Jonathan Gray has never competed in a four-wide NHRA event - but he's about to.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 12, 2014) – Gray Motorsports driver Jonathan Gray has his work cut out for him this weekend as he takes on the challenging format of the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway. Despite the unusual circumstances, Gray put together a qualifying package that placed him higher in the order than his first attempt at a national event as a Pro Stock driver – and along the way he logged important practice runs en route to his first raceday start at the most unusual event on the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour.
Throughout four rounds of qualifying, Gray battled for position as one of four drivers on the track in any given session. In addition to the visual difference of four cars going down the track at one time as opposed to two, starting line procedures were also different from the norm as drivers and crew chiefs coordinated an effectively timed staging process with one another.
"As long as everyone does what they're supposed to do, it's okay," said Gray, who made his first Pro Stock start in Gainesville last month. "It's hard enough when you have two people up there and you're trying to make sure you do things right, cut a light and do your thing, and then when you add two more people, it can really make it difficult.
"I can't say that my driving has improved any this weekend, but it's kind of hard to focus on improving your driving and making sure you do the best you can when you're already new and you throw this in the mix. It does make it hard. But all in all, it's been a pretty good weekend so far. I think we handled it pretty well."
Gray clocked a 6.601 at 211.90 in the first session, followed by his best qualifying time of 6.564, 211.73 in the later round on Friday. Saturday's first session was tough for most, and Gray ran into tire shake on the warming surface to produce a 14.445. The last round, however, he recovered in his Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to clear the finish line with a 6.640 at 210.70.
Gray will start from the No. 10 spot – a three-position jump from his No. 13 start in Gainesville. He will race Erica Enders-Stephens, John Gaydosh and Allen Johnson in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
"To be honest, I don't think I could've expected anything more than what we were able to do during qualifying, and in terms of performance, we were real happy that we qualified better than we did in Gainesville," said Gray. "We made improvements, and it's been good. It would be nice if we could get past the first round tomorrow and make it even better."