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NHRA: The Warren Report: Parts America Nationals Edition

30 September 1998

Warren Johnson/GM Goodwrench Service Plus and Kurt Johnson/ACDelco News and Notes for the NHRA Parts America Nationals, Heartland Park Topeka, October 1-4


* Kurt Johnson made his fourth final-round appearance of the 1998 season at the Keystone Nationals in Reading, Pa. on September 20, scoring his second win of the year and the 12th of his career. Warren and Kurt Johnson have now been in 12 out of 17 final rounds this season - a 70% average.

* Warren Johnson set the Maple Grove Raceway track records for elapsed time (6.940 seconds) and top speed (198.36 mph), eclipsing the marks set by Jim Yates in September 1997. W.J. now holds e.t. records at 15 out of 22 events and speed records at 21 out of 22. Which speed mark is missing from his collection? The record at the season-ending Winston Finals, set by Steve Schmidt last November at 198.19 mph.

* Warren reached another milestone at the Keystone Nationals, recording the quickest elapsed time in Pro Stock for the 100th time in his career. W.J.'s first Low ET came at the 1978 Springnationals where he stopped the timers at 8.636 seconds - a full 1.6 seconds slower than the 6.940-second e.t. he turned at Maple Grove Raceway.


The "Johnson Juggernaut" continued to roll inexorably toward a fourth NHRA championship as third-ranked Jeg Coughlin, Jr. fell to 386 points behind Warren and 39 behind Kurt. The Johnsons are now in position to post their second 1-2 finish in the championship standings, a feat they first accomplished in 1993.

"In the big picture, everything is looking pretty good," Warren noted.

With five races remaining on the NHRA schedule, a driver could score a maximum of 690 points by winning every race, qualifying No. 1, and setting the national e.t. record five times..


* Mike Stryker, crew chief for Warren Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac, was named the "Craftsman Crew Chief of the Race" at the Keystone Nationals - an honor he previously earned at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver, the Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, Calif., and the Prolong Northwest Nationals in Seattle.

* Warren Johnson has a hammerlock on the fastest Pro Stock speeds in NHRA history. Through the Keystone Nationals, his ten fastest speeds are:

201.20    3/14/98    Gainesville
201.11    3/13/98    Gainesville
201.11    3/22/98    Houston
201.08    3/22/98    Houston
200.80    3/21/98    Houston
200.66    3/14/98    Gainesville
200.66    3/14/98    Gainesville
200.53    4/27/97    Richmond
200.53    8/1/98     Seattle
200.44    3/14/98    Gainesville


Everyone talks about the weather, but few study it as diligently as Pro Stock teams. The performance of their naturally aspirated engines is almost totally dependent on atmospheric conditions. The Johnsons maintain meticulous records of the weather at every stop on the NHRA tour. Warren's long-range forecast calls for warmer temperatures and slower times than normal this fall.

"I don't think there's a realistic chance that anyone can set the e.t. record again this year with the possible exception of the Houston race," Warren predicted. "This year the average temperature has been 7 degrees warmer than last year at every track. Blame it on El Nino."


On the rare weekends when Warren Johnson isn't competing at an NHRA national event, you can usually find him match racing. On the open date between the U.S. Nationals and the Keystone Nationals, Warren and Kurt took on the "Dodge Boys" - Darrell Alderman and Scott Geoffrion - in a best-of-three match race during Mike Mayes Mopar Meet at Atlanta Dragway. Given the intensity of the rivalry between the two camps, it's more like the Hatfields and the McCoys than a drag race when they meet.

At the end of the day, the score was six to zero in favor of the Johnson clan. "If their motors were as fast as their mouths, they might be competitive," W.J. reported.

"We were ready for 'em. We filled up the radiators with alcohol and ice. In the first race, it took about them 45 seconds to stage. After we whipped them by two tenths, they decided it was fruitless to delay, so they went to the starting line and took their punishment."

There was a downside to the Johnsons' dominant performance at Atlanta Dragway, however. "We didn't sell many T-shirts at a Mopar meet," Kurt noted.


The Parts America Nationals, the 18th round of the 22-race Winston Drag Racing Series, will be contested at Heartland Park Topeka on October 1-4. Warren Johnson has tallied four of his 69 career victories in Topeka. He clinched his second Pro Stock championship in Topeka in 1993.

"Heartland Park Topeka is our kind of track," Warren declares. "It's a good track where you can put down all the power you have available. The altitude in Topeka affects the engine's horsepower, so it's a juggling act between the gear ratio and the clutch. I think with our chassis program, we'll fare a little better there this year."

Kurt concurs: "The race track in Topeka will be real good, and if we get decent air the cars should run low 7.0's and high 6.90s. The Parts America Nationals will be a driver's race because on a good track like Heartland Park Topeka we probably won't see guys shaking the tires or getting loose down track. We'll attack the track just like we did in Reading and work through a few transmission ratios.

"I said at the beginning of the year that we'd get to No. 2 in the points, but it took a little longer than I expected. I'm glad there aren't just 12 races in a year!"


Warren Johnson's Year-by-Year Results at Heartland Park Topeka:

Year    Qual.    Result
1989    1        First Round
1990    1        Second Round
1991    2        Runner-up (to Alderman)
1992    2        Winner (over Geoffrion)
1993*   1        Winner (over Morgan)
        1        Second Round
1994*   3        First Round
        2        Semi-Final
1995*   1        Winner (over Yates)
        3        Semi-final
1996*   2        Winner (over Yates)
        1        Second Round
1997*   10       First Round
        5        First Round

Total Races 14 Wins 4 Runners-up 1 Semi-Finals 2 Second Round 4 First Round 3

Kurt Johnson's Year-by-Year Results at Heartland Park Topeka: Year Qual. Result 1993* 2 Second Round 8 Semi-Final 1994* 4 Semi-Final 6 Second Round 1995* 9 Second Round 1 Semi-Final 1996* 9 Second Round 6 First Round 1997* 8 Second Round 4 First Round

*Fall and spring races in 1993-97

NHRA Parts America Nationals, Heartland Park Topeka, October 1-4
Topeka, Kan.
TV: TNN, Sunday, Oct. 4, 6:00-8:00 p.m. EDT

LAST RACE: Keystone Nationals September 20, 1998; Reading, Pa. Qualifying: Warren Johnson qualified No. 1 at 6.940/198.36 mph Kurt Johnson qualified No. 2 at 6.950/197.67 Eliminations: Round 1: W. Johnson defeated John Nobile K. Johnson defeated Robert Patrick Round 2: W. Johnson defeated Jim Yates K. Johnson defeated Troy Coughlin Semi-Final: Mike Edwards defeated W. Johnson (foul) K. Johnson defeated Jeg Coughlin Final: K. Johnson defeated Mike Edwards

Low ET: Warren Johnson, 6.940 seconds (track record) Top Speed: Warren Johnson, 198.36 mph (track record)

POINTS RACE: After 17 of 22 events; victories in parentheses 1. Warren Johnson (6) 1469 2. Kurt Johnson (2) 1122 -347 3. Jeg Coughlin (3) 1083 -386 4. Jim Yates (1) 1013 -456 5. Mark Osborne (1) 869 -600