NORWALK, Ohio (July 8, 2012) – Funny Car driver Johnny Gray and his NTB/Service Central Racing team experienced a major mood swing at the 6th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk. The weekend at Summit Motorsports Park began on a positive note, with Gray grabbing the third No. 1 qualifying position of his career, but the tables were turned in the first round of eliminations.
The veteran driver and opponent Robert Hight were the first pair to pull to the starting line in the Funny Car category, and with temperatures exceptionally cooler than each of the two days of qualifying, adrenaline was high as there was potential for a truly great drag race.
However, hopes were quickly dashed in the Service Central camp when a part malfunctioned on the burnout and caused the safety devices to deploy. The parachutes popped out and the engine shut off, Gray and his Dodge Charger R/T were stalled, and Hight was took a single run plagued with traction trouble for a 5.431-second win.
“I was dumbfounded,” said crew chief Wendland. “But we have to try and look at this in a positive way. It wasn’t meant to be today, and so now we focus on moving forward. We know what we want – we want those other guys out there good and mad because we have a good racecar.”
The raceday results were particularly upsetting to the close knit team after last weekend at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals near Chicago, where Gray was halted by a broken camshaft in the quarterfinals.
“We’re disheartened and we’re disgusted to have had parts breakage two rounds in a row,” said Gray. “We feel like we really had a good shot at winning that round, and it added insult to injury that Hight went out there and had trouble.
“We’ve got our eye on those points, and we came in here fully intending to make up some ground in our NTB/Service Central racecar. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that – and Neff got around us. But for NTB and Service Central, we’ll be back at it in Denver. Just wait and see.”
Gray, now fifth in the Full Throttle Series Funny Car standings, will next compete at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver, July 20-22.
Johnny Gray, NTB/Service Central Dodge Charger R/T
Final qualifying position: No. 1
Round one: Hight (5.431 seconds at 144.86 mph) def. Gray (No Time)
2012 NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
1. Robert Hight 1001
2. Ron Capps 914
3. Mike Neff 807
4. Jack Beckman 738
5. Johnny Gray 729
6. Bob Tasca III 623
7. Cruz Pedregon 622
8. Jeff Arend 608
Courtney Force 608
10. John Force 569
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