Different Look, Same Goal for Warren Johnson in Las Vegas

GM Performance Parts team aims to have a winning hand in the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals

Race fans attending this weekend's ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals may need to take a little extra time to find Warren Johnson among the expected large turnout of Pro Stock competitors. Gone will be Johnson's trademark GM Performance Parts yellow paint scheme with the patriotic red, white and blue tail, replaced by a dramatic new look highlighting ACDelco's title sponsorship of this event.

However, few questions will remain about W.J.'s whereabouts at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway once racing begins on Friday afternoon, as underneath a thin cover of vinyl lies the same powerful Grand Am that has showed remarkable performance over the last few races, including a win in Reading, PA.

"Although I have been proud to carry the GM Performance Parts banner for many years, I've also had a relationship with ACDelco since 1987," recounted Johnson. "I've made a lot of friends there over the years, and being able to carry their logo at their national event will be rather enjoyable. But even with the new look, this remains just another race, another place for us to do business, and we are in the business of winning."

The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is unique in the Johnson record book, as it is the only track on the 2003 NHRA POWERade circuit on which "The Professor" has yet to visit the winner's circle. Although a pragmatic Johnson is quick to dismiss any notion that this minor oversight provides extra motivation heading into this weekend's race, his dedication to excellence ensures the Nevada quarter-mile will soon be added to his extensive list of on-track successes.

"I guess the consensus is that it would be an accomplishment to win at every track on the circuit," said Johnson. "Then again, there are very few people who have won in as many places as I already have. Therefore, I'm not overly concerned about not winning at a particular track as much as I'm looking to win the next event on the schedule. In this case, we're headed to Las Vegas, so I guess we could kill two birds with one stone."

As expected, Johnson comes into this race with a definite plan of attack. Armed with a fast race car, a solid crew and years of experience under all types of conditions, he knows the potential for a winning weekend is there. However, in the highly competitive atmosphere of the Pro Stock division, it will take a near-perfect effort by all involved to live up to that pre-race promise.

"Regardless of what the points situation is, our outlook remains the same," stated Johnson. "If we're going to a race, we might as well win. Since Denver, we have been slowly creeping up on the performance side of our program, to the point that both my GM Performance Parts Grand Am and Kurt's ACDelco Cavalier are as fast and competitive as any car out there.

"There are currently four cars that seem extremely fast, ourselves included. Even so, no matter whom you are racing, you always have to be on your 'A' game. Every time down the track someone is going to be taking their best shot at knocking you off, and if you're not on it, they will.

"We have two races left in the 2003 season, which we see as building blocks for next year. Naturally, winning both events would be the best way to lay a solid foundation, which is precisely what the GM Performance Parts team will have their sights set on doing, starting this weekend in Las Vegas."

Facts on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing Team entering

The ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals:

* WJ hopes No. 7 is Lucky: This will be Warren's seventh NHRA Pro Stock national event appearance in Las Vegas, where he has two final round appearances in 2000 and 2002, and a 8-6 elimination round record.

* Warren's Qualifying Stats in Vegas: In his six previous races at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, WJ only one start outside the top half, with an average starting spot of 6.33.

* Missing Piece of the Puzzle: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the only stop on the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Schedule where Warren has yet to win.

* One year ago: WJ's elapsed time of 6.921 seconds in qualifying tied him with his son Kurt for the quickest, although KJ was awarded the No. 1 position on the top speed tie-breaker (199.20 for KJ vs. 199.11 for WJ). In Sunday's final eliminations, Warren powered his way to the final round, his third of the 2002 season and 138th of his career.

* Winning Streak: Warren Johnson has now won at least two races in 18 of the past 22 years. In addition, his current streak of winning at least one race a year for 22 consecutive years is the longest in NHRA history.

* POWERade Points standings: With two races remaining, WJ stands fourth in the 2003 POWERade points standings with 1,300 points.

* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 92 national event victories are the most ever in the history of the Pro Stock division and place him second on the all-time NHRA win list. His most recent win came three weeks ago at the Lucas Oil Nationals in Reading, PA.

* Career best elapsed time: 6.715 seconds, Englishtown 2003

* Career best top speed: 205.69 mph, Englishtown 2003