Warren Report: Pomona Preview

THE WARREN REPORT: SEASON PREVIEW NEXT RACE: AutoZone Winternationals February 4-7, 1999 Pomona, Calif. TV: ESPN2, Sunday, February 7, 9:30-11:30 p.m. Eastern POINTS RACE: PRO STOCK STANDINGS (After 0 of 22 events) Warren Johnson...

THE WARREN REPORT: SEASON PREVIEW

NEXT RACE: AutoZone Winternationals February 4-7, 1999 Pomona, Calif. TV: ESPN2, Sunday, February 7, 9:30-11:30 p.m. Eastern

POINTS RACE: PRO STOCK STANDINGS (After 0 of 22 events) Warren Johnson 0 Kurt Johnson 0 Everyone Else 0

* WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP

As final preparations are underway for the start of the new racing season, here is a look back at what it took for Warren Johnson to win his fourth career NHRA Pro Stock championship in 1998:

54 drums of racing gasoline (2,970 gallons) 120 days on the road 176 rear tires 324 quarter-mile runs (81 total testing and racing miles, partial runs not included) 477.363 seconds (7.96 minutes) to complete 68 runs in national event competition over a total distance of 17 miles 648 titanium valve springs ($72,090) and 512 steel valve springs ($8,000) 2,000 ACDelco spark plugs 2,000 custom-forged pistons 2,200 quarts of oil 70,000 miles (per transporter)

* NO REST FOR THE WEARY

How did Warren Johnson spend the winter? Not surprisingly, W.J. was working at his customary relentless pace.

Johnson journeyed to Puerto Rico in early December for his traditional winter match race in the commonwealth. The team spent the first three days in the Caribbean watching a monsoon from the comfort of their hotel rooms. On the fourth day, the skies cleared long enough for Warren to take on several of the island's fastest doorslammers.

Warren waxed the local nitrous burners three straight. "In the first round, I raced a Camaro with a 706-cubic-inch engine and a three-stage nitrous system," Warren recalled. "I had a .426 light and he had a .794, and that was that. Then I raced a Corvette with a 706 and a quadruple nitrous system, but the driver couldn't get it staged and he redlighted. I had a single in the final and ran 7.02, which was a decent run in view of how slippery the track was after the rain."

The Puerto Rico expedition capped a typical week in the life of Warren Johnson. He began on Monday with a trip to Charlotte, N.C. to tape a television show. "I left Atlanta at 10 o'clock in the morning, did some business in North Carolina, taped the TV show, and got back to the house at one in the morning after multiple delays," W.J. reported. "The next morning I was up at quarter past four and flew to Illinois to check on progress on our new Firebird at Rick Jones' shop in Illinois. I was home again at one in the morning, got to the shop at six, worked all day on Wednesday, and flew to Puerto Rico.

"Other than that, I really didn't do much," Warren deadpanned. "I suppose that's why it's called the off-season."

* WARREN'S NEW WHEELS

W.J. will change his colors in 1999 when he debuts a new white-and-blue color scheme on the world's quickest and fastest Pro Stock Pontiac at the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals. Warren's new "war paint" pays tribute to the Trans Am, which turns thirty in 1999.

Pontiac will produce a special edition 30th Anniversary Trans Am in 1999 with the traditional blue and white colors worn by the original Trans Am in 1969. Total production is slated at 1,065 coupes and 535 convertibles.

W.J.'s race car emulates the 30th anniversary edition's color scheme with two blue-trimmed stripes on the hood, roof, and rear deck lid over bright Arctic White paint. Two small Firebirds flank the snorkel hood scoop. Warren will switch back to his signature black-and-silver GM Goodwrench Service Plus colors at midseason.

"The last time I raced a white car was in 1993 when I won my second NHRA championship," Warren recalled. "I hope that history repeats itself in 1999 with the 30th Anniversary Trans Am!"

* OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES BY A PRO STOCK

After witnessing literally thousands of drag races last season, the staff of National Dragster picked Warren Johnson as Pro Stock's outstanding performer in 1998. The newspaper's final issue of 1998 declared that Warren's record-setting qualifying run at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals was the "Outstanding Run by a Pro Stocker." W.J. bombed the Bandimere Speedway track e.t. record by six hundredths of a second on that record-smashing pass.

Warren's domination of the Pennzoil Nationals in Houston, Texas, earned accolades from the Dragster staff as the "Outstanding Performance by a Pro Stocker (Event)." W.J. hammered the competition in Houston with four straight six-second runs and three 200 mph passes en route to victory.

