Johnny Gray Out After First-Round Battle Of Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals
Johnny Gray’s Service Central Racing “Lemonator” Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car dropped a cylinder at the start of his first-round run, pushing the car out of the groove and contributing to an early loss today in the 32nd-annual MOPAR Mile-High NHRA Nationals here at Bandimere Speedway.
“The car dropped a cylinder at the hit, and I pulled it back into the groove once, but it pulled me back to the center and onto the marbles where I couldn’t get it back a second time,” said the 58-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver.
Coming out of the seventh-starting position, the 58-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver lost his race against 10th-qualifier Tim Wilkerson, who also went around Gray into the 10th, and final, spot in the Countdown to 1 standings (with four more races left to get into the playoff field). John Force won today’s race by defeating Gray’s DSR teammate Matt Hagan.
“I know what today’s results mean, but we’ve still got four races before the Countdown is set,” said the Artesia, N.M. native. “I’m still very confident we’ll claw our way back into the top 10. This is a good race car.
“We had a great test (prior to coming here) in Indy and we think our tune up is right for the races which follow; Denver is just so different, due to the heat and altitude – ‘welcome to the mountain.’”
According to Gray, one very positive aspect to the weekend in the Denver area was the universally positive reception to the “Lemonator” design of the Service Central car commemorating TBC Retail Group’s month-long fundraising drive for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in its fight against childhood cancer.
“I’m really proud of our part in helping Alex’s Lemonade Stand,” he said. “Everyone did a great job this weekend for this very worthy cause and I hope we raised a lot of money for it.”
The Western Swing – the grueling three-consecutive weekends of racing – continues next week with the 24th-annual FRAM/Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway, the 13th stop on the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule.
“We’ll go to Sonoma with our heads held high,” said Gray. “Despite what happened today, this car is running well and responding to the adjustments Rob (Wendland, crew chief) is making.
“When you add in the resources we have thanks to the overall DSR organization, the Service Central Funny Car will be one the competition has to reckon with.”
By: don schumacher racing