Johnny Gray Joliet Saturday Report

Route 66 Raceway

Johnny Gray Sees Testing As Means To Fix Issues After Missing Field For Route 66 NHRA Nationals

Johnny Gray believes a comprehensive test session here at Route 66 Raceway Monday will provide needed answers for the Service Central Racing Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team, which failed to qualify for Sunday’s 14th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals.

Johnny Gray
Johnny Gray

Photo by: Glenn F. Katauskas

After suffering its second-consecutive DNQ Saturday, and third of the season, Rob Wendland, newly appointed crew chief who ran the car this weekend for the first time, will have several runs to discover what is ailing the Funny Car.

According to Gray, “we’re going to make a number of runs Monday and have the Service Central car straightened out by the end of the day.

“It’s hard not to be disappointed after what happened this weekend. We’ve taken the Service Central car and made it the same as the cars driven by (Don Schumacher Racing teammates) Ron Capps and Jack Beckman and worked with their crew chiefs, so it’s frustrating when they go down the track and qualify well while we struggle.

“I know Rob and the team will figure it out and have the car ready for Denver (next stop, July 22-24, in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season).”

Added Wendland, “it’s disappointing because this is a better car then we saw today. I’m disappointed for our sponsors, for Don Schumacher and for Johnny, but we’ll get it right and Monday’s test will be tremendous help in getting there.”

Heat produced challenging track conditions for every team during the Friday and Saturday’s qualifying sessions, but it was the rule which limits Friday’s recognized times to the top-12 performers that proved detrimental for the Service Central team.

Gray’s first Friday run of 4.394 seconds at 230.13 had him fifth after the first round, but a loss of traction in the second session saw him fall to 13th, which meant no official time for the day. Neither run Saturday – 5.037 at 201.61 or 6.391 at 103.36 – were quick enough to crack the top 16, which had a 4.429-second “bump spot.”

“I’m not going to make any excuses about the rules, because they are the same for everybody and have been this way for several years,” said Gray. “We’ll get it right and be ready for the next one.”

The 57-year-old Artesia, N.M. native’s hold on the 10th – and final spot – for the Countdown to 1 playoffs is dependent upon the results of Sunday’s race. Both Tim Wilkerson and Tony Pedregon are within striking distance.

“Regardless of what happens Sunday, we’ve got five races beginning with Denver to get ourselves solidly into the Countdown,” Gray said. “Obviously, that’s our goal, along with putting this Service Central car where it belongs – in the winner’s circle!”

By: don schumacher racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Johnny Gray , Don Schumacher
Tags chicago, don schumacher, funny car, johnny gray, joliet, nhra, route 66 raceway