Don Schumacher Racing
JOHNNY GRAY EXITS EARLY FROM NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS
Johnny Gray’s race ended early today as the Service Central Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car fell in the first round of final eliminations for the 24th-annual NHRA Northwest Nationals here at Pacific Raceways.
Coming out of the sixth-qualifying spot, the 58-year-old Artesia, N.M. native spun the tires in his match with Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps.
“We started a bit fast and just spun the tires,” he said. “We had a good race car this weekend, one that was obviously both quick and fast, as we qualified it in the top half of the field. And, given the lane choice this brought us and the kind of issues many of the cars were having getting down the left lane in qualifying, we thought we might have an edge on Ron.
“It’s always tough racing a teammate, but at least DSR got a win and put another car into the second round. Too bad it’s another all-DSR match, as Ron takes on Matt Hagan.”
Gray ran a 4.461-second, 250.69-mile-per-hour lap in his losing effort to Capps (4.146 at 305.77 mph), well off his 4.145 pass at 297.94 mph which had earned the sixth-qualifying position.
“All in all, the Service Central Funny Car is coming together,” said Gray. “We’ve come a long way from earlier in the season. This car is getting more and more competitive and more consistent with each round. We’re putting together a very nice playbook now and all I can say about our future competition – watch out!”
Gray remains optimistic about making the Countdown to 1six-race playoffs for the 2011 Full Throttle Funny Car championship. Sitting 11th in the standings, he has two races left to qualify by breaking into the top 10.
“It’s still mathematically possible, but Tim Wilkerson (today’s winner), Bob Tasca and Tony Pedregon (numbers 9, 10 and 12, respectively) are running really well and making it a difficult challenge,” he explained. “We’re still going after it and if we don’t get in, we’ll be there to spoil it for those who do.”
He will now head to Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway for the August 18-21 30th-annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals trailing Tasca by 95 points or just under five-race rounds (and lead Pedregon by 24 points.)