BROWNSBURG, Ind. (May 29, 2012) - The weekend ahead is one that Johnny Gray and his NTB/Service Central Racing team hope will go by rather quickly. Oh, they aren't looking to rush along the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, they only hope that the venerable facility will set the stage for quick elapsed times and tremendous speed.
Gray's eyes light up when he speaks of racing at one of the most historic venues on the Full Throttle Series tour. Raceway Park is surrounded by lush greenery, and it's no secret: trees make oxygen, and oxygen makes racecars go fast.
"We like Englishtown," said the Artesia, N.M.-based Funny Car pilot who holds a 4.010 as his career-best e.t. in the nitro-infused category. "It's really a beautiful racetrack, you're in the trees, and the cars love it. You get to run real fast there, and we hope to do that in our NTB/Service Central car."
At this point in the season, Gray is sixth in the Full Throttle Series standings with season highlights that include capturing the pole at the second event of the year - the Arizona Nationals in Phoenix - and driving his Dodge Charger R/T to the final round at one of his sponsor's title events, the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville.
Gray's position in the standings is a definite improvement over where he and the Service Central team were at this time last year; in fact, Gray entered the event in the No. 9 spot in 2011, and his program didn't pick up steam until the Countdown to the Championship field had already been set, thusly eliminating the opportunity to make a run for the season title.
This year, through sheer and thoughtful determination and with the collaboration of the entire Don Schumacher Racing braintrust of crew chiefs, Gray is in a position to succeed, and that knowledge is a boost for the whole team.
"The confidence level of our team, for myself as a driver, for my crew chiefs Rob Wendland and Rip Reynolds, and for all of the guys on the team, it's really improved," said Gray. "We have our heads held high, and we will feel very confident going into each and every race from here on out. With just a little bit of luck, we can win any race we're at on any given day."