KENT, Wash. – Shane Gray brings his Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro to this weekend's O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Pacific Raceways riding a wave of momentum and feels like he is on the verge of earning his first win of the season.
To secure a victory Gray will have to hold off a tough field of factory hot rods as he and all the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series drivers look for wins at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, Aug. 2-4 at the scenic multi-purpose motorsports facility just south of Seattle. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), and Erica Enders Stevens (Pro Stock) were winners last year at the event which ends the grueling Western Swing.
Gray is fourth in Pro Stock points on the strength of three runner-up finishes which is a single season career best for the four year veteran. He’s pleased with the success the team has had this year and believes they have a shot at winning each time they pull into an event.
"I'm real proud of this team," said Gray, who has two career victories on his racing resume, his last coming in 2011 at Pomona, Calif. "Justin [Elkes, crew chief] and the guys are doing a great job out here. It's a lot of pressure on the driver when you have the fastest car in the place. It takes a different mindset to have the luxury of racing with that kind of a car. But I'm working on it. I'll get it. The Gray Motorsports team is heading to Seattle and we think we've got a chance to win."
Led by Elkes, the team has qualified second at three events this season and at the recently completed NHRA Sonoma Nationals they were a mere .006 of a second from the top qualifying position. They earned a bit of bragging rights at the event when during his first round of eliminations he posted a performance of 6.523 seconds, which was the quickest E.T. recorded during the entire weekend.
"The guys came on the radio and told me what we'd run,” Gray said. “At first I thought I didn't hear it right, then I thought maybe they didn't read the scoreboards right. Then I looked at the time slip when we got up there, and I said 'Holy Moly!' That was something."
Shane is a second generation racer with his father currently racing for Don Schumacher Racing in the Funny Car category. Johnny is fifth in Funny Car points and is a serious contender for a championship in his final full-time season. Shane is excited to see the success of his dad and hopes Johnny can hoist a championship trophy at the season ending event in Pomona.
“I think it's awesome that my dad has had so much success already this year,” he said. “They have a great team over there with the potential to hand him a championship car. If they can get a few breaks, they've got a really good shot at the championship. And wow, I don't know what could be better than stepping out of the car as the champion.”
Located in the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Raceways is one of the most scenic tracks the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series visits each season. The track is nestled among large wooded areas, which can provide the perfect conditions for these naturally-aspirated hot rods.
“Weather is a big factor at that racetrack,” he continued. “It can change dramatically. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and we'll be able to keep building on what we've got. We've had a fast car in a lot of different conditions – from the mile-high conditions in Denver then back down to sea level in Sonoma. Hopefully we can keep that going and get what we're after before too long."
Other pre-race favorites in the 200 mph category include series points leader Mike Edwards, who has four wins and 11 No. 1 qualifying positions this season at the controls of his K&N Filters/I Am Second Chevy Camaro and a trio of Dodge Avengers driven by defending world champ Allen Johnson, four-time world champ Jeg Coughlin and Sonoma winner Vincent Nobile. Greg Anderson, Jason Line and V. Gaines are also among the Pro Stock drivers looking to grab a victory in Seattle.
Shawn Langdon enters the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals with four wins under his belt and the Top Fuel points lead. Langdon outran high school classmate Morgan Lucas in the finals at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals and wants to continue to stretch out his points lead. Spencer Massey, Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown area all running well and will attempt to take home wins on Sunday.
In the Funny Car category Ron Capps will look for his third career win at the track and comes into the event as the most recent winner in the category. Capps earned his first career NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series win at Pacific Raceways in 1995 in Top Fuel and also won there in Funny Car in 1998. Courtney Force will look to defend her 2012 title and points leader Matt Hagan, Cruz Pedregon, and Del Worsham attempt to end the Western Swing on a high note.
The teams in several categories of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also will thrill the crowds with intense side-by-side competition.
