SPOILER ROLE TO CONTINUE FOR JOHNNY GRAY IN UPCOMING AAA TEXAS FALL NATIONALS
ENNIS, TEXAS, September 20, 2011 – Johnny Gray rolls onto the strip here at the Texas Motorplex this weekend on a mission to disrupt the championship dreams of the playoff drivers while showing the capabilities of his Service Central/ NTB-National Tire and Battery® Racing Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, which would all be accomplished with a victory in the 26th-annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals.
A late season surge was not enough to qualify the 58-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver for the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, but by reaching the semifinals last week in the opening round of the six-race playoffs, he achieved one of his goals.
“I said all along, the way this Service Central hot rod is running now, if we didn’t make the Countdown, we were going to cause problems for the cars which did and which had hurt us earlier in the season when we were struggling,” explained the veteran drag racer who returned to the Funny Car ranks in 2011 after a five-year hiatus. “Well, we ruined (reigning champion) John Force’s first attempt to defend his title with a first-round win in Charlotte and we plan on doing similar things this week in Dallas.
“And winning the race would really allow us to make the point that this car is one which needs to be reckoned with now and next year!”
Gray broke through into the winner’s circle last month in Brainerd (Minn.), the first win of his pro career, which has, thanks to interruptions to take care of off-track responsibilities, spanned some 18 years as both a Pro Stock and Funny Car pilot.
“I’m having a great time driving this car and am very appreciative of Don Schumacher and the folks at Service Central,” said the Artesia, N.M. native. “I love driving a Funny Car and they helped make it happen. I’m glad we were able to put this car in the winner’s circle this year and plan on doing it again.”
Last year, in his Pro Stock Pontiac, Gray lost to his son and teammate Shane (a semifinalist), in the first round; he had finished runner up in the event the previous year.
“We’ve done okay in Texas,” he reminisced. “But this is a different car and a different year – we plan on doing better than okay.”