MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 25) – Tanner Gray, the newly appointed driver of the Valvoline Chevy Camaro Pro Stocker for Gray Motorsports, recently wrapped up two test sessions in preparation for the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Tanner takes over the seat of the family car from his father Shane Gray, who decided to step away from driving at the end of last season. Shane will remain an active member of the Gray Motorsports team moving forward as Tanner’s driving coach and team manager.
“We went to Bradenton (Motorsports Park) in Florida in December and then went back again this month,” said Tanner, a 17-year-old native of Mooresville, N.C. “We made about 25 runs in the Valvoline Camaro at the first test. We were just trying to get me used to the car, like getting everything comfortable for me and getting a feel for the (steering) wheel and all the controls.
“We also worked on getting me consistent with shifting the car and running it down the track. The dirt track cars I’ve raced didn’t need shifting so there was adjustment for me in shifting the car. It took me about 20 runs to start getting some consistency with shifting and with hitting the (Christmas) tree. I felt pretty good about my progress when we left the first session, and I think my dad and Dave (Connolly, crew chief and former Pro Stock driver) were pretty happy, too.”Tanner began his racing career at age 10 in a Junior Dragster. Since then he’s raced a variety of dirt track cars, most recently competing in the Mini Outlaw karts class. That experience has definitely helped in his transition to the pro ranks.
“In the second test session we continued to work on my consistency with shifting and the tree, and we also started working on tuning up the race car for Pomona,” Tanner said. “We made about 20 runs in the second session. Our best run was 6.506 at 212.96 mph. Dave and my dad were pleased with that result and so was I.
“The Camaro is quite a change from what I’m used to racing. The acceleration to about half track really pins you back in the seat. It’s really a thrill to drive a Pro Stock car. I can’t wait to get started with the 2017 season in Pomona. We’ve got a great car, a great crew chief and a great team. We should be in contention to win at every event.”
A top Rookie of the Year candidate, Tanner and the Gray Motorsports team will open up their quest for the Pro Stock world championship Feb. 9-12 at the famed Circle K NHRA Winternationals in Pomona.gi