Matt McCall recently made history when he became the first repeat champion in the United Auto Racing Association Series.
During the season, which ended last month, he won four of the 16 races while simultaneously posting 10 top five finishes, 14 top 10 finishes and a sixth place average finish. He tallied 1,492 points for a 46-point lead the way to his historic finish.
McCall got involved with racing when he was 9, with the help of a mechanic at Denver Marine, a business his parents own. The go-karts he raced reached speeds of 55-miles-per-hour. At 14, he won $10,000 in a four-race series at Antioch Motor Speedway in Morganton.
From there, he was hooked.
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The 28-year-old now speeds around half-mile oval tracks in late model stock cars that reach speeds of 150-miles-per-hour.
Born and raised in Denver, he attended East Lincoln High School and earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from UNC Charlotte. He also runs MX3, Matt McCall Motorsports, a traveling business, for which he builds custom shocks for about 100 other drivers throughout North Carolina and beyond.
He hopes the two-time win will help boost his status as an up-and-coming driver and, perhaps, open some doors that will help elevate his racing career.
McCall won his first UARA title in 2005. For the 2009 season, he ran two different Pistone LTO cars: the No. 23 Denver Marine Chevy, owned by Tom Pistone, and the No. 51 "I Dig Pigs" Ford, owned by Jerry Moody.
The biggest win of the 16-race series came while at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he led 97 of the 106-lap race. Another highlight was the 177-lap race at Hickory Motor Speedway, where he chose to start last out of 32 drivers for a shot at winning double the prize money. It wasn't a race for points, and McCall ended up winning, taking home $14,007.
McCall would maintain the point lead until his fourth race at Tri County Motor Speedway in Hudson. After a June win at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, he would never give up the point lead again.
"We started off really, really strong," McCall said. "Almost every time you go to the track you want to win, but, all in all, it was a pretty stellar year."
The two-time victory could serve as a stepping stone into the larger arena of the Craftsman truck series or even NASCAR.
"It's a pretty significant accomplishment," McCall said. "It makes your stock value higher as a driver, and it gets the attention of sponsors and owners. It helps keep you in the mix to get to the NASCAR level."
His crew chiefs, one of whom likens him to NASCAR's Denny Hamlin, praise his work ethic, dedication and talent - assets they say will serve him well no matter how his future unfolds.
"I've been doing this for about 15 years, and he's by far the most talented driver I've ever worked with," said Jonathan Morrison, McCall's crew chief for the No. 23 car. "He just has an unbelievable feeling for the car. Any adjustment he recommends is usually perfect."
Because McCall races in a touring series, he gets exposed to more than a dozen tracks, which ultimately gives him the opportunity to become a better racer.
"He learns to adapt and win at a variety of tracks and on a variety of racing surfaces and that puts him ahead of a lot of other racers," Morrison said. "It was not a dream season by no means - we definitely had our ups and downs. We had a lot of pressure on us at the end, points got close, it was very competitive, but the end result was more than favorable."
Wendell Davis, McCall's crew chief for the No. 51 car, has been around racing his whole life. He praised the young driver's determination and talent, and said it has rubbed off on the whole team.
"I was around Denny Hamlin in his late model years and Matt, to me, is just as good as he ever was," Davis said. "He's just the type of person who's always going to give 125 percent, and he's made me and our crew better because he picked up our level of racing."
In the nearly three years McCall has been with the Ford team, he has helped bring the team to its highest level since the team formed in the late 1990s, Davis said.
"He's unbelievable," said Davis. "He's just a full package. He's the most complete driver I've ever seen. He can build his own car, he can do it all. He's the most well-balanced driver and he adapts anywhere he goes - 15 minutes on any track, and he can tell you the fastest way around it."