DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Toni McCray would like nothing better than to be standing on stage in December at the Charlotte Convention Center / NASCAR Hall of Fame and being recognized as a NASCAR champion.
“It would be awesome; it would be quite an honor,” said the 37-year-old from Highland Park, California, of the recently announced 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards. “I want a championship really bad. The only way to get it is to win races.
“That’s our goal and we’re going to work hard for it.”
McCray took a big step in the right direction Saturday night when she became the first female driver in the 15-year history of racing at California’s Irwindale Speedway to collect two wins in the same night. McCray swept the Lucas Oil Late Model 30-lap twin features to pull within 18 points of defending track champion Ryan Partridge for the division lead.
“We’re definitely carrying a lot of momentum,” said McCray, who has three wins and 10 top fives in 10 starts on Irwindale’s progressively-banked asphalt half-mile. “Our team has really clicked. Our cars are really good. And we’re consistent.
“As a racer, I’m just as good or better than everybody out there. We’re going to be tough to beat. We all want to win races, our goal is to win every race that we can.”
McCray, who has been racing Late Models since 2009 and is in her fourth year of running full-time, is also second behind Partridge in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series California standings. She is 51st in the national standings.
Anthony Anders continues to lead the national standings – as he has done since the beginning of the season – but his points lead her shrunk to just three over two-time defending national champion Lee Pulliam.
Anders, of Easley, South Carolina, has 17 wins, 28 top fives and 30 top 10s in 32 pavement Late Model Division starts at South Carolina’s Anderson Speedway and Greenville Speedway. He failed to improve on his 684 points.
Pulliam, of Semora, North Carolina, meanwhile, collected a pair of wins in four Late Model starts over the weekend With 13 wins, 22 top fives and top 10s in 26 starts across four tracks, Pulliam has 681 points.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I drivers are ranked by their best 18 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an additional two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower.
Pulliam won at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway Thursday, finished second in the 171-lap Rusty Harpe Memorial at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina, Friday, and finished first and second in twin features at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, North Carolina Saturday. Pulliam also has won this season at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia.
Connecticut’s Keith Rocco remained in third with 646 points in the pavement modified divisions at Connecticut’s three ovals: Waterford Speedbowl, Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The 2010 national champion was rained out of a start at Stafford Friday, and collected his eighth win of the season Saturday at Waterford.
Peyton Sellers is fourth with 621 points, followed by Dillon Bassett at 594.
Ryan Preece moved up a spot to sixth following his second straight win in the Cromarty Cup 50 at New York’s Riverhead Raceway.
Tommy Lemons Jr. (South Boston, Southern National, Caraway and Motor Mile) is seventh, followed by Matt Bowling (South Boston, Motor Mile, Southern National and Caraway), Kres Van Dyke (Virginia’s Lonesome Pine and Tennessee’s Kingsport Speedway) and Randy Porter (Greenville and Anderson) round out the top 10.
Drivers in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series compete for track and U.S. state/Canadian province championships in addition to the national title.
In addition to finishing second to Partridge in the Late Model Division at Irwindale last year, she also finished second to Rip Michels in the track’s Division II Super Late Models. It was during a late season qualifying effort that the conversation came up with Michels, a multi-time track champion, about 2014 plans.
McCray’s crew chief, Rod Johnson Jr., was leaving to focus on his brother-in-law’s team, while Michels said he was hanging up his racing helmet.
“We talked through the offseason and got a plan together,” said McCray, whose father Rick made 117 starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and 26 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. “(Michels) got the cars before the season and started working on everything. The last few races we really started clicking and the chemistry with our whole entire team has really come together. I really feel we’re the best team out there right now.”
The result Saturday was two wins. And that could mean more trophies come December.
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.
Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.
NASCAR IMC – – Sal Sigala Jr photo
|7||Tommy Lemons, Jr||28||4||15||21||562|
|45||Craig Von Dohren||13||3||7||9||325|
|51||Toni Marie Mccray||10||3||10||10||309|
|53||Rob Janovic, Jr||13||0||8||8||306|
|67||Tom Rogers, Jr||13||1||8||11||287|
|69||David Garborcauskas, Jr||15||1||7||10||281|
|76||Bill Leighton, Jr||12||1||9||12||273|
|78||Bruce Anderson, Jr||16||0||4||10||272|
|86||R A Brown||10||2||6||7||262|