SHANE GRAY FINDS A NEW WAY TO SHAVE TIRES
The image said it all, and the response confirmed it.
Second-generation Pro Stock driver Shane Gray rapped the throttle in his Gray Motorsports Camaro a few times and then unleashed a burnout which stopped shy of the eighth-mile timing blocks at Brainerd International Raceway during the final qualifying session at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
As the car coasted to a stop with smoke trailing behind, a number of fans clapped and screamed in approval, a few even stood in ovation.
And just to think, all it took was a driver who was more concerned about breaking in tires than getting to the finish line in record time.
Shane Gray delivered multiple times, a display of burning the hides the likes of which Pro Stock hasn't seen in a long while.
"We’re just breaking in tires for Tanner and my dad for Indy," Gray admitted. "It’s a good place to break tires in and run the car a little bit. We’re just kind of doing everything in one motion. It’s just part of the process. Instead of going testing we’re just doing it here."
Gray might have stopped short of 660 feet during Saturday's display, but he has on occasion tripped the win light at Farmington Dragway, an eighth-mile drag strip located outside of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
"Breaking in tires is one of my favorite things as far as Pro Stock goes," Gray admitted. "It’s always fun. Broke four sets of tires in here and we’ll race tomorrow."
If the hide-burning wasn't enough, Gray channeled his inner Lee Shepherd on his final qualifying run with a textbook dry hop.
Before we go likening Gray with the legendary Jungle Jim Liberman as a showman, there is an ulterior motive, and it has little to do with showmanship. A few years ago, Pro Stock teams were forbidden from shaving tires in an attempt to make them lighter. The process of longer burnouts does the same thing.
Gray isn't sure whether his show tactics are detrimental to his combination, and it's not like he seems concerned.
"I can’t tell that it’s done anything to the tune-up," Gray said. "I had an idea for NHRA at one time about when you get here they give each car a set of sticker tires. When you went up there for Q1, you had to start breaking your tires in. I think it would make it interesting."
That's just one of the ideas Gray has for Pro Stock. But he's keeping mum on the others.
"Yeah. I’ve got a lot of stuff to say but I better not," Gray said with a smile.