Johnny Gray’s Weekend Ends Early With Abreviated Qualifying For Ohio NHRA Race
With virtually no margin for error due to rain washing out Friday’s two rounds of qualifying, Johnny Gray could not overcome traction issues in today’s two sessions, resulting in the Service Central Racing Team Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car not making it into Sunday’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals here.
The Don Schumacher Racing driver’s second run of today looked like it might crack the field by bettering the 4.231-second “bump” spot, but a late loss of traction translated into a 4.449 lap at 238.05 miles per hour. This was better than his initial run of 5.992 at 242.84, but not enough.
“I was driving right down Broadway, about two thirds of the way down the track, when I spun the tires,” said the Artesia, N.M. native. “The track was tough all day at the top end, but other cars got down there and we should have, too.
“Of course it’s a shame we didn’t have the scheduled four rounds to make the field, but neither did any of the 16 who made it and the other four who did not.”
This was the second time in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Season Gray has failed to qualify, a period which has also seen two number-two starting positions and a trip to the finals in Las Vegas.
According to Gray the inconsistency frustrates him and the entire Service Central team.
“There is no excuse for this not being a top 10 car,” he said. “We have to get it fixed and fixed fast. We should be a Countdown car (the playoffs for the Funny Car championship which includes the top 10 drivers following the 16th race of the regular season) and we will be!”
He entered the weekend in 10th place of the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings with 431 points. His three closest pursuers are Tim Wilkerson (49 points behind), Jim Head (57) and Tony Pedregon (91); all three are in the field for Sunday’s race and within striking distance of Gray.
“I don’t know where we’ll be come Sunday night,” Gray said. “But I do know there are six more races until the Countdown begins and we will get this Service Central car well into the mix before the playoffs begin after Indy (the U.S. Nationals Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis mark the end of the regular season).
“I want to apologize to the great folks at Service Central and Don (Schumacher) for our results. We should be better, we are better than this and we will put up the numbers to prove it.”
The next opportunity for Gray comes July 7-10 at the 14th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill.
“We’ll be ready come Chicago,” he added.