Warren Johnson will try to extend his two-race winning streak when the NHRA traveling acceleration show goes to the third annual Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., just across the river from St. Louis.
Warren Johnson will try to extend his two-race winning streak when the NHRA traveling acceleration show goes to the third annual Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., just across the river from St. Louis. Final eliminations are scheduled for Saturday night, June 26, under the lights. The Johnson family has won both of the previous national events at Gateway International Raceway. Warren won the inaugural race in 1997, defeating Jim Yates in the final round. Kurt Johnson won last year's race when he beat Jeg Coughlin, Jr. for the trophy and the money. "The weather during the last two races in St. Louis was extremely hot, so I have to commend NHRA and the track management for scheduling this year's race at night," Warren commented. "It's going to be much more hospitable for the fans, but it's going to be a new situation for the racers. "Eliminations will begin while the sun is still on the track, and the later rounds will be at night. There will be a dramatic change in track temperature between rounds, so it's going to be a guessing game as far as the chassis and clutch setup. Still, I would rather deal with a cool track at night than one with a starting line temperature approaching 135 degrees."
W.J. TURNS UP THE HEAT IN OHIO
Fresh from a victory at Route 66 Raceway on June 6, W.J. returned to the winner's circle for the second straight weekend when he defeated Jeg Coughlin, Jr. in the final round of the Pontiac Excitement Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, on June 13. Warren notched his fifth win of the season and the 77th of his career at National Trail Raceway. Johnson and his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird dominated the event, qualifying No. 1 and setting the track elapsed time and speed records. "We didn't leave too many scraps on the table," said Warren with his characteristic understatement. "We're happy with the way it turned out." For the second straight race, W.J. faced a member of the Coughlin clan in the run for the money. At Route 66, he defeated Troy Coughlin in the final; this time he beat Jeg Coughlin, Jr., 7.008 to 7.061, to tally his third career victory in Columbus. "I think we've learned how to run this car in the heat," Warren reported. "We didn't really push it that hard. Columbus is one of those tracks where we try to stay as far away from the edge as possible. We managed to keep the car on the safe side and still have a performance advantage. Most of our competitors were running 1.08 and 1.09-second elapsed times in the first 60 feet, and we were able to run 1.04's and 1.05's. In the final round, Jeg had a 1.08 60-foot time, and I went 1.04. The race was just about over by the time we got to the Christmas Tree - and that's about perfect from my perspective!"
PROFESSOR'S NOTE PAD
* W.J.'s 77th career victory at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals gave him the lead over Funny Car driver John Force in the race to break Bob Glidden's record of 85 career wins. Force lost in the semi-final round in Columbus. Warren also extended his lead in the Pro Stock standings to 185 points (more than nine rounds) over his son Kurt, who continued to struggle with handling problems and fell in the first round.
* Warren made the first 6-second Pro Stock run ever recorded at National Trail Raceway when he qualified in the No. 1 spot with a 6.996-second elapsed time. He later reset the track records at 6.995/198.15 mph in his semi-final round victory over Mike Trumble.
* W.J.'s first six at National Trail came more than five years after his son Kurt recorded the first sub-7-second run in NHRA history. Only two tracks on the NHRA tour have yet to yield a 6-second Pro Stock run: mile-high Bandimere Speedway and Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway.
* And then there were two: Following John Nobile's DNQ in Columbus, only two Pro Stock drivers have qualified for every national event in 1999: Warren Johnson and Jim Yates.
MID-TERM REPORT CARD
The Sears Craftsman Nationals is the 11th of 22 races on the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. So how does the Professor of Pro Stock grade his performance at the midpoint of the season? "About a B-," said Warren, who obviously grades on a very steep curve. "I give myself a low mark because it took too long to figure out this new car. We've been through four different rear suspensions already this season and changed a considerable number of parts to find a combination that's effective. If we had stumbled on this combination earlier in the season, we could have avoided disasters like we experienced in Richmond when I lost in the first round. We might have been able to set the record in the 6.70s, so that was definitely a missed opportunity. "If we can come out of St. Louis with a semi-final or final-round finish, then I think we'll be in excellent shape for the upcoming races," W.J. predicted. "It's likely to be hot in Denver and Sonoma, but we won't have the midwestern humidity to contend with. Seattle might even give us cool race conditions."
