Bakersfield, California native, Shannon "Lightning" McQueen, experienced her fair share of bad luck during the first portion of the 2013 season. However, things have recently changed. Two consecutive top-five finishes has rekindled her confidence and an eagerness to end the season with a run of impressive races in the Midget class.
Shannon "Lightning" McQueen racing in her USAC Midget
With her first impressive run of the season already behind her, McQueen recently rolled into the Placerville Speedway, at the El Dorado County Fair Grounds in Northern California, with aspirations of continuing her success. Muscling her way from sixth to second place during the second heat, she ran out of laps prior to catching the lead driver.
Although she would have preferred the winning spot, McQueen was acutely aware that her impressive performance was more than likely an indication of what would transpire during the remainder of the Bay Cities Racing Association event.
USAC Midget racer Shannon "Lightning" McQueen racing at the Bakersfield Speedway
"I knew we had a really good car that was consistent," recalled McQueen. "Our car’s always fast. My dad builds my motors, and we always have plenty of horsepower for sure. We are working with a new crew chief and have been really working well together. And that gives me a ton of confidence. I knew we had a car that could win, as long as we could get a little bit of luck, which we have not had a lot of lately."
Having earned the sixth position in the main, McQueen did not waste any time at the waving of the green flag. Running in the top five of the field during the first half of the race of the race, McQueen never lost focus of the first three positions, all of which would earn a podium spot.
Recognizing an opportunity to move closer to the front of the pack McQueen moved forward, eager to battle Greg Bragg for the third place position. And a fierce battle it was. Going neck-to-neck, the two drivers would capitalize on the other’s mistakes, in turn, swapping the position back and fourth. And when the checkered flag deemed the race over, Shannon "Lightning" McQueen had managed to cross the finish line in third place, earning her rightful spot on the podium.
"Greg and I always have a good time racing against each other," McQueen shared. "I can trust him, and he can me, as we have raced together in different divisions for the past 20-years. We were super-close to second place," she continued. "Maybe a couple more laps, and we could have challenged for that position. A good race, all-in-all."
Of course, great driving skills are an essential element of success in the world of racing. However, one must also depend upon good fortune. In reference to luck, McQueen said, "It’s huge. You can have the fastest car, but if the breaks don’t go your way when you can capitalize on them , you are probably not going to win."
Experience has also taught McQueen that the support of a good team is irreplaceable. "I cannot do it without my guys," ensured McQueen. My dad builds my motors, and without him the cost would be very high. He has huge success in building motors. . . I also have two guys who work for me at the track - my crew chief, Rob Russell and another crew guy, Jeremy Queener. It takes all of us working together to achieve success. This is most definitely a team sport."
Shannon "Lightning" McQueen is also aware that proper maintenance is often the determining fact in one’s overall success throughout a season. "Races are won and lost at the shop," she ensured. "If you have a poor maintenance program, it will reflect at the race track. I do 90% of my own maintenance at the shop."
That in mind, McQueen depends upon K&N products to keep the internal components of her engines running contaminant free. "We use their oil and air filters and filter oils in our race cars and street cars. I have used K&N products since we started racing the midget in 2004. Their products are awesome," she continued, "as they are reliable, dependable and provide us with the performance we need."
Looking forward to the remainder of the season, Shannon "Lightning" McQueen said, "It was a rocky start to the beginning of our year. Hopefully we’ll finish the season on a strong note."