It's kind of hard to believe that it's already time to go racing again, but I tell you what. I'm ready. By the time Pomona came around last November, I was really ready for the year to be done. Racing had gotten to the point where it just completely lost being fun, and it seemed like nothing was going right no matter how hard we tried or what we did. We tested so much, tested all the time, and we worked so many hours in the shop. This Pro Stock deal is tough – anybody out here will tell you that. Even though it was hard to get through all of that, we can look back on the year as a learning experience. That's the thing. We're always, always learning.
I'm not going to lie. After we lost the first round in Pomona at the end of the season, I took off my jacket at the top end, threw it in the car, and said, see ya later. I could not wait to put that year behind us so that we could go home and get started on something different – whether it would be good or bad, it just needed to be something different than what we were doing.
We came home and pretty well junked everything we had and started over. It's been very busy, and we have been at the shop every weekday. We knew we had to keep moving forward to see where we would end up, to see if we were moving in the right direction or not.
In December, we tested some things on the GXP and were pretty happy with the results, then just before Christmas we got the new Camaro from Jerry Haas and let me tell you, that's a pretty car. Getting a new car ready comes with a huge to-do list, though, and my crew chief Justin and the guys really came together to just start checking things off. We've all worked very hard, and I am real proud of the guys I get to work with.
Christmas seems like ages ago, but it was good for the family. My mom and dad came out and we celebrated at their place with everyone – my family, Amber's parents, my brother Jonathan's family. Then mom and dad went back to New Mexico and off to celebrate New Years in Las Vegas, and we had a few people over from the race shop. I barely made it 'til midnight and dozed off a couple of times, but I made 'er.
Come January, we took the Camaro out to test for the first time, then towards the end of the month we took the car back out again and we were real, real pleased with what we saw that second test session. I've been working on my driving because I really feel like I did a horrible job last year, and I'm not going to let that happen again. As a team, we're going to keep digging on things and we're going to take what we learned and just put last year behind us, and we're going to keep it in the past. This is a new page for the Gray Motorsports team, we're rebuilding confidence in ourselves and our program, and we're optimistic about what the future holds.
We recently got the car wrapped with our Gray Motorsports scheme that we're starting the year with, and I think it looks real good. It isn't very flashy, but that's good for us. We want our performance to be what you notice, and that's what we've been working so hard to achieve.
Aside from what we're doing at the shop and in testing, it's been nice being able to spend time working around the house on the weekends, too. We didn't do anything real exciting over the winter because we had a lot to do to get ready for racing this year. But it's always nice to be able to spend time with the family. The boys are doing wonderful. They've been doing some planning for the future of their own – Tanner got a little 600cc mini sprint and that's going to be fun, and Bryce is getting all healed up after his motocross wreck and now he's looking at the stadium trucks like they run in the Lucas Oil Off Road Series. Taylor isn't sure what he wants to do yet, maybe Jr. dragsters or helping Tanner out with the sprint car, but once he gets of age, we'll see what he's going to do. It looks like motorsports are always going to be part of their lives. Huh, go figure.
We moved last year, and my wife Amber has been doing a great job getting our house set up. It was a big time project, but she worked real hard on it and got us through the holidays, and now we're getting back to normal. You can see that the family has been busy and we've been really busy over at the Gray Motorsports shop, and it's coming up on time to go racing. I hope that I have a bunch of good things to share with you all this year, and I hope you'll keep reading and following along on Facebook (GrayMotorsportsShaneGray) and Twitter (@ShaneGrayPS). Thanks for sticking with me. See you in Pomona!
As I write this, it's Tuesday night on the week of the U.S. Nationals, and we've just wrapped up another day of testing. Right now, we're in Martin, Michigan, and we're going to keep on testing here tomorrow and then head on over to Indianapolis. I can't believe it's already Indy. This year has been either one of the longest or one of the shortest of my life. I can't decide if time is standing still or racing past, but I tell you what, we sure haven't been resting.
Right after Brainerd, we headed on over to Rockingham and we had two good, solid days of testing. We had some misfire issues in Brainerd, and we knew we needed to make some changes. So we tried out a few things with our Service Central Camaro and we were pretty pleased with what we saw. We try to be cautiously optimistic, because you know how this game goes. You think you've found something or figured it out – but then you get a curve ball. But we feel like we are on the right track. We just have to keep on working at it, keep on digging.
