As he prepares for the season opening of the 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, 17-year-old Rookie Pro Stock driver Tanner Gray knows he can count on his family to provide invaluable advice for the upcoming races.
“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.”
Johnny Gray raced for many successful years in Pro Stock and Funny Car. Shane claimed numerous victories in Pro Stock while crew chief Connolly is a Sportsman world champion, with wins in both Pro Stock and Top Fuel. Tanner, who started off in a Junior Dragster and has since raced a variety of cars on the strip, dirt and asphalt, is ready to carry on the legacy as he enters into serious drag racing.
“Seat time is seat time,” he 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.”
The members of the Gray Motorsports team are confident that with Tanner in the seat, they’ll continue to build on their winning legacy.
Pro Stock qualifying sessions are at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. PT, Friday and Saturday, with eliminations at noon PT, Sunday.
Live coverage of the 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals begins 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.