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POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 6) — Rookie Pro Stock driver Tanner Gray doesn’t even need to leave his pit to find three proven winners ready to dispense years of drag racing knowledge, a comforting fact for the 17-year-old as he preps for this weekend’s season-opening 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals.
“I’ve got grandpa (Johnny Gray), Dad (Shane Gray) and Dave (Connolly) right here and they’ve all been a huge help since we started this deal,” Tanner said. “There probably isn’t anything that could happen to me out there they haven’t experienced at one point or another. I know I can ask them anything and they’ll be there for me.
“Their support has made me very comfortable in this Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro, and that has to help me as I start my drag racing career.”
Johnny drag raced successfully for many years in Pro Stock and Funny Car, Shane won multiple races in Pro Stock, and crew chief Connolly is a Sportsman world champion with plenty of victories in Pro Stock and Top Fuel.
After starting off in a Junior Dragster, Tanner himself has been racing a variety of racecars for the past seven years, on the strip, dirt and asphalt.
“Seat time is seat time,” Tanner said. “I’ve been asked a lot lately if all the dirt track and asphalt racing I did will help me in drag racing and I just can’t see how it would hurt. I can tell it’s made me more in tune to what the Pro Stock car is doing, which helps a bunch because I can make better reports to Dad, Dave and the crew after each run.
“We’ve all been working really hard to get me used to this car and I think by the time we get done testing I’ll have more than 50 passes under my belt. I feel really good, although I know I have plenty left to learn. I’m ready for the challenge.”
All things considered, everyone at Gray Motorsports is expecting a big year for the rookie driver.
“I’m a really humble person by nature but at the same time I don’t know how we can go into any race not thinking we have a good chance to win,” Tanner said. “I’m thinking we will be able to run well in Pomona right out of the trailer.”
Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. PT, Friday and Saturday, with eliminations starting at noon PT, Sunday.
Live coverage of the 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals begins with a qualifying show from 1-2 p.m. ET, Saturday, on FOX Sports 1, followed by three hours of eliminations from 4-7 p.m. ET, Sunday, on FOX.
Credit: Geiger Media Global