Johnny Gray To Start Seventh In NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Johnny Gray, driver of the Service Central Racing Team Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, grabbed the seventh starting position for Sunday’s 11th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals here at Bristol Dragway.
The 58-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver traveled down the 1,000-foot drag strip in 4.101 seconds at 309.63 miles per hour during Saturday’s fourth- and-final-qualifying run, thus earning a first round match – and lane choice – against Jeff Arend. Gray and Arend have split this year’s two previous meetings.
“That last run was great as we finally got down the track cleanly on all eight cylinders,” Gray said. “We showed our true potential. We know how the Service Central Funny Car is capable of performing and that round, again, showed the rest of the Funny Car category.
“I know I keep saying that we are getting better, and we are; we just have to get more consistent – and this will come.”
The Artesia, N.M., native and resident is tied for ninth in the Funny Car championship heading into this, the ninth race of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season. Remaining within the top 10 is crucial as these drivers qualify for the six-race Countdown to 1playoffs, which begin with the 17th race of the season.
“The championship has been won from the 10th spot in the past,” said Gray. “But we aim to be in a much better position to strike for that trophy when the post-regular season begins after the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis (Labor Day weekend).
“Like I have said, we just need to get consistent, to go rounds on Sundays, and the rest will follow.”