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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Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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