Johnny Gray Reaches Quarterfinals Of Fram/Autolite NHRA Nationals
Johnny Gray, driver of the Service Central Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, lost in the second round after dropping a cylinder at the starting line in today’s 24th-annual FRAM/Autolite NHRA Nationals here at Infineon Raceway.
Coming out of the 11th-starting position, the 58-year-old Artesia, N.M. native took out Don Schumacher Racing teammate and sixth-qualifier Jack Beckman in the opening round of final eliminations. Gray ran a clean 4.148-second lap at 304.74 miles per hour in defeating Beckman, who smoked the tires while posting a 5.721-second pass at 127.04 mph.
Up against a second DSR teammate, Ron Capps, for the quarterfinals, the Service Central car lost a cylinder at the hit and immediately pulled out of the groove. The result – Capps wins with a 4.132-second pass at 298.80 mph to Gray’s 5.834 at 120.71 mph.
“Once we dropped the cylinder, the car pulled right out of the groove,” said Gray. “There was nothing I could do; I was at the mercy of the car which had a mind of its own at the time.
“We don’t know what happened, why we had the problem. It startled me and it startled Rob (Wendland, crew chief). We were using the same basic tune up we’d used in the first round and in qualifying.”
Overall, Gray was encouraged by the weekend’s overall results.
“The Service Central Funny Car is coming along,” he explained. “We’re getting better with every round and beginning to show some consistency. This car is coming on and we are going to make a run back into the Countdown to 1.”
By: don schumacher racing