Jonathan Gray raced to his first career E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series victory since 2017 on Sunday as at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, slipping past Bo Butner in the final round as part of the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil.
The Pro Mod race, which was presented by Jerry Bickel Race Cars, was the second of the 2020 season in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. Gray went 5.5850-seconds at 249.49 mph in his nitrous-powered Camaro to knock off Butner, who went 5.899 at 248.48 in the finals. It gave Gray his second career win in the class in a matchup that featured two standouts driving for the injured Rickie Smith, a multi-time champ in the class.
Prior to last month’s NHRA Pro Mod season-opener, Gray had not raced in the class for nearly three years. But he impressed on Sunday in Indy, reaching the final round with victories against Jeffrey Barker, No. 1 qualifier Khalid Albalooshi and former world champ Mike Janis.
“I’ve got the best in the business out here and I couldn’t be happier driving for Rickie Smith,” Gray said. “He’s been a mentor to me and we won in Indy, so it’s a big step in the right direction. I’m just thrilled to death and really, really happy.”
Butner, who made his NHRA Pro Mod debut last month in Indy, also reached his first career final round in a nitrous Camaro usually driven by Smith. He knocked off Brandon Pesz, Clint Satterfield and Kris Thorne to set up the matchup with Gray.