JOLIET, Illinois Steering Don Schumacher's Wonder Wagon Dodge Stratus, Johnny Gray blasted to the finish line to his fastest career speed today of 324.67 mph, despite losing in the first round of Funny Car eliminations to Cruz Pedregon at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.
No. 13 qualifier Gray and No. 4 qualifier Pedregon took off at the lights with identical reaction times of .089 of a second (.000 is perfect). It was a close race, but it was Pedregon first across the finish stripe with a winning 4.758/323.27 to Gray's 4.838/324.67.
"The Wonder Wagon made a pretty good run," said Gray, driving in only his third race for Don Schumacher Racing. "We're still learning the car, learning me, trying to get the balance right on the car. The car picked up the front end out there a little before the 330-ft. mark. It picked the nose up and carried the front wheels for about a half of a second. When it came down it darted a little bit. I dragged it back over in the groove, but it caused it to black-track a little bit, and there wasn't really anything I could do about it because the front tires were about six inches off the ground.
"That was my fastest mile and hour. It probably would have been my quickest ET, but I went in a little deep and I probably stole three hundredths off of Dan (Olson, crew chief.) But he'll get over it."
Next up is the Reading, Pa., make-up event next weekend at Maple Grove Raceway, which had been rained out two weeks ago.