Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
W.J. ready to commit 'mulligan' season to memory
In light of the many accomplishments the GM Performance Parts Grand Am driver has accumulated during his stellar career, this most recent campaign could be best viewed as W.J.'s mulligan.
"I guess you could say the 2004 season will not receive a prominent spot in the Johnson family scrapbook," said Johnson. "Quite frankly, I can hardly wait to put a period on it. The best way to explain it is that things did not exactly go the way we anticipated. We broke things this year that we didn't even know we owned.
"However, I prefer to look at things with an optimistic point of view. Certainly, it has been a challenging and even frustrating year, but it has also been a very educational one, giving our program something to build on for the future.
"For example, since the early part of the season, we committed ourselves to the development of the DRCE 3 engine. It was something that had to be done, and this GM Performance Parts team was up to the challenge.
"It has taken a tremendous amount of work and a lot of trial and error, but I believe we now have a workable piece that is already as good as our previous design engines, which should put us in a good position for 2005."
However, before Johnson and his crew can fully focus on next year, they must concentrate their attention on the final race on the POWERade Drag Racing schedule, this weekend's Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. It is an event that Johnson sees as an opportunity to be maximized, and arrives at Pomona Raceway determined to end the year on a high note, a distinct possibility considering his nine career wins at this particular facility.
"Although we are already working on things for the 2005 season, we are not about to discount the importance of this last race," said Johnson. "Our race car has thrown us quite a few curves of late, but I believe we should have a fairly good feel for it this weekend. In addition, we will continue to the run the "3" motor, which has shown tremendous potential.
"Basically, our goal will be to marry the two together and make consistent, representative runs. If we are able to do that, we should be fine. We have a tremendous amount of tuning notes on Pomona Raceway, and have had success there in the past, so our GM Performance Parts Grand Am knows its way to the winner's circle. It is a drive that we are going to do our best to repeat this weekend, which would be the best way to put this 2004 season in our rear view mirrors."
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