Don Schumacher Racing press release
JOHNNY GRAY CHARGES INTO INDIANAPOLIS FOR RUN AT SPOT IN PLAYOFFS
INDIANAPOLIS, August 29, 2011 – Two weeks ago the numbers were not favorable, but a win in the last race means Johnny Gray’s mathematical ability to put the Service Central Racing Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the playoffs improved dramatically, hinging on some luck and his going deep into this weekend’s 57th-annual U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil on the drag strip of Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
The 58-year-old Artesia, N.M. native comes into the final race of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series regular season 62 points behind Bob Tasca III, who holds the 10th – and final – spot in the Countdown to the Championship.
“I know it looks tough,” said the Don Schumacher Racing driver. “But it looked even tougher before Brainerd (Minn.), and then we went out and put the Service Central Funny Car into the winner’s circle for the first time this year. We’ll need a little bit of luck and then have to go three rounds beyond Bob, but that’s part of racing.
“For the past several races I’ve said it was going to be difficult getting into the Countdown, but we would keep working at it. And I’ve also said if we don’t make it, we will make it tough on those in it during the final six races of the year. We’ve shown everyone we can get the Service Central Funny Car to go rounds against anybody.
“Rob (Wendland, co-crew chief) and the Service Central guys have been doing a great job, making this car better and better with every run. With the addition of Dickie Venables (who joins the team this week as co-crew chief), who has won Funny Car championships and races in this sport, we should get even better. He’s like Rob – someone who grew up in the sport and really is dedicated to getting a car down the track. I’m real excited to have his extra set of eyes and his knowledge to make us an even better race team.”
Don Schumacher added Venables to the Service Central team when the 28-year-veteran, who tuned Tony Pedregon to the 2007 Funny Car title, became available.
"I look to strengthen my organization whenever possible and Dickie's talent gave me this opportunity," said Schumacher. “I think Dickie and Rob Wendland will make a terrific team. Our success with co-crew chiefs on the Matco Tools and FRAM/Prestone Top Fuel dragsters (seven wins between these teams this year) has shown just how effective this kind of setup can be.”
Making a run at a Countdown spot is just one of Gray’s 2011 Indianapolis highlights.
“I’m really excited to have my two sons racing here with me this weekend,” he said. “Shane will be in his usual seat behind the wheel of the Service Central Pro Stock Car for Gray Motorsports and Jonathan, my youngest, just earned his license and will drive a Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt in the C Super Modified Automatic class.”