BRADENTON, Fla. -- While snowbirds flocked to Florida for the holidays, Pro Stock drivers Warren and Kurt Johnson were flying low in a two-day test at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park on Dec. 18-19. The Johnsons debuted two new cars and announced that veteran racer Buddy Ingersoll would join the team as a consultant for the 2002 campaign.
Kurt was the quickest and fastest driver on the track after he ran 6.817 at 202.42 mph in his new Don Ness-built ACDelco Cavalier. Warren was clocked at 6.820 seconds at 201.79 mph in his new GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am constructed by Jerry Haas Race Cars.
"We made 11 attempts and completed 11 successful runs," Kurt reported. "The first pass on the new car was a 6.88, and on the second day it ran 6.81 right off the bat. Dad and I finished up the test with side-by-side 6.82s.
"We're certainly happy with this performance, but we still have room for improvement," he continued. "We were shaking the left tire just a little on every run. If we can clean that up, we'll definitely have a fast race car. The car is smooth as silk after second gear, just like my Camaro that won six races in 2000."
While K.J. was pleased with the fast times, he was also relieved to have exorcised the gremlins that plagued him at the end of the season.
"We ran the same engine that we used at the NHRA Finals with a new fuel system and a new electrical system," he revealed. "The engine didn't shut off in first and second gear like it did in Pomona, so we've cured that problem. That was a nice gift for the holidays!"
Warren also made 11 runs in Bradenton, with elapsed times ranging from 6.820 to 6.881 and a top speed of 201.79 mph.
"The first pass on the new car was a 6.885," recalled the six-time Pro Stock champion. "We made some adjustments and ran 6.86, 6.84, and 6.83. After a little more work it ran three 6.82s.
"The conditions in Bradenton were virtually the same as the last race at Pomona, with relative altitudes between 1,400 and 1,900 feet," Johnson observed. "The first 60 feet of the track were typical of a national event track, and with 14 cars testing we had a good yardstick to measure our performance.
"Both cars showed remarkable consistency," W.J. added. "We know what we're going to change before the next test session."
Johnson's stable of race cars is expanding, with new cars from both Haas and Jerry Bickel slated for delivery before the start of the 2002 season. His team has also grown with the addition of Buddy Ingersoll to the roster.
"I guess we'll see whether two grouchy old men can win some races!" W.J. said with a laugh. "Buddy has a lot of track savvy, and we think he can help us achieve the consistency we've lacked at times. His role will be to evaluate the overall car setup in relation to the track conditions. That's an area where his experience will be an asset."
The Johnsons will be at their headquarters in Sugar Hill, Ga., for the holidays, but they plan to make several more trips to Florida before the season-opening race in Pomona, Calif., on Feb. 7-10.
"We'll test again in mid-January, make some changes, and go back
to Bradenton again," W.J. declared. "We're prepared to do whatever it