CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 15, 2012) - The Tire Kingdom/Service Central Dodge Charger Funny Car was an uncharacteristic handful this weekend at the third annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Charlotte's zMax Dragway, but crew chief Rob Wendland and assistant crew chief Rip Reynolds took necessary measures to see that pilot Johnny Gray earned a qualifying position on raceday, and on Sunday, Gray was one of two in his quad during the first round to get the win light.
The second round, however, is where the weekend came to an abrupt halt for the Don Schumacher Racing driver.
"It just blew the tires off, took a hard left, and pointed itself at the wall," said Gray. "We got lucky enough to keep from scratching this pretty Tire Kingdom/Service Central Dodge, and our plan is to stay here tomorrow and figure out what went wrong this weekend."
The team had a tough time getting down the track during qualifying, but they were able to pinpoint part of the problem. With a return to a batch of clutch discs that they had previously found successful, they blasted into the top half of the field with a cool 4.11.
On raceday, Gray was challenged in the first round of eliminations by Mike Neff, Blake Alexander and Alexis DeJoria. Grey was second-quickest off the starting line and crossed the finish line with a 4.210 that was second only to Mike Neff in their four-wide competition.
Round two saw Gray facing Neff once more, along with John Force and DSR teammate Ron Capps. All four cars left the starting line nearly in unison, but Gray and Neff both lost traction and were out of the game.
For Wendland, the weekend was tumultuous and he is more than ready to get back out to the racetrack to iron out any issues before the next Full Throttle Series event that is scheduled to take place in two weeks in Houston.
"This car is one of the baddest hot rods out here, but it's not responding to the things that we're telling it," said Wendland. "It's very unhappy right now, and that is making a lot of people very unhappy, too. But we'll be out here tomorrow and it make take the entire braintrust of DSR, but we'll get it back in line."
Agreed Gray, "Everybody will put their heads together, and we'll all help each other - we've got two or three cars to straighten out. We're looking forward to a great day tomorrow for Don Schumacher Racing and this Service Central car - and we'll be ready to go some rounds in Houston."
The next event on the Full Throttle Series tour is the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals in Houston, April 27-29.
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