The famed Western Swing can be a strenuous stretch of road for competitors on the Full Throttle Series tour with three races back-to-back-to-back and just a few days in between for travel and recuperation, but as the Full Throttle Series tour arrives in the picturesque wine country of California for the 25th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Shane Gray and the Gray Motorsports team are nothing but revived and ready.
"You know, we went up there to Bandimere Speedway last week with a brand new motor combination in our Big O Tires/Service Central Camaro, and she really came around," said Denver, N.C.-based Gray, who steadily increased the pace throughout the weekend despite the thin air and blazing heat.
"The Mile-High Nationals were like a fresh start for us, and when you see your efforts producing results, it's just a great feeling. We're excited to get to Sonoma and see if we can keep that ball rolling. If we could make gains at a high-altitude racetrack, we should have a good chance of making progress at sea level."
In 2010, his first year racing in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock category, Gray excelled on raceday in Sonoma. He opened his eliminations bid with a well-played holeshot win over his own father, current Funny Car pilot Johnny Gray, and in the second round he got past a troubled Mike Edwards, who was aiming to defend the 2009 Pro Stock world championship.
So far this season, Gray has come exceptionally close to the final round on two separate occasions; he was a semifinalist in both Topeka (at the NHRA SummerNationals) and Norwalk (at the Summit Racing NHRA Nationals), and the third-year Pro Stock driver is currently eighth in the series points.
"We've had some good fortune in Sonoma, and boy, it's sure a pretty place to get to race," said Gray. "We would love to use that beautiful facility as a backdrop for our first final round of the season – or maybe even go one better. With the way our Big O Tires/Service Central Camaro has been responding, that just may be a possibility."