PRO STOCK STAR TANNER GRAY WINS INDY FOR FIRST TIME  - Tanner Gray made a statement Monday at NHRA’s biggest race of the year – the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.

Gray, who pilots the Gray Motorsports powered Chevy Camaro, qualified No. 1 and capped his memorable weekend by winning Indy for the first time in his career and he also left as the points leader.

Gray, on a holeshot, beat Jeg Coughlin in the final round at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Gray clocked a 6.641-second lap at 208.42 mph to defeat a quicker Coughlin, who came in at 6.639 seconds at 206.80 mph.

The difference was at the starting line as Gray had a near perfect .003 light compared to Coughlin’s .023 light.

“I struggled with the tree all day,” Gray said. “I actually do my clutch stuff, and the clutch guy and I were talking, and I told him I know I’m missing it and I had to figure out a way to hit it. Dave (Connolly, Gray’s crew chief) went out there and looked at everything and he came back in and said he had an extra hole we can speed it up to if you want to try it. I said H*ll yeah, I need all the help I can get right now. We sped it up, but I didn’t even feel the pedal because we were in a rush after we did it, and I didn’t feel it until I sat down in the car and put it in the water. I thought ‘man I think I can hit the tree pretty well with what I have here.’”

Gray, 19, is in his second season in Pro Stock and has been highly-successful. He has made 42 Pro Stock starts and he has 10 wins and four runner-up finishes. He leaves Indy with a class-high five wins this season and first in the points standings.

“That’s definitely pretty cool (winning almost 25 percent of his races),” said Gray, who became the 24th Pro Stock driver to win the U.S. Nationals. “I don’t know what to say about that, I will have to let that sink in a little bit. The main thing is I strive to be the best driver I can be and continue to work and be better than I was the day before.”

Gray arrived in Indy 20 points behind Greg Anderson, but he now starts the six-race Countdown to the Championship with a 20-point lead over Anderson. The Countdown begins Sept. 13-16 at Reading, Pa.

A year ago, Gray won the first race of the Countdown, which was in Charlotte, N.C., but then faltered in the final five races, finishing fourth in the points standings.

“I have a lot of confidence going into it (the Countdown), and I’m very excited,” Gray said. “But, at the same time, I know how fast you can go from hero to zero in this sport. I have to keep that in my mind, but at the same time I have to keep my confidence up. I really feel like we have done everything right this year and I feel like we have a really fast race car.”

The win was extra special for Gray because he joins his father, Shane as a Pro Stock winner at Indy. Shane won Indy in 2014, defeating Connolly in the final round.

“I think every driver’s dream is to at least win Indy once and it is pretty cool to win it, especially with my dad winning it in 2014,” Tanner said. “Getting to be able to share that with him today was pretty special. I haven’t seen him choked up since I won my first race in Vegas. It was cool to see that and see the emotion come out of him because if you know my dad, he’s not very emotional. It was a lot of fun today. Dave (Connolly) has a good understanding of what it takes to win here (at Indy) and he continues to help me out and I truly feel like me and him are probably one of the best crew chief/driver duos to come into the sport in quite a while.”

Tanner’s victory parade consisted of victories over John Gaydosh Jr., Jason Line, Drew Skillman and Coughlin.

“It was super-hot, and the track was difficult and that’s where Dave and everybody working on the car did a really good job getting me a consistent car,” Tanner said.

Coughlin, who is known for his starting-line prowess, was trying to win Indy for the fourth time to go along with the Pro Stock titles he captured in 2000, 2002 and 2009.

Coughlin, a five-time Pro Stock world champ (2000, 2002, 2007-2008 and 2013), has experienced a revival in his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevy, now winning four times – Chicago, Bristol, Tenn., and Sonoma, Calif. He will start the Countdown fourth in the points, while her teammate Erica Enders is third.



JOHN NOBILE WEIGHS IN ON MOUNTAIN MOTOR PRO STOCK – This weekend, NHRA created some news when the sanctioning body had Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars make exhibition runs Saturday and Sunday at Lucas Oil Raceway.

John Nobile, who tunes the Pro Stock Camaro driven by his son Vincent Nobile, is a former Pro Stock and Mountain Motor Pro Stock driver and he weighed in on the Mountain Motor Pro Stock competitors possibly joining NHRA’s Pro Stock class at some point.

“I think they (the Mountain Motor Pro Stock drivers) did OK (Sunday),” John said. “Not running a quarter-mile for a long time and then coming here and trying to run a quarter-mile, you saw some 6.30s out there and also on a track that is not prepared the way they are used to seeing a track prepared. I think it is going to be a great thing if NHRA makes the parity.”

Nobile offered his opinion on how to level the playing field with Pro Stock and Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars.

“It’s weight, it is real simple,” Nobile said. “They are looking to make our class (Pro Stock) a little faster, so they need to take a little weight off of us and they need to add a lot of weight on to them (Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars). I’m going to say of they take 50 pounds off of us and add 150 pounds to them, it will be pretty damn close.”

John Nobile ran Mountain Motor Pro Stock for 20 years as well as Pro Stock.

“Back in the 1990s, I put 200 pounds in my car and ran with the 500-cubic inch cars,” he said. “I’ve done it. It worked then, why can’t it work now? It works in Pro Mod and it works in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Why wouldn’t it work in Pro Stock? They (NHRA) have to want it to work. They can make it work if they want to work it. We either do something or we lose the class. I understand there are going to be a lot of cars not coming back next year so they better do something.”

John said his son, Vincent, will compete in the Pro Stock class in 2019 with his Camaro and the primary sponsor as Mountain View Tire, but as of right now Vincent will not be going full-time.

“We’re coming back to a limited schedule,” John said. “We’re presently looking for a sponsor so if anybody out there is looking to sponsor Vincent Nobile, they need to bring it on. Mountain View is in, but we need a little money to do the whole tour.”

Vincent arrived in Indy fourth in the points and has two wins this season in Las Vegas and Atlanta.

“I think that this season is going well,” Nobile said. “The last few races we were fighting a gremlin that we couldn’t really figure out. I think we figured it out. We won’t know really till the end of this weekend. All-in-all I’m happy with how the year has gone. I think we can start winning some races again now.”

Vincent acknowledged this season has been much better on him mentally. A year ago, his team shutdown its program after Indy.

