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Race report

Former NHRA champ Tanner Gray earns first ARCA win at Charlotte

It’s been a difficult transition for Tanner Gray from drag racing to stock car racing but on Friday night he made it all worthwhile.

Tanner Gray, TRICON Garage, Dead On Tools Toyota Tundra.

Gray, a former NHRA Pro Stock champion, earned his first national series victory in a stock car in impressive fashion with his win in the ARCA Menards Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Gray, running the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, dominated the race early but was forced to pit under green in the first half with a flat tire and fell a lap down.

Late in the second half, Gray returned to the lead lap while most of the lead-lap cars pit during a caution with 15 laps remaining, Gray remained on the track and inherited the lead.

He then deftly held off Carson Kvapil, who was on new tires, to take the checkered flag by 0.939 seconds. Gray, 25, is the sixth different winner in as many races to start the 2024 ARCA season.

“It’s all about these guys who put in the hard work during the week to bring a really fast car,” Gray said. “We fought a lot of adversity there with cutting a tire early and having to come back from a lap down.

“I thought we executed the second half of the race really well. We got a good restart in the last 10 laps and tried to defend, and it feels really good.”

Since leaving the NHRA, Gray has made 104 starts in NASCAR Trucks, 19 in ARCA and 16 combined in ARCA East and West. His lone victory came in 2019 at South Boston, Va., in ARCA East.

“It’s been a really steep learning curve for me, and I feel I still have a lot to learn,” Gray said. “It’s been tough, but I’ve had a lot of great people behind me and a lot of supporters to help me get here.”

Gray didn’t have much time to celebrate as he was also competing in Friday night’s Truck race at Charlotte.

Pole-winner Andres Perez finished third, Will Kimmel was fourth and Lavar Scott rounded out the top five.

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