LAS VEGAS – Pro Stock driver Shane Gray wheeled his Big O Tires Pontiac GXP right down the racetrack in the first round of eliminations at his sponsor's title event, the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – and although he didn't get the win light in his opening-round meeting with the No. 1 qualifier, Gray will leave Las Vegas with more information gathered and a continuously brightening view on the future.
The return to the GXP and a shift in their engine program has given the Denver, N.C.-based team plenty to work on, and after being locked out of the Countdown to the Championship for the first time in his still-young career, Gray has been focused on ensuring that next season will be a completely different story.
That means that although the Gray Motorsports team is striving to qualify well and go rounds on raceday, they are also in test mode.
Gray qualified in the No. 16 position at The Strip and landed a first-round meeting with Jason Line. In preparation for their morning match, the team was well aware that without lane choice, they would likely be traveling down the less-desirable side of the racetrack.
"We were somewhat backed into a corner," said crew chief Justin Elkes. "We knew we would have to back the car down just to get it down the track, so we made the changes and were able to get down the track, but obviously that wasn't going to be enough for what Jason had."
Line clocked a 6.636 at 208.42 to Gray's 6.698, 206.76 for the win, but the notable factor from Gray's perspective was that his was one of just three cars out of eight to make it down the lane in the first round.
"That really wasn't a bad run, and we were happy to get down there in the Big O Tires Pontiac," said Gray. "We're just not fast enough yet.
We may have figured a few things out this weekend, and every little bit helps. For the immediate future, we're going to Pomona and we'll unload the car just like we loaded her up here. We've got big changes in store for next season, and that keeps us excited."
Source: Gray Motorsports