Johnson's final-round decision over Jeg Coughlin, Jr. at 2:00 a.m. at the rain-delayed Parts America Nationals in Topeka, Kansas, was singled out as the "Outstanding Pro Stock Race of the Year." Johnson edged Jeg by one thousandth of a second in the early-morning contest. W.J. also clinched the Pro Stock title on that cold and windy night in Kansas.

* W.J.'s SECRET WEAPON

Warren has been burning the midnight oil - not to mention several drums of racing gasoline - developing a new engine combination for the 1999 season. Security at his Sugar Hill complex is as tight as the secrecy that surrounded the Manhattan Project. Even the usually reserved Professor is excited about the performance potential of his latest creation.

"I believe we've got a surprise in store for the boys," Johnson predicts. "I don't want to drop it on them at Pomona because that will give them a clue about what we're working on. I figure it will take the competition six to ten months to catch up if this new project works as well as I think it will. That should just about ruin their whole season!

"Overall we're pretty optimistic about the new season," said Warren. "Of course, everyone is optimistic in January. Around June, reality sets in."

* AND THE WINNER IS . . .

The winner of the Warren Johnson Firebird Sweepstakes will be determined in a drawing at the AutoZone Winternationals on February 6. The winner will receive a Warren Johnson look-alike - no, not a clone of the Professor, but a street-legal replica of his 200 mph Pro Stock Firebird.

The 1999 Trans Am grand prize is decked out in GM Goodwrench Service Plus colors. Other prizes include a high-performance engine from GM Performance Parts, free tuition at the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School, tickets to the U.S. Nationals, and Pontiac Racing apparel.

* ALL-AMERICA TEAM

Warren was named to the 1998 Auto Racing All-America Team by the members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. Johnson was selected for the Second Team in the balloting, along with Funny Car driver Ron Capps. Warren made the All-America team for the fifth time in his career. He was previously elected in 1982, 1992, 1993, and 1995.

* POMONA PREVIEW

Pomona Raceway, the site of the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals, has treated Warren and Kurt Johnson very well over the years. W.J. will be making his 34th appearance at "Parker Avenue." He's won eight times at the Fairplex, with four Winternationals titles and four Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals victories.

Kurt Johnson has been in three final rounds at Pomona Raceway. He was runner-up to his father in the 1993 Winston Finals and the 1997 Winternationals; he won the 1997 Finals over Tom Martino.

FAST STATS

* Coming into the 1999 season, Warren Johnson has competed in 314 NHRA national events. He's won 72 times for a 21.5% winning average. He's also advanced to 114 final rounds, making the finals in an amazing 36% of the races he has competed in since 1975.

* W.J. literally rewrote the NHRA record book in 1998. In 22 races last season, he set 12 event elapsed time records and 16 event speed records. He now holds the e.t. marks at 16 events and the speed standard at all 22 races on the NHRA tour.

* Johnson set the Winternationals event records at 6.927/198.67 mph in February 1997. At two years of age, they are the oldest Pro Stock records in the book. It's a good bet that they'll be surpassed at this year's event: W.J. scorched the Pomona Raceway quarter-mile with a 6.891-second elapsed time at 201.02 mph last November to set the Winston Finals marks.

WARREN JOHNSON WINTERNATIONALS RESULTS

Year    Qualified    Result
1976    2            Second Round
1977    6            Second Round
1978    3            First Round
1984    3            Semi-final
1985    4            Runner-up (to Glidden)
1986    8            Runner-up (to Iaconio)
1987    2            Winner (over Leal)
1988    2            First Round
1989    7            Semi-final
1990    7            Semi-final
1991    2            Runner-up (to Alderman)
1992    4            Semi-final
1993    1            Winner (over Geoffrion)
1994    1            Winner (over Alderman)
1995    1            Semi-final
1996    1            Semi-final
1997    2            Winner (over K. Johnson)
1998    8            Semi-final
Total                18
Wins                  4
Runners-up            3
Semi-Finals           7
Second Round          2
First Round           2
No. 1 Qualifier       4

KURT JOHNSON WINTERNATIONALS RESULTS

Year    Qualified    Result
1993    15           Semi-Final
1994    3            Semi-Final
1995    3            First Round
1996    4            Second Round
1997    5            Runner-up (to W. Johnson)
1998    11           First Round

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Ron Capps , Tom Martino , Frank Hawley