Service Central driver Shane Gray improves on raceday but suffers disappointing early exit
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (April 1, 2012) – Shane Gray and his Gray Motorsports team entered the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a positive attitude and what they felt would be a little extra something in the arsenal for their Big O Tires/Service Central Pontiac GXP. However, they suffered a disappointing first-round loss that has them heading back to the shop in Denver, N.C., with even more hard work on the agenda to prepare for the upcoming NHRA 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte.
Qualifying was a struggle for the tireless Gray Motorsports crew at the racetrack on the outskirts of Sin City. Four passes failed to yield the results that they were after, and so the decision was made to breathe new life into the heart of the Big O Tires/Service Central Racing Pontiac with the installation of a fresh engine in preparation for the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
The new powerplant was one that recently tested exceptionally well; unfortunately, success was simply not to be had for Gray on this particular weekend.
"We really thought that engine would be better, and we did run quicker than we had earlier in the weekend, but it turned out that we just didn't have enough for [first-round opponent] Allen Johnson," said Gray, who clocked a 6.689, 205.19 mph to Johnson's 6.637, 207.15.
"That sure hurts, because we really wanted to do better for our friends at Big O Tires and Service Central. We know we still have work to do to get everything in line for a better season, and we're ready to get right back to the shop and make it happen."
Crew chief Justin Elkes explained that although the new engine was favorable in testing, it simply did not care for the air and conditions in Las Vegas.
"It ran well in testing, and we felt it was our best shot for raceday," said Elkes. "Things didn't go as we had planned or hoped, but the positive thing that we can take away from this weekend is that we found some things during previous testing and didn't know quite how to apply them, and now we've figured that out. Horsepower-wise, we are suffering with this engine, so our plan is to go home to find more."