Shift Up Now Athlete Sally McNulty earned second- and third-place finishes, respectively, in rounds seven and eight of the Touring Car America Series at VIRginia International Raceway on June 17-18, 2023.
Driving the No. 780 Hyundai Veloster N race car for Ricca Autosport Genracer, McNulty was looking to build on her multiple top-five finishes in prior rounds of the season.
She qualified fifth for Saturday’s race, within just a few tenths of the two cars immediately ahead. Knowing she had the pace, McNulty was ready to challenge for the podium in both races on the 17-turn, 3.27-mile racetrack.
When the green flag dropped on Saturday morning for the first 40-minute race, McNulty made her move quickly. She advanced to P4, with her sights set on the third-place spot in just the opening laps.
With 30 minutes remaining, McNulty set her fastest laps of the race and continued to reel in the podium contenders. Inside of 20 minutes to the checkered flag, she fought her way into the top three.
During that same lap, race leader – and McNulty’s teammate – Jeff Ricca was forced to pull into the pits for a mechanical repair. This advanced her into the second-place spot. She drove a strong, clean remainder of the race to earn her first Touring Car America podium, as well as her first pro-racing podium.
On Sunday, McNulty was aiming for a repeat performance. Starting in fourth, she got closed out at the start by the fifth-place car, and tucked back in to wait patiently for her moment. Only a few minutes into the race, she reclaimed her starting position when the car ahead experienced mechanical issues and fell through the order.
With just over 25 minutes remaining in the race, Jeff Ricca experienced the same mechanical issue that had plagued him the day before. So once again, McNulty advanced in position, this time to P3 in the TC field. She would hold steady there, earning her second pro-career podium less than 24 hours after her first.
“This weekend was nothing short of a miracle,” McNulty said. “Thanks to my coach and teammate Jeff Ricca, who helped me with my pace during practice on Friday, helping me get to within six-tenths of a second of his pace.
“The team set the car up perfectly so that it was totally confidence-inspiring for me to push the car. I knew all I had to do was manage my tires, put down fast and consistent laps, and that I
would be able to make the moves needed to secure that podium position, and to keep my competitors behind me.
“I want to thank all my sponsors for their support and for believing in me. We finally earned not just one but two trophies, and I am forever grateful to have them by my side!”
McNulty will return to compete in rounds nine and ten of the 2023 Touring Car America season at Road America on August 18-20, 2023.