McKinney Climbs His Way to Podium in Phoenix
Rookie, Jim McKinney, snatches first podium in the Senior Max class in Phoenix
The February 21-23 weekend marked the second installment of the 2014 Rotax Challenge of the Americas series, as well as McKinney’s second race weekend in the senior max class.
McKinney shocked all by entering Tucson with a last-minute chassis change; going from the KGB he raced all last year and won his 2012 S5 SKUSA ProTour championship on, to a Tony Kart. The sudden change was a positive one though, as was validated by the rookie posting top times all weekend long in Tucson. In fact, McKinney qualified off-pole Saturday, and third Sunday. McKinney consistently laid down some of the fastest lap times all weekend long and finished 4th and 5th in the pre-finals; however, his rookie status showed during several skirmishes in the finals both days, resulting in less than stellar finishes.
Jim learned a lot in his first weekend as a senior driver, though. He took the lessons he learned in Tucson, matured exponentially the month leading into rounds 3 and 4, and was ready to prove to the group of competitive, professional racers, that he is a rookie to be watching out for.
Jim McKinney and the Ruthless Karting/McKinney Racing team were ready to show they were a force to be reckoned with coming into the Phoenix rounds, held at their home track PKRA. McKinney started off on a bad note in Friday practice, posting only the 17th fastest time. But, being in the second group of racers for qualifying did very little to influence his results. Both days he clinched provisional pole, and started 6th in the pre-final Saturday and Sunday. McKinney finished 8th in both the pre-final and final on Saturday after falling back at the start and having to fight his way forward.
However, the team was determined to end the second weekend on a better note than Tucson, and after maintaining 6th position in the pre-final, McKinney ran an excellent final, fighting with many of the top drivers and running down veterans Choquer, Nekeel, and Pagano to end up claiming the second spot and his first senior podium!
Rounds 3 and 4 were a success on more than one level. McKinney did not just gain a coveted podium spot, but also the respect of his fellow racers, proving he could race clean with the top rotax drivers in the country.
Jim would like to thank the support of his family, Ruthless Karting, Joey Guyon of OverDrive Motorsports, Whistler Racing Services, Phil De Lao of De Lao Motorsports, Pure Karting, and A-M Engines for their hard work and dedication over the last couple months to ensure his rookie season was that only by name, and not results.