By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Tanner Gray has won the 2018 NHRA Pro Stock Championship on Saturday. He is the youngest NHRA Champion in history.
He won the championship on Saturday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California. The Denver, North Carolina native won the championship at the end of qualifying.
Gray won at 19-years-old. He won the championship during his final NHRA race weekend before he makes the switch in 2019 to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
“I don’t think I’ve been this nervous for qualifying since my first race here in Pomona,” Gray said. “We started this season pretty slow, and I didn’t think we were going to be in this position by the end of the year. But something clicked about midway through the season after all that testing we did, and it ended up clicking for us. [Crew chief Dave Connolly] did so much work on the car, and that paid off.”
He basically had the championship wrapped up after leaving Las Vegas two weeks ago. Gray at the time had a 140-point lead once that race was over.
He won the championship in his second season competing for his family’s Gray Motorsports Pro Stock operation. It is the first championship in the NHRA for the Gray family, as neither his grandfather Johnny, who competed in Funny Car and Pro Stock, and Shane, who competed Pro Stock, achieved this accomplishment.
It is also the first championship for Connolly, the former Pro Stock and Top Fuel driver, who has been working for Gray Motorsports since losing his Top Fuel ride when Bob Vandergriff Racing ceased operations several years ago before coming back on a limited schedule.
“When he came to drive for us in 2013, I think we kinda became friends, and then we’d get together on the practice Tree,” Gray said. “Anyone who knows Davey knows how competitive he is. He’d give me a hard time any time he cracked me on the Tree, but that just made me a better driver.
“I got so much support from him and my parents and my grandparents, too. I wouldn’t be here without them.”