SHANE GRAY CAPTURES GATORNATIONALS PRO STOCK VICTORY
The talk in NHRA’s offseason was Shane Gray was going to retire from Pro Stock racing to give his seat to his 17-year-old son, Tanner.
Tanner is racing this season, but so is Shane.
And, Shane is doing quite well, especially after Sunday when he won the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.
Shane, driving his Gray Motorsports Camaro, clocked a 6.535-second elapsed time at 212.96 mph to defeat Greg Anderson’s 6.560-second lap at 213.43 mph.
“We use the car I’m driving for a test vehicle,” Shane said with a laugh. “I don’t know how to say this, but I wasn’t supposed to win. When you’re testing parts, you are not supposed to win. That’s basically what we were doing with my car because this whole deal is based around Tanner. I don’t want to run 24 races and I don’t plan on it, so we try to test and use the parts we are testing on my car and slide them over to his car. We want to make sure they are going to work fine before we put new parts on it, and we were testing parts and just had a good day.”
This was Gray’s sixth NHRA Pro Stock national event win and first since the fall race at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2016.
On Sunday, Shane beat Allen Johnson, Erica Enders and Chris McGaha before ousting Anderson. Shane has competed in Pro Stock since 2010, finishing a career-best third in the 2016 points standings. Shane also joined his father, Johnny Gray, as a Gatornationals winner. Johnny won a nitro Funny title in Gainesville in 2013.
“We had a lucky day today,” Shane said. “There were some round wins that the car pulled me out of the hole and there were a couple of rounds that I pulled the car out of the hole. It was a complete team effort.”
Tanner beat Drew Skillman in the first round, but then lost to Jason Line in the second round when he double-stepped it on the starting line.
“Tanner had a little mistake in round two today and we’ve talked since then, and I’m glad he made that mistake,” Shane said. “He’s still a senior in high school and he’s 17 years old. I started racing with him when he was about 10 years old on the circle track. Tanner has always been one of those kids if he makes a mistake, he probably will not do it again because he’s just so competitive.”
Shane acknowledged he hasn’t talked to his son about any secret formula to win NHRA races.
“I think a lot of winning, you just have to let it come,” Shane said. “I kind of compare winning in some sense of maybe looking for a wife or a girlfriend, you’re probably not going to find one if you’re looking. Just don’t look. Don’t worry about winning and you will win. That’s what I keep trying to explain to him. Don’t worry about winning, go drive your car and you’re going to win your fair share of races, there’s no doubt about it.”
Although Shane Gray has had success this season, posting a 6-2 round record in the first three races of the season, he has no plans of making a run for the championship.
“It’s not something I’m interested in because I want my son to win the championship,” said Shane, when asked if he could imagine making a run for the 2017 Pro Stock title. “If my son is going to win the championship, he needs to be able to beat me, but that’s not what I’m in it for. It kind of bums me out a little bit whenever we are too close together in the lines, and I can’t get up there to watch him. I think to myself, ‘crap what am I doing this for?’ The races that are close to home we will run them and if it is not too big a pain in the neck for everybody. We just had a lucky day. We put our 30 bucks down on the blackjack table and we got our money back.”