CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 15, 2012) – Sometimes, one must be willing to take a risk to get ahead – but knowing when to turn back to what is already known can be equally as important to both immediate and future success.
Funny Car driver Johnny Gray and his Tire Kingdom/Service Central team began the weekend at the 5th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte on one specific path, but when it proved ineffective, they made the decision mid-qualifying to alter their course and return to what they knew would make their Dodge Charger R/T happy.
Gray qualified in the No. 14 position to draw Mike Neff as his first-round opponent.
"Before Indy, we tested a somewhat different clutch and blower combination and it really showed promise," said Gray, currently fifth in the Countdown to the Championship. "But we ran it at Indy, and even though we went some rounds there, we struggled. We thought that maybe we just weren't quite there with it, so we came here with the same combination. After those first two runs, my crew chief Rob Wendland said, you know what, let's put this dog back to where it was before."
Wendland revised the combination and returned to what the team had so much success with on the three-in-a-row Western Swing during the summer, when they won the NHRA Sonoma Nationals in California.
"We went out there first round today to test it and make sure we were back in the ballpark with that tune-up, and it was soft," said Gray, who clocked an improved but still below the goal 4.20 at over 300 mph. "Then we came back out on the last run and we were running right beside John Force until about half-track when it broke a piston. He ran a 4.13, and we ran a 4.18, so we really do feel like our Service Central hot rod is back.
"The only way you advance in drag racing is to take two steps forward and one step back. Otherwise, you don't go anywhere. If the combination we were messing with would have proved out, we'd have been stronger for it. Right at this time, we have to get the car back to basics and work on the Countdown. So Rob's going to give me a good racecar tomorrow, and I’m going to do the very best that I can. If that's good enough, we'll win."
Johnny Gray, Tire Kingdom/Service Central Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 14
First-round opponent: No. 3 qualifier Mike Neff
Session 1: 4.241-second at 254.90 mph
Session 2: 5.317, 138.30
Session 3: 4.203, 300.66
Session 4: 4.182, 293.54
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 190 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
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