As always, every ticket purchased for the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals is an exclusive pit pass, allowing spectators to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their sophisticated hot rods between rounds. Fans can meet many of the drivers in the pits and get autographs. Fans will also want to check out NHRA Nitro Alley and the popular NHRA Manufacturers Midway.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:45 and 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, and will continue Saturday, Aug. 3, at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 4.
When the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series arrives in Seattle, families are encouraged to take advantage of a special ticket promotion: Children 12 and younger will receive free general admission with a paid adult all weekend. Fans can also bring an empty Mello Yello® bottle or can to Pacific Raceways box office and SAVE $8 on one adult single day NHRA race ticket, Friday – Sunday.
For tickets, visit www.NHRATIX.com or call 800-884-NHRA (6472). For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.
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O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, the 16th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories - Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock - earn points leading to 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Pacific Raceways, Kent, Wash. The track is located 10 miles east of Interstate 5 on Highway 18. From I-5, use Exit 142A (Auburn exit) and travel east 10 miles on Highway 18, following the signs to the track. From other points, use Highway 18 and exit S.E. 304th St. or S.E. 312th St.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Aug. 2-4.
FRIDAY, Aug. 2 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2:45 and 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, Aug. 3 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Aug. 4 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, Aug. 3, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 90 minutes of qualifying highlights at 10:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 4, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of coverage starting at 7 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Digital HD feed):
Friday, Aug. 2, 10:30 - 11 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 1C
Saturday, Aug. 3, 8:30 - 9 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 1C
Sunday, Aug. 4, 8:30 - 9 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 1C
(3720 MHz, horizontal; Data Rate: 40.46147055 Mbp; Symbol Rate: 29.27 Ms; FEC: ¾; Bandwidth: 36 Mhz)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.
2012 EVENT WINNERS: Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Courtney Force, Funny Car; Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 7, FC; Bob Glidden, 6, PS; Joe Amato, 5, TF; Tony Schumacher, 4, TF; Warren Johnson, 4, PS.
Top Fuel - 3.802 seconds by Tony Schumacher, July ’08; 322.19 mph by Schumacher, July ’10.
Funny Car - 4.056 seconds by Robert Hight, July ’08; 308.85 mph by John Force, Aug ’11.
Pro Stock - 6.531 seconds by Jason Line, Aug ’11; 211.69 mph by Allen Johnson, Aug ’11.
Top Fuel - 3.701 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car - 3.986 sec. by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 320.58 mph by Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
Pro Stock - 6.471 sec. by Mike Edwards, April ’13, Charlotte, N.C.; 214.35 mph by Jason Line, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
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NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the 15th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series -
Top Fuel: 1. Shawn Langdon, 1,210; 2. Spencer Massey, 1,108; 3. Tony Schumacher, 1,106; 4. Doug Kalitta, 924; 5. Antron Brown, 904; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 865; 7. Clay Millican, 769; 8. Morgan Lucas, 768; 9. Bob Vandergriff, 726; 10. Steve Torrence, 688.
Funny Car: 1. Matt Hagan, 1,034; 2. Ron Capps, 1,007; 3. Cruz Pedregon, 983; 4. John Force, 961; 5. Johnny Gray, 945; 6. (tie) Jack Beckman, 910; Courtney Force, 910; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 804; 9. Del Worsham, 799; 10. Robert Hight, 782.
Pro Stock: 1. Mike Edwards, 1,339; 2. Allen Johnson, 1,273; 3. Jeg Coughlin, 1,147; 4. Shane Gray, 948; 5. Vincent Nobile, 918; 6. Jason Line, 902; 7. Greg Anderson, 821; 8. Erica Enders-Stevens, 743; 9. V. Gaines, 742; 10. Rodger Brogdon, 660.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Hector Arana Jr, 795; 2. Matt Smith, 646; 3. Michael Ray, 599; 4. Hector Arana, 553; 5. John Hall, 534; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 523; 7. Eddie Krawiec, 465; 8. Adam Arana, 462; 9. Shawn Gann, 428; 10. Steve Johnson, 424.