Johnny Gray had a challenge which many of his fellow Funny Car drivers could relate. He couldn’t wipe the sweat from his eyes.
The thermometer measured 92-degrees as Gray strapped into his Service Central-sponsored Funny Car for the evening qualifying session at the Summit Racing NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio. And just to think, this was the temperature as the sun was setting.
Gray battled the elements as he thundered to a 4.094-seconds, 306.33 run to score the provisional No. 1 spot.
“You have sweat running down and dripping in your eyes,” Gray explained. “Rip’s tying me in the car and you’re having all of these thoughts and he’s reaching over to turn on my air bottles and I all I could say is, ‘Please don’t drip sweat on my visor.”
Yes, it was that kind of a day at (name of track).
The thermometer at its highest point reached 98 degrees with 50-percent relative humidity.
“The conditions were hot and miserable but they were hot and miserable for everyone,” said Gray. “When you’re sitting in the car like that and you have all of that sweat running in your eyes, you fear you are going to miss the tree or get something in your eye and not be able to see during the run. There’s a lot going on in your mind and you have all of that sweat in your gloves.
“You always worry, as a driver … because we wear good suits and they protect you so that you don’t get burned. When you’re wet in the suit, you get steam burned. You have those kinds of thoughts on days like this.”
Then the engine fires.
“And those thoughts all go away,” added Gray.
Gray entered the second session of the day as the 13th quickest and on a run where his car fell silent short of the finish line, he was the driver to beat.
“It was a good run and the car left hard,” Gray explained. “I felt I was on a good run and 3.8-seconds into the run, it knocked the tires loose and it went up on the rev-limiter. I drove it as far as I could. It might have run a 4.08 at 313. [Crew chief] Rob [Wendland] was getting all of the goodie out of her before she came loose.
Gray was extremely impressed with the condition of the racing surface despite the elements.
“I think if you stop and put everything in perspective with what the NHRA has done with track prep, I think the numbers speak for themselves. There were some pretty awesome runs out there on that race track.”
Gray just happened to have the best one of them.
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