CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 14, 2012) – The Tire Kingdom Service Central Funny Car team certainly knows how to keep things exciting. After three troubled runs during qualifying at the third annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, they made their first full pull in the fourth and final session to break into the field in a big way and earn a raceday start from the No. 6 spot.
Gray had runs of 7.114, 4.901 and 5.689 on the books and was on the outside looking in, and there was plenty on the line heading into that final session, but Gray wasn't worried.
"To be honest, I felt really confident when Rob [Wendland, crew chief] told me that they put the old clutch discs back in the car," said Gray, who raced to a 4.115 at 310.77 mph. "I know they have a good tune-up with those discs, so I knew the thing would go down there and that if a lot of people didn't make a big move, I figured we'd be fine.
"My opinion was we'd go out and try to run a mid- to high-teen, and I think we caught everybody off guard because we ran a little better than we intended. But that's what we like about this Service Central car. When it's right, it always runs quicker than we thought it would."
Crew chief Rob Wendland lost a little sleep the night before the last two qualifying passes and was more than relieved to hit upon a solution in the 11th hour, but he agreed with Gray that the quick time was on the surprising side.
"I was trying to run a 4.14 to a 4.15, and it just gave us some more," admitted Wendland. "It just tells us that sometimes less is more. This track does give you something extra, and we always have to take that into consideration, but we were really excited that we got the Tire Kingdom/Service Central car in the show for tomorrow. We'll see what we can do."
Gray will take on Mike Neff, Blake Alexander, and Alexis DeJoria in the first round of eliminations on raceday.
Final eliminations will begin at noon on Sunday, April 15. Three hours of eliminations coverage will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD on Sunday, beginning at 7pm e.t.
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