WALPOLE, N.H. –
A few weeks ago at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Barry Gray climbed out of his No. 29 at the end of the 75 lap feature race and raised his fist in the air as the champion of the Granite State Pro Stock Series (GSPSS).
Gray has been a part of the GSPSS for years and has been strong before, but this season, it all came together for the Belchertown, Mass. native. He went into the season finale at the Speedbowl with a 26 point lead over D.J. Shaw and when Shaw had trouble, all Gray had to do was finish right where he was.
A fourth place finish was enough to add another championship trophy to the mantle for Gray. Though he hadn’t become champion with the GSPSS until this season, he is a former champion at Riverside Park and a multiple time champion at Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire.
“We had some low spots this season, the car wasn’t the greatest at times,” Gray said following the Speedbowl feature. “We started off with a second place finish and then from there it was really holding on for dear life, the car just wasn’t responding.”
As with any season in racing, Gray had a lot of ups and downs along the way. He did not visit victory lane at all and that was the first time in many years that he had not celebrated a win by the end of a season.
“We kept working on the car again and again and we ended up being lapped traffic at Speedway and that is not who I am,” Gray said. “At that point, I said we needed a change. Since then we are still learning what we have. D.J. missed a few races along the way and we are lucky to be where we are today.”
Though he is obviously pleased with the championship, he still is a little frustrated that he couldn’t find his way into the winner’s circle this season.
“We’ve won a race every single years for so many years,” Gray said. “We probably had one we gave away at Monadnock. But when we won the championship way back at Riverside Park, we also did it without winning a race. It can happen.”
When Shaw went down in the season’s final event with a tire issue, Gray knew what he had to do – just finish. It isn’t as easy as it sounds though.
“I thought we were just riding conservative there and I was just trying to finish where I needed to in order to win the championship for a lot of the race,” Gray said. “It started raining a little bit and the car was still really good, but I said that I wasn’t going to wad the car up. Everyone knew I needed to finish the race and they were bullying me a little bit.”
Is this championship better than all of the others? Not necessarily. All of these championships have been exciting for Gray, who is now 58-years-old.
“All championships are good, this one here means a lot because my guys have been together for so many years,” Gray said. “We are all getting older. It feels good to know we can still get it done. This one is for the older guys.”
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