Day Motor Sports Driver Profile: Junior McCall working for a return to Victory Lane

CRANDALL, Texas — All season long, year after year, racers spend countless hours in the shop and tons of their hard-earned money on parts and pieces for a chance to land in Victory Lane. Winning races, after all, is the common goal they all share, no matter what the age, division or ability level.

For 33-year-old Factory Stock and Limited Modified pilot Albert McCall Jr. (known simply as Junior), the 2023 season saw several strong runs but no trip to Victory Lane. In 47 combined starts between the two classes, McCall earned 10 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes. For 2024, he’s after more feature wins.

“Last year was a little tough from the Factory Stock point of view,” McCall said. “We started the year in a car with a lot of character chassis-wise; it had been tweaked, bent and all but destroyed. If the track was heavy, you couldn’t catch that car. But the second it turned off slick, we were in big trouble.

“I drive for the Dodson family, and I eventually convinced them to build a new car. So about 80 percent of the way through 2023, we had a new one. Unfortunately, our first five starts in it weren’t very pretty. We just never could earn a good starting position, and were always fighting to come up from the back.”

It’s not always the equipment, often it’s the circumstances surrounding a driver that ultimately dictates where he or she will finish at night’s end.

“Starting so deep in the field, the car was basically used up by the time I got anywhere near the top five. So our results last year don’t accurately reflect how we ran, most of it was spent battling up through the field. Yet the Dodson family is a big blessing to me, I can’t complain at all about them.”

Now in his 18th year on the dirt ovals, McCall has paid his dues and put up some impressive numbers.

“I got my start at 85 Speedway in the old Cruiser division,” McCall explained. “We had a big long Olds 88 on an open trailer; it hung off the back by at least four feet. I drove it for two years, then we moved up to what they call the Bomber class. I ran a full season in an old $500 car, and ate up six motors.

“I’ll say my best years in the sport came between 2008 and 2010. I won around 25 features, three track championships, and was winning so often it got to the point where I was bored with it. I didn’t even smile for the Victory Lane photos. That was at the old Grand Prairie, which became Mountain Creek.”

Yet even after that level of success, life came calling and took him away from the sport.

“I took a little time off around 2016 or so. At the time there were other priorities in life, but I missed it badly and eventually got involved again. It’s hard to stay away when the house you buy is so close to two tracks that you can hear the engines roar through the woods.”

Wherever McCall unloads the Factory Stock he drives for the Dodson family or his own Limited Mod, the level of competition is nearly off the charts.

“This area is loaded with heavy hitters everywhere you look,” McCall said. “We have guys like Cody Smith, Kyle Wilkins, and Jeff Shepperd, who is on a different level than all of us right now.

“Really, I’ll say it’s so tough out there right now if you finish inside the top four in Limiteds, you’ve done something that night. And it’s the same thing in the Factory Stocks here in North Texas; they’re both very tough.”

When McCall suits up and gets ready to compete, he climbs into two very well-built racing machines.

“The Factory Stock I drive is a 2023 Enslin Chassis, it has all the latest parts and pieces,” he said. “It’s powered by a strong motor from Bullets Racing Engines, just like I have in my Limited Modified. That chassis is a 2021 Clonch chassis, but it’s been cut up and updated a ton since we got it in our shop.

“Both cars are top-notch rides and I know how lucky I am to have them. We have nice equipment here, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I’m grateful and appreciative for every opportunity I have. When a man puts his faith in you, the last thing you want is to let him down. I’m truly blessed with these cars.”

Along with his years of experience and top-notch race cars, McCall has a long list of solid supporters.

“I need to thank a ton of people for making this happen, including Scott and Deb Dodson at Hilltop Lanes, my primary sponsor; FS car co-owner George Luetdke at Luedtke Fireworks; Billy Vest at Dirt Defender; Wicked Fast Transmissions; JW Chassis Works; Hangover Motorsports; Shawn Graham at Hitman Designs; Tamales by Jana Jett; Guest Tire and Wheel; along with K&S Tire and Wheel.

“I’d also like to thank my wife, mother, father and crew member Mike Sierra for standing by me through it all, highs and lows. Without the love and support of my family and dependable help, there’s no way I would be doing this. It takes a lot of support and dedicated help to make this all happen.”

With the season openers at most tracks in North Texas still a ways off, McCall has time to prepare and finalize his plans for a new year.

“I kind of feel like I have something to prove this year,” he said candidly. “I had my Glory Days back in the day, but now it’s time to go out and prove I can still win some races. I plan to run the Limited more this year than we did in 2023, for one thing.

“I’ll probably focus on RPM Speedway here in Crandall, just because it’s so close to the house. We’ll venture out a bit to Rocket a bit when we can, and may try to get back down to Boothill if we can. The level of competition there is hard-core; but you have to race against the best to learn and improve.”

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer

Photo by Mike Frieri