ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 23, 2012) - Johnny Gray and his Service Central team muscled through what Texas Motorplex had to throw at them, but they still came up short when it came to the hoped for and intended outcome. Gray, the No. 13 qualifier, drew Cruz Pedregon in the first round of the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, and although he and his opponent were nearly identical in terms of reaction time at the starting line, Gray's NTB/Service Central Dodge got out of the groove downtrack and his shot at the title went up in smoke.
"We had been having a whole lot of trouble with the car coming loose at about 300 feet," explained Gray. "But it actually made it through there. Then it chattered just a little bit, and it was over to the right-hand side of the groove. As it chattered, I chased it over to the right, tried to pull it back, and the last time I tried to pull on it - well, it just came loose."
When Gray got to the top end of the racetrack, his frustration was evident in the moment.
"I was frustrated up there, but that's the mold I come from - and at the end of the track, the adrenaline is high," said Gray. "We made it to the Countdown, and we should be doing better than we're doing from every standpoint. You know, we've had our fair share of struggles lately, but I have 100% faith in my team, the car, and myself. We will get back on track."
As always, there was positive to come of the situation. As Gray explained, the Rob Wendland-tuned NTB/Service Central Dodge Charger made it past the previously troublesome spot and cleared the 330-foot timing block without a hitch. Wendland and the Service Central team diagnosed their qualifying troubles before eliminations and addressed the issues, and they will be aiming to see the results of their efforts at the next event, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis next weekend, Sept. 28-30, 2012.
"This isn't any one person's fault; it's a whole combination of things," said Gray, now 8th in the Full Throttle Series Funny Car standings with four races to go before the championship is decided. The Artesia, N.M., resident is just 10 points behind seventh-place Tim Wilkerson.
"We're just a little out of sync right now. Regardless, we feel like we are on the road to recovery, and we will be fast again."
About Service Central
Service Central® is the automotive service offered exclusively at Tire Kingdom®, NTB-National Tire and Battery®, Merchant's Tire and Auto® and Big O Tires®. Available at more than 1,300 locations, the certified ASE technicians use state-of-the art equipment to provide quality service.
About TBC Retail Group
Headquartered in Juno Beach, Fla., TBC Retail Group, Inc., a subsidiary of TBC Corporation, operates more than 900 tire and automotive service centers under the brands: Tire Kingdom®, NTB - National Tire and Battery®, Merchant's Tire and Auto Centers®, Midas®, and SpeeDee Oil Change & Tune-Up®, along with nearly 1800 franchised Big O Tires®, Midas and SpeeDee Oil Change & Tune-Up® stores. TBC Retail Group employs more than 500 associates at its headquarters and approximately 10,000 associates nationally. To locate a store, call 800-NEW-TIRE. TBC Corporation, headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., is the largest marketer of automotive replacement tires through a multi-channel retail and wholesale strategy.
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., consists of seven professional NHRA teams: in Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the FRAM/Prestone dragster of Spencer Massey and the Matco Tools dragster of Antron Brown; and in Funny Car, 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan in the Aaron's Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, Valvoline NextGen Dodge piloted by Jack Beckman, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Service Central Dodge of Johnny Gray. DSR has won 193 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
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