Topeka Warren & Kurt Johnson preview

The following are pre-race releases on Kurt and Warren Johnson at the upcoming NHRA Sears Craftsman Nationals in Topeka, Kansas, on September 26-29. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments, or let me...

The following are pre-race releases on Kurt and Warren Johnson at the upcoming NHRA Sears Craftsman Nationals in Topeka, Kansas, on September 26-29.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments, or let me know if you would prefer not to receive this material via e-mail. I can be reached at 408-761-2201 (phone), 408-761-2454 (fax) or

Thanks! Rick Voegelin High Performance Communications



Topeka, Kansas -- During his last visit to Heartland Park Topeka in July, Pro Stock racer Warren Johnson had two reasons to celebrate: He toasted his 53rd birthday, and he tallied his 56th career NHRA national event victory at the Western Auto Nationals with his GM Performance Parts Firebird.

Now Johnson is looking forward to another celebration when he returns to Heartland Park Topeka for the Sears Craftsman Nationals, to be contested on September 26-29.

"The track is absolutely phenomenal," reported Warren, who has scored four victories on the Kansas quarter-mile. "The traction is fantastic, but because of the elevation, the Pro Stocks usually don't have the atmospheric conditions we need for record-setting runs. We'll also have the factor of sunlight on the track to contend with this time, since we raced at night in July."

Topeka is one of only two venues on the NHRA tour that hosts a pair of national events per season. Johnson will have the advantage of experience when returns to Heartland Park with the Firebird he debuted at the start of the 1996 season. "We ran this car in Topeka in July, so we have a database on how the car performs there," Johnson explained. "The Firebird is radically different from the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme we raced last year, so it requires a completely different chassis setup. It's a welcome change to go back to a track where we've already won with the Firebird."

Johnson expects the performance pace to pick up at the fall race. "This is the time of year when the Pro Stocks begin to run faster because of the cooler weather," he noted. "I believe that helps our program because historically we've been successful on tracks with good performance potential."

W.J. has been on a racing rollercoaster since his last appearance at Heartland Park. He notched wins in California and Minnesota to increase his career total to 59 victories -- but he also suffered heartbreaking losses at three events due to mechanical breakage.

Although he faces a 168-point deficit to Jim Yates, Johnson remains sanguine about his chances for a fourth NHRA Winston title. "Our game plan for Topeka is simple," he declared. "We're going to do whatever it takes to win."

With his characteristic determination and intensity, Warren Johnson won't be denied another celebration in America's heartland.

# # #



Topeka, Kansas -- Drag racing has more ups and downs than the Dow Jones average, more highs and lows than a rollercoaster. Pro Stock driver Kurt Johnson has experienced both extremes on the NHRA championship tour.

On Labor Day, Johnson drove his Delco Freedom Battery Firebird to victory at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, the most prestigious event on the circuit. Two weeks later, Kurt found himself 17th on the qualifying list at the Pioneer Keystone Nationals in Reading, Penn. While the 16 quickest cars were racing on Sunday, Kurt was on his way home to Lawrenceville, Georgia.

"It was a fast field -- the fastest 16 Pro Stocks in NHRA history -- and we just came up short," said Kurt, whose futile 7.040-second qualifying effort in Reading was .03-second quicker than his winning elapsed time at the U.S. Nationals. "We improved the car's performance on every run, but everyone ran really good in the final qualifying session on Saturday.

"The engine felt lazy in fourth and fifth gear," Kurt reported as he prepared his black-and-gold Firebird for the Sears Craftsman Nationals, to be contested at Heartland Park Topeka on September 26-29. "I can't wait to get it back on the dyno. My job is to make more power so we won't get into that predicament again."

Johnson displayed prodigious horsepower last year in Topeka when he qualified No. 1 with an event-record 7.046-second elapsed time. "The track's so good you've got to gear up the car and then let her rip," Kurt commented. "The Pro Stock engines are down on power a little at Topeka because of the altitude of the track; you almost can't put enough clutch in the car to spin the tires. Topeka is definitely a driver's race, and whoever lets the clutch pedal out first usually wins."

Kurt has already visited the winner's circle twice this season, with a victory in Atlanta complementing his Indy win. His DNQ in Reading dropped him two spots in the NHRA standings -- but he's less than one round away from fourth place.

"We're going to Topeka to win," Kurt declared. "After all, winning is what we get paid for."

# # #

E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 18-Sep-1996

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