Old Bridge Township Raceway Park
Quarterfinals Finish At NHRA Supernationals Another Positive Step For Johnny Gray
Johnny Gray used his driving experience to “pedal” past Robert Hight in an exciting first round and gained a shot at number-one qualifier Mike Neff in the quarterfinals of today’s 42nd annual NHRA SuperNationals here at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Both drivers fought traction issues in the initial round, with Gray recovering more quickly, posting a 4.804-second, 274.39-mile-per-hour lap to top Hight’s 4.888 at 227.80.
He then drove the Service Central Racing Dodge Charger R/T to its best round of the weekend, 4.149 at 304.87, but it was not enough to overtake eventual-race-winner Neff, who turned in a 4.083 run at 313.66.
“Close, but no cigar,” said the 58-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver. “We got it together for that round and gave it a great shot, but Mike just had too much car today.”
According to Gray, the overall weekend was a move in the right direction.
“We continue to make steady progress,” said the Artesia, N.M., native and resident. “We put in an entire new steering system for this race and the car felt great; it was a tremendous improvement.
“We started out on Friday pretty rough, still hunting the right package; and by the end today it felt like we had caught up to it.”
Gray said the tune up used against Neff will be the starting point for the next stop on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series schedule, the June 17-19 11th annual Ford Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals.
“Lee (Beard, crew chief) said we’re not going to make any major changes for the next race,” explained the Don Schumacher Racing driver. “We all believe the Service Central Funny Car had a good weekend and is almost ‘there.’”
The quarterfinals appearance kept Gray in ninth place in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings, 20 points out of sixth (with DSR teammate Ron Capps, Jeff Arend and John Force occupying 6th, 7th and 8th places respectively).