“Way better,” Vincent said. “Just to be out here having a car that we know can go up and down the race track, do what we tell it to do and come to a race that we can come here saying that we could win. Not go racing and say ‘Oh let’s hope we can qualify.’

MCGAHA GOING TO LIMITED SCHEDULE IN 2019 – Pro Stock driver Chris McGaha has shown he can compete against NHRA’s best winning seven national events in his career.

McGaha entered the U.S. Nationals eighth in the points, on the strength of two wins at Phoenix, Ariz., and Epping, N.H.

McGaha, who drives his family-owned Harlow Sammons Chevy Camaro, said he will not be competing full-time next year.

“I’m probably going to do a limited schedule just cause,” said McGaha, who is based in Odessa, Texas. “It’s too much to go to all that Eastern Swing when they stack races up. I still need to take my kids racing. I didn’t get to do it near as much this year. I will probably run about 15 or 16 races next year. I will probably run all the way up to Atlanta and I wouldn’t come back to Topeka (Kan.). Then, I would do the (Western) Swing and I would skip Brainerd (Minn.), and I would do Indy and start again at St. Louis and then do Dallas, Vegas and Pomona (Calif.).”

McGaha has a 16-year-old son, Mason, and a 12-year-old daughter, Berkley.

“Mason has done Junior Dragsters and he has been driving our COPO car at our local track (in Odessa),” McGaha said. “I’ve been thinking about building a Factory Showdown car and maybe running it in some Stock and taking it to some divisional races and have Mason drive it. That may be why I will not race as much. I may do that. Mason wants to do Pro Stock and he would love to do Pro Stock and I want him to do Pro Stock, but also at the same time I’m sitting here going, ‘Where is the future of this going?’. I want to keep doing it, but I’m not going to come out here and fight a losing battle either.”

McGaha also isn't a fan of the Pro Stock class incorporating Mountain Motor Pro Stock into NHRA’s Pro Stock class.

“It is still stupid,” McGaha said. “It was stupid two weeks ago and it is still going to be so backwards. They aren’t listening to the fans. I don’t see how they are going to get parity either, but nobody really cares about my opinion. I know this, I don’t know what they are planning on doing, but whatever they are going to do, they need to hurry up and start letting people know. It is not going to be long before it is going to be next year already. I’m not near as optimistic as some others. They keep messing with this Pro Stock deal and they are going backwards on it. Everybody gripes about the way it is, so let’s double down on it is what they’re doing I think.”

McGaha, the No. 5 qualifier, meets No. 12 Drew Skillman in round one.

LINE LOOKS TO MAKE MEMORIES – Jason Line has accomplished much in his career, highlighted by him winning NHRA world championships in 2006, 2011 and 2016.

Now, Line, who drives the Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro for KB Racing, is aiming to check something else off his bucket list this weekend, capturing the title at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.

Line has won 49 national events – 47 in Pro Stock and two in Stock Eliminator. This also is Line’s 350th national event in Pro Stock.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Summit Racing Equipment.

"I haven't won Indy yet, but right now my Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro is a car that could certainly win,” Line said. “I'm driving better, for the most part, and overall we've gotten progressively better with my car lately. We haven't yet been quite good enough to go four rounds in a row, but it's coming, and to get the 50th win of my career in Summit Racing's 50th year in business, and to do it at Indy would really be something really special. No matter what, Indy is always an event that holds a lot of meaning and history, and this is one I really want to win."

Line qualified No. 9 and he will face No. 8 Vincent Nobile in the first round Monday.

CONNOLLY TALKS INDY, COUNTDOWN – Dave Connolly, the crew chief on Tanner Gray’s Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro, knows what is at stake this weekend at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Gray has a chance to start the six-race Countdown to the Championship as the points leader if he can overtake Greg Anderson.

Through five qualifying sessions, Gray kept the No. 1 qualifying spot with his with 6.603-second elapsed time at 208.68 mph from Friday night at the U.S. Nationals.

This was Gray’s first No. 1 qualifying position this season and fifth of his career. Gray takes on John Gaydosh in round one.

“We have definitely had a good car and I pretty much knew we would have No. 1 qualifier after Friday night, just because the conditions weren’t going to be there (for the remaining qualifying sessions),” Gray said. “It feels really good though. We have struggled in qualifying all year and it is pretty cool to come out to Indy of all places and be able to roll off the trailer and have a fast car. I’m looking for to racing (Monday). It’s going to be a tough day. It is going to be hot. It’s going to be an all out brawl and whoever wins will definitely deserve it.”

Connolly is keeping a level head in regards to Indy.

“It’s the same as always,” Connolly said about his approach. “We’re going to treat this race as any other. We go into every race trying to win it. This weekend is the last weekend before the Countdown. Really, I’m more focused on trying to win the race. And if we do that we’ll definitely go a round further than Greg and move up to first going into the Countdown. Those 20 points are big and that’s kind of what our focus is on right now.”

Connolly has won 26 national events in NHRA’s Pro Stock class, and he has competed in two events this season, in Richmond, Va., and in Brainerd, Minn., but he will not be driving in the Countdown.

“No sir, it’s 100 percent focused on this,” Connolly said. “I’m not going to do that to pull anything away from this. We ran at Brainerd. It was just a last-minute deal. Unfortunately, we didn’t hit the qualifying light quite like we liked, and we ran Tanner first round. It was fun to get back in the seat though and let the clutch out.”

Connolly knows how to win at Indy as he claimed U.S. Nationals titles in 2007-2008 and 2012.

“Indy has always been one of those tracks that I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of success at,” Connolly said. “I’ve won it multiple times and usually go a lot of rounds so the comfort level at Indy is definitely there. It’s one that you want to have under your career wins. I know Tanner definitely wants it and we’re trying to give it to him.”

Shane Gray, Tanner’s father, won the Pro Stock crown at the 2014 U.S. Nationals.

As much as Connolly wants to lead Tanner to Victory Lane, he knows the season starts over in the Countdown and he wants Tanner to be a world champ.

“Your struggles are what make you stronger for sure and last year I really sat down and tried to pinpoint what happened throughout the Countdown,” Connolly said. “We started off the Countdown with a win then really struggled through the middle. Just trying to bring more consistency back to the program. My whole focus the last three months has been getting ready for the Countdown, getting all aspects of the car – parts, tires, engines – everything ready to go. We’ll be better prepared this year than we were last year.”

