Johnny Gray Misses By An Eyelash During NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Johnny Gray powered the Service Central Racing Team Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the top half of the field in qualifying but then dropped a tight first-round race in today’s 11th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals here at Bristol Dragway.
After waiting out a four-hour rain delay at the start of the day, the Don Schumacher Racing driver put down a 4.175-second, 303.57-mile-per-hour pass when eliminations finally began, falling shy of catching Jeff Arend, who turned in a lap of 4.153 at 305.91.
“That’s a tough loss,” said the 58-year-old Artesia, N.M. native and resident. “Considering how well we qualified during a weekend which was challenging due to weather changing from hot and sticky to cool and overcast, it was disappointing.”
Gray put the Service Central car into the top half of the field at the seventh-starting spot with a pass of 4.101 at 309.63 mph in Saturday’s final qualifying round. In addition, he chalked up a competitive 4.224 at 261.37 run in Friday’s second session.
“We had issues in each day’s opening qualifying round, and then found the right ingredients to get down the track significantly better on our second attempt,” he said. “Today, we had to deal with a long rain delay and then weather which changed between our setup in the pits and the starting line, which made getting the tune up right extremely difficult.
“We just have to get better and more consistent. And when we do, good things will become the norm.”
Gray leaves Northeastern Tennessee holding the 10th and final spot for the championship playoffs with seven races remaining in the regular season of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
“We’re just a round win out of eighth place and three out of sixth,” said Gray. “We’d like to be in the middle of the pack when the post season begins – and we’ll get there.”
- source: dsr