Don Schumacher Racing press release
JOHNNY GRAY EXTENDS CONSECUTIVE-FINAL-ROUND STREAK AT SUNDAY’S BIG O TIRES NHRA NATIONALS
LAS VEGAS, October 30, 2011 –Johnny Gray finished today’s 11th-annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals here as event runner up, the third consecutive final-round appearance for the Service Central/Big O Tires Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver.
The 58-year-old Artesia, N.M. native’s flopper dropped a cylinder shortly after the hit and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps was able to drive away and into the winner’s circle on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“You always want to win the race when you come to the starting line,” recounted the veteran driver. “But we can’t complain about how things have been going since Brainerd (seven races ago). The Service Central/Big O Tires Funny Car has been just great, which is a testament to this great team, to Rob and to Dickie (Wendland and Venables, co-crew chiefs).”
The team’s performance during the weekend earned it the Full Throttle Hard-Working Crew Award for “making it to their third-straight final-round appearance after blowing the body off the car during qualifying.”
A mechanical fault caused a catastrophic-engine failure and explosion which blew three-quarters of the body higher than the scoreboard and onto the return road during Saturday’s final-qualifying round. Gray had already produced a 4.118-second lap to gain the 10th-starting spot prior to the spectacular run.
“I can’t say enough about the great job my guys did in getting this car ready for today’s race,” he added. “But, they’ve been working like this all year, even though we didn’t make it into the Countdown (for the Championship playoffs).”
Gray continued his blistering pace in Countdown races by defeating Melanie Troxel, Paul Lee and Bob Tasca III in today’s first three rounds before running into Capps, who had qualified number one for the event.
“We learned some things we should do and some things we shouldn’t do this weekend,” said Gray. “We’ll go to Pomona (for the November 10-13 47th-annual Automobile Club of ¬Southern California NHRA Finals) hoping to do the things we’re supposed to do and not do the ones we’re not supposed to do.”