ENDERS DOING DOUBLE DUTY AT INDY – Erica Enders has been plenty busy during the U.S. Nationals this weekend.

Enders, who won the 2014-2015 Pro Stock world championship, is trying to win the U.S. Nationals Pro Stock title again, going with the one she captured in 2015.

Enders qualified No. 4 and faces Fernando Cuadra in the first round of Pro Stock Monday. She qualified No. 15 in the Pro Mod class.

“I’m excited to be back at Indy,” Enders said. “It’s our Super Bowl of drag racing, the most prestigious race of the year. I’ve been racing here since 1994 in a Junior Dragster and it just holds a lot of fun memories. It’s definitely the coolest event of the year being that it’s almost a week long. Headed into here, we ran the Pro Mod car in Denver, we tested again in Tulsa last week, so I feel like we have somewhat of a better handle on that. I’ve obviously got a great car in Pro Stock.”

Enders is confident she can be a three-time Pro Stock world champion by season’s end.

“Yeah, absolutely. I think we have just as good a shot as anybody if not better,” she said. “I’ve been quoted saying it a bunch of times and I’ll continue to say it that ‘My money is always on us.’ I have, in my opinion, the best people in the business. We work really well together. There’s a lot of natural team chemistry and a lot of trust there. I think that Indy being a point-and-a-half is very important to position ourselves the best that we can. I’m not sure of the spread from me to first but I know that having a good weekend here would for sure move us into second. I don’t know about the No. 1 spot but either way going into the final six (races) one, two, or three is not a shabby place to be when everything is reset. We’ll make a hard run for it, I can promise you that. It will be a dog fight. Everybody is so competitive. The field is only separated by a couple hundredths of a second. A lot of the weight is going to be on the driver’s shoulders and I am just fine with that.”

Enders also took a moment to talk about the possibility of Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars coming into NHRA’s Pro Stock class.

“I think it will be cool,” Enders said. “I’ve been around Mountain Motor stuff a lot. My team owner, Richard Freeman, drove one for quite some time. I grew up a little bit around it because of Richie Stevens (her husband). I’ve never drove one myself but I think it’s actually a cool deal. Over 800-cubic inches. We’ll have to definitely find a way, if we incorporate them into our 500-inch class to kind of even the spread on that. I think the Sunoco Fuel and the tire that we have to run will be somewhat of a good equalizer. Other discussions that have been brought up are weight and RPM limits.

"It’s kind of what this even is for, allow them to exhibition to just kind of see where they’re at and see what we would need to do to be able to make it pretty competitive being that we’re 500-inch and they’re over 800 (inch), they’re carbureted, we’re fuel injected. We’ll have to probably get some RPMs back. We’ll just kind of see what happens and getting a feel for it. We welcome them with open arms and invite them to some pretty heavy competition.”

WESCOTT JR. KEEPS TWEAKING HIS PRO STOCK CAR – In October of 2014, Charlie Wescott Jr. purchased the late Jim Cunningham’s Ford Mustang chassis – a Jerry Haas chassis - and that’s what he’s racing in Pro Stock. Westcott’s business – Militia Racing Products – based in Parma, Mich., is supplying the engine power. With his business, Westcott Jr. makes a lot of camshafts.

Westcott brought his car out at the U.S. Nationals to try and make the Big Go at Indy, and he came up a little short as his best run was 6.832 seconds.

“This was my first time racing Pro Stock at Indy,” he said. “This was only like the fourth national event I’ve ever been to with this car. I don’t run it that much. I dyno the engine all the time but that’s easy, I can do that at my place. As far as getting out and running it, I’ve only got probably 40 runs on this car since I’ve had it.

I came here (to Indy) knowing I’m probably not going to make the show because I’m not really where I need to be, but I need to make runs. I know this race you get five runs and I haven’t been here for four years. So, we just came down here. The thing is too, when you come to one of these races and then you talk to other people, other people usually try to help me. So that helps too. I can’t get that at home.”

Prior to Indy, Westcott Jr. competed in Pro Stock at Norwalk, Ohio earlier this season.

“I got to make two runs: one qualifier, one elimination run,” Westcott said. “I went 6.84 was my best. The weather is worse here. I made some changes since then. It seems like it’s running a little bit better and I’m making some more changes now to see if we can get better. It should be a little better than it is. So, I am trying to just get it all working the way it needs to be.”

Wescott Jr. was a dominant force in the Mopar HEMI Challenge for over a decade before he decided to make the move to Pro Stock.

“Well ever since I was a little kid, I thought Pro Stock cars were cool and I wanted one,” Wescott Jr. said. “So, I got to the point where I was kind of done with that other stuff and losing interest and so I thought I’d try this.”

Competing in Pro Stock also benefits Westcott Jr.’s business.

“I meet people when I come,” he said. “I made a couple new connections here. This is more of just a project that I enjoy working on. I enjoy making parts and developing the engine and seeing how fast I can get it to go.”

The Pro Stock program Westcott Jr. is running is all his own.

“I didn’t buy any drivetrain parts other than the transmission,” Westcott Jr. said. “I built the engine from scratch which is hard because I really didn’t know anything about what I was doing.”

Westcott Jr. has plans on doing some more Pro Stock before the NHRA season ends.

“I’ll probably go to St. Louis,” he said. “I’m not going to go to Maple Grove. I’m into CNC machines, that’s what I make my living with so there’s a big CNC machine show in Chicago I’m going to go to that weekend. So, we’ll go to St. Louis and possibly Charlotte (N.C.). I’ve never been to Charlotte and I’ve always wanted to go there.”

DELCO TALKS PRO STOCK – Kenny Delco loves competing in NHRA’s Pro Stock class and that’s why he keeps coming out each year and competing in a limited schedule.

His latest stop is the U.S. Nationals this weekend.

“This is a lot of fun. Nice weather, thank God. Just a fun place to be,” Delco said. I just enjoy doing it, a lot of fun.”

Delco qualified No. 14 and he will face reigning world champion Bo Butner in round one Monday. His teammate, Val Smeland didn’t make the show, but having Smeland benefits Delco.

“It helps with expenses, driving, maintenance, everything. He’s a good guy. It’s a lot of fun.”

Like many of his competitors, Delco offered his thoughts on Mountain Motor Pro Stock possibly joining up with NHRA’s Pro Stock class.

