BRAINERD, Minn. - Warren Johnson advanced to the final round of eliminations for the sixth time this season, finishing as runner-up to Jeg Coughlin, Jr. in the Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway on Sunday.
BRAINERD, Minn. - Warren Johnson advanced to the final round of eliminations for the sixth time this season, finishing as runner-up to Jeg Coughlin, Jr. in the Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway on Sunday. W.J. came into the race with a perfect 5-0 record in final rounds this year, but had to settle for second place when he misjudged the track conditions in the crucial match with Coughlin. Johnson defeated Tony Gillig, former crew chief Greg Anderson, and a resurgent Mark Pawuk to advance to the final round for the 120th time in his career. Johnson slipped from his 6-second pace in the early rounds to a 7.16-second e.t. at only 179 mph against Coughlin. Jeg claimed his third victory of the season with a 7.06-second elapsed time. "We expected the track to be better than it was, and we were just too aggressive," Warren reported. "It shook the tires in the top of low gear, second gear, and third gear - and that was all she wrote. I had my worst reaction time of the weekend in the final because the tires just spun on the starting line." Johnson returned to his home state of Minnesota on a mission. He qualified in the No. 1 spot for the 11th time this season and set the BIR track records for elapsed time (6.955 seconds) and top speed (197.59 mph). Son Kurt was right behind at 6.963/197.45 mph, marking the third straight race and the ninth time this year that the Johnsons have qualified 1-2. Jim Yates failed to qualify at Brainerd, leaving Warren as the only Pro Stock driver who has qualified for every event in 1999. Warren's runner-up finish increased his lead in the championship race to 122 points over Kurt and 302 points over third-ranked Yates with seven races remaining. "We didn't win this particular battle, but we're winning the war," Johnson declared. "We have a 15-round margin over the third and fourth place drivers, and Kurt helped his cause by going to the semi-final round. I think Kurt can step it up and we can have a pretty good battle for the championship. It will still be a pretty interesting year!" The battle will resume at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on September 3-6.
WARREN JOHNSON RACE RESULTS: Qualifying: Warren Johnson qualified No. 1 at 6.955/197.59 Eliminations: Round 1: Warren Johnson (6.966/197.36) defeated Tony Gillig (7.062/194.24) Round 2: Warren Johnson (7.000/196.99) defeated Greg Anderson (7.071/194.24) Semi-Final: Warren Johnson (6.998/196.99) defeated Mark Pawuk (7.068/194.18) Final Round: Jeg Coughlin, Jr. (7.063/194.60) defeated Warren Johnson (7.167/179.95)
Low ET: Warren Johnson, 6.955 seconds (track record) Top Speed: Warren Johnson, 197.59 mph (track record)
POINTS RACE: (After 15 of 22 events) Driver Wins Points 1. Warren Johnson 5 1,221 2. Kurt Johnson 3 1,099 3. Jim Yates 2 919 4. Jeg Coughlin, Jr. 3 901 5. Richie Stevens 1 766
NEXT RACE: U.S. Nationals, September 3-6, Indianapolis, Ind. TV: TNN, Sept. 6, 5:00-7:00 p.m. Eastern - check local listings.