WARREN JOHNSON RUNNER-UP AT ROUTE 66 NATIONALS W.J. Qualifies No. 1, Runs Low ET and Top Speed, Pads Pro Stock Points Lead Joliet, Ill.; May 31, 1998 -- Warren Johnson broke the NHRA Pro Stock points...
WARREN JOHNSON RUNNER-UP AT ROUTE 66 NATIONALS
W.J. Qualifies No. 1, Runs Low ET and Top Speed, Pads Pro Stock Points Lead
Joliet, Ill.; May 31, 1998 -- Warren Johnson broke the NHRA Pro Stock points race wide open today with a runner-up finish at the inaugural Fram Route 66 Nationals. W.J. qualified No. 1, set the track elapsed time and top speed records (6.978/197.13 mph) and earned 98 championship points. He left Route 66 Raceway with a 245-point lead over second-place Jim Yates, who failed to qualify for the second time this season.
A sellout crowd welcomed NHRA championship drag racing to the Chicago market at the magnificent new "stadium style" Route 66 Raceway, where Johnson made his 107th career final-round appearance. After running the low e.t. in the first three rounds of eliminations, Johnson was upset by Mike Edwards in the final, 7.024/196.39 to 7.076/194.80.
A lengthy delay to clean the track after an oildown before the Pro Stock final played a pivotal role in the race's outcome. "The air and track conditions changed dramatically during the delay," Johnson explained. "We were ready to go when we arrived in the staging lanes. When we finally ran, the engine blew right through the clutch. We had too much horsepower and too much race track."
Johnson was the No. 1 qualifier at 6.978/197.06 -- the fourth time this season and the 92nd time in his career that he has won the Pro Stock "pole." Heat and humidity put a damper on the performances of the naturally aspirated Pro Stocks. "These were the most uncomfortable conditions we've encountered to date with this car," Johnson reported. "We've been testing in Atlanta with the air temperature in the mid-90s and a track temperature around 130 degrees, which was almost identical to the conditions we had here on the last qualifying run."
The second round of eliminations featured an intramural race between Warren and his son, Kurt. Warren's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac ran 7.029/196.87 to Kurt's 7.096/195.34 in his ACDelco Camaro. It was the 31st time the two have raced since Kurt started driving in 1993. The box score now stands at 22 wins for Warren and 9 for Kurt.
After a one-week break, the NHRA championship race will resume at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals Presented by Summit Racing, to be held at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, on June 11-14.
WARREN JOHNSON GM GOODWRENCH SERVICE PLUS NHRA ROUTE 66 NATIONALS RACE SUMMARY
QUALIFYING: Warren Johnson qualified No. 1 at 6.978/196.82 mph ELIMINATIONS: Round 1: Warren Johnson (7.003/196.59) defeated John Nobile (7.081/196.93) Round 2: Warren Johnson (7.029/196.87) defeated Kurt Johnson (7.096/195.34) Semi-Final Round: Warren Johnson (7.000/197.80) defeated Troy Coughlin (7.061/196.70) Final Round: Mike Thomas (7.024/196.39) defeated Warren Johnson (7.075/194.80)
LOW ET: Warren Johnson, 6.978 seconds (track record) TOP SPEED: Warren Johnson, 197.80 mph (track record)
PRO STOCK STANDINGS: (after 9 of 22 events; victories in parentheses): 1. Warren Johnson (4) 787 points 2. Jim Yates (1) 542 3. Jeg Coughlin (1) 539 4. Mark Osborne (1) 524 5. Kurt Johnson 492
NEXT EVENT: June 11-14, NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Columbus, Ohio (TV: June 21, 5:00-6:00 p.m. Eastern, ABC -- check local listings)