FOR THE RECORD: NHRA National Event Marks
Warren Johnson now holds event elapsed time records at 17 of the 22 races on the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. He holds event speed records at every stop on the tour. The oldest e.t. record in the book is Jim Yates' 6.975-second mark set at Gateway International Raceway in June 1997. The oldest speed record is Warren Johnson's 196.75 mph run at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway in August 1997. Only Brainerd and mile-high Bandimere Speedway near Denver have elapsed time records above 6.99 seconds.
Event E.T. Record Record Holder Speed Record Record Holder Pomona 1 6.888* Warren Johnson, 2/99 200.95 mph Warren Johnson, 2/99 Phoenix 6.920 Warren Johnson, 2/99 199.64 Warren Johnson, 2/99 Gainesville 6.866 Warren Johnson, 3/99 201.37 Warren Johnson, 3/99 Houston 1 6.874* Warren Johnson, 3/98 201.11* Warren Johnson, 3/98 Dallas 1 6.904 Warren Johnson, 4/99 200.22 Warren Johnson, 4/99 Richmond 6.840# Kurt Johnson, 4/99 202.24# Warren Johnson, 4/99 Atlanta 6.901 Warren Johnson, 5/99 201.01 Warren Johnson, 5/99 Englishtown 6.875 Warren Johnson, 5/99 201.58 Warren Johnson, 5/99 Chicago 6.955 Kurt Johnson, 6/99 198.70 Warren Johnson, 6/99 Columbus 6.955 Warren Johnson, 6/99 198.15 Warren Johnson, 6/99 Madison 6.975 Jim Yates, 6/97 197.06 Warren Johnson, 6/98 Denver 7.346 Warren Johnson, 7/98 187.45 Warren Johnson, 7/98 Sonoma 6.949 Warren Johnson, 7/98 199.64 Warren Johnson, 7/98 Seattle 6.884 Warren Johnson, 8/98 200.53 Warren Johnson, 8/98 Brainerd 7.002 Warren Johnson, 8/97 196.76 Warren Johnson, 8/97 Indianapolis 6.977 Warren Johnson, 9/98 197.67 Warren Johnson, 9/98 Reading 6.940 Warren Johnson, 9/98 198.36 Warren Johnson, 9/98 Topeka 6.924 Mark Osborne, 10/98 197.93 Warren Johnson, 10/98 Memphis 6.881 Warren Johnson, 10/98 200.88 Warren Johnson, 10/98 Dallas 2 6.867* Warren Johnson, 10/98 201.34* Warren Johnson, 10/98 Houston 2 6.920 Kurt Johnson, 11/98 199.73 Warren Johnson, 11/98 Pomona 2 6.891 Warren Johnson, 10/98 201.02* Warren Johnson, 11/98 *Track Record; #National Record
E.T. Record Totals: Warren Johnson 17 Kurt Johnson 3 Jim Yates 1 Mark Osborne 1
Speed Record Totals: Warren Johnson 22
LAST RACE: Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Columbus, Ohio, June 13, 1999 Qualifying: Warren Johnson qualified No. 1 at 6.996/197.68
Eliminations: Round 1: Warren Johnson defeated George Marnell Round 2: Warren Johnson defeated Robert Patrick Semi-Final: Warren Johnson defeated Mike Trumble Final Round: Warren Johnson (7.008/197.57) defeated Jeg Coughlin, Jr. (7.061/197.97)
Low ET: Warren Johnson, 6.995 seconds (track record) Top Speed: Warren Johnson, 198.15 mph (track record)
POINTS RACE: (After 10 of 22 events) Driver Wins Points 1. Warren Johnson 5 878 2. Kurt Johnson 2 693 3. Richie Stevens 1 569 4. Jim Yates 0 532 5. Jeg Coughlin 1 528