HIGHLAND, California – Toni McCray has added “On the Road Again” to her list of favorite songs and she’ll be listening to it a lot in the weeks to come.
Last weekend she was in Las Vegas to race in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour’s final race of the season. This weekend (November 29) she’ll be in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, to compete in a 100-lap Late Model stock car race at picturesque Havasu 95 Speedway.
She’ll come home and pack her bags for a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, to receive the Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award at the NASCAR Whelen All-America dinner in early December. Then it will be back to California for the next event on a schedule that gets more crowded every day.
The Las Vegas race didn’t go the way McCray had hoped, even though she finished 10th in only her second start in the SRL series. The trip lasted longer than she anticipated, too. The discovery of a woman’s dead body alongside the freeway near the California-Nevada borders turned what is normally a 3-hour drive into a 7-hour test of patience and stamina.
In a way, however, that was appropriate, because McCray said after early problems dampened any hopes of winning she and the team used the rest as a test session as well.
McCray had overcome an early-race incident that sent her to the rear of the field and finished third in her SRL debut at Irwindale, California, in August and on The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway she continued to establish herself as a contender for next year’s title. She was well inside the top 10 in all practice sessions, qualified eighth and started the 125-lap on the outside of the front row in the inverted lineup.
When the green flag waved McCray took the lead and she had settled into third when the first yellow flag of the race waved on lap 7 and a gremlin climbed aboard her Jimco Construction/Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse Chevrolet.
“On the restart, when I shifted it got stuck between second and third and I couldn’t get it to into gear,” McCray said. “I was still rolling, but I couldn’t do anything. I let it roll down the track until I could get into the pits and once it almost came to a stop I was able to get it into low gear.
“The guys looked at it and we said we’re already 5 laps down, let’s just go run some laps and see what happens. I was able to get it into high gear and I used the clutch instead of shifting.”
McCray finished 4 laps down.
“That’s part of racing,” she said, “but we were fast, that’s the sad thing. I ran 14.8 and 14.9 (second) laps while the leader was running 15.1. The guys really worked hard and we had a great car, a winning race car.”
Saturday night McCray will take another winning car, the Late Model in which she finished third in the standings at Irwindale, to Havasu 95 Speedway’s quarter-mile oval for the first of four races she’ll run there during the tracks winter season.
-Toni McCray Racing Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com.