“I don’t know,” Delco said when asked the question. “How are they going to do it? If we can figure out a way to do it, it would be good. I hate to see these guys, one of the top three guys, build a motor. It’s going to be pretty fast. Then it’s going to make that astronomical (to switch everything back).”



TANNER GRAY STAYS AT PROVISIONAL NO. 1 – Tanner Gray captured the provisional No. 1 spot with a 6.603-second elapsed time at 208.68 mph Friday night at the U.S. Nationals.

Saturday in much warmer, muggy conditions he kept his top spot in his Gray Motorsports Chevrolet.

“(Saturday) is what we will use more on (Monday),” Gray said. “I think (Sunday) we will probably try some stuff. I will move my linkage around and see if I can get any better on the tree. I’m pretty happy with the car. I feel pretty good that we are going to come out of here with the No. 1 qualifier. At the same time, that’s not scary, but I’m kind of superstitious about it. I’m not sure how may No. 1 qualifiers have won this year. I’m happy to hang on to it now even though it is not over yet.”

Gray, 19, is in his second season in Pro Stock and has been highly-successful. He has made 41 Pro Stock starts – prior to Indy – and he has nine wins and four runner-up finishes. He arrived at Indy with a class-high four wins this season and is second in points.

Gray arrived in Indy 20 points behind Greg Anderson, but he said he isn’t crunching numbers.

“I don’t even know what I’m doing,” Gray said with a laugh. “I don’t really pay to much attention to what they have going on. Obviously, they are running well, but I just try to focus on myself and do the same thing week in and week out. Right now, things have been going well and I feel like I have been driving good. I feel like I have been driving better than anybody else right now. Hopefully, I didn’t peak too soon. The whole key is to be able to stay consistent throughout the Countdown.”

There’s no question Gray has made his mark on the Pro Stock world in a short time, and there are rumors out there that he may leave the class after this season and go circle track racing.

“I don’t know, they will just have to find out,” Gray told CompetitionPlus.com.

SKILLMAN TALKS ABOUT HIS PRO STOCK FUTURE – Since joining the NHRA Pro Stock ranks Drew Skillman has had a strong run.

Skillman was NHRA’s Auto Club Road to the Future award winner in 2015, recognizing the sanctioning the body’s top rookie. In his Pro Stock career, Skillman has compiled seven career wins, including the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis last year. He also has finished fifth in the season points standings in 2015 and 2017.

As Skillman defends his Indy title this weekend, he told CompetitionPlus.com Saturday morning that he will not be competing full-time in NHRA’s Pro Stock class in 2019.

“Sometimes it is a good time just to step back and I want to get more involved with our business,” said Skillman, 30. “24 weekends a year is way too much for me. That’s kind of my thought process right now. If I do come back, it will not be for a full season. Next year if I run it will be a part-time deal. I will still do Sportsman racing, but not full-time in Pro Stock. It is a decision I will make and if I need to be at work, I’m going to be at work, period. I’m putting that in front of racing.”

The Skillman family is a fixture in the car dealership business.

“We have a large business, we have 1,300 employees,” Drew said. “My grandfather, Ray is getting older and my dad, (Bill) is getting older and my grandfather eventually is going to step away from the business and everybody is going to have to move up a position and we want to make sure we don’t run it into the ground.”

Drew works as a used car manager for the Ford store at Ray Skillman’s Used Car Supercenter in Greenwood, Ind. Drew also has an older sister, Ashley, who works in the family car dealership business.

“We have over 300 used cars on one lot, so it is a big operation,” Drew said. “There are four of us who run that Ford store.”

Skillman arrived at Indy this year ninth in the points standings on the strength of six semifinal finishes.

“We started off really good, we were going (to) third round a lot and we just couldn’t seem to get that bump to go into the finals,” Skillman said. “I wasn’t driving the best and were started moving stuff around on the car and the past six weeks we really lost our direction and (Friday night) we didn’t really show our hand quite as well as we wanted. We went testing (Aug. 27-28) in Norwalk, Ohio, and we got the car to run well there. We just need to go back to what we are doing. We made a little step the wrong direction (Friday night). We know what we did wrong. We should make a lot of better runs here.

The weather is going to be a little bit worse, so I don’t know if we are going to move much on that ladder, but our car should be in the top five to six with the rest of the guys. Tanner (Gray) ripped one off (Friday night) and I think he’s going to hold that No. 1 qualifying spot for the rest of the weekend. He’s got a great car and he’s a great driver. He’s really looking good to win the U.S. Nationals and the world championship.”

Skillman was qualified No. 9 after Q1 with a 6.648-second run at 208.23 mph. Gray grabbed the provisional No. 1 spot with a 6.603-second run at 208.68 mph.

The remainder of the season is something Skillman is keeping in perspective.

“We’re really setting up for the chase (Countdown to the Championship),” Skillman said. “We’re going in ninth, which is definitely a bad deficit and we really have to be on our ‘A’ game to get the rest of the season done.”

COUGHLIN ENJOYING REVIVAL – After struggling in the Pro Stock Class in 2016-2017, five-time Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin is enjoying a revival in his Jegs.com/Elite Performance Chevy Camaro.

“It feels great and hopefully we can win another championship at Indy,” said Coughlin, who won the U.S. Nationals in 2000, 2002 and 2009. “The car has been feeling really good and we have some great momentum. We’re just lacking a little bit of game-day consistency with different track conditions. I know our team is going to master that as we get ready for the Countdown.”

Coughlin acknowledged Indy is not just another race to him.

“It is one of the first races I remember coming to as a kid in the early 1970s and watching my dad race and coming as a family,” Coughlin said. “I probably know every inch of the grounds. It (Indy) is a special place. As you mature in life and see some of the accomplishments that have happened here at Indy and the importance of it and you add that name to that list it is very special. It’s one of those few races where you pull through the gates and you are just that much more excited.”

Coughlin is presently sixth on the ladder with a 6.627-second at 207.56 mph.

GAYDOSH LIKELY DONE IN PRO STOCK AFTER READING – Long-time part-time John Gaydosh is back and trying to check something off his bucket list – qualifying for the prestigious U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

Gaydosh after Q1 was No. 14 on the ladder with a 6.718-second at 205.91 mph which has him No. 16 on the ladder. There are two more qualifying runs Sunday.

