Tanner Gray to graduate to Pro Stock
The third generation of Gray racers will hit the dragstrip in 2017 when Tanner Gray, son of Shane and grandson of Johnny Gray, becomes the driver of the Gray Motorsports Camaro in NHRA’s Pro Stock division.
The teenager, who says he has been around drag racing “since I was nine or 10 years old,” tested his father’s Pro Stock car at Rockingham Dragway, after initially testing crew chief Dave Connolly’s bracket car.
With reference to Shane Gray’s four Pro Stock wins and Johnny Gray’s seven Funny Car victories, Tanner Gray commented: “I think it’s really cool to be able to do what they’ve done. I’m pretty excited.
“I’ve known about it for a while and I’ve gotten to test so I’ve kind of calmed down a little bit. I think I would have been lost if it wasn’t for Dave letting me drive his bracket car, just getting used to the speed and how the car reacts. Driving his Cobalt helped a lot more and sped up the progression.”
Tanner Gray began his career in Junior Dragsters, yet later moved to dirt oval tracks where he raced Mini Sprints. He has raced Outlaw Karts, 360 Sprint Cars and midgets before competing in Late Model Stock Cars this year. Two weeks ago, Tanner won an Outlaw kart race at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, North Carolina.
Shane Gray has no worries about his young son making the transition to drag racing. He commented: “Tanner’s been in a lot of other different cars. We put him in a racecar when he was 12 years old. He’ll be fine.
“At Rockingham, we put him in the car, showed him how to do it and what he needed to do, and by the end of the day we had him going down the racetrack.”
As the NHRA’s Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs reach their close, with only two races remaining, Shane Gray holds fourth place in points, behind Jason Line, Greg Anderson and Vincent Nobile, all of whom drive Chevrolet Camaros. Although he intends to step out of the cockpit of his family’s team car for the 2017 season, Gray will be “there to support the team. I’ll be there for Tanner whenever he needs help.”
He went on: “We’re very active in drag racing. Tanner wants to drive the car and I’m 100 percent cool with that. It’s always better for the dad to sit back and watch the kid than do it yourself. It’s just time to let him drive.”
In his first year of Pro Stock competition that starts in February at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California, Tanner Gray intends to fight for the 2017 Auto Club Road to the Future Award, NHRA’s Rookie of the Year title.
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