INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 29, 2012) – Each season, there is one race that stands out a little brighter than the rest on the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule. Early in the year, it seems like a bright beacon oh-so far away – but by the time the historic Mac Tools U.S. Nationals arrive, the first part of the year seems to have flown past in the blink of an eye.
This year's rendition, the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus, has been just as eagerly anticipated as ever before. As the final race of the regular season before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, every driver with a shot at making the top 10 is intently fixated on emerging successful. For most, they arrive at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis riding a wave of adrenaline powered by a flood of memories and the desire to make a mark of their own.
Such is the case for Service Central Racing Pro Stock driver Shane Gray, who will pilot his NTB/Big O Tires Chevy Camaro at the esteemed event in pursuit of a solid qualifying effort, a strong raceday start, round wins, and valuable points towards a secured position in the Countdown to the Championship.
"I have a lot of memories from Indy," said Gray, currently 8th in the Full Throttle Pro Stock standings. "When I was younger, I used to go with my dad [NHRA nitro pilot Johnny Gray] and watch him race Funny Car there, and Indy was the site of my own first NHRA race. I ran a B/A Comp Eliminator car there in 2008, and boy, I was scared to death. I knew I wanted to run Pro Stock then, but I had no idea if I was ever really going to get to do it. No idea."
Gray did indeed earn his Pro Stock license and the right to race in one of the most heatedly competitive categories in the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, and when he arrives on the doorstep of Lucas Oil Raceway, it will be to charge for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Pro Stock title for the third time in his career as a professional drag racer.
"It's an honor to even get to race at the U.S. Nationals," said Gray. "I try not to think about it too much or put any more focus on it than I would at any other race, it's just another 1,320 feet of black asphalt – but it's Indy. It really is a big deal. You know, I don't get nervous, and I always try to be the best that I can be in every way, but you always want to do well there. Everyone does."
To date, Gray's performances at the venerable facility have yet to yield the success that the ambitious and relentless driver craves, but this season's event could mark the turning point. Although the better part of the 2012 season has presented tremendous challenge, Gray and his Gray Motorsports team have been in constant motion and have never wavered in their determination to win.
Following the most recent event, the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Gray and his crew spent time testing in Rockingham, N.C., and then traveled north to Martin, Mich., where they continued to dig before making the trek over to Indianapolis for the biggest and most prestigious event on the tour.
"We've done a lot of testing with the NTB/Big O Tires Camaro, and we don't want to get too awful excited, but we've made some progress," said Gray. "The big test will be to see how we can actually perform at Indy. That's when all of this really matters."
Source: Gray Motorsports