Right now we're 8th in the points. We sure want to make the Countdown, but a lot of that depends on how we do in Indy – and also how Larry Morgan, V. Gaines, and Jeg Coughlin do. We want to be in there and finish in the top 10 again, but our attitude is that we are going to take it one run at a time and do our best. I always try to do my very best, and this race won't be any different.
Going back to Indy reminds me of going there as a kid and watching my dad race. Back in 2008, I made my first NHRA run there in a B/A Comp car, and let me tell you, I was scared to death. At that time, I knew I wanted to race Pro Stock, and I was sure hoping I'd get to, but I wasn't sure how it was going to work out. You just never know, but look at this deal now, we've got this NTB/Big O Tires Pro Stock Camaro, we've won a couple of races – which is more than a lot of guys have had the chance to do – and we actually have a shot at making the top 10 for the third year in a row.
It's real important to me that I don't let my ego get big, but I know I need to appreciate all the good that has come of this so far. You can look at this deal one of two ways: you can either see the negative in it and keep thinking about how hard it is and how much you want to win and what's standing in your way, or you can see the positive in it and think about how good it feels to win after you've worked so hard for it. We're looking at the positive, and we're going to keep looking at it that way, especially going into this race and then the last few races of the year. It's an honor to race in Indy, and I feel privileged to get the chance to do that. I'm not nervous about it like I felt that first time I raced there – but I am real excited. See you out there.
With my sister Nedra and Shane in Denver. Nedra is taking the fitness challenge with us! (Below) Little Lexi was part of the positive change for us this year, too!
This year has been such a season of change for us as a family and as a team. With the Gray Motorsports Pro Stock team, Shane and the guys have worked really hard to build on what they know and weather the storms that can and do come along in this class. We were all really excited when Shane took delivery of the new Service Central Chevy Camaro, and when they brought it out in Bristol, they just kept their hearts and heads in the game to get through that tricky period of time where you have to figure out what a new car wants.
I doubt it's ever easy, but I'm so proud of the way that they brought that car out and tested the heck out of it, and now they are seeing it get better and better. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and that has been a really important part of how they've managed this. These guys give 110% all the time.
It's my turn now to make a change, and I'm hoping to lead my whole family – and the team, too – down a positive and healthy path. Just before the Denver race, I started the Body by Vi challenge. It's a 90-day challenge that encourages fitness, a healthier lifestyle, and it's just a great way to feel better every day!
We come from a pretty small town in New Mexico, and all of my friends back home have been doing this for a while. They kept trying to get me in on it, but for one reason or another, I just wasn't ready. Now I wish I would have done this sooner, because already I'm feeling awesome.
It's also an amazing weight loss program, and one of my girlfriends back home started this in December and has already lost 60 pounds. She looks so good, but the best part is that she feels good, too. That's what I wanted for my family and myself: to feel good.
Fitness is really important to Shane; he is so dedicated to his workouts and always wants to take care of his body, so this is something that I'm excited to share with him. It fits with his program, and at the racetrack and with all the traveling, the guys are just going and going all the time. They won't miss a meal with this, because the shakes can be used as a meal replacement, and they won't be dragging. They'll get energy and nutrition right there in this shake. I've never been able to do shakes, but these actually taste really good, and I like them. I'm not kidding, they really taste like cake batter! But you can also add flavor packets to them, and the flavor packets have their own benefits: orange is for everyday defense, chocolate is for cardio. They're great and yummy! There are tons of recipes you can make with the shake mix, too.
This is really helping us step in the right direction of eating healthier and just being healthier in general. Since we started the challenge, we've been making a conscious effort to make better decisions when it comes time to plan for meals. You just feel better, and feeling better encourages you to lead a healthier lifestyle.
One of my favorite things so far is the Smart Energy that you add to your water bottle. It's designed to help with focus and managing stress, and I know how much pressure these guys are under out here. If it can help with what they do, I think that's a great thing.
We haven't always been the best about enforcing healthy eating, but I'm excited about this change. It's easier than I thought it would be, and real goal is to start a better, healthier pattern of eating for our family. The Body by Vi challenge fits perfectly with that, and I really believe that we are going to see results in all different areas of our lives. I'm most excited for the kids – to learn a healthy lifestyle and to be conscious of it at a young age will hopefully set them up for success in the future, especially with the sports that they want to be involved in. I hope this helps them have better lives down the road.
