BIG PICTURE STILL BRIGHT SAYS JOHNNY GRAY FOLLOWING FRUSTRATION IN HOUSTON
BAYTOWN, TEXAS, April 30, 2011 – Johnny Gray, looking at the season-long “big picture,” sees positive results coming from the effort he and the Service Central Racing crew did to get its Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the field for tomorrow’s 24th annual NHRA Spring Nationals here at Royal Purple Raceway, despite eventually losing the battle with the track conditions and the other racers.
The 58-year-old Artesia, N.M. native’s best run of the weekend, a 4.356-second, 274.94-mile-per-hour lap in the fourth round of qualifying today, was not good enough to get him over the 4.273-bump spot.
“We’ve been struggling with the car’s consistency,” said the Don Schumacher Racing driver. It’s as fast as anyone when it’s fast, but when it’s not, it’s not.
Heat on Friday and humidity coupled with heat today provided challenges to all of the teams in both Funny Car and Top Fuel running at the track formerly called Houston Raceway Park, with many struggling to get cleanly down the 1,000-foot drag strip.
Gray, though, did not use weather or track conditions as an excuse.
“My guys made some changes in the hard parts and it’s going to take a few runs to figure it out,” he said. “I still have 110 percent faith in Lee (Beard, crew chief) and the Service Central guys. They showed how they could overcome adversity and come together in Las Vegas (Gray went to the finals despite a fire and an electrical problem as well as qualifying issues).
“Weekends like this help build character, in individuals and teams. There’s no giving up with these guys.”
Gray, who came into this weekend holding sixth place in the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship standings, cannot wait to get to Commerce, Ga., for the next event.
“I’m still excited about this car and about this team,” he said. “Nobody likes to DNQ (did not qualify), but no one feels worse than me about what happened here. Everybody on this team gives their all on every run and everyone feels terrible about what happened.
“This, though, was just a small stumbling block for the Service Central team. Trust me, we’ll be back!”
-source: johnny gray PR