For the second time in her young career, Delaney Gray is set to travel down to Florida for the prestigious INEX Winter Nationals at Citrus County Speedway.
The week-long event regularly sees many of the best young drivers in Legends and Bandoleros battle it out for a shot at a championship. Delaney will compete in the Bandit class this year after previously participating in the Beginner Bandolero division back in 2022.
Having garnered plenty of on-track experience since her last visit to Citrus County, Delaney is eager to partake in the INEX Winter Nationals once again and excel against many of the brightest young stars in racing.
“We’re hoping to do really good [at Citrus County],” Delaney said. “I feel kind of nervous but also really excited. I’m hoping to get some Top 5s, a few wins and to bring the car home in one piece.”
Delaney has plenty of momentum heading into the INEX Winter Nationals, as she is fresh off an eight-win season in 21 starts.
The consistency Delaney displayed at facilities like New River All-American Speedway was exactly what her father Brandon wanted to see in 2023. Since the start of her career, Brandon has guided Delaney through the fundamentals of proper race craft and has been impressed with the maturity she continues to display on and off track.
A goal Brandon has established for Delaney this season is to have her pursue the INEX North Carolina state championship. Running the INEX Winter Nationals is something Brandon believes will help Delaney get prepared for a hectic year in Bandolero competition.
“We had no idea we’d win that many races [in 2023], so it was a really good year,” Brandon said. “This is Delaney’s final year in Bandits before she moves up a division. We probably won’t be in Bandoleros next year and will change vehicles all together, so this is her year to shine.”
The INEX Winter Nationals present plenty of unique challenges Brandon is eager to see Delaney tackle. No spotters are permitted for the INEX Winter Nationals, while Citrus County’s larger layout requires Bandolero competitors to rely on off-throttle time as opposed to building runs in a draft with restrictor plates.
Although Delaney has more experience with restrictor plates on her car, she said spending the past season learning more about car and throttle control has given her some confidence about excelling at Citrus County next month.
“We mainly race at speedways, so short tracks and speedways for Bandoleros are much different,” Delaney said. “At speedways you’re wide open and at short tracks you’re on and off. You just need to know when you need to go back to the throttle and hit your brakes.”
Brandon also believes Delaney has grown consistent with lap times at tracks that require her to work the throttle. He still wants to see improvement from Delaney when it comes to setting up passes, but stressed the INEX Winter Nationals will provide excellent practice in that regard with no spotter to rely on.
While both Delaney and Brandon intend to enjoy the experience the INEX Winter Nationals at Citrus County offer, they each want to see their hard work and diligence translate into strong performances. With a stellar 2023 now behind them, Delaney is confident in her ability to contend for wins.
“I really hope we can be strong all week,” Delaney said. “We have some really good cars, so hopefully our time at Citrus County will be successful.”
The 2024 INEX Winter Nationals for Delaney begin on Feb. 12 with a race every day through Feb. 16. Each Bandit event will consist of 20 laps or last 20 minutes.
Delaney would like to thank her family, her team, MPM Marketing and all her partners in Bob’s Muffler Shop of Goldsboro, Brandon Gray Racing, Solid Rock Carriers, Dillon Spain Motorsports, W.G. Speaks Inc., Carolina Family Pool & Patio, K1 RaceGear, Wiley X, and Carolina Mobile Refrigeration.
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