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The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Driver Michael McGuire was eighth in his second race of the series.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Michael McGuire, 17, faces a new challenge at Virginia International Raceway this weekend.
A pit crew member for Denny Hamlin rolls new tires into the garage on Friday in Las Vegas.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Those in the NASCAR fraternity who didn’t know who Michael McGuire was before certainly know the 16-year-old Vinton leadfoot now.
In a head-turning performance at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, the sophomore at William Byrd High School posted a fast lap of 120.694 mph Thursday afternoon to capture the pole position for Saturday’s 125-lap K&N Pro Series East season opener.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better day,’’ said McGuire, speaking via cellphone from an Applebee’s restaurant in Bristol on Thursday night. “I was sweating bullets. We flew off into Turns 1 and 2 and it stuck, and I was praying it would stick in 3 and 4 because I knew it was going to be our hot lap.
“And I looked over right when we were done and I saw the No. 7 on the top of the board, and the feeling was incredible!”
McGuire, who finished in the top 10 in all three of his K&N Series starts last year as a rookie, had clocked the fastest lap among the field in the day’s second practice session.
When it was show-and-tell time, the youngster brought the goods in the Toyota prepared by his crew chief, uncle Tony McGuire, and a band of hard working members of his underfinanced backyard racing team that’s housed in southeast Roanoke.
“Right, this couldn’t have worked out better because the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series are actually racing the same weekend as we do here,’’ McGuire said. “The Nationwide trailers are parked on other side of race track, so hopefully we turned a few heads and people noticed our No. 7 on the top of board.’’
Hey, the kid is a wheel man. Last year, his team, because of limited funds, was able to hit only three K&N Series events but still finished in the top 10 in every stop. Last year, he qualified fourth and finished eighth in the race on BMS’ fast high-banked, half-mile oval.
“I’m feeling pretty good, actually. I think we’ve gained a lot and learned a lot from racing here last year,’’ he said. “But our race runs weren’t very good. We started off really loose at the beginning of the race and kinda lost a few positions, but we still managed to take a top 10 away from it.
“I think this year we’re going to come a little bit stronger and that’s the goal. Hopefully, our race runs will be a lot better and we’ll be in contention for a win.”
McGuire, whose father, Tim, and uncle were proven winners on area short tracks back in the day, hadn’t been in a race car since last October, when Michael ran his last of three 2012 K&N races.
“Especially, how we ended off our second practice as being the fastest, we kinda had high hopes for getting the pole but our expectation levels aren’t through the roof right now,” Michael McGuire said. “We were pretty happy and content with where we were. I would have been happy with a top five or a top 10 as long as we made the race and got to come back on Saturday.
“All this is still kinda setting in, but we still have a race to run so we’re just gonna focus on that and forget about today, as bad as that sounds. It’s now focus on Saturday because that’s when we need to handle business.”
Hamlin won’t appeal fine for criticizing Gen-6 car
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Denny Hamlin and NASCAR settled their censorship flap Thursday when he announced he would not appeal the $25,000 fine levied against him for criticizing the new Gen-6 car.
But Hamlin held his ground on refusing to pay the fine. NASCAR said the fine will be settled per the rule book, which allows the sanctioning body to garnish the money from a driver’s race winnings.
“Dragging myself, my team and NASCAR through the mud for the next 2 weeks would not be good for anyone,” Hamlin posted on Twitter. “I firmly believe I am in the right on this issue and will stand behind my decision not to pay. I understand NASCAR will do what they feel is necessary based on my decision.”
NASCAR does have the option to suspend Hamlin until he pays the fine, but said in its statement it considers the matter closed.
- ASSOCIATED PRESS
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