Johnny Gray Targets Continued Progress Heading Into NHRA Northwest Nationals
Johnny Gray believes this weekend’s 24th-annual NHRA Northwest Nationals here will provide the right environment for his Service Central Racing Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team to maintain their forward progress as they continue their quest to make the championship playoffs.
According to the 58-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver, the setting at Pacific Raceways is conducive to showcasing crew chief Rob Wendland’s recent tuning successes.
“Thanks to the trees surrounding the track, there is a lot of oxygen which should help us run well beginning with Friday’s first qualifying session (nitro is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. PT),” he explained. “We’ve been steadily improving since Rob took over the car (for the Joliet, Ill. race last month) and I think it will really show this weekend.
“Last week in Sonoma we had a great run in the first round against Jack (Beckman, DSR teammate), but we lost cylinder in the second round which ended our day. We don’t yet know why we dropped a cylinder, but we know the setup was good, and it should work just as well in Seattle.
“We’ll take the Service Central Funny Car there, let Rob continue to make his adjustments and we’ll continue to get better and better.”
Gray comes to the Northwest holding 11th place in the 2011 NHRA Funny Car standings and on the outside of the top-10 positions necessary to qualify for the Countdown to 1. With only three races left in the regular season before the points are reset for the championship run, the Artesia, N.M. native trails Tim Wilkerson for the final playoff spot by 52 points (less than three race-round wins) and knows he must make the most of every opportunity.
“We’ve just got to go rounds in the races through the U.S. Nationals in Indy (the final regular season race on Labor Day weekend) to get into the top 10,” he said. “We’re getting there; we’ll get it done.”
By: don schumacher racing