JOhnny Gray Hopes To Pilot “Lemonator” Deep Into Race At This Weekend’s Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals
Johnny Gray, whose 2011 return to piloting a Funny Car after a five-year hiatus has been a series of disappointments sprinkled with flashes of success, believes changes made between testing sessions should pay off beginning this weekend at the 24th-annual MOPAR Mile-High NHRA Nationals here at Bandimere Speedway.
If so, the timing could not be better for the driver of the Service Central Racing “Lemonator” Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car as the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season moves into its final five races prior to the start of the Countdown to 1 championship playoffs.
“We tested in Joliet right after the last race and it was a total disaster,” said the 58-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver. “We made two good runs, then smoked the tires twice.
“We took the car back to the shop, rewired and reworked it, gathering parts and expertise from other DSR cars and crew chiefs before testing again in Indy, where it ran flawlessly! Three times down the track and it didn’t do anything stupid!”
Understandably, the Artesia, N.M. native comes to the Denver area with a positive attitude.
“I’m more excited right now than I’ve been in several races,” he said. “I just wish we could have gone right to the track, right to the race. I’m very excited about going out to Denver and seeing if they performed the right exorcism on this car.
“That is one of the great things about the DSR organization. We had at least 25 very talented guys around this race car during both test sessions and working on it in the Indianapolis shop.
“Our car now responds to changes and adjustments just like Jack and Ron’s (Beckman and Capps, DSR teammates). When you make subtle changes, it shows up in its performance.”
Gray comes to Denver holding on to the 10th and final spot for the Countdown, with Tim Wilkerson (-2 points) and Tony Pedregon (-17) less than a race-round win behind.
“I know the Service Central Funny Car is a good, fast car,” he said. “We just have to get it together and make our move into the top part of the field, which I think we will do.”
In addition to racing for a trophy and a higher position in the standings, Gray and the Service Central organization are involved in a month-long grassroots-fundraising campaign for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF). Gray and the Service Central Funny Car will both sport unique designs for the race encouraging contributions to the ALSF which is in a race to find a cure for childhood cancer.
“I’m very excited to help this cause any way I can,” said Gray. “I am honored to be chosen to drive the Lemonator.”
By: don schumacher racing