ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 3, 2012) – All was not lost when Shane Gray fell in a very close first-round match at the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. The driver of the NTB/Service Central Racing Pontiac GXP made the best run of the first round in the unfavorable right lane, but a quicker reaction time by opponent Vincent Nobile cost the Gray Motorsports driver the win light.
On the bright side, Gray will leave the event in Englishtown still safely in the ever-important top 10 in the Full Throttle Series standings, and anyone in the top 10 at the conclusion of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis will have a shot at the championship. The points accumulated in Englishtown were enough to hold Gray in the No. 9 position.
Despite the round win that got away, crew chief Justin Elkes was encouraged by the way the car woke up on raceday.
“We made a good run,” said Elkes. “We didn’t have lane choice and there appeared to be a pretty significant difference between the lanes with the first two cars in front of us shaking – then we went up there and ran low e.t. for the lane by a considerable amount. We made some changes last night to the car to try to adapt here and it definitely responded in a positive way. In qualifying, we couldn’t really make the car happy, but it was back up first-round, and we were very pleased.”
In the end, Gray’s .057 reaction time in the first round was the culprit in the decision, with Nobile’s .040 taking a slight edge in their match; the competitors clocked identical 6.563 elapsed times and Gray was faster in speed, 210.11 mph to his opponent’s 205.04.
“I’m disappointed because I feel like I let the team down,” said Gray. “I’m real sorry about that because man, those guys just continue to work so hard. The car ran really well out of that lane where everyone else was having trouble, I just didn’t do my part.
“But we’re going to go back home and take the cover off our new NTB/Service Central Chevy Camaro. We’ll take it over to Rockingham to test on Wednesday and Thursday this week and run the wheels off of it, and I feel pretty confident that we’ll have it at the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol in a couple weeks. At this stage of the game, we have to be very careful that we aren’t giving anything up by parking this Pontiac, but right now the crew is doing great, and I’m so proud of Justin – he’s a great crew chief. I’ll keep working on getting myself better, and we’ll go from here.”
Car chief Craig Hankinson is looking forward to the opportunity to test the NTB/Service Central Racing Camaro again, and believes that with the handle they have on the car set-up with the Pontiac GXP, they should be able to fine-tune the new car with more practice.
“We only have five runs on the car, so we just need to get comfortable in it,” said Hankinson. “Greg Anderson [Englishtown Pro Stock winner] did very well in his brand new Camaro this weekend, but no two cars are exactly alike. We just need more runs on ours, but I agree that it’s highly likely we will run it in Bristol, and I know we are all looking forward to seeing things go in a positive direction.”
Shane Gray, NTB/Service Central Pontiac GXP
Final qualifying position: No. 12
Round one: Vincent Nobile (6.563 seconds at 205.04) def. Gray (6.563, 210.11)
2012 NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
1. Greg Anderson 869
2. Jason Line 770
3. Allen Johnson 710
4. Vincent Nobile 598
5. Mike Edwards 586
6. Erica Enders 506
7. Ronnie Humphrey 434
8. Rodger Brogdon 372
9. Shane Gray 364
10. Ron Krisher 335
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 800 tire and automotive service centers under the brands: Tire Kingdom®, NTB – National Tire and Battery®, and Merchant’s Tire and Auto Centers®, along with nearly 500 franchised Big O Tires® locations. TBC Retail Group employs more than 300 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 one of the nation’s largest marketers of automotive replacement tires through a multi-channel retail and wholesale strategy.
About Gray Motorsports
Gray Motorsports is based in Denver, N.C., near motorsports-hotspot Charlotte. The fully equipped race shop was established in the fall of 2009 to develop a top of the line in-house engine program capable of winning NHRA Pro Stock world championships. Still in its youth, Gray Motorsports has already accumulated two Pro Stock national event wins with driver Shane Gray at the wheel of his Service Central-backed Pontiac GXP. Dad Johnny Gray piloted the Don Schumacher Racing Service Central Funny Car to victory in Brainerd in 2011, bringing the Gray Motorsports victory tally to three and counting. With younger brother and Comp Eliminator driver Jonathan rounding out the drag racing trio, the Gray Motorsports team is armed for and aiming right at success on NHRA’s 23-race Full Throttle Series tour.