WARREN JOHNSON CALLS THE SHOTS AS CREW CHIEF W.J. Takes on New Duties for 1998 Pro Stock Campaign Sugar Hill, Georgia; January 20, 1998 -- Warren Johnson, owner/driver of the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pro Stock Pontiac, is ...
WARREN JOHNSON CALLS THE SHOTS AS CREW CHIEF
W.J. Takes on New Duties for 1998 Pro Stock Campaign
Sugar Hill, Georgia; January 20, 1998 -- Warren Johnson, owner/driver of the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pro Stock Pontiac, is widely regarded as the hardest working man in drag racing. W.J. is going to be working even harder in 1998 when he takes on the additional duties of crew chief.
Johnson's decision to become an owner/driver/crew chief in drag racing's most competitive class was prompted by the departure of former crew chief Greg Anderson, who will begin a new career as a Pro Stock driver. The Johnson team won three NHRA championships during Anderson's 11-year stint with W.J. Enterprises.
"I don't foresee any problems," said Johnson, 54, from his shop in Sugar Hill, Georgia. "I do have a few years of experience -- I was racing long before we knew what a crew chief was! I have my own ideas about the engine, clutch, and chassis combination. Pat, Ray, and the rest of the crew will be back, and we'll have some new personnel who we can train in our methods.
"Greg has had a desire to drive for a long time, and I'm glad that he found the right situation," Johnson added. "I told him that it's better to seize the opportunity and risk failure than to not take the chance and then wonder about it all your life. We wish him the best -- and look forward to racing with him."
Johnson has been working at his trademark relentless pace during the brief off-season. The days since the conclusion of the '97 NHRA series were spent racing in Puerto Rico, designing a new 5-speed clutchless transmission, and developing new cylinder heads and intake manifolds. W.J. plans to debut his new '98 Firebird at the season-opening NHRA Chief Auto Parts Winternationals on January 29-February 1.
"We'll have 16 straight hours to test my new Firebird and Kurt's new Camaro in the GM wind tunnel," Johnson revealed. "That's practically a day off compared to the time we've been putting in at the shop -- including Christmas and New Year's."
The "Professor of Pro Stock" shows no signs of slowing down in his 23rd year on the NHRA tour. Among active Pro Stock drivers, he has the most wins (63), the most final round appearances (102), the most No. 1 qualifying spots (89), and the most Top Speeds (130). Johnson also has the longest active winning streak (16 years) and the longest active qualifying streak (192 races) among all NHRA racers.
According to Johnson, work is an opportunity to succeed. If effort translates into results, 1998 could be another championship season for the hardest working man in drag racing.
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