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Like he has so many times in the past, GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am driver Warren Johnson has battled his way to the top of the Winston Pro Stock points standings. With 12 races down and 12 races to go, the 57-year-old "Professor" of Pro Stock is working hard to build on a tenuous lead as the series embarks on the beginning of an arduous summer stretch that includes four stops in five weeks. The points lead in the NHRA Pro Stock class has already changed hands seven times this year following the completion of a national event. Johnson knows that keeping his Grand Am at the front of the pack will not be an easy task.

Thus far in 2001, the five-time Winston champion has visited the winner's circle on four occasions including back-to-back victories at the series' last two events in Columbus and St. Louis. He put the exclamation point on the win at St. Louis by tying Bob Glidden on the NHRA's all-time list for victories by a Pro Stock driver with 85.

Q: How would you evaluate your season at midyear?

WJ: Most of the teams out there are in the same boat from the standpoint that we're all dealing with new cars. We should've had them completely figured out by now, but they still throw you a little bit of a curveball here and there. A lot of that is dictated by the fact that NHRA has gone back and made a lot of these tracks better, so your notes from a year ago or two years ago aren't really valid anymore. Plus they've changed the type of spray they use on the track so we're not talking about the same racetracks that we had a year ago. We're in here with new cars, Grand Ams and Cavaliers, and new racetracks. You look at some of the cars out there that used to not have a problem getting down the track and this year they're having some problems. We're trying to find out how big of a window we have to operate in with these cars, and every so often you overstep the bounds and the result is a run that isn't what you expected.

Q: How do you measure success?

WJ: If you go by the total scorecard, obviously we've been more successful than the majority of the racers out there, but at the same time we haven't been as successful as we think we should be. We take pride in having a well-prepared operation and team. When the result isn't what we anticipated or what we prepared for, then obviously we've got shortcomings.

Q: Do you feel you constantly have to raise the bar to stay motivated?


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