“My mindset is pretty good,” Gaydosh said. “Chris and Lester McGaha have been helping us out a bunch. We feel really good about the car. We’ve got really good power for this weekend. We’ve been running really well with it, so we feel that we should be able to at least qualify anywhere between 10 and 12. That’s what we’re shooting for if things go right. Anything can happen, things can break. But the biggest thing is that this is kind of our last hurrah.”

Gaydosh acknowledged his Pro Stock career is likely done soon.

“This and Maple Grove (Sept. 13-16) will be our last (two) races,” Gaydosh said. “For the season and probably forever. I don’t have the money to keep going. I can’t get enough sponsorship to keep going and without Chris and his dad (Lester) we wouldn’t be racing this year. Without any help, I won’t be out here next year. I don’t have it. I’m going through a lot of personal stuff at home. Trying to get through all that but without the funding and everything else, I don’t have my shop anymore to work out of. That’s what was doing the funding on my car. Now I don’t have the shop to do it, and I don’t have that other income to do it. If I can find help for next year, we’ll be back. But if I can’t find major help for next year this will be it.”

Gaydosh’s primary job is as a truck mechanic.

“I work from 8 to 5 everyday working on big trucks for a small company – Del’s Truck & Auto which is on the side of our car - out of Baltimore,” Gaydosh said. “That’s my main job. I’ve worked there from 8 to 5 every day. He takes care of me, he gives me the time off to come out here and go racing but I just need the extra money for funding us. All my stuff is old. This is a 2013. So, I’m racing against everybody with 2017 or 2018 cars. I’ve got older technology. I’m running with them but that’s the little extra that I need, and I don’t have $170,000 for a new car. Just can’t do it. It’s reality. It’s the facts of life. I’ve had a good run for 10 years running Pro Stock. I’ve enjoyed myself. It is what it is.”

Despite his uncertain future in the sport, Gaydosh is trying to remain upbeat.

“Yes and no,” said Gaydosh when asked if his plight was bittersweet. “If we qualify here (at Indy) and we can go a round or two here that would be bittersweet. This has been my Achilles heel. This race here has haunted me. For the last two years I’ve qualified at every race we’ve gone to except for here. So, if we can get this off my bucket list, we’ll be alright.”

Gaydosh said he also has some health issues to take care of as well.

“Reading will be my last race unless things change dramatically,” Gaydosh said. “Plus, I have to go for another back operation for when I hit the wall in Bradenton. Oct. 23 I’m having another major back surgery.”

The back injury initially occurred in 2011.

“I hit the wall during testing at 208 mph,” Gaydosh said. “I’ve had one back operation from that and now I have to have another one. It’s all part of life. Getting older, need some maintenance on myself. I’ve enjoyed it, I can’t thank my sponsors enough. They can’t step up any more than what they have because they’re all small companies. Without that major sponsor, there’s another little guy going to the wayside.”

Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars are making exhibition runs Saturday and Sunday at Indy, is something that doesn’t interest Gaydosh if they join Pro Stock.

“No, I’d have to build all new stuff,” he said. “See that’s the other thing that’s going to hurt me more because in my current combination, they’re going to make the rule changes again and now I’m going to have to make a whole lot more changes. So, me being already in a situation I’m in already, that’s going to make it even that much more difficult.”

PERSEVERANCE PAYS OFF FOR CUADRA – No one can say Fernando Cuarda doesn’t know how to overcome adversity.

Cuardra was competing in NHRA’s Pro Stock class in 2004, and then he had to abruptly quit because of a natural disaster.

“In 2004, we were in the Tsunami in Indonesia,” Cuadra said. “We have a business established in North Sumatran, Medan, in front of Singapore. The Tsunami just hit the business. We had 1,500 people working for us on the island and it was full of snakes and lizards and all that. So, the company was based on exotic leathers. When they called me on December 27 and said, ‘did you see the Tsunami?’ Nobody knew what was going to take place. When I saw the news and tried to call them, and nobody answered, I sent people to Singapore and it was a disaster. It was washed out completely. Family, kids, wives, everybody was gone. Died. At that time, I sold all my equipment. Sold everything including my house.”

Cuadra’s life was turned upside down and he immediately tried to figure out to how to get himself back on track.

“I was living Mexico, but I have a house in the United States and have a heavy lien on my properties and business here,” Cuadra said. “I reinvested and we’re doing it again. It took me six years to rebuild my business and 14 years to come back to Pro Stock. I sell exotic leathers and cowboy boots. We make cowboy boots for the domestic industry here in the United States. We have 29 locations to sell our product, Corral Boots.”

With his businesses succeeding again, Cuadra wanted to race Pro Stock again.

“It just so happened that I approached Greg Anderson and Jason Line, KB guys, and we had a conversation and I asked them to do me a favor and give me a chance to run in their camp,” Cuadra said. “And they looked at me and said, ‘are you ready?’ I said ‘well, I’ll see you in 48 hours at 5:45 in the morning.’ I flew from Leon (Mexico) to North Carolina and got over there at 5:15 just not to be late. They treat me better than family.”

The relationship with KB Racing formed quickly for Cuadra.

“Yeah, five or six races ago,” Cuadra said. “Then, when we got the license, Jason (Line) signed me up.”

This is Cuadra’s sixth race of the season – Epping, N.H., Denver, Sonoma, Calif., Seattle, and Brainerd, Minn., and now Indy.

Through three qualifying sessions at Indy, Cuadra is No. 13 in the qualifying ladder, with a 6.661-second elapsed time 206.67 mph.

“I came back from Mexico, got everything done and we flew back again in 48 hours,” Cuadra said. “Since then we’re having a lot of fun. My son is all excited. I have all my three sons here. We ordered a Mustang I didn’t know that they (KB) were sponsored by Chevrolet. So, I got a Mustang and Jerry Haas told me ‘you need to build another car.’ I said, ‘yeah we’ll finish the Mustang and we’ll order a Camaro for 2019.’”

Presently Cuadra is driving a Chevy Camaro, a car Greg Anderson used to campaign.

“To get the chance to try to be close enough, we’re four hundredths or five hundredths off of the whole field on race day,” Cuadra said. “Let me tell you (Saturday), we have a lot going on where we’re going to have a lot better runs (and they moved into the field at No. 13). They help me, in person, Greg and Jason and Rob Downing, it’s not that they send me somebody. First-class people. This is my first experience (at the U.S. Nationals). It is beautiful, outstanding, big, and nice.”

