HOUSTON, Texas (April 28, 2012) – The NTB/Service Central Dodge Charger Funny Car driven by Johnny Gray came out of the gate with gumption at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston’s Royal Purple Raceway, and the strong initial pass gave them a bit of leeway as they faced challenges in the remaining three qualifying sessions.
Gray’s first pass of the weekend in his NTB-lettered Dodge Charger, a 4.197 at 300.80 mph, was fifth best at the conclusion of the first session. Although he slipped some in the lineup after a loss of traction in the second round, his time was among the top 12 and therefore held through to Saturday.
The team carefully prepared the Dodge and poured over the data for day two of the Spring Nationals, but another pair of traction-troubled runs prevented improvement and a higher starting position.
“The NTB Service Central Dodge is struggling right now,” said Gray. “We’re still fighting with changing clutch discs in the car, and we’re trying to change our tune-up to be a bit closer to Rahn Tobler’s [Don Schumacher Racing crew chief of the Funny Car driven by Ron Capps], and it’s going to take some picking and nitpicking.
“But I have 110% faith in Rob Wendland [crew chief] and Rip [Reynolds, assistant crew chief]. I’m not concerned going into tomorrow. We’ll go out there with a racecar we can race.”
Gray finished qualifying in the No. 12 position and will pull to the starting line next to Tim Wilkerson for the first round of eliminations on Sunday. To Gray, the action plan is simple.
“Our expectations for Sunday are the same as always, we’re going out there to win,” he said.
Final eliminations at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals are scheduled to begin at 11 am on Sunday.
SUNDAY: 7-10 p.m. (EDT), Championship Eliminations (delayed)
Johnny Gray, NTB/Service Central Dodge Charger R/T
Final qualifying position: No. 12
Round 1 opponent: Tim Wilkerson
Session 1: 4.197 sec., 300.30 mph
Session 2: 7.802, 67.75
Session 3: 5.133, 166.17
Session 4: 4.756, 229.63
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