One of the really enticing things about it initially was that it's a business you can grow, and because I have tried the product myself and I'm so excited about it, I know that it's something that I want to commit myself to. We lead such a busy lifestyle, but this just fits right in, and it is something positive that I can share with people. Something I can be proud of.
There are all kinds of incentives that the Body by Vi people offer, and it's been fun already to see my friends reach and exceed their goals with the program – both in terms of health and on the business side of things (three of my friends have won BMWs, one couple is getting close to winning their second, and they are all making a great living as distributors).
Anyway, I'm really excited about my new business and this healthy change in our lives. I'm so excited about it that I couldn't wait to get back home after Denver and get everybody started on it! I'm building my business, but the product really sells itself. If you want more information, go to my website: http://agraync.myvi.net
, and if you have any questions about it, you can send me a message from that page.
There has been so much positive change in our lives this year. This little corner of the Gray family is very blessed, and I think we are all excited to see what's next – both at the racetrack and back at home.
Oh boy, let me tell you, we are definitely in the heat of summer. It sure was hot in Chicago and Norwalk, and now we're heading out West where it's pretty likely we'll have more of that heat, at least to some degree. As for how hot we are on the racetrack, well, we're getting there. We're still having fun in our Service Central Chevy Camaro, and we've been picking up a little bit here and a little bit there. We went a few rounds in Norwalk, and I'm going to chalk that up to having a good day. I hope there are a lot more of those good days in our future!
Denver is a race that is so different than anywhere else on the tour, and so what we do there may not be a good measure of whether we've made progress (or not). The high altitude makes it a challenge for the crew chiefs, and so we're kind of looking forward to seeing what we learned by looking at our notes from last year. We didn't go testing after Norwalk, we've just been working away at the shop, but we might have a little bit more of something to work with. I'm excited, and I always want to be optimistic, but at the same time, I really try to be realistic. It's a balance, a very careful balance.
Taylor on the boat on 4th of July
Tanner on Lake Norman
Taylor, Cody and Tanner wakeboarding
No matter what happens up there, I will tell you that we sure do enjoy racing at that fine facility. The Bandimeres and Larry Crispe have done an awesome job of making us feel so welcome there, and every time we go, it just feels like we're going home. I really consider Dallas to be more of a traditional home track for me, and we'll have lots of friends and family come out to Dallas, but where we're from in Artesia, New Mexico is pretty close to Denver. It's comfortable to go race there, that's for sure, and the boys have a great time taking their dirt bikes over to the motocross track up there. They've already been over in that area spending some time with Amber's family, and we sure can't wait to get back together with them this week. It's tough being away from those kids! We'll spend some time and have dinner with her folks, and then we'll get to racing at Bandimere Speedway. This should be interesting, don't you think?
Getting back to talking about summer, I really do enjoy it. I got the chance to put together an On The Run story for National DRAGSTER recently, and I hope you all will read it. I got to go on a little bit about the time we get to spend on the water. We like to go out on Lake Norman here in North Carolina as much as we can, and we've been pretty lucky that we have some good friends who enjoy it just as much as we do. Greg and Kim Anderson and their son Cody were out with us on the boat on the 4th of July, and Kim took some pictures while we were out there. I'll send a long a couple with this blog, but make sure you check out the On The Run feature coming up so you can see the rest.
We had a great time out on the lake with them for the holiday, we just took sandwiches out there and the kids rode the wakeboard. We were out there until around 8:00 that night, and we saw some fireworks out over the lake then went and put everything away because we had to leave for Norwalk the next day. It was a great, relaxing day, and in the middle of all of the racing we do during the summer, we really enjoy getting out there. We all do our thing, and everyone has fun.
This is summer vacation for the kids, and shoot, they're enjoying life. That's what kids are supposed to do, is enjoy themselves. Here in the next few years, they're going to have to start thinking about working – so I want them to enjoy themselves right now. Our oldest, Bryce, he's up doing his Motocross thing, and we miss him but I want to make sure I support that 100 percent. He has to get it in right now because that's an age driven sport. Age is of the essence there, and the older you get the harder that is. I'd like to have him with us more, but I have to respect his dreams and his goals. One of my main concerns in life is making sure those boys are happy.
That's it from here for now. By the time you read this, we'll be on the way to Denver for the first race of the Western Swing. Wish us luck!