ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 2, 2012) - The NTB/Service Central hot rod has really come around at the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, and when crew chief Rob Wendland and Assistant Crew Chief Rip Reynolds ask, the previously untamed Dodge Charger R/T has taken to complying. During qualifying, Funny Car driver Johnny Gray piloted the red and blue racecar to a set of solid runs that equated to a start from the No. 3 position and a raceday match-up with Jim Head.
"The NTB/Service Central car is really performing well," said Gray. "Rob and Rip are on it, the car feels great, and boy, we just couldn't be happier. We're ready to go in there tomorrow and do battle."
Only one of the team's four passes during qualifying was slower than 4-flat, with Gray clocking a 4.08 in the first attempt and a 4.022 at 318.84 mph that eclipsed the track's previous record for e.t. in the second session, although there were quicker times ahead and the record would not belong to the NTB/Service Central driver by the end of the session.
On Saturday and with room to breathe, Wendland and company opted to try out a new pair of Weld Wheels and produced a 4.11, and they closed out the final session with a low-of- the-round 4.045 that was good for three valuable bonus points.
"This just adds another page to our playbook, and that's really exciting," said Wendland. "Anytime you can go down the track four times in a row and the car responds to everything you do to it, it's obviously very positive. It was also really neat that we were able to put the Weld Wheels on the car and be the first to go down the track with them. It was neat for us and for Weld Wheels, and we learned a lot from that.
"It was very humbling tonight to run that 4.04 and give these guys back the racecar that we ended the year with last year. It's been smooth sailing all weekend, the car is just phenomenal and Johnny has done a great job driving. Hopefully this will continue through tomorrow and we'll be here until about 5pm or so."
Gray approaches raceday and his first-round meeting with Head - a driver he last faced during eliminations at the fall Arizona Nationals in Phoenix last season, where he beat his opponent en route to the final - with optimism.
"It's all good," said Gray. "We're just going to go into tomorrow with a real good hot rod and high hopes. Good Lord willing, we're going to go some rounds tomorrow."