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Gray charges to O'Reilly USCS Speed Week 2007 Round Five win in Thursday Night Thunder at Clarksvill

Gray charges to O'Reilly USCS Speed Week 2007 Round Five win in Thursday Night Thunder at Clarksvill

Clarksville, TN - Defending O'Reilly USCS National Champion and current 2007 O'Reilly USCS Speed Week points leader, Terry Gray from Bartlett, Tennessee thrilled the surprisingly large "Thursday Night Thunder" crowd at Clarksville Speedway with a stunning come from behind victory in the 30-lap O'Reilly United Sprint Car Series www.uscsracing.com feature race. Gray ran down and passed the race leader, 2006 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Driver of the Year, Jason Johnson from Eunice, Louisiana on lap twenty-five to become the only O'Reilly USCS Speed Week 2007 repeat winner thus far.

Earlier in the evening a somber Terry Gray told the crowd after his win in the 6-lap Lucas Oil Power Dash that he had found out earlier in the day that his Father and former racer Elmer Gray had suffered a a pretty severe heart attack. He also related that his Dad was in the critical care unit in a Memphis hospital and that he was reluctantly staying to race after being encouraged by his Mother to do so. He immediately became the crowd favorite. He then proceeded to win the Engler Machine and Tool First Heat. But he would get no help on his efforts from the K&N Filters Pole Draw where he drew a six and would have to start from the outside of the third row. This placed 2004 O'Reilly " USCS Rookie of the Year, R.J. Johnson from Tampa, Florida on the pole with 8-time, 2006 USCS feature winner, Danny "Hammer" Martin, Jr. from Sarasota, Florida outside of the front row.

If the front row wasn't potent enough, in the second row just ahead of Gray in row two, were eighteen year-old Don Young from Bartlett, Tennessee who is having an outstanding Speed Week 2007 in the third starting spot and starting fourth was the 2006 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame 360 sprint car Driver of the Year, Jason Johnson from Eunice, Louisiana who won 24 times in 2006 and already has won six times this season. Johnson also won at Clarksville Speedway in September of 1997 the first time the O'Reilly USCS visited the track. On the inside of row three with Gray was another talented Mid-South area veteran, Raymond Stull from Coldwater, Mississippi.

On the initial start of the feature race, Danny Martin raced into the lead in turn one with R.J. Johnson riding in the second spot. Jason Johnson challenging from third followed by Young, Gray and Stull. On lap three it was Martin leading with Jason Johnson in second and now Gray in third followed by R.J. Johnson, Young and Stull. On lap five Raymond Stull moved into the top four. On lap five Jason Johnson was applying pressure to the leader Danny Martin and 16-year-old 2006 O'Reilly USCS Rookie of the Year Derek Hagar moved into the top five. Martin lead again on lap six.

Between lap six and a completed lap seven Jason Johnson snatched the lead from Danny Martin and Terry Gray raced in behind him attempting to squeeze past Martin on the front stretch as well. The two cars collided with Gray spinning to the infield and Martin continuing on behind the new leader Jason Johnson. Don Young simultaneously ended his race by leaping the guardrail and becoming entangled in the turn four catch fence.

The race was red-flagged at this point to clear Young's wreck. This gave Gray time to access his damage and remove his front wing which was hanging by the threads. He would re-start at the rear front wingless.

On the re-start it would be Jason Johnson who appeared to be capable of wiring the field for the final 23-laps sprint to victory lane. Martin, Hagar, Stull and 2006 Clarksville Speedway Speed Week winner, Marshall Skinner from West Memphis, Arkansas would comprise the balance of the top five. Jason Johnson comfortably appeared to be working his way toward victory lane while the balance of the field battled for second. Over the next thirteen laps Terry Gray advanced through the field. He passed Derek Hagar for the third position on lap fourteen and then went outside of Danny Martin exiting turn four on lap seventeen into the runner-up spot. It appeared he had no plans of settling for that position even thought he was nearly a straight a way behind the Cajun Sensation but closing gradually.

On lap twenty the caution again appeared for Ryan Myers spin in the slippery turn four. This closed the field with Jason Johnson leading followed by Gray, Martin, Hagar, Stull, Skinner, R.J. Johnson and then Ronny Howard from Southaven, Mississippi chasing him. On the re-start Jason Johnson held off Gray's charge. Gray appeared to need to go several laps to find his rhythm to keep the wingless front end from "pushing." On lap twenty-five he found the handle and drove deep into turn one and slide across the track in front of Jason Johnson and accelerated away from him into he lead. The crowd went wild, as their sentimental favorite appeared to have accomplished his mission. The final five laps, Gray appeared to gain momentum every lap and raced away to a seven or eight car advantage at the finish line.

In victory lane it was no surprise when he exited the car with tears welling in his eyes Gray said , "This one is for my Dad, Elmer Gray." Jason Johnson finished in the runner-up spot, Danny Amrtin, Jr. came home third followed by Derek Hagar in fourth place and Marshall Skinner who started eighth rounded out the top five.

As previously mentioned Terry Gray won the 6-lap Lucas Oil Power Dash and the Engler Tool and Machine First Heat Race. Raymond Stull won the Butlerbuilt Second Heat Race. In that second heat race a four-car tangle resulted in three cars flipping. Those involved were Phillip Faulkner from Drummonds, Tennessee, Tim Crawley from Benton, Arkansas and Ryan Myers from Eaton, Ohio. Myers repaired his car and continued in the feature, but Faulkner and Crawley had severe damage to the cars and both drivers decided to put them on the trailer for the balance of the event.

In his sweep of the evening's events, Gray also garnered the events Huggins Cams Hard Charger award for his charge from sixth to first place in the 30-lap A-Main event. Chris Williams from Memphis, Tennessee was the Robison Racing Products Rookie of the Race. R.J. Johnson gathered in the K&N Filters Pole Award. 21-year-old Danny Martin, Jr. was recognized as the Hoosier Tire Young Gun of the Race, which is awarded to the top-finishing driver under twenty-five years old.

The next O'Reilly USCS National points event and O'Reilly USCS Mid-South Thunder points event is the Speedweek 2007 Round #6 at Camden Speedway in Camden, Tennessee www.camdenspeedwayonline.com on Friday night June 1st before the grand finale in the "Columbus Clash" at Columbus Speedway www.columbusspeedway.net in Columbus, Mississippi on Saturday night June 2nd. For more info visit www.uscsracing.com or call 404-886-5913

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