LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Toni McCray is in a hurry. She’s made her debut in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour and gotten a feel for the cars and the competition and Saturday night (November 22) at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway she wants to get her first look at the series’ winner’s circle.
McCray knows that her Jimco Construction/Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse Chevrolet is capable of running up front. She knows crew chief and mentor Rip Michels and the others on her crew will have the car immaculately prepared. And she’s confident in her own ability to make all the hard work pay off in the 125-lap main event that will bring the SRL season to a close.
“I’m definitely getting a feel for the race car,” said McCray, who this year was a season-long title contender and finished fifth in the Late Model class and third in the Super Late Models at Irwindale. “I’ve run well at The Bullring and like the race track. I think we’ll definitely be competitive. I’ve got good equipment and good guys around me. It’s just a matter of getting comfortable in the car.”
The Highland, California, resident was comfortable enough to be a race-long contender during her initial SRL outing in August on the half-mile oval at the Irwindale Events Center. She qualified ninth for a 100-lap main event, went to the rear of the 22-car field after getting hit and spinning on the opening lap, and was third and closing on the leaders when the checkered flag waved.
Afterward, McCray admitted being “impressed with the team and with myself. With a brand-new race car you can’t ask for anything more. I knew we had a good long-run car and I just waited too long … but I’ve never raced with these guys and I didn’t know how they raced. It’s all part of learning.”
Her performance in that race silenced some of the critics who said she wasn’t the kind of driver who could come from behind, but McCray said she doesn’t pay much attention to what others might say.
“I just want to run good everywhere we go,” she said. “I want to give it 110 percent every time and win or at least be competing for the win. That’s the goal every time we go out.”
That’s why the team doesn’t hesitate to work overtime. McCray has raced on The Bullring’s 3/8–mile oval many times, most recently in late October when she finished third in the Late Model class and eighth in a Super Late Model in the annual Fall Classic. But they still scheduled a Thursday practice session to “get a little extra track time and see if we can get a head start” before Friday afternoon’s three 1-hour practice sessions.
There will be another 45-minute practice at 11:45 a.m. Saturday where McCray will be able to fine-tune the chassis for the single-car, 2-lap qualifying session at approximately 3 p.m. Racing begins at 5 p.m. and the 125-lap SRL feature should get the green flag about 7 p.m.
“I can’t wait,” McCray said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
– Toni McCray Racing press release and photo