When you’re holding onto a season lead with a couple races to go, it’s time to switch gears and go against everything that comes naturally in racing — you need to ease up.
Holtsville’s Vinny Delaney leads Riverhead Raceway’s INEX Legend car standings ahead of John Beatty by 21 points with one race left on Sept. 17. And while winning the last race would be nice, it’s more important to cross the line close to his rival — with the car running — to ensure winning the overall championship.
“You kind of just have to take it easy and take the spots you know you can get,” Delaney said. “Don’t push the issue, just fight for one spot at a time and don’t put yourself in any bad situations.”
Delaney, 28, said he started the season slower than he would have liked, but a few top 10 finishes rolled into more and then over the last few weeks he’s racked up top five and top three places. He won his first race Saturday, but got to first by amassing a point lead with solid finishes.
“I know that [Beatty] is second in points and I know if I stay within two spots of him for the next two races I know I’ll have it locked it up,” Delaney said before Saturday’s race. “Sometimes that thought goes through my mind.”
Saturday’s race has extra importance for Delaney. That’s because there’s a national qualification spot for the national race at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in Connecticut.
“If I had to choose the next two races to win a race it would be this coming week,” Delaney said.
Delaney said started racing when he was 10 years old with Go-Karts, like so many other drivers who have made the long-term commitment to racing. He began using legend cars in 2010, and he said winning the title would be a big deal and a good way to honor his father, Brian, who died in 2012 and got him into the sport.
“He passed away before I even won my first race in a legend car,” Delaney said. “To win a championship means that much more to me because I just get to show him that we were able to do this.”
Delaney works as an electrician for the LIRR and tries to take the time he can away from the track to decompress. When there’s a race-week he spends the majority of the week getting preparing and it becomes a full-time job, he said.
But when the season ends, there’s a good chance he’ll find all the work worth it when there’s a championship title next to his name.