Over the next three-plus weeks, MotorSportsTalk will feature season-ending reviews of the top drivers of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Each day, we’ll have one in-depth review of a driver that finished in the top-five in each of the four professional classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle), as well as a compendium of select other drivers that did not finish in the top-five.
The list of drivers we’ve already posted is below. Today, we feature Pro Stock driver Shane Gray:
Driver: Shane Gray
Hometown: Carlsbad, New Mexico
Team: Gray Motorsports
Sponsor/car: Valvoline USA/Nova Services Chevrolet Camaro
Crew chief: Justin Elkes then Dave Connolly
2016 season finish: Third in Pro Stock.
2016 season statistics: 23 races, 1 win, 0 runner-up, 9 semifinals, 5 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier two times. Round-by-round record: 27 wins, 22 losses.
Career statistics: 163 races, 5 wins, 8 runner-up, 31 semifinals, 51 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier 7 times. Round-by-round record: 156 wins, 155 losses. Three DNQ.
What went right in 2016: Gray enjoyed his best season to date in Pro Stock, earning the highest season finish of his career, plus capturing his first win since 2014. … Biggest race of the season for Gray was Las Vegas 2, the second-to-last race of the season, when he earned his first win in dominating fashion.
What went wrong in 2016: The season was a mixed bag for Gray. Even though he finished third in the Pro Stock standings, he also struggled with inconsistency, including eight first-round losses (one-third of the season’s 24-race schedule). Considering how dominant teammates Jason Line (eventual 2016 Pro Stock champ) and Greg Anderson (runner-up, lost to Line by just three points) were, it’s not exactly a disappointment that Gray finished 147 points behind Line.
What to look for in 2017: Shane Gray will not be racing in 2017. Instead, son Tanner will replace his father behind the wheel of the family owned and operated Chevy Camaro. Shane Gray has not said he’s retiring from the sport, just that he’s taking a hiatus for at least 2017 to see how Tanner performs. But given the way he finished in 2016, we’d say it’s a safe bet that we have not seen or heard the last from Shane Gray.
Season reviews already posted: