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The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Michael McGuire, 17, faces a new challenge at Virginia International Raceway this weekend.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Five career starts on NASCAR'S K&N Pro Series East circuit and five top-10 finishes.
Can Vinton teenager Michael McGuire make it a six-pack today at Virginia International Raceway?
In what presents the most daunting challenge to date in his young stock car racing career, McGuire will hit a road course for the first time on the Alton-based track's 2.25-mile North Course.
"You're always busy ... going left, right, shifting, braking going uphill and downhill," said McGuire, who has never raced on anything but an oval track that requires nothing but left turns.
"It's so much technique to it, how you approach the corners and trying to set up for the next corner. It's a lot of technique and a lot of thought process going on, and I think that's something that a lot of circle-track drivers aren't used to.
"It adds a little twist to it. It's pretty cool, honestly."
Little seems to faze the 17-year-old William Byrd junior when he's strapped in behind the wheel of a race car. Driving for his low-budgeted family-owned race team, McGuire has finished fourth at Bristol, where he won the pole and led 29 laps before being spun by a rookie driver under yellow, and eighth at Richmond in two starts this year on NASCAR'S developmental tour. He posted an eighth-place run (Bristol) and a pair of 10ths (Richmond and New Hampshire) last year.
McGuire will be making his first start since April 24 at Richmond. He's ready to race again.
"Definitely being out of the seat that long, it can be tough,'' he said. "That's the only thing I'm kind of leery and nervous about is getting back in the car because not being able to race that much over the course of the summer might put a toll on us. That's OK, though. I think it will come back pretty quick. I think this is going to be a lot of fun."
Father Tim McGuire and uncle Tony, who own and operate the backyard team, drove hundreds of races in their driving careers. None, however, were on a road course. Michael's late grandfather, Bill "Squeek" McGuire, may have done some back in the day, though.
Tim burst into laughter at that one, saying: "Yeah, Pops probably literally ran a road race, running from 'em all on the road!''
Without a road-course car in their slim stable, the McGuires struck a deal to run a car from Rick Ware Racing out of Thomasville, N.C.
Therefore, young McGuire won't be rocking his normal black No. 7 Toyota. The kid will be piloting No. 51, a red Chevrolet.
"We got the car about three weeks ago," Tim said. "Rick is actually going to start a K&N Pro Series team next year. He wanted to establish an owner's license, establish a car number, and what he agreed to do was work an affiliation deal with Tony and I. He supplied the car, and Tony and I are supplying the motor, the transmission, rear end, all the running gear parts.
"This deal worked out good because Tony and I were going to have to take one of our circle-track cars and cut it up and create a road-course car. It was a perfect marriage at a perfect time for both parties. Rick actually came to us on this. He watched Michael race at Bristol and Richmond and was impressed."
The McGuire team will do all the work today in practice and qualifying. It will be the first time the team's driver has run the track in a race car. Last weekend, Michael did manage to get a in a few laps around the 17-turn track in a high-performance BMW M5.
"This is probably going to be the biggest driving challenge that Michael has ever had," Tim said. "Because you're going to shift nine times per lap, start in second gear on the starts, second to third to fourth and they're done. It's going to be running so much running uphill, downhill, left, right, and you have one main straight where cars are running 160 miles per hour when they go off into that first turn and start downshifting.
"I never ever, ever bet against Michael, but I just know that on these road courses it's such a different style of racing. A lot of the drivers have been going to a lot of schooling. ... The schools that are driving our style cars and bias-ply tires cost $11,000 per day. We don't have that kind of money."
So what? The driver says he's good to go.
"It's a great opportunity for me," Michael said. "It's time to race. You know what? I think we've got something for them!''
It's about two hours from Roanoke to VIR. Practice runs from 9:05 to 10:20 a.m. The 125-mile starts at 4:35 p.m. There is no television coverage. ... It will be Legends Night this evening at Franklin County Speedway. Roanoke's Kyle Dudley leads the Late Model Stock points race by 24 over Vinton's Wesley Thomason. ... Racing at Radford's Motor Mile Raceway resumes Friday with a pair of 125 LMS races. Lee Pulliam, who leads Deac McCaskill by 32 points in chase of his second straight national championship, trails Danville's Peyton Sellers by 14 points in the Motor Mile points race. ... Natural Bridge Speedway postponed its scheduled Friday card to tonight at 7. An open-wheel modified race is the headliner. J.R. Overstreet leads the track's LMS standings by 25 points over Ricky Wells.
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