Sonoma: Warren Johnson preview
After Spending Time in his Motorhome and Doing Time on 'The Rock', WJ is Ready for a Break Out Win in Sonoma GM Performance Parts GTO crew ready to build on Seattle semifinal finish Sugar Hill, Ga., July 25, 2006 -- For fifty weeks out of the ...
After Spending Time in his Motorhome and Doing Time on 'The Rock', WJ is Ready for a Break Out Win in Sonoma
GM Performance Parts GTO crew ready to build on Seattle semifinal finish
Sugar Hill, Ga., July 25, 2006 -- For fifty weeks out of the year, Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson can be found in one of two places. If the six-time NHRA champion is not behind the wheel of his powerful GM Performance Parts GTO, he is back at the team's headquarters in Sugar Hill, GA, working on ways to improve its performance.
However, every July Johnson assumes an added responsibility, as he shares motorhome driving duties with his wife Arlene during the NHRA's traditional Western Swing, wheeling from Denver to Seattle and on to Sonoma, CA for this weekend's NHRA California Nationals. Not surprisingly, the man responsible for many of Pro Stock's technological advances uses the time productively. In fact, he credits hours spent at the helm of his massive Monaco Dynasty with the genesis of his dramatic turnaround this past weekend in Seattle, a performance that a few have jokingly referred to as the "Missoula Miracle".
"Driving the motorhome gives me plenty of time to do a lot of thinking," details Johnson. "With so many hours at your disposal, you have time to take a fresh perspective on what's going on, because you're not inundated with phone calls, or grinding manifolds, dong this or that or worrying about a host of other items. All you can do is think of what you've been doing, and analyze what you've done wrong or right.
"For example, on the drive from Denver to Seattle, I shut off my cell phone and asked Arlene not to speak to me. I then started to backtrack over the last year and a half, going over the evolution of what ended up as a deficit in performance, and about the time I arrived in Missoula, Montana, I was able to determine where it all started and how to correct it. I got on the phone to the shop and had them ship the parts we needed to Nick's (Drzayich, father of crewmember Adam) shop in Seattle.
"We started working on our GM Performance Parts GTO on Tuesday, finished up on Wednesday afternoon, spent Thursday at Renegade Raceway in Yakima, and came up with a pretty sporty performance in Seattle, which we hope to improve on this weekend in Sonoma."
Once he arrives in the Bay Area, Johnson will also take some time from his pre-race preparations to visit one of San Francisco's greatest tourist attractions, Alcatraz. Leading a large contingent from the Pro Stock community for the Wednesday afternoon visit to famed correctional facility, including members of both his GM Performance Parts and son Kurt's ACDelco crews, The Professor" believes there will be a tremendous opportunity for team building.
"I'm going to bring our guys over to Alcatraz and show them where their new home will be if they screw up this weekend," joked Johnson. "But in all seriousness, everyone knows about Alcatraz, and I enjoy going there because it has so much history.
"For example, few realize that it actually started out as a military hospital. It's such an ominous location, and you can really get a feel for what the prisoners went through. Being able to see and from what I understand, hear how the rest of the world was able to enjoy life such a short distance away must have really let them know the severity of their actions. It's quite an experience, and I'm glad we'll be able to share it with our teams."
However, once he returns to the Napa Valley and Infineon Raceway, Johnson will get back to his business of racing in arguably the most competitive division in all of motorsports. With another tightly packed field expected in Pro Stock this weekend, he will put the satisfaction of a solid performance in Seattle behind him and look to add yet another accomplishment to his impressive racing resume. Having been inducted into Infineon's Wall of Fame, he will look to become the first racer so honored to win a race at the multipurpose, state-of-the-art facility.
"Obviously, winning races is the object of this whole exercise, and I think we are getting ourselves back to that point," said Johnson. "We can once again depend on our GM Performance Part GTO, making changes to it and knowing how it is going to respond, as it did in Seattle. This allows me to go back to working on the engine side, which will only help our efforts. I'm pretty optimistic that both Kurt and my cars will become significant forces to be reckoned with, and we hope to provide evidence of that this weekend. The people at Infineon Raceway gave a tremendous honor one year ago by adding me to their Wall of Fame -- this year, I'd like to make a return appearance to another special location -- the winner's circle."
Quick Notes on Warren Johnson & the GM Performance Parts GTO team entering
The 19th annual NHRA California Nationals:
WJ has Won in the California Wine Country : This will be Warren's 19th career NHRA national event at Infineon Raceway. In his previous 16 starts, he has three wins in five final round appearances, and a 27-12 elimination round record for a .692 win percentage.
WJ's Qualifying Stats in Sonoma: In 16 Infineon starts, WJ has four No. 1 qualifying performances, 13 starts in the top four positions and a 4.813 average starting position.