DENVER, N.C. (May 29, 2012) – Pro Stock driver Shane Gray is fond of Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, and returning this weekend for the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals brings back a rush of positive thoughts. The lauded facility in Englishtown is where Gray, driver of the NTB/Service Central Pontiac GXP, reached the first final round of his career midway through his first season as a professional driver in one of the most competitive categories in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
“Boy, that was great,” recalled Gray, who was the No. 6 qualifier at the event and eliminated Pro Stock veteran Warren Johnson in the opening round before knocking out businessman Bob Yonke and then taking down his own father, current NTB/Service Central Racing Funny Car pilot Johnny Gray, in the semifinals.
“We got to run Mike Edwards in the final, and of course he whipped my butt all over the place, but we were just so happy to even be there. To get to a final round in our first year was a big confidence boost, and I’ll tell you, I was surprised by how lucky we were.”
Gray takes a humble stance regarding reaching the money round for the first time, but the feat was a springboard for a solid finish in 2010. The Denver, N.C.-based driver qualified in the top half at eight of the remaining 12 events of the season and won the series-closing NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., to finish first in the nation.
“Our engine program was decent at the time, and the team did a great job with the car,” said Gray. “Racing my dad in the semis and the 2009 Pro Stock world champ Mike Edwards in the final in Englishtown, what more could a guy ask for? It was a great day and one I hope we can replicate.”
Gray and his NTB/Service Central Pontiac GXP were on a roll at the NHRA Summernationals in Topeka two weeks ago and finished in the semifinals, their best finish of the 2012 season to date, and they plan to capitalize on the momentum gained and sink themselves deeper into the top 10 in the Countdown to the Championship standings; Gray is currently holding in the No. 8 position.
“I like Englishtown,” said Gray. “Everything is fast there, and that makes us happy. We’re hoping that we’ll be fortunate enough to qualify in the top half of the field, and it would be great if we could win a round or two of racing. This has the potential to be a real fun race."