Don Schumacher Racing press release
SPOILER ROLE FOR JOHNNY GRAY IN COUNTDOWN STARTING AT THIS WEEKEND’S NHRA NATIONALS
CONCORD, N.C., September 12, 2011 – Johnny Gray is on a mission beginning with this weekend’s fourth-annual NHRA Nationals here at zMAX Dragway outside Charlotte.
The Don Schumacher Racing driver, having narrowly missed being part of the Countdown to the Championship field, plans to extract some retribution from the drivers competing in the six-race playoffs, while simultaneously showing just how good his Service Central/Tire Kingdom Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car is at this stage of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
Gray, who ended the 16-race regular season in 11th place of the Funny Car standings, expressed disappointment about not reaching the Countdown, but not remorse about the overall season.
“Of course we are a bit disappointed about not making the top 10,” said the 58-year-old Artesia, N.M. native who returned to the Funny Car ranks in 2011 after a five-year hiatus. “But we are excited about how the season has developed. This was a new team developed from the ground up early in the year by Don Schumacher and Service Central and it has taken us a bit to get our playbook in order.
“We’ve been running much better of late, including winning our first race of the season (Brainerd last month) which actually gave us a shot at the Countdown. We never gave up and we won’t through these next six races; as a matter of fact we plan on making those guys who beat up on us earlier in the season, pay now. We’re going to make life miserable for as many of the Countdown contenders as we can.
“Like I said, I see great things for the Service Central Funny Car team under Rob and Dickie (Wendland and Venables, co-crew chiefs), both for the remainder of this year and for next season! They’ve really got a handle on this car and it’s amazing how quickly they have taken to working together.”
Venables joined DSR just before the last race (in Indianapolis), while Wendland had moved up from assistant crew chief in July.