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Apr 22, 2013 - 11:14 AM
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2013 NHRA: Shane Gray Makes the Final at Challenging Four-Wide Race
Posted by: newsla on Apr 22, 2013 - 11:09 AM
NHRA
2013 NHRA: Shane Gray Makes the Final at Challenging Four-Wide Race


Shane Gray and the Gray Motorsports team have made increasing gains in the early part of the 2013 season of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, and at this weekend's Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, their consistent efforts produced the best results they've seen in nearly two years with a well-deserved trip to the final round.

 

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Gray was a standout performer from day one of the unique event that lines up drivers four-across for each round of qualifying and for three rounds of eliminations. Second-generation driver Gray (his father, Johnny Gray, is the driver of the Pitch Energy Dodge Funny Car out of the Don Schumacher Racing stable) was the provisional No. 1 qualifier on the first day after rain cut qualifying down to just half a session for the factory hot rods and completely washed away the first two nitro sessions.

His 6.601 at 210.67 mph was a precursor to an excellent second day at zMAX, when Gray cleared the finish line with a career best-busting 6.498 at 210.67 mph. His previous career best in terms of elapsed time was a 6.510.

The final qualifying round provided Gray the opportunity to exceed another career best – this time for speed – with a 6.502 at 212.76 mph that was .30-mph faster than his previous record. Gray's strength over the course of the first two days of the event were rewarded with a start from the No. 3 position – his best start since he was the No. 2 qualifier in Englishtown in 2011.

The Denver, N.C., resident continued to excel on raceday, clocking a strong .026 reaction in the opening round and powering the Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro to a 6.497 win over Warren Johnson, Greg Stanfield, and second-best Erica Enders-Stevens, who would advance alongside Gray to round two. Gray's exceptional time reset his career best once again and was paired with a jaw-dropping speed – 213.33 mph – his fastest run ever in the Pro Stock category.

The following round, Gray and Enders-Stevens both scored a ticket to the final round when Rodger Brogdon fouled by .028-second and Jason Line spun the tires and had to push the clutch in. Gray sailed to a 6.518 with another impressive speed, 213.16 mph, but he did not have first lane choice for the final and was at a slight disadvantage.

"We ran in lane two all day," said crew chief Justin Elkes. "But that wasn't an option for the final, so we decided on lane 1. It wasn't as good as what we'd already been racing on, and the car just spun the tires starting about 30 feet out."

Gray was up against the best of the best in the final, including former world champion Mike Edwards, multi-time Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson, and recently regular event winner Enders-Stevens.

"When you go into a final like that, you don't dare back down," said Elkes. "You know one of those three cars is going to lay down a number."

Neither Gray nor Anderson were able to get a good grip on the racing surface in their lanes, and Edwards went on to take the win, with Enders-Stevens finishing second.

"We had a good weekend," said Gray, who moved up one position to ninth in the series standings. "We made big changes to our engine program at the beginning of the season, and you can see that we've progressively gotten better each race. Justin and the guys are learning how to run the power with this new program and our Gray Motorsports Camaro. We're starting to see what we've been looking for at the racetrack.

"We're going to stay here tomorrow and test, and then we'll head over to Houston. We want to run in the top five every time we pull into a track, and we did that this weekend. Now we just have to keep it going."


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