But with his recent performance, McKinney is turning into a bona fide star in his own right.
Former world champion Ashley Owens joined the team in the off-season and Steve Drake, who won the first-ever PXM race in the ADRL, was also attendance with McKinney and his team in Martin, Mich.
They all watched another brilliant performance from McKinney, who took a commanding lead in the PXM points race with his third win of 2012 at the Summer Drags VIII.
In the finals, McKinney went 4.073 at 170.15 mph against first-time ADRL finalist Dave Norris, adding another superstar performance to his incredible year.
McKinneyâ€™s team, which includes his uncle, Steve, and his father, Scott, were glad to have Drake, a friend of McKinneyâ€™s father, in attendance for the race, which proved to be another showcase for McKinney.
â€œYouâ€™re only as good as the people surrounding you and, having all that help, they just make my program better and make riding this bike easier,â€ McKinney said. â€œThey keep everything routine and we just keep plugging away. That was an awesome weekend.â€
McKinney and Casey Stemper were in a tight battle for the PXM points lead heading into Martin, but Stemper ran into trouble when his bike had problems during the first round of eliminations, leading to an early exit.
McKinney took advantage, running a 4.108 and 4.119 in eliminations before stepping upeven more in the finals.
â€œIt was unbelievable. We changed some stuff and really stepped it up. Ashley really stepped up the performance on the bike this weekend,â€ McKinney said. â€œThis was a great weekend for us. Casey was first right out of the trailer (in qualifying) and we were just chasing him.â€
Stemper was the No. 1 qualifier to start, but McKinney overtook him on the final qualifying run, going 4.10 at 171.61 mph.
That gave McKinney all the momentum he needed to win the race and extend his points lead in PXM to nearly 600 points heading into Dragstock IX at zMAX Dragway on Aug. 3 and 4.
â€œThat was definitely a confidence-booster, especially to do that in the heat,â€ McKinney said of his 4.10. â€œThereâ€™s nobody easy out there, so everyone has to do their jobs.
McKinney was outstanding on the tree during eliminations, as has always been the case in his career, capped off with .006 and .013 reaction times in the semifinals and finals, respectively.
Constant work on his reaction times away from the track has certainly helped in that regard, but McKinney is always first to praise the job Owens did building the bike, and the job Owens and the rest of the team have done making it a consistent winner.
Oddly enough, it was a year ago in Martin where Owens beat McKinney in the finals, running a 4.009 that was the quickest pass in PXM history at that point.
Of course, he followed that up a month later by going into the 3-second zone and taking the world championship.
McKinney make not visit the 3s in Charlotte, but running 4.07 like he did in Martin with the extra added weight in PXM is certainly impressive.
But the Ohio native wouldnâ€™t mind finishing 2012 like Owens finished his 2011 campaign, and McKinney hopes more standout runs come next week in Charlotte.
â€œThis bike is set-up so well, so everything is routine, consistent and comfortable,â€ McKinney said. â€œThat makes a big difference. I just have to do my job and I donâ€™t want to be the guy who loses it for us.â€