Forgoing right-hand turns to battle only turning left, Sean Rayhall is making the most of his first-full season racing on short-track ovals.
A former open-wheel champion with a determination to parlay his current short-track success into a professional-racing career, Rayhall has won five-of-seven Young Lions feature races in just his first season competing in Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder.
Coming off the biggest result in his career, a first-place finish in the Legends Million Semi-Pro/Young Lions A-Main feature and accompanying $25,000 pay out, Rayhall returns to Atlanta this week to focus on his first points championship in a short-track Legends racing series.
And with just a 23-point lead and battling his friend and fellow Winston-resident Mason Massey, Rayhall may alter his strategy in the final three weeks to keep Massey at bay.
"With how the point system is, it can be very difficult to build a huge lead," explained the 15-year old Rayhall. "For finishing second you only lose three points to the winner, so right now I just need to keep my nose clean, don't get a DNF (did not finish), have no disqualifications and finish in the top-two positions. It's not all about winning the rest of these races, but rather making sure I secure the points championship without any issues."
And while he is competing with his friend for the title, the chance to compete with Massey is a new opportunity for Rayhall that he is enjoying.
"Mason and I go way back and we've always been good friends," Rayhall continued. "We ran about four Bandolero races against each other when I was 10, but that's pretty much it because we've always been competing in different forms of racing otherwise. But it is pretty awesome to be competing with him now for a championship."
While Rayhall has quickly shown he has the ability and on-track intelligence to dominate races in most any fashion, one of his greatest assets may be his timing and control during starts and restarts. Starting at the rear of the field as the Young Lions points leader, Rayhall often darts past swaths of competitors to start each race and surge towards the front.
"Success on starts and restarts is an advantage of mine," said Rayhall. "I have a few secrets and tricks up my sleeve during restarts in Atlantathat can help me to get the best of the other drivers."
Because of his quick success at Atlanta and his significant win at the Legends Million, Rayhall has already begun to garner the attention of many within the racing community.
"The success in the Legends Million race has already resulted in plenty of phone calls and future opportunities," said Rayhall. "A bunch of people have been excited and stoked and thrilled because of the television time. It kind of made many people at home and those that follow on the internet realize that, 'He's the real deal'."
In fact, Rayhall turned down an opportunity to compete in a USAR Pro Cup ride in Iowa this upcoming weekend in an attempt conclude his 2010 Thursday Thunder season with the Young Lions championship.
"Right now, I'm just focused on winning the championship," said Rayhall.