GRAY LIGHTS IT UP IN FINAL AT VIRGINIA FOR SECOND MELLO YELLO TITLE OF ’18
Tanner Gray had been beating himself up for not getting the edge at the starting line that has been his trademark.
The 18-year-old got his mojo back at the right time Sunday evening when he used his best reaction time of the day to defeat rival Erica Enders at Virginia Motorsports Park for his second Mello Yello Pro Stock event title in 10 events this year.
Other event winners Sunday were Steve Torrence in Top Fuel, Courtney Force in Funny Car and LE Tonglet in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
The Mello Yello Series races next weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, for the 11th race of the season and third straight in June.
Gray moved around Enders to take the third spot in the Mello Yello standings. Pole winner and points leader Greg Anderson, who lost in the second round, holds a 17-point lead over Vincent Nobile, 27 over Gray and 34 over Enders.
Gray’s 0.007 second reaction in the final just edged Enders’ 0.013 but his Gray Motorsports Camaro’s run of 6.595 seconds at 208.81 mph also outran her 6.628 (208.46).
“Going up there against her, you definitely have to be good on the tree,” he said. “It just makes for a good race no matter what the circumstances are because both of us can be struggling like we were today and then go up there against each other and be .007 and .013.
“It makes for good racing. Like I said out there, you’ve got to respect her; she’s a two-time champ and has accomplished a lot more than I have. You know, it’s a lot of fun getting to race her.”
And he prepared after an 0.038 light in the second round and 0.047 in the semifinals.
“I just went back (to the trailer) and sat down, pulled out the practice tree and dusted it off and took a few hits at that and just kind of tried to get a little bit more confidence back I guess you could say. I just needed to go up there and do it. It’s funny, like once you get in a slump like one bad light and then you start thinking about it too much and then you’re .040 again and then you’re all spun out. So you’ve got to learn to, I guess, let it go. You’ve just got to trust the process and trust what you’ve done when you’re not at the racetrack and you know in yourself you can go up there and be .00 when you need.”
Gray, who qualified fifth, defeated Kenny Delco, Nobile and Drew Skillman to advance to the final.