As for next season Cuadra acknowledged he has big NHRA Pro Stock plans.

“We already signed for 2019 all 24 events with KB with a new car,” Cuadra said. “Camaro for me. The Mustang is going to be my son’s, Fernando Jr, which will be delivered in three weeks. He’s going to run in Pro Stock. He’s getting his license in 15 days in Tulsa, Okla. He’s going to run the track, make the rounds. Also, my crew chief and friend, Julio Rodriguez, he’s coming to Pro Stock too. He was racing in Mexico. He’s going to be getting his license. He’s Dodge Mopar guy. I said, ‘fine you can have your Dodge engines.’”

Cuadra said the Pro Stock Rodriguez will drive is a 2016 Dodge Dart, the one Erica Enders used to drive.

“That car is good,” Cuadra said. “It’s not that fast like KB and he knows that, but he will make rounds and get 10 rounds before he shows up which is going to be probably in Dallas (when he makes his NHRA debut, Oct. 4-7). That will be the first appearance for him. We will have three of us in Pro Stock. We don’t know until they release the information with what’s going on here. If not, we will just get some experience in Dallas, Vegas and Pomona (the final three races of the year).”

Cuadra said his son, Fernando Jr. will compete full time in Pro Stock next season.

“Both of us are going to be racing,” Fernando Sr. said. “Hopefully, I will see them in one of the eliminations, father and son.”

Cuadra’s all-in approach to Pro Stock, and he would not have it any other way.

“This is the proper time,” Cuadra said. “All the controversy with Pro Stock this and that, this is the proper time. There is a good saying in the cowboy business, ‘never waste a good recession.’ I put a little in my business when everybody is pulling out thinking that this is not going anywhere. This is the right time to get in especially with the support of KB people, they are first class.”

VAL SMELAND ENJOYS TEAMING WITH DELCO – Competing in NHRA’s Pro Stock class is no easy task.

Yet, Val Smeland enjoys mixing it with the big boys in the class. This season he has competed in eight events, the last coming in Epping, N.H., July 8.

“We’ve run Pomona, Phoenix, Gainesville, Atlanta, Carolina, Virginia, Norwalk, and Epping,” Smeland said. “I love racing. I absolutely love racing. It’s a lot of fun. Working with Kenny (Delco) is fantastic. He’s a great guy. Basically, we’re just trying to have a good time and do the best that we can trying to run well. With what we have, we’re doing pretty good. Hopefully we continue.”

Smeland initially teamed up with Delco four years ago.

“Four years ago, we ran the Cobalts together and then Kenny got the RJ Camaro and I ran my Cobalt,” Smeland said. “Then when they started EFI I took the RJ Camaro and then he got the Haas Camaro. We ran one season with the RJ car and decided it was more beneficial to the whole program to run two Haas cars. That’s when we made the deal with Elite to get the Hass car that they had, and we gave them back their RJ car and we have two Hass cars now. That actually helped the program out a lot, running two of the same cars.”

Smeland enjoys the partnership he has with Delco.

When Kenny goes (racing) I’ll go,” Smeland said. “As long as we can maintain the motors. That’s the big thing is keeping up with the engine program. He comes first, he gets the motors. As long as we have an engine for me. It’s good because we use this as a test car. A lot of R and D comes out of this program. We learn with this and transfer over to him.”

Following Indy, Smeland said he will be competing at least three more races this season.

“We’re going to go to Pennsylvania (Reading, Sept. 13-16),” Smeland said. “We’re questionable on whether it’s going to be Dallas or Carolina and then we’ll be at Las Vegas and Pomona at the end of the year.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend. It’s going to be a tough one but of course they’re all tough.”

Smeland is utilizing Frank Iaconio horsepower.

“That’s Frankie’s motor in there this weekend in both cars,” Smeland said. “They’re very similar in power. He’s (Kenny) got a little bit more, naturally, he’s the boss. But we’re not far (off).”



TANNER GRAY ROCKETS TO PROVISIONAL NO. 1 – Tanner Gray is in year two of competing in NHRA’s Pro Stock class and he’s aiming to win a world championship. He is second in the points and he gained some ground by qualifying in the provisional No. 1 spot with 6.603-second elapsed time at 208.68 mph.

“This race is very prestigious, but as a driver you try and take it like any other race I guess,” said Gray, who has won a class-high four races this season. “It would be really cool for me (to win this race), especially since my dad won back in 2014. That would be something really cool that I check off on my resume. Whether you win a championship or not, you could still look back and say I won Indy. I think a lot of guys want that.”


BOB GLIDDEN TRIBUTE – Bob Glidden was a Pro Stock legend winning 85 races and 10 world championships.


He passed away Dec. 17, 2017. He was 73.

On Friday night, the drag racing world paid tribute to Glidden at the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway. Aug. 31, 2018, was Bob Glidden Day in Hendricks County and the state of Indiana presented him the Sagamore of the Wabash honor. It is the highest honor which the Govenor of Indiana bestows.

Glidden won the U.S. Nationals nine times – 1973-74, 1978-79, 1983, 1985-88. Only Top Fuel star Tony Schumacher has more U.S. Nationals wins at 10.

Glidden’s wife, Etta, and children, sons, Rusty and Billy were at the starting line during the tribute.

Additionally, two of Glidden’s cars (on display in the Top Eliminator Club) were towed down the track in his honor and many dignitaries were on site including House Representative Greg Steuerwald, who will formally proclaim Glidden as a “Sagamore of the Wabash” recipient.

BUTNER TALKS HIS HEALTH, FUTURE – Reigning NHRA Pro Stock world champion Bo Butner was on his way home from the Epping, N.H., event July 9 when he had a health scare.

“I drove for a long time, a long period without getting up and moving around. I was coming back from New Hampshire and I drove 11 hours straight without standing up,” Butner said. “I was in my bus. When I stood up, I had like a dizzy spell, so luckily, I was stopped right across the street from the hospital in Florence, Ky. I was almost home in Floyds Knobs, Ind. It worked out for me there because I didn’t know where I was at, and I walked to the hospital.

I felt great, I felt like a million dollars driving. But when I stopped, and I stood up, it hit me. So they ran all the tests and everything. They gave me a bunch of tests, I stayed for the week. They checked heart, they checked everything. Everything came back really good. So, I don’t think you should sit that long. I’m getting older, I’m 44 now, so you need to move around. Lesson learned I guess.”

