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Gray Does Doubleheader Sweep at Lonesome Pine Raceway

Gray Does Doubleheader Sweep at Lonesome Pine Raceway

by July 16, 2013 0 comments

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — A race car driver will never forget that first visit to victory lane.

Adam Gray of Kingsport, a 17-year-old honors student who will begin his senior year at Sullivan Central High School in August, not only visited victory lane for the first time this past Saturday night at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Va., he also doubled-up by recording both Late Model twin 35-lap feature wins.

It was only a given that someday Gray would want to race, after all it was in his blood being his father had raced go-karts for many years before Adam was born. Gray showed an interest in wanting to race a go-kart when he was just eight years old. Over the next seven years he competed locally around East Tennessee at Beechnut Raceway in Blountville and in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains at Dumplin Valley Raceway under World Karting Association and Maxxis Series sanctioning. He and his family also traveled to karting events around the Southeast in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Adam’s parents (Gary and Diane) felt the time was right to make the move from go-karts to racing with the INEX U.S. Legend Cars International division headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., with sanctioned tracks all across the United States. First up for Gray Racing was buying a car, and they quickly found a ride owned by former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series competitor Chad Little, that his son Jesse had raced. After purchasing the Legend car and bringing it back to the Volunteer State, Adam competed as a rookie in 2011 at Kingsport Speedway where he was earned rookie of the year.

Ready for his second season of racing the Legend car in 2012, Gray came out of the gate strong at “The Concrete Jungle” and was right in the thick of battle most every Friday night competing for a top-five finish. While he never visited victory lane, Adam did record two runner-up, two third-place, three fourth-place, and five fifth-place finishes for a total of 12 top-five runs during the season to finish second in the track’s point standings. The crowning jewel for the teenager was being named Young Lions INEX U.S. Legend Cars International Tennessee State Champion.

This past winter, opportunities presented themselves to Gray Racing. First a buyer was found for both the Legend car and trailer, and soon thereafter a deal too good to turn down would put Adam behind the wheel of a full-bodied asphalt Late Model in 2013. Knowing making the transition from driving a Legend car to chauffeuring a Late Model would present a steep learning curve, the goals for this rookie season of Late Model racing was to get valuable seat-time and get Adam comfortable behind the wheel.

While Adam may speak softly, behind the wheel of a race car he “smashes the loud pedal” and lives for speed. He’s also proved to be a quick learner, and has been competitive running in the top 10 each week.

With twin 35-lap features showcasing the headlining Late Model division Saturday at LPR, in the first race Gray jumped into the lead at the start and never looked back, comfortably cruising to his first-ever victory over Josh Hale, Jonathan Fleming, Derek Woodward and Ryan Stiltner.

He backed up his opening-race performance to park in victory lane for the second time on the night winning over Fleming, Woodward, Hale and Stiltner. In pulling out the broom to do a little housecleaning, in sweeping both Late Model feature wins Gray led flag-to-flag in each race. Just call Gray “Superman,” because he had nerves of steel en route to capturing his first two career wins.

“What an unbelievable feeling, it’s just surreal,” said Gray on Monday after helping unload the race car back at the shop. “You dream about winning your first race and to be quite honest, I’m not sure it’s totally sunk in yet what I accomplished. I actually won not only my first career race but also my second ever race, and both on the same night. Around racetracks you always hear people say it’s tough to win your first race, but once you get that first win under your belt, more wins will follow. But to get two Late Model wins back-to-back, is that not just awesome?

“I grabbed the lead on the start and lap-after-lap, I was just trying to run consistent (lap) times and stay calm. Just knowing I was out front leading the race, all I had going through my mind was ‘don’t mess up’ and make a mistake. My spotter (Phil Tuell) kept talking to me, telling me I was doing a good job. With the laps winding down while you’re in the lead, all kind of thoughts will start running through your mind. You’re just hoping you can hang on and nothing mechanically is going to happen to the car or possibly have a flat tire. Coming off the fourth turn on the final lap, and then looking up and seeing the checkered flag wave and know I had just won, it’s hard to put into words just how overwhelmed with emotion I was. From time I started out racing go-karts and then getting in the Legend car, it’s (racing) always been a family deal with dad, mom and my sister, Katelyn. Other family members and friends have also been so supportive, too.”

There’s a huge difference in the budget required to campaign a Late Model stock car versus a go-kart or Legend car, and back in the winter after buying the Late Model, Gary and Diane Gray were thinking they’d maybe only be able to race the car on a part-time basis this season.

“To be perfectly honest, after selling the Legend car and purchasing the Late Model, I knew going forward with our racing efforts it would require more money to race weekly than what it had previously,” said tram owner Gary Gray. “In racing you don’t only need to have a fast car, but you’ve also got to have some good racing luck on your side and not have any major engine trouble or get in a wreck and badly tear the car up. Because if we had trouble, that was going to set us back financially and we’d have to take a race or two off and regroup before coming back. I kind of thought if we could just start the season off with Adam having a good, steady run and bring the car home without any damage, then with the purse money we’d be able to afford and come back the next week to race again. Adam’s done a remarkable job driving the car and also using his head and taking good car of the equipment.

“Did I think we’d win a race this season? It’s not that I don’t have confidence in Adam’s abilities behind the wheel of the car, I just knew with this being a new division of racing for him the main thing we needed to concentrate on was for Adam to just get experience and try to be running at the finish. He’s done a great job, I’m so proud of him. To see the car take the checkered flag Saturday night, I was just kind of numb. Seeing my son win his first-ever race, it was a very emotional moment, it sure was. Then to come back and win the second race, getting our second win in the same night – I sure didn’t think that scenario would play out. It’s just unreal all of the people who have congratulated our family with Adam winning his first two races. You just don’t realize how many people were pulling for you, that believed in you. I want to especially thank Tommy Woods for being such a good friend and allowing us to race out of his shop with his son Hayden, and with Tommy’s guys helping us on our car. The good Lord has really surrounded us with great people, and I’m truly appreciative.”

Gray Racing is owned by Gary and Diane Gray, with crew members David Roope, Phil Tuell, Mark Torbett, Rusty Shortridge, Drew Shortridge and Joey Walton in the pits.

Adam Gray drives the Ron Matthews State Farm Insurance in Kingsport, Cole’s RV, Hy-Tec Specialty Coatings, Signs & Designs Dunn Right, Kevin Fisher Race Engines, Townsend Race Cars, No. 37 Chevrolet.

Press Release
Press Release, source information and photo credits are located at the bottom of the article.

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