COREY McCullagh is using a busy new year racing schedule to fine-tune his car ahead of a South West Conveyancing Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic assault.
The Warrnambool-based driver - the 2018 classic champion - started his post-Christmas block on a successful note, winning the SRA Series round at Avalon Raceway on Boxing Day.
McCullagh, who will race the series' fifth round at Simpson on Tuesday night, said it was a result which boosted the team's morale.
"We built a new car last week and it seemed to make a massive difference," he told The Standard.
"We're still not where we need to be but we're a lot closer than we have been in the last two meetings."
McCullagh said the build was needed to give the Victorian 90 car a competitive edge.
"With the other car we'd done a fair few shows and we kind of got a little bit lost essentially and decided to build a brand new one and immediately it felt a lot different and it responded to the changes," he said.
The father-of-one - son Bentley is five months old - started the A-Main in third spot and worked his way to the front, beating the in-form Brett Milburn and Albury's Grant Anderson.
"We made a few little tweaks and it really showed," McCullagh said.
"The car got better and better as the race went on. It is a really, really fun racetrack. I think Avalon did a really good job.
"My car was set up for the bottom (of the circuit). I kept plugging away and eventually it worked out."
Being a challenger for the classic crown in its 50th edition on January 30 is McCullagh's main goal for the summer.
"There's going to be a lot of cars and some really good drivers - the best in the world essentially - so I think whoever wins this year's classic is going to be well deserving," he said.
"Hopefully we can add another one. It's going to be extremely hard but we'll try our best."
McCullagh said the classic, spread across three nights with a finale on the Sunday, had headline acts which would capture fans and drivers' attention alike.
He rated fellow Warrnambool drivers James McFadden and Jamie Veal - also past classic winners - as the benchmark while he's excited to compete against the American contingent including Brad Sweet, Carson Macedo and Sheldon Haudenschild.
"It is going to be a super competitive classic in my opinion, as a race fan as well it's going to be really exciting to watch those guys," he said.
"It will be pretty cool to hopefully be battling them for the win."
Meanwhile, Veal will enter speedweek's second round aiming for back-to-back wins.
Veal claimed victory from Tasmanian rising star Jock Goodyer at Murray Bridge on Boxing Day.
He winner will race at Mount Gambier on Wednesday night.
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