NTB Service Central driver Shane Gray hoping to capitalize on progress and cool temps in Maple Grove
DENVER, NC – The NTB/Service Central Racing Pontiac GXP driven by third-year Pro Stock campaigner Shane Gray had a bit of an awakening last week at the Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. This week, Gray and his Gray Motorsports team will be looking to parlay the progress into a highlight weekend at the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading as the Full Throttle Series tour winds down with just three events remaining.
Gray launched his Pro Stock career in 2010 and experienced an outstanding year of triumph and achievements, including three final rounds capped with a victory at the season-ending NHRA Finals in Pomona. The Maple Grove event was a bright spot for Gray that year as he exhibited superior driving skills and wheeled his way to the semifinals with a holeshot win in the first round over V. Gaines followed by a battle won at the starting line when Gray's father Johnny Gray, now back in the seat of a Funny Car, red-lighted in the other lane by a slim .012-second. In the semifinals, the younger Gray forfeited a very close match with Dave Connelly, 6.59 to 6.60.
The following season, Gray enjoyed his best qualifying effort of the latter half of the year in Reading before succumbing to tireshake on the cool racing surface in the first round of eliminations.
"I'm looking forward to getting out there, but you know, we'll just have to see what the weather does," said Gray. "We're cautiously optimistic these days, but if it's cool like it looks like it's going to be, we sure do have a chance of going fast out there. This is one of those racetracks surrounded by trees, so there is plenty of oxygen for these naturally aspirated engines, and that makes it quick."
Last season's event in Reading was exceptional, with two national records blasted – including the Pro Stock record for e.t. that was shattered and reset to a very quick 6.477 – and track records broken across the board. For Gray, who is situated just outside of the Countdown to the Championship chase, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
"We saw a positive turn for our car and our program out in St. Louis last weekend, and with that in mind, I think we have the possibility of qualifying a little better than we have here lately," said Gray. "We want to be realistic, but the bottom line is that we're going to go out there to have fun and do the best that we can for NTB and Service Central, and if we can take this Pontiac GXP a little farther than we did at Maple Grove in 2010, we'll be real happy."