Impressive showing for Sally McNulty at Virginia International Raceway
"This is my second race in the series and I’m starting to find my feet and get more speed" - Sally McNulty's progress in her second outing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge has been hugely encouraging and resulted in an eighth place after an excellent showing at Virginia International Raceway.
Sally McNulty finished a career-high eighth in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with an excellent showing at Virginia International Raceway. Competing in just her second race in the championship, the Deily Motorsports driver negotiated three restarts and ran as high as second in the opening hour of the race. Despite receiving contact on her in-lap, Sally handed over to teammate Jacob Deily who completed a clean stint and brought the Hyundai Elantra N across the line eighth in TCR.
Following an encouraging debut race in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Sally was targeting further progress with Deily Motorsports at Virginia International Raceway.
The opening practice of the weekend saw McNulty set the quickest time in the #70 Hyundai Elantra N, with the team ending the session 13th overall. Once again setting the fastest lap for the team in session two, Sally improved by two tenths of a second to put Deily Motorsports 12th in TCR heading into qualifying.
Qualifying took place later on Friday and similarly to Sally’s debut at Road America, she took charge of qualifying for Deily Motorsports. Improving a further four tenths of a second from practice, McNulty’s fastest time came on the final lap of qualifying to place her 13th in the TCR class with an action-packed two hour race to come.
Sally lined up 12th in TCR following a penalty for a driver ahead and the Deily Motorsport driver made a good start, passing teammate Jordan Wisely in the opening corners. By lap three, McNulty was inside the top-10 and following a full course yellow period a lap later, she was targeting further progress in the Hyundai Elantra N.
Holding off Wisely on the restart, Sally’s lap times were extremely competitive in just her second outing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and her pace was rewarded as she moved ahead of William Tally on lap 11 for ninth in TCR.
A second full course yellow was displayed on lap 14 and this led to an interesting strategy call for the teams. Deily Motorsport chose to keep Sally on track which elevated her to second, her highest overall running position to date in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Restarting on older tyres around more experienced drivers, this was a valuable experience for McNulty who dropped to eighth by lap 19, but was holding in close proximity to her TCR class rivals. The race struggled to get into a rhythm during Sally’s stint with a third full course yellow for a stopped car on track leading to another restart for the Deily Motorsports driver to handle.
Moving back inside the top-5 as her rivals made their final stop, McNulty’s stint was extremely impressive and although she received contact from a competitor on her in-lap, this didn’t detract from an excellent performance in just Sally’s second outing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
As Sally handed over to teammate Jacob Deily, a slightly longer stop was required following the contact which dropped Deily to 11th in TCR. After passing teammate Cabot Bigham for a place inside the top-10, Deily was hunting down Rockwell Autosport Development driver Alex Rockwell for ninth. On lap 46, Deily took over ninth position and following a late full course yellow period, he was elevated to eighth.
Holding his position to the line, Jacob took the checkered flag in eighth position for Deily Motorsports to secure Sally’s best finish in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Sally’s performance at Virginia International Raceway was extremely impressive, improving her times from practice into qualifying, while fighting towards the front of the TCR class with some smart strategy from Deily Motorsports.
Without the unfortunate contact, an eighth place finish may have been improved on, however McNulty displayed her speed across an action-packed opening stint where she showcased her attacking and defensive abilities.
"The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series has some talented drivers and the competition is stiff", Sally told us. "This is my second race in the series and I’m starting to find my feet and get more speed. We finished P8 at VIR and I know we can achieve even more."
Sally’s progress in her first two outings in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge has been hugely encouraging and with two rounds remaining in the 2023 season, taking place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, McNulty will be aiming to return to the highly competitive championship and fight further towards the front.
"I’m going to be working really hard on the sim to prepare myself for INDY Battle on the Brick and bring more speed with me", McNulty continued. "I really love working with Deily Motorsports, they are such a good hearted group and hard working bunch of individuals that just want to show that we can do this. You can have big dreams and achieve them too!"
"Also want to thank Borla Exhaust and Blaster Products for coming on board mid season to help make my dreams a reality and supporting females in motorsports."