By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Rick McNally Jr. had an impressive first year of driving in 2012 at the Monett Speedway.
Joplin’s McNally won the pure stock points championship as well as rookie of the year.
Garrett Cantrell, Galena, Kan., prevented a “sweep” by receiving the sportsmanship award in that class.
McNally again is atop the pure stock points standings. He has five A feature wins and leads Cantrell 671-636 entering today’s 8 p.m. show at the 3⁄8-mile clay track.
McNally admitted on Thursday he’s aiming for another title.
“Back-to-back championships would be neat,” McNally, 33, said. “We want to win the championship again.”
McNally’s desire to drive was instilled as a teen-ager while helping dad compete at Joplin 66 Speedway.
But raising a family helped delay McNally’s entry into racing.
Rick McNally Sr., meanwhile, bought a race car and left it parked in a pasture.
“That’s the race car I’m driving,” Rick McNally Jr. said. “It was in that field for some 12 years. I bought it from dad. I figured I’d give racing a shot. We updated the race car with paint, shocks and springs. We sanded it.
“No one had driven the car. I was its first driver,” McNally said.
McNally wound up winning six main events last season.
“I do it for the family,” McNally said. “Of course, it’s for me, too, but the family loves to attend the races. They love it. They all go to the races when I go. They enjoy getting dirty just like I do.”
Rick and Kelly, formerly Burns, from Olney, Texas, have four children.
Dad, a mechanic, and Joe Hicks usually are in the pits.
“Dad and Joe help me so much at the track,” McNally said.
Sponsors include Reeves Tire & Automotive — the younger McNally’s employer — Hicks’ Variety Auto & Collision Center and Chris Coats’ Lock & Key.
“My best friend is John Coats (factory stock driver from Joplin),” McNally said. “He’s the one who gives me pointers.”
McNally naturally thinks about moving up a class.
“I’d like to run a B modified,” he said. “You need the finances to do it.”
More points: The most competitive class, according to points, is USRA modified (defending champion Jackie Dalton leads Mitch Keeter 654-649). Other leaders are Ken Essary (Race Brothers late model), Toby Thompson (USRA B modified), Russell Niehoff (pro-4) and Josh Essary (factory stock).