SONOMA, Calif. (July 24, 2012) – Johnny Gray and the Service Central branch of the Don Schumacher Racing nitro team are en route to Sonoma for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, the fourteenth event on the Full Throttle Drag Racing tour, and as they make their way to the heart of California wine country and prepare to unload the Big O Tires/SpeeDee Oil Change & Tune-Up Dodge Charger R/T, they certainly aren't doing any whining about the stumbling blocks they've run into at recent events.
The close knit team is constant in their efforts and crew chief Rob Wendland is continuing to fine tune their beautiful blue and red hot rod to reach maximum potential, unfazed by the fact that they have been hard-pressed to skirt oddball issues that have cropped up.
At the most recent event, the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver, Gray and the team battled computer and fuel system problems on the first day of qualifying, but they put forth tremendous effort to rally back on the second day and laid down two awesome passes that were at the top of the heap in the tough Funny Car category. Although they exited early on raceday, the problem-solving skills and dedication of the Service Central team, coupled with the skillful driving of veteran pilot Gray, left little to complain about.
"We feel really good going into Sonoma," said Gray. "You know, we've had a little bit of bad luck here three races in a row, but we know that the Big O Tires/SpeeDee Oil Change & Tune-Up Dodge is a very, very good racecar – and I know I have the best team in NHRA drag racing, bar none. This has already been such a great year, and it's only going to get better."
Gray, currently fifth in the Full Throttle Series Funny Car standings, is having a career year; the Artesia, N.M., driver is well-positioned in the Top 10 and gearing up to climb even higher and battle for the championship title, and his victory at the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals in Englishtown earlier this summer guaranteed one of the coveted spots in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, a race within a race for the Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers to compete for respective $100,000 bonus prizes at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
Gray was also a finalist at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville and the No. 1 qualifier at the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix and the Summit Racing NHRA Nationals in Norwalk.
"We know our potential, and we fell on a little bit of hard times here lately and had some silly things happen, but sometimes you get on a spell in a professional sport where you just don't have any luck," said Gray. "But we know that's over, and we're going to Sonoma with our heads held high and our Big O Tires/SpeeDee Dodge prepared for success. I pity the poor guy who has us in round one."
SONOMA NATIONALS NITRO SCHEDULE
FRIDAY: 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., qualifying sessions
SATURDAY: 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., qualifying sessions
SUNDAY: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
SATURDAY: 7-9:30 p.m. (ET), delayed
SUNDAY: 7-10 p.m. (ET), delayed
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