NHRA: Warren Report - Atlanta
12 April 1998* STILL STREAKING
At the start of the Fram Nationals, Pro Stock points leader Warren Johnson is the hottest driver in NHRA drag racing. Johnson is riding a three-race winning streak with victories in Phoenix, Gainesville, and Houston. A fourth straight win in Atlanta would tie W.J.'s longest previous winning streak -- he won four straight in 1995 (Seattle, Brainerd, Indy, and Reading).
W.J. put together three-race winning streaks in 1992, 1993, and 1995 -- the three seasons when he won NHRA Pro Stock championships. If that pattern continues in 1998, Warren could be streaking toward his fourth title.
* NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Atlanta Dragway is just a few miles up the interstate from the headquarters of Warren Johnson Enterprises in Sugar Hill, Ga. Warren and Kurt Johnson have used their "home field advantage" to the maximum. The Johnson family has been represented in the final round at the Fram Nationals in four of the last five years.
W.J. has three wins (1986, 1988, and 1993) and three runners-up (1990, 1991, and 1994) at the Fram Nationals. K.J.'s record shows one win (1996) and two runners-up (1993 and 1997). The Fram Nationals have been very, very good to Kurt: In the five national events he's contested at Atlanta Dragway, he's advanced at least to the semi-finals in every one of them.
* 600 WINS . . . AND COUNTING If Warren Johnson wins one round at the Fram Nationals, it will be the 600th round win of his career. Johnson's won-lost record in national event competition now stands at 599-224 (.728).
Johnson's total of 599 round wins is the highest among active NHRA drivers.
* WARREN HITS GRAND SLAM
Warren's 66th career victory in the preceding event at Houston Raceway Park was the 28th national event in which W.J. has hit a "Grand Slam" -- he won the race, qualified No. 1, ran the Low E.T., and posted the Top Speed. Johnson has "tripled" 62 times in his career -- a triple being defined as No. 1 Qualifier, Low E.T., and Top Speed.
W.J. is dominating the performance statistics in 1998. In the first four races of the season, Warren has two No. 1 qualifying spots, three Low E.T.s, and four Top Speeds.
* 200 MPH MACHINE
Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac made six more 200 mph passes at Houston Raceway Park, increasing his tally of 200 mph runs to 14. At the start of the 1998 season, only two 200 mph Pro Stock runs had been logged in the NHRA record book -- both by W.J.
* A RACE TO REMEMBER
When Warren and Kurt Johnson squared off in the final round of the 1993 Fram Nationals, it was the first father vs. son final round in NHRA history. Warren prevailed in the intramural race, 7.179 to 7.226. W.J. scored his 37th career victory that afternoon, while Kurt advanced to his first final round in only his fifth race on the NHRA circuit.
Since then, Warren and Kurt have raced eight times in final rounds, with W.J. taking six wins to Kurt's two. The two have met 30 times in national event competition, with 21 wins for Warren and 9 wins for Kurt.
* THE SON ALSO RACES
Kurt Johnson made his first final-round appearance of the 1998 season with his ACDelco Camaro at the Winston Invitational, a non-points special event in Rockingham, N.C., on April 5. The previous day, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- son of seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt -- won a Busch Grand National race at Texas Motor Speedway in his ACDelco-sponsored Monte Carlo.
"After my ACDelco teammate won the Grand National race in Texas, I wanted to keep that ACDelco banner flying high," said Kurt. A transmission malfunction in the final round handed the victory -- and the $50,000 winner's purse -- to Mark Osborne.
* ATLANTA DRAGWAY RECORD
Warren Johnson's year-by-year results at the Fram Nationals: Year Qualified Result 1981 7 First Round 1982 4 Second Round 1983 4 Second Round 1984 1 Second Round 1985 1 Second Round 1986 1 Winner (over Glidden) 1987 5 Second Round 1988 2 Winner (over Christian) 1989 2 Second Round 1990 3 Runner-up (to Morgan) 1991 4 Runner-up (to Glidden) 1992 4 Second Round 1993 1 Winner (over K. Johnson) 1994 1 Runner-up (to Geoffrion) 1995 1 Semi-final 1996 2 First Round 1997 1 Semi-final
Total Races 17 Wins 3 Runners-up 3 Semi-Finals 2 Second Round 7 First Round 2
Kurt Johnson's year-by-year results at the Fram Nationals: Year Qualified Result 1993 3 Runner-up (to W. Johnson) 1994 6 Semi-final 1995 9 Semi-final 1996 9 Winner (over Yates) 1997 4 Runner-up (to Yates)