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Sep 13, 2012 - 07:28 PM
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2012 NHRA: Johnny Gray Primed To Launch Title Quest In Service Central Dodge
Posted by: newsla on Sep 13, 2012 - 07:26 PM
2012 NHRA: Johnny Gray Primed To Launch Title Quest In Service Central Dodge In Charlotte

Two races ago, at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, veteran drag racer Johnny Gray secured his right to race for the Full Throttle Series Funny Car world championship. Now, at this weekend's 5th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway near Charlotte, N.C., Gray will begin the battle of a lifetime as he races for top honors behind the wheel of the Tire Kingdom/Service Central Dodge Charger R/T.


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"I think it's perfectly fitting that the Countdown to the Championship starts at zMax Dragway," said Gray, who last season finished an exceptionally strong 11th in the series standings. "It's a top-notch facility, one of the best, and of course it doesn't hurt that the area is one of the places that we call home."

Gray, who is rooted in Artesia, N.M., also maintains a home in the Charlotte area. Both of his sons – Pro Stock driver Shane and diverse motorsports competitor Jonathan – have homes in the near vicinity of zMax Dragway, so returning to race in Charlotte is always an enjoyable family affair as Gray and wife Terry are surrounded by kids and grandkids.

Surrounded by his strongest supporters, the primary focus for the Gray family patriarch will be on starting the final leg of the season on the right foot.

"Sure, we're excited to be here and to have a shot at winning this deal," said Gray. "But you know, we earned this position that we're in right now. This team has worked real hard all season long to get here, and our Service Central Dodge has shown to be such an awesome racecar. Oh, she's given us some trouble here and there, but my crew chiefs Rob [Wendland] and Rip [Reynolds] have tuned her right up. It's kept it exciting, but where we are this year at this time, it's a world away from where we were last year. Boy, that feels good."

Last season, Gray was locked out of the charge for the title but relentlessly terrorized the competition during the Countdown to the Championship. This year, he will be striking fear from the inside of the top 10, and with two national event wins in three final rounds already accumulated in 2012 – Gray was the victor in both Englishtown and Sonoma – he's already on familiar ground.

"There's no doubt about it, this is is going to be tough," said Gray. "But we're more prepared for the challenge than we've ever been before. We'll take it one race at a time, and it all starts this weekend."

JOHNNY GRAY, NTB/Big O Tires Dodge Charger R/T
Pts Races Wins Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2012 5th 17 2 1 2 0 23-15
Career 198 3 11 3 40 124-155

1. RON CAPPS, 2,110
2. Robert Hight, 2,080
3. JACK BECKMAN, 2,070
4. Mike Neff, 2,060
5. JOHNNY GRAY, 2,050
6. Courtney Force, 2,040
7. Cruz Pedregon, 2,030
8. John Force, 2,020
9. Jeff Arend, 2,010
10. Tim Wilkerson, 2,000

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