Shane Gray looking for hard work to pay off on raceday
CHANDLER, AZ – The fields are set for final eliminations at the 28th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, and Big O Tires/Service Central Pontiac GXP pilot Shane Gray is geared up to make the most of raceday in the Valley of the Sun.
The Gray Motorsports Pro Stock driver ended the first day of the event with an engine that needed a little tender loving care, and the team stayed late into the night at Firebird Int'l Raceway near Phoenix to prepare for Saturday's pair of qualifying sessions.
The first run on Saturday did not meet expectations (6.671), but the team rallied in the pit area and improved between rounds to finish the day with a 6.618 at 208.39 mph. Although it did not better the 6.603, 208.46 recorded Friday that stood as their best time of the weekend, the final qualifying pass was promising. Gray will start from the 13th position and will take on second-year driver Vincent Nobile in round one.
"We struggled this morning, both with the car and the motor – we had a small issue with the plug gap, so we were way down on power – but we pulled it all together and made a good run that last session," said crew chief Justin Elkes. "We feel good about tomorrow. We think there is some left in the car and that we have something for Vincent in the first round."
Gray has faced Nobile once before during eliminations, in the second round at zMax Dragway in Charlotte last fall, and came up just short.
"I'm not worried," said Gray. "They [qualified better] and have a better package than we do to take to the starting line Sunday morning, but this group of guys that I have here at the racetrack are just as good as any of these teams out here. Whatever it is we need to get done, they will get it done – and they proved that with how hard they worked Friday night. I have all the faith in the world in the team and my crew chief, and I know that we'll all do the best we can. Hopefully, we'll come out on top."
Eliminations for the 28th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals are scheduled to begin at 11:00 am (Mountain) on Sunday at Firebird Int'l Raceway.