wait and see what we have to work with when we get there. Fortunately, it will be the same for everyone.

"We've been looking at our notes from the last few years, seeing what the track conditions were, as well as what direction we took and what did and did not work. We'll then factor in our increased performance, and come up with a game plan for the first qualifying session on Friday afternoon. I know we'll be in better shape than we were last year, and based on how this GM Performance Parts GXP has been running, am cautiously optimistic about our chances. I guess we'll all find out this weekend."

-credit: j2r

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson