Warren Report - Columbus Edition

THE WARREN REPORT: COLUMBUS EDITION Warren Johnson GM Goodwrench Service Plus News & Notes for the NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals June 10-13, Columbus, Ohio TV: ABC, June 20, 3:00-4:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific - check...


Warren Johnson GM Goodwrench Service Plus News & Notes for the NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals June 10-13, Columbus, Ohio TV: ABC, June 20, 3:00-4:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific - check local listings.


With his victory in the Fram Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill., on June 6, Warren Johnson checked off three items on his list of things to do:

* He is now the only driver who has won at every track on the NHRA circuit.

* He scored his 76th career victory, keeping pace with Funny Car driver John Force (who was runner-up at Route 66 Raceway) for the most wins among active NHRA drivers.

* He extended his lead in the championship race to 99 points (five rounds) over his son Kurt.

W.J. routed the competition at Route 66 Raceway, running the quickest elapsed time in every round of eliminations. In spite of stifling heat and soaking humidity, Warren's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac clocked three 6-second runs on race day; no other Pro Stock driver ran in the sixes on Sunday.

Warren downplayed his apparent performance advantage in the steamy conditions. "I don't think we had a dominating performance," he asserted, "but at least it was good enough to win. We may have had a handle on this track, but I feel we could have gone faster. If we'd had to squeeze the engine a little more, we might have picked up another two or three hundredths."

Johnson had a close call in his semi-final round match with perennial rival Jim Yates. "The transmission popped out of second gear for an instant," W.J. revealed. "The car lost momentum and slowed to a 7.01. Otherwise I think it would have run another 6-second time."


With back-to-back races on the schedule, W.J. will have little time to savor his fourth win of the season. He planned to test at Route 66 Raceway on Monday and then send his rig to National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio, for the upcoming Pontiac Excitement Nationals on June 10-14.

Warren knows National Trail well. He has competed in 23 national events in Columbus since 1975 - yet he has only two wins to show for his efforts. His last victory there was in 1993, when he defeated Kurt Johnson in the final round. He was runner-up in 1995 (to Steve Schmidt) and 1996 (to Chuck Harris).

"Let's just say I haven't had the level of success at National Trail that I've enjoyed at some other tracks," Warren laughed. "We've just never been able to get hold of that track consistently.

"The surface isn't compatible with our philosophy of how we run our race car. It's similar in that regard to the track in Sonoma, where we also seem to struggle with the setup. We can't change the track, so we'll have to change our approach.

"The chassis we are running this year appears to have a wider operating window than the cars we've used previously," Warren noted. "We won't know how well it works until we get there."


National Trail Raceway was the site of three career firsts for Warren Johnson. In 1976, he ran his first Top Speed in Pro Stock, stopping the timers at 156.25 mph. In 1978, he qualified in the No. 1 spot and recorded the Low E.T. for the first time with an 8.63-second elapsed time.

"How times have changed!" Warren observed. "Back when we were running 156 mph at the finish line, we must have been using wheels with wooden spokes. Now we routinely run 160 mph at the 1/8th mile. We also earned bonus points for the Top Speed in those days, so a fast time was worth more than just bragging rights.

"We didn't have incremental timers in 1978, but I would estimate that we ran about the same e.t. at half-track that we now run in a quarter-mile.

"I ran my first Top Speed and Low E.T. with the same Camaro that I raced from 1974 through 1979. Without a doubt, that car made more runs than any Pro Stock in history - over 3,000 passes. We called it the 'Incredible Hulk' because it was big and it was unbreakable.

"We didn't have an engine dyno until 1984, but I calculate we were making around 800 horsepower from 394 cubic inches. I was using aluminum blocks that Chevrolet had originally made for the Can-Am road racing series. One of them was welded together from the remains of two blown-up engines. Back then, I was racing with parts that other people threw away!"

LAST RACE: Fram Route 66 Nationals, June 6, Joliet, Ill. Qualifying: Warren Johnson qualified No. 2 at 6.964/198.70

Eliminations: Round 1: Warren Johnson defeated Richie Stevens Round 2: Warren Johnson defeated Jeg Coughlin, Jr. Semi-Final: Warren Johnson defeated Jim Yates Final Round: Warren Johnson defeated Troy Coughlin

Low ET: Kurt Johnson, 6.955 seconds (track record) Top Speed: Warren Johnson, 198.70 mph (track record)

POINTS RACE: (After 9 of 22 events) Driver Wins Points 1. Warren Johnson 4 760 2. Kurt Johnson 2 661 3. Richie Stevens 1 517 4. Jim Yates 0 500 5. Troy Coughlin 0 464

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , John Force , Steve Schmidt