”The team has great chemistry right now and just as important all the parts on the car seem to have great chemistry right now too,” Gray said. ”If the parts on the car can continue to get along and stay in a good mood well be fine because the guys have a great handle on the car right now and were having some fun.”
Gray says the smooth racing surface that The Strip at LVMS provides makes some of the crew chiefs in the nitro pits hungry to throw everything at the track. From a drivers perspective, he says it is literally a blast to race there.
“I had one of my biggest explosions at Vegas, so I always kid (crew chief Rob) Wendland that on every run at that track I like to close one eye at about 800 feet (downtrack) just in case,” Gray said with a chuckle about his spectacular explosion that sent his carbon-fiber Charger body high into the air at the Oct. 2011 race at LVMS. ”Vegas is a great race track where you can generate a lot of power and our cars like to run there, so we are anticipating having a great time.”
If Gray is going to add an LVMS victory to his bucket list and start an early-season winning streak, hell have to hold off a tough group of challengers including defending event winner Hight, defending world champ Jack Beckman, Winternationals winner Courtney Force, five-time LVMS winner Ron Capps, ultra-quick Cruz Pedregon and 15-time world champ John Force, among others.
”It’s crazy how competitive it is right now,” Gray said. ”It’s just really great to be a part of all the excitement and win some races and I am just going to do my best to win a bunch more races for Don this season.”
Antron Brown is atop the pack in Top Fuel riding high with momentum after claiming the 200th win for Don Schumacher Racing at Gainesville, Fla. Brown, who won this event in 2011, will try to increase his series lead with a strong performance at the controls of his Matco Tools dragster.
A strong contingent of challengers will also be in the hunt for victory, including U.S. Army driver Tony Schumacher, Al-Anabi Racings Shawn Langdon, Mac Tools dragster driver Doug Kalitta, and defending event winner Massey, among others.
In Pro Stock, Mike Edwards leads the points standings based on his great performances during qualifying, which includes taking the No. 1 spot at the first three races behind the wheel of his I Am Second Chevy Camaro. Edwards has yet to win a race this season, but the two-time winner of this event hopes to change that trend over the weekend.
Defending world champ Johnson won the most recent event at Gainesville and comes into this event looking for his second title in a row here. Other winners this season in the 200 mph factory hot rod category are Vincent Nobile and Erica Enders-Stevens.