Throughout the past decade motorsports as a whole has been overrun by an increasing youth movement, leaving little room for seasoned veterans to be able to shine. But with the increase in the upper levels of the sport, short track racing is still a place for veterans to show their metal. Pro Stock driver Barry Gray is one of those veterans that continues to impress. The Belchertown, MA native captured his first championship in the Granite State Pro Stock Series just this past weekend.
It was the conclusion to a season of consistency with inconsistent equipment at times for Gray, who ran in the top five during the season finale at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl this past Saturday. After some close calls in the middle of the race, Gray caught a break when points rival DJ Shaw pitted late for a flat tire, allowing Gray to play it cool the final 10 laps.
“We had some low spots, the car wasn’t the greatest. We started off with a second-place finish and from there it was like holding on for dear life, the car wasn’t responding right,” Gray said. “We kept working on it, brought it back, worked on it again, came back, then we were in lap traffic at Speedway 51. After that I said that we have to try something different and we did. We’re still learning what we have now. DJ missed a couple of races, we were lucky to be where we are. We’ll take the championship.”
The biggest stat on Gray’s championship year was that he won without winning a race on the 10-race tour. His best finish on the season was a second (twice), which he recorded in the season opener at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH) and the penultimate race at Monadnock Speedway (NH). It’s something that is not new to Gray.
“We’ve won a race every year for so many years, I can’t remember,” Gray explained. “We had one we probably gave away at Monadnock, we were close at the last one. But, when we won the championship way back at Riverside Park, we did it without winning a race. It can be done, we were close, but it’s alright.”
Gray has made a name running for track titles, first at the late Riverside Park Speedway (MA) and then Claremont Speedway (NH) and Monadnock, the latter becoming his home track after Riverside Park’s closing. The Granite State championship is the first for him in a touring series, but the reason this championship is so special is simply the point in time he and his supporters are in their lives.
“All championships are good, this one means a lot because we’ve been together for so many years,” Gray stated. “We’re all getting older, I’m getting older. It means a lot when you know you can still get it done, because everybody thinks all the young guys in Sprint Cup coming in and everything, it’s one for the old guys. I’m 58 years old and we won the championship.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, Long Island) – Twitter: @Connor51CT