Fast-forward to the U.S. Nationals this weekend, and Butner gave an update on how he is feeling.

“I’m healthy,” Butner said. “I’ve been going back to some doctors, they gave me the all clear so I’m good to go. I’m going to have a little procedure done as soon as the season is over (in November). I’ll only be out a couple of days and we’ll get that taken care of, but I feel great. I think I’m too young to have that happen, but you never know. I’m 44. I put out what happened to me and I’ve gotten a lot of feedback to where it’s helped some people. For one, you don’t drive 11 hours and not stand up. So now I go down the road and stop every three hours, get out and walk around. I feel great and I think our car is feeling better. If we both feel better this will be a good Indy for us.”

Butner arrived at Indy 10th in the season points with just one win, something that’s not lost on him.

“It’s been frustrating but I’m still living off last year,” Butner said. “When that happened, you try and tell yourself ‘how does it get any better?’ And then you can also know in reality, there’s only one way to go. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy. We’ve got to still squeeze in this Countdown this week. Once this starts over it’s a whole new game. Everybody is back close in points and it’s anybody’s deal. I think our car is coming around at the right time. I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready to have some fun.”

Butner was a star in the Sportsman ranks before moving up to the Pro Stock class in 2015, and is still chasing an elusive win at the prestigious U.S. Nationals. He has been competing at the U.S. Nationals since 1996.

“I’ve been in finals in Super Stock, Stock and Comp, and the semis in every class I’ve ever raced,” Butner said. “I’ve never closed the deal. I’ve never done two cents in Pro Stock here (at Indy). We’ve always had a first-round issue, something goofy.”

Butner didn’t hesitate when asked what an Indy victory would mean to him.

“That would top my career off,” Butner said. “I don’t care if I’d win it in a golf cart. Just to win the U.S. Nationals, doesn’t matter what class because I’ve run them all.”

Butner isn’t competing in the Sportsman ranks this weekend, but his fiancé Randi Lyn Shipp is driving in the Stock Eliminator class at the U.S. Nationals.

Rumors have been circulating Butner is going to leave the Pro Stock ranks after this season, which he addressed.

“I haven’t decided,” Butner said when asked if this was his last year in Pro Stock. “The schedule and me doing three, four years, on the road that much is tough. But I’ve still got businesses to run. I enjoy it, I love the group I’m with. I’ll only run with KB Racing. If I was getting paid to race for another team, I couldn’t do it. Because Ken Black and Judy Black have been great to me. There’s not much left in life to have but loyalty and I’ll be very loyal to those people. Who knows? We don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know how the season is going to carry on. If we do good in points in the end you can’t quit on top. You should but you can’t.”

KRAMER CONFIDENT AT INDY – There was a time when Pro Stock driver Deric Kramer would show up to NHRA national events hoping to just qualify.

That’s not the case anymore.

Kramer has two wins – the first two of his career in Pro Stock – in his American Ethanol-sponsored Camaro this season at Topeka, Kan., and Brainerd, Minn., the last race on the circuit. He also has three-runner-up finishes and he arrived at he U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis sixth in the points standings.

“That was the goal this year (to win races),” Kramer said. “We have paid our dues and we learned what we need to learn from what we used to run in the Dodge and running our own stuff. We also knew that some point we just didn’t have the power. So, when we put a team together and get the power supplied by KB (Ken Black), it has been great so far. I can’t say enough praises about those guys. They are amazing to work with and it is the best thing we have down so far.”

Kramer acknowledged has a different mindset when he arrives at races.

“There were so many runs in the old car where I had to be perfect to even have a shot,” Kramer said. “Now, I still have that mindset to try and be as perfect as I can, but it’s nice not having the pressure off where if I do make a mistake, I can still win, which is huge.”

As for the future, Kramer doesn’t have any definite plans announce for 2019 yet.

“Honestly, we have not talked about it,” Kramer said. “I’m hoping we will continue to be able to keep the same program. I absolutely happy (about the results this season).”

Every drag racer wants to win a Wally at the U.S. Nationals, but Kramer isn’t putting any extra pressure on himself this weekend.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if I’m racing on Monday or Sunday I want to walk away with a trophy in my hand,” said Kramer, whose team is based in Sterling, Colo.

TUCKER MAKES SEASON DEBUT AT INDY – Since 2014, Australian businessman Shane Tucker has competed on a limited NHRA Pro Stock schedule. Tucker is making his 2018 debut at the U.S. Nationals this weekend at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

Tucker is piloting his Auzmet/Structglass Pro Stock Chevrolet Camaro. Tucker’s Q1 pass Friday never happened as his car was shut off after its burnout.

“What brings everyone to the U.S. Nationals?” Tucker said. “It is the biggest race of the year and the most prestigious. We’re pretty excited to get our season kicked off here. I have been working really, really hard and so has Rob (Tucker, Shane’s father). We have been working on our motors the last nine months and we think we have made improvements, but we have not gone testing. We are still in the dark a little bit until we roll out to Q1. Hopefully it is like riding a bike. It will be T1, Q1 for us.”

Tucker said he also will compete in St. Louis (Sept. 21-23), Dallas (Oct. 4-7), Charlotte, N.C. (Oct. 12-14), Las Vegas (Oct. 25-28) and Pomona, Calif. (Nov. 8-11).

“That’s the short-term plan and next year we have some pretty exciting things we are working on with one of our partners, Struct Glass, a product manufactured out of Dallas,” Tucker said. “It’s going to be going nationwide and their footprint crosses over very well with NHRA races. So hopefully next year we will be doing a few more races. Next year, I would like to start in Pomona (at the Winternationals) because California is a big market for them (Struct Glass) and so is Arizona, so it makes sense to start at the beginning of the year.”

At the U.S. Nationals this weekend, for the first time, Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars will be making an appearance at an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event. Drivers of Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars will make two runs Sept. 1 and two more Sept. 2.

This unique category boasting 800-plus cubic inch engines will bring a new level of entertainment to an already action-packed event. Drivers expected to participate in the exhibition include John Montecalvo, Trevor Eman, John Konigshofer, Brad Waddle, Dwayne Rice, John DeFlorian, Elijah Morton and Dillon Voss.

