After making his presence known in the 2016 Winter Showdown, SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series driver Christian McGhee is in search of victory lane and a $30,000 check at this year’s 3rd Annual Winter Showdown.
The driver from Claremont, California is familiar with the smooth and fast racing surface of the half-mile track located on the outskirts of Bakersfield, California. He has a handful of starts there and has also collected a few wins at nearby Irwindale Speedway.
Last season McGhee competed full-time on the SRL touring circuit where he finished third in the overall points standings while clinching the Rookie of the Year title as well. The 18-year-old driver also made his first trip to the All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee, proving he can handle the pressure of racing on a big stage.
With another opportunity on the big stage at next weekend's Winter Showdown, McGhee is looking to shine in his home state.
One year ago, McGhee didn't quite get across the point he wanted to at the Showdown as luck didn’t fall in his favor after a strong showing in practice.
“We were good in practice. I would say we were top five, top seven pretty much every single practice. And then I made a couple mistakes in qualifying and I think we chalked it up to a bad set of tires as well,” McGhee told Speed51.com. “The stagger came in completely different than how we intended it too. So we ended up qualifying 24th. It wasn’t very fun to start that far back in the main.”
After transferring in through a heat race, his bad luck didn’t stop at his qualifying effort as an early race incident took him out of contention.
“On the very initial start someone missed a shift in my lane. Myself and about three other cars ran into the back of each other and during that it shoved the nose back and I was running the fan for the radiator due to fear of it overheating because I didn’t know how bad it was. The crew was telling me to run the fan just to be cautious. When it shoved the nose back it pinched the fan wire and once it got hot about 20 laps later it burnt down the fan line and obviously that’s connected to the master switch and it burned it all down and we had no power.”
Last year, McGhee competed at the Winter Showdown and in the SRL with NTS Motorsports, and will return with the same team behind him but a different name. NTS has newly reformed but has not yet released the details of the reformation.
Christian is anxious for some form of redemption at this year’s Winter Showdown.
“Yeah I definitely want to qualify better,” he stated. “Hopefully everything just falls together and we can combine all the puzzle pieces and qualify in the top five. I’ll be upset with anything less than that. Get a good starting would be great. Top two, if they’re still doing it the same, get locked in so that would be even better. You don’t really have to worry about making it in through your heats. It would be nice to be one of the top two qualifiers but top five is really what I am looking for. And then from there, you know, just have a strong run, keep the nose on it, be there when it counts, get the to checkered flag and be the first one across the line. “
Unsure of what the rest of the 2017 season holds for the young California driver, his main focus right now is running well next weekend at Kern County Raceway Park.
“As of right now we are just going to run a couple races. Nothing is for sure mainly with the SRL again but like I said nothing is for sure. It is all dependent on how things go and with sponsorship.”
Race fans can watch Christian McGhee and a talented field of Super Late Model drivers race for $30,000 next weekend live on Speed51.com. Click here to purchase a live video ticket today.
-Story by: Hannah Newhouse, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Sal Sigala