LONG POND, Pa. – For the Gray family at Pocono Raceway, it was a tale of triumph and utter defeat.
It ended with one Gray earning his best career Truck finish at the end of Saturday (July 22). The other, however, matched his worst.
For elder brother Tanner Gray, his race ended almost as soon as it began.
Early on lap 4, the No. 15 truck was driving just outside of the top 10 when his truck became loose while attempting to pass his TRICON Garage teammate, Kaz Grala, while entering the tunnel turn. He slid sideways and locked his brakes as much as he could before hitting the inside wall hard.
Miraculously, Tanner Gray was able to refire the Toyota and limp it around the track until the team told him to stop. Eventually, he had to bring it behind the wall, where it stayed while he made the journey to the infield care center. He was credited with a 36th-place finish. Dead last.
“I just put myself in a bad spot,” the 24-year-old Gray said. “I just got the air taken off me and loose and couldn’t catch it. So, [I] feel really bad for my guys. They brought a fast truck. I felt like we were pretty decent there … I honestly feel really stupid.”
Even worse for Tanner Gray, his result has put him and his No. 15 team in a precarious position for the looming Truck Series playoffs, which will begin at the end of next weekend’s race at Richmond Raceway.
Before Saturday, there was still hope Tanner Gray could still make the cut on points alone. Afterward, he will all but have to win at the Virginia short track.
“[We’ve] got to go to Richmond and win, and that’s not a place that I’m very good at,” Tanner Gray said. “So, I don’t know, [I’ve] put us in a lot of bad spots all year and did it again there. So, I don’t know, I need to do a better job.”
His brother, Taylor Gray, shared his disappointment.
“I felt pretty bad whenever I figured out he was one of the cautions,” Taylor Gray told Frontstretch. “With his playoff run and everything like that. They’ll turn it around and start getting the momentum together.”
But at least the younger brother’s day ended with something to celebrate.
Taylor Gray started the 150-mile race hovering near the end top 10. By the end of stage one, he barely made the stage point cut by finishing 10th.
It was a common day after all for the driver of the No. 17. He had finished in the top 15 in the previous four races. One of them was even his fifth career top 10.
But at the end, his truck came to life.
In the closing laps, Taylor had found himself in the top five thanks to pit strategy, attrition, and, of course, speed.
With five laps to go, Taylor Gray had reached third, and, as the leaders Kyle Busch and Corey Heim battled for the lead ahead of him, he began to catch up to the top two. However, he ran out of time and had to settle for the bottom step of the podium.
But even that was still his first Truck Series top-five result and his best career finish.
Both Grays are now outside of the playoff cut with one race remaining, and they’ll both need to win to make the postseason.
But only one of them has the momentum.
About the author
Dalton Hopkins began writing for Frontstretch in April 2021. Currently, he is the lead writer for the weekly Thinkin' Out Loud column and one of our lead reporters. Beforehand, he wrote for IMSA shortly after graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2019. Simultaneously, he also serves as a First Lieutenant in the US Army.
Follow Dalton on Twitter @PitLaneLT
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