TOPEKA, Kan. (May 19, 2012) - The Dollar General NHRA Summernationals have so far been a great outing for the Service Central branch of the Don Schumacher Racing team. Johnny Gray, driver of the NTB/Service Central Racing Dodge Charger R/T, was fifth in the line-up when qualifying was all said and done, and the pleasant position equates to his best start since claiming the pole in Phoenix earlier this season.
The event began on a fairly strong note, with Gray racing to an efficient 4.191 at 297.48 mph in the first round of qualifying. In the second session, the Gray Motorsports patriarch picked up steam in his Dodge Charger and crossed the finish line with an impressive 4.105 at 310.13 under the lights to jump into the No. 5 spot.
With such a solid run in the books, the Service Central Racing team - led by crew chief Rob Wendland and assistant crew chief Rip Reynolds - opted to test rear wheels in the third qualifying session to be completely certain that they would have the right combination for raceday. The test produced a bout of tire shake but also answered useful questions, and the fourth and final round of qualifying ended with a positive tone as Gray clocked a clean 4.182, 301.60.
"We're done playing, and the Service Central car will be set for tomorrow," said Wendland. "That was an important test in the third qualifying session, and it showed us a lot of things. We did want to go a little bit faster in the fourth qualifying session, but it was a good run. So far, this has been a pretty good weekend, and we feel like we have something to work with tomorrow."
Gray will face No. 12 qualifier John Force in the first round of eliminations at Heartland Park Topeka. In their last two first-round matches, Gray has taken the upper hand over the multi-time Funny Car champ, but he takes nothing for granted heading into raceday.
"There are no easy draws in nitro Funny Car," said Gray. "Boy, it's tough out there, but I tell you what, we're going to take this Service Central car out and see what we can do. She's been good to us here lately, and tomorrow we'll be looking for a little bit more of that."
Johnny Gray, NTB/Service Central Funny Car
Final qualifying position: No. 5
First round opponent: No. 12 John Force
Session 1: 4.191 seconds at 297.48 mph
Session 2: 4.105, 310.13
Session 3: 4.877, 162.57
Session 4: 4.182, 301.60
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