“Our stuff in Australia has always been 400-inch cubic small block at 2,300 pounds,” Tucker said. “I think we have spent so much money on developing our 500-cubic inch stuff we haven’t really given it a good shot. I think we are going to preserve with what we have got, and I hope NHRA really favors the Electronic Fuel-Injection stuff because they are the ones who put their foot down and made us want to do it, so I really hope they give us an advantage over them.”

Tucker said his realistic expectation for this weekend is to qualify.

“Honestly, at this race if you qualify you give yourself every opportunity to have at a chance at winning,” he said. “The class is so tight now and I think the U.S. Nationals is going to be the tightest field we have seen all year.”

HARTFORD, WITH WALLY IN HAND, EYES MORE – Matt Hartford is no longer a Pro Stock driver hoping to get in the race-day field at NHRA national events.

The Phoenix-based driver took a giant step in his career when he won his first career Pro Stock Wally at Houston April 22. Now, Hartford is trying to get his second win this season at the U.S. Nationals.

“Our mindset coming here is certainly just to go back to what we know,” Hartford said. “We need to try and run well tonight. Friday night qualifying is a big deal at Indy and put ourselves in a position in qualifying so we can have a long race day on Monday.”

Hartford, who drives the Total Seal Camaro, last competed in Seattle, Aug. 5. He has Elite Motorsports horsepower.

“We love running the (Western) Swing (Denver, Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle),” Hartford said. “We skipped Brainerd (Minn.) to come to Indy and we are ready to get back at it. It’s definitely a great feeling to come here knowing that you have a competitive car. However, when you have 20 good cars on the grounds, you still have to qualify before you can win. Our goal (Friday) is to simply try and qualify well and then have a consistent qualifying pace through the weekend and put ourselves in a position on Monday to go out there and win.”

At the U.S. Nationals this weekend, for the first time, Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars will be making an appearance at an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

Hartford weighed in on the possibly more changes are coming for the Pro Stock class.

“Pro Stock definitely needs to figure out a way to have more cars at every event,” Hartford said. “However, if we are going to bring Mountain Motors in, I believe they are going to have to do something to slow them down. But, I think they ought to leave the 500-(cubic) inch cars alone. They have made enough changes to us over the years. If they want to adapt something else in our class let the other people take on the burden and the expense of adapting to get into our class. With that being said, I’m all for whatever it takes to help Pro Stock and to save Pro Stock.”

The number on Hartford’s car is 666, which draws some attention, but it isn’t changing.

“That’s our number, we love it,” Hartford said. “Matter of fact, even in our pit spot there’s a big concrete patch that we put in back in 2013 because there was a huge hole in our pits and it says 666 WFO (Wide (expletive) Open) on it. We used our fingers and wrote into the concrete. We are in our traditional pit spot again this year.”

GRAHAM IS MAKING INDY PRO STOCK DEBUT – Northern California-based Pro Stock driver Steve Graham has competed in the NHRA national event circuit on a limited schedule the past two years.

This weekend, he’s checking something off his bucket list as he’s making his debut at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.

This will be Graham’s seventh race this season, his last came at Seattle, Aug. 5 in his 2015 Camaro.

“We’re just doing West Coast races and we decided to come back here just to cross it off because it's one of the things that everybody says is a fun thing to do,” Graham said. “We’re going to run the Comp car (driven by Brian Moscini) we have here and our Pro Stock car and just have a good time. It’s pretty good. Once we get going with the Pro Stock car we’ll see how it feels. It’s exciting just to run the Comp car so far. To just come back or be in the staging lanes and see 55 Comp cars with everyone bringing their best of everything they have, it’s unique. It’s one-of-a-kind.”

Following Indy, Graham said he will compete in Las Vegas and Pomona, Calif., the season finale.

Graham enjoys competing In Pro Stock, but he’s not ready to commit to competing in the class in 2019.

“That all depends on how bad NHRA messes up Pro Stock,” said Graham, when asked if he was coming back to the class next year.”

Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars will make exhibition runs Saturday and Sunday at Lucas Oil Raceway.

“Yeah, we’ll wait and see what they’re proposing or sounds like they’re going to propose is they’re going to give them everything they took away from us,” Graham said. “They don’t realize that you can’t put 300 pounds on an 820-inch motor and expect it to slow down. This might be our second year in Pro Stock but it might be our last. It’s frustrating that they want to keep messing with the class instead of just letting it be and work on promoting the class, instead of keep trying to change things hoping that people are going to be more interested.”

Graham offered his thoughts on what the sanctioning body should do to improve the popularity of Pro Stock.

“In my opinion they need to get people related to the drivers,” Graham said. “Don’t worry about the cars, don’t worry about if it’s a Ford or a Dodge or a Chevy. You need a guy at home that says, ‘hey I can relate to Greg Anderson. I can relate to Jason Line. I can relate to Chris McGaha. I can do the same things to my car as they work on their car.

People want to see what these drivers do outside of drag racing because every single weekend they hear the same thing about their sponsor, how they’re trying hard, they’re working hard, their team is the best, they all work hard. Everybody knows that already. They want to see when you go home what do they do. Do they go fishing? Do they go play sports? Do they have a classic car they work on? People want to get involved and have someone to root for and I think they’re going about trying to help the class the wrong way.”

Graham also has not been thrilled about how he’s received information about the Pro Stock class, especially changes.

“What’s sort of frustrating to me is I have to go and see possible rule changes, people coming into the class, Mountain Motor Pro Stock, on website forums,” Graham said. “Nobody contacts me. When they changed the manifold rule over the winter, no one ever sent me an email, a text, a made a phone call. If Chris McGaha wasn’t helping me I would have shown up with a manifold that was not legal. Just because I don’t run the full schedule they treat me like I’m just some guy who shouldn’t know what’s going on.

What if I just spent $15,000 on a manifold that was going to be illegal? You can’t expect people that don’t have big-time sponsors to get into the class and want to keep investing in the class when they don’t even know what’s going on. None of us are ever included in the discussions about rule changes and add-ons and things like that. It’s the biggest teams and that’s it. I spend money just the same as they spend money. The harder part for me is the money comes out of my pocket, their money is coming out of their sponsor’s pocket so it’s a bit different.”

This weekend, Graham is utilizing horsepower supplied by McGaha.

“We ran his engines, I bought an engine and then he went through it and freshened it up,” Graham said. “We’ve been running the engine that I bought, but he’s gone through it and done things that he can with his stuff. It doesn’t make as much power as the top guys but it’s good enough for what we’re trying to do right now.”