Don Schumacher Racing press release
JOHNNY GRAY WANTS TO CONTINUE SUCCESS THIS WEEKEND AT NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS
CHANDLER, Ariz., October 10, 2011 – When Johnny Gray wheels the Service Central Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to the Firebird International Raceway starting line for this weekend’s 27th-annual NHRA Arizona Nationals here, he expects a continuation of the strong performances turned in during the previous five events of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
A win, a runner-up finish, a semifinal appearance and a number-one and number-two qualifying effort have marked this period for the 58-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver who struggled earlier in the campaign.
“The Service Central car has been running really good of late,” said the Artesia, N.M. native. “I’m a little bit anxious and a little bit excited about how things have been going. Rob and Dickie (Wendland and Venables, co-crew chiefs) and the entire team have really stepped it up and shown the rest of the category just how good we can be – and we think we can get better!
“We’ll play with some new stuff this weekend and just look to keep being someone who has to be reckoned with, especially by those guys in the Countdown to the Championship who might have made our lives miserable earlier in the season.
“And we want to let everyone know that we might not have made the Countdown this year, we’ll be a strong contender next year.”
The veteran racer is looking for a change in his Arizona fortunes.
“Phoenix has never been bad to me, it’s just never been good to me,” reflected Gray on a track where he has had difficulty getting out of the first round. “I’m looking to go to Firebird and change that for the better and, coming off the runner-up finish last week in Reading, see no reason why we won’t.”
Gray grabbed the pole at Maple Grove with a 4.010, a track record and one of the quickest Funny Car passes in history, and then took out Countdown participants Mike Neff and Bob Tasca III before losing to Robert Hight in the finals. “We had a good race car in Reading and my guys did a great job figuring out how to run in the cold and wet,” he said. “I have faith they’ll figure out how to run in the desert heat this week.”