Photos courtesy NHRA

NHRA: Warren ‘The Professor’ Johnson wins ‘Unfinished Business’ battle of retired drag racing greats

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Former Pro Stock multi-champion Warren “The Professor” Johnson lived up to his nickname, taking all of his opponents to school to win NHRA’s “Unfinished Business,” a competition that brought eight drag racing legends out of retirement this weekend as part of the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.

Johnson, of Duluth, Georgia, was one of the most prolific drivers in the Pro Stock category during his three-plus decade racing career, earning six championships and 97 national event wins. And even though he’s retired now, he showed during Saturday’s semifinal and final rounds that he hasn’t lost a step on the quarter-mile.

Pro Stock great Warren Johnson won the “Unfinished Business” matchup of drag racing greats Saturday at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway. Photo courtesy NHRA.

Johnson defeated former three-time Top Fuel champion Shirley Muldowney in the semifinal round, and then beat former Funny Car great Ed “The Ace” McCulloch in the final round of the eight driver, single-elimination format.

Even though McCulloch got the jump at the starting line to begin the winner-take-all final round, Johnson roared back to win, posting a top elapsed time of 14.73 seconds to McCulloch’s 15.05 seconds.

Johnson’s prize for winning? Just bragging rights and a trophy, but that was fine by him.

We had a lot of fun at this, but it was really for the fans,” Johnson told National Dragster’s Phi Burgess. “I didn’t do anything to the car but sit in the seat.”

McCulloch, who upset long-time rival Don “The Snake” Prudhomme in Friday’s first round of competition, defeated former Top Fuel champ Joe Amato in Saturday’s semifinal before meeting Johnson in Saturday’s final round.

But once that final round was over and Johnson was declared the winner, McCulloch proposed a grudge match race with Johnson, suggesting they switch cars. All drivers in Unfinished Business competed in equally-prepared Toyota Camrys.

Johnson accepted McCulloch’s challenge, the duo swapped cars and McCulloch ultimately won the “extra round,” covering the quartermile in 15 seconds flat to Johnson’s 15.10-second run.

“I rest my case,” McCulloch laughed to National Dragster. “(Johnson) was taking us to school all weekend. That was a lot of fun. I hope the fans enjoyed it.

What NHRA and Toyota did with these cars and getting them wrapped and getting all of us old guys together, it was a lot of fun for us and the fans. The competitive nature came out in all of us.”

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Dean Wilson out for rest of Supercross season

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“Such a massive gut punch on Saturday,” Dean Wilson wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. “Just as I was gaining good momentum riding well, feeling good and chasing my first win things turned in the blink of an eye.”

With that post, Wilson announced that he will be out for the remainder of the Supercross season, which includes races at East Rutherford, N.J. and Las Vegas, Nev. An MRI earlier in the week revealed a shoulder injury. He also sustained damage to his kidney in a Lap 8 accident while he was running in the top 10.

Wilson’s injuries will not require surgery.

Wilson’s season began with a lot of promise. Earning the holeshot in the season-opening race at Anaheim, Wilson led for a time before narrowly missing the podium in fourth.

Two weeks later, Wilson finished fifth overall in the Triple Crown event of Anaheim II. Those are his only top-fives of the season.

“The tough part of this is I have been trying so hard this year to be back where I need to be trying to get a job for next year,” Wilson continued.

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Such a massive gut punch on Saturday. Just as I was gaining good momentum riding well, feeling good and chasing my first win things turned in the blink of an eye. Started off Denver topping free practice then went on to qualify P1 in qualifier 1. Qualifier 2 didn’t get the cleanest laps but ended with a 4th. On to the main event I was running around 7th on lap 7 moving forward and as I came around for the rhythm section I tripled in and something freak happened causing the bike to nose dive after I tripled in and pile driving me into the ground. The tough part of this is I have been trying so hard this year to be back where I need to be trying to get a job for next year. It’s tough just hoping to have a ride each year. 2nd part is people saying “wilson’s hurt again, big surprise there” when it was something that wasn’t my fault. It’s a tough pill To swallow.. I injured my shoulder and got a contusion on my kidneys. Got MRI and good news is I dodged a bullet on my shoulder and I am just going to give it a few weeks of rest and therapy and see where we are at. Huge disappointment to end my SX season like this. Thanks to my whole team for everything and everybody checking in on me. I really appreciate it. I will be back.

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Next Race: East Rutherford April. 27, on NBCSN and on NBC Sports Gold

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