Heartland Park Topeka
JOHNNY GRAY’S GOAL: ON-TRACK PROGRESS AT NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS
TOPEKA, Kan., – Johnny Gray expects the changes adopted by the Service Central Racing Funny Car team will begin showing results this weekend during the 23rd annual NHRA Summer Nationals here at Heartland Park Topeka.
The team, put together by Don Schumacher Racing at the onset of this year, remains in the top-10 of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings as it continues development.
“This Service Central Funny Car is getting better on every run down the race track as Lee Beard (crew chief) and Rob Wendland keep making changes to the car’s hardware,” said Gray. “We just need to keep making laps, to get more experience for things to come together – and they will.
“I feel like things are turning around, despite how it appears. Like the rest of the team, which was put together from scratch less than six months ago, I am still getting comfortable with this car.”
The 58-year-old Artesia, N.M. native and resident opened the season following a five-year hiatus from driving the 8,000-horsepower Funny Cars. He had spent the time establishing his Pro Stock team, including driving one of the cars, and running his non-racing businesses.
“Funny Cars have changed a lot from my previous time in them,” he explained. “I’m still getting used to the differences in their steering and driving, which showed in Atlanta.
“I was fighting the car, but just couldn’t get it back when I dropped a cylinder, which pushed me across the center line,” said Gray after his first-round departure last week. “Again, it will just take laps down the track to get better.”
Gray maintains his 10th spot in the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings heading into the Summer Nationals, a crucial place as the top-10 drivers qualify for the playoffs.
“We’re going to get it together,” he said. “And when we do, this car is going to go fast, very fast. We’ve already shown that (a whisker-thin margin of a loss last month to Robert Hight) in Las Vegas, we just have to get consistent.
“This week in Kansas would be a great time to turn the corner and get back to the finals. Don (Schumacher), Lee, Rob and everyone from Service Central have provided me with a great car; I just want to put it where it belongs – in the winner’s circle!”
-source: don schumacher racing