McCumbee & Gallagher Score First Win of the Year in Ford Mustang GT4
WATKINS GLEN, NY – Courtesy of Ford Performance – After almost winning at Mid-Ohio, Chad McCumbee and Pat Gallagher made it to the top of the podium for the first time together in a Ford Mustang GT4 at the Continental Tire 240 at Watkins Glen International.
The two combined to earn the Mustang GT4’s third win in a row after starting on the front row at p2, next to the pole-winning No. 80 Mustang GT4 and driver Brett Sandberg.
“This is the most competitive sportscar series I’ve ever been a part of,” McCumbee said. “The intensity and talent throughout this field is second-to-none, and to win like we did today, it was really convincing. It’s great for ModSpace, Multimatic, everybody on our side and the Good Lord above. This is big. I feel like it’s probably one of the biggest moments of my road course career, coming over from stock cars.”
The No. 80 dominated early before getting turned into a tire wall halfway through the race. Sandberg and co-driver Martin Barkey finished 15th.
“Two podiums in a row, a second and a first, is great,” Gallagher said. “Multimatic has been giving us great cars to get some results, so we’ll keep it rolling. I really wanted to win at Mid-Ohio because it’s my home track, but Watkins Glen is one of my favorites also.
“We had a rough start to the year, but we’ll just keep trying to put this ModSpace Mustang in the middle step in the podium and see where we end at the end of the year.”
Nate Stacy and Kyle Marcelli, who won the second and third Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series races in a row at Sebring and Mid-Ohio, finished third in the No. 60 Scudo Mustang GT4.
“It was a crazy race,” Stacy said. “We started back in p7 and Kyle had worked his way up to p5 by the time I got the car. Thanks to some hard battling we got up to p3. It was a long stint. We doubled up in the middle. Overall, a really good run. Three podiums in a row, so I can’t complain. Good run overall and we can’t wait for the next race.”
Stacy and Marcelli drove one of two Ford Mustang GT4s that carried special patriotic paint schemes in honor of the U.S. Independence Day holiday for KohR Motorsports. Both were inspired by colors made famous by military war planes. The No. 59 Mustang campaigned by KohR finished 20th after retiring early, with suspected damage from earlier contact.
Ford NASCAR development driver Ty Majeski returned to IMSA competition with co-driver and mentor Scott Maxwell in the No. 15 Multimatic GT4. The two finished ninth.
The No. 7 fielded by VOLT Landscape Lighting Mustang GT4 finished 13th after qualifying fifth.
The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series returns next week at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Continental IMSA Reflections: Chad McCumbee
Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week, Chad McCumbee reflects on his transition to sports car racing after a career spent racing on ovals, the significance of his Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class championship, and how racing in that series has set him up for the next stage of his career.
How big of an adjustment was it for you coming from stock car racing to Continental Tire Challenge?
“It was a huge adjustment for me when I moved over from stock cars to a Mazda in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
“Previous to my first Continental Tire Challenge event at Daytona, my only road course experience was at New Jersey Motorsports Park in an ARCA car and one single Mazda MX-5 Cup event at Lime Rock, both in 2011.
“I grew up racing Karts on dirt ovals and had stayed on circle tracks my entire career up through the NASCAR ranks.
“Going from a 3400lb, 800hp stock car to a 200hp Mazda MX-5 weighing around 1000lbs less was a massive adjustment.
“Other than turning right, I had not used a clutch to do much more than get off pit road in the past seven years, nor had I driven a race car with ABS brakes.
“I had to adjust back to a lighter, lower horsepower car, which I had previous success within stock car racing in the Allison Legacy Series. Ironically, the Legacy cars were powered by a Mazda engine.”
What are your memories of your first few races in the series?
“My first few events in the Continental Tire Challenge series were filled with anticipation, excitement, anxiety and, admittedly, bits of frustration.
“I really put a lot of effort into understanding the art of sports car racing and getting acquainted with a totally different arena of motorsports.
“A glimpse of brilliance was almost always followed with a humbling experience to keep me wanting more and pushing harder. Going fast was one thing but developing race craft was another.
“Then there was racing in the wet, which I thought may be like dirt, but quickly realized there was no cushion. There were similarities, but again, a different approach.”
What did winning a ST class championship in the series mean for you?
“Winning the ST Championship in 2015 was a huge milestone not only in my development as a sports car racer but also in my career.
“[Co-driver] Stevan [McAleer] and I had seen success and a chance at a championship in 2014 but misfortune took us out of the running.
“We really developed a tremendous amount of chemistry and had complete focus on winning that title in 2015.
“ModSpace, Mazda and CJ Wilson Racing gave us everything we needed to succeed and it was such a great moment for everyone involved.”
Outside of the championship, what moment or moments stand out for you from your time in sports car racing?
“Aside from the 2015 Championship there have certainly been moments that stand out while in Continental Tire Challenge.
“I mentioned racing in the rain earlier, and Stevan and I winning at Watkins Glen in 2015 was a huge moment for me.
“Wet racing was something I had zero idea about previous to sports car racing so being able to take the lead and drive away to a victory there was very rewarding.
“Later that season, to clinch the championship, I had one of my strongest stints ever in the wet at Road Atlanta.
“The season finale in 2016 was also memorable as we were poised to win another championship in ST.
“Unfortunately the week before the race I broke my wrist. With the injury I was able to qualify 3rd and hang onto the leaders throughout the race.
“We led the race and the championship until a mechanical failure ended our day; it would have been an amazing story if we could have pulled it off.
“This season’s win at Watkins Glen most certainly has to be one of the most memorable moments of my sports car career, however.
“The GS class is stacked with talented drivers and teams throughout the field so being able to get a win in the four hour enduro was huge to say the least.
“I didn’t know what to expect this season moving into a different car, a different team, a different manufacture and with a different co-driver but am so proud of what we accomplished.
“Multimatic is such an amazing team and Patrick [Gallagher] did a great job during the middle of the race to get us out front. It was truly a group effort from everyone at ModSpace, Mazda, Multimatic, and Ford.”
How has the Continental Tire Challenge series helped shape your career?
My time in the series has for sure altered my career course. Becoming a champion and race winner in sports car racing is something I never dreamed of or envisioned 10 years ago, or even five years ago.
“What it has done to my vision now, however, is make me want to get to the top level. Continental Tire Challenge has some of the best drivers and teams in the sport so it gives me confidence that I can compete and be successful in any level.
“That is something I had doubts on if you had asked me in 2012. I have been so blessed and have been shown so much favor from the good Lord above to but me in the path of the right people.
“I am very thankful for my relationship with ModSpace and Mazda who have been the cornerstone to my sports car success.”
Chad McCumbee Masters Myrtle Beach for Marquee Win
MYRTLE BEACH, SC – Chad McCumbee added his name to the list of Myrtle Beach 400 winners, overcoming adversity and holding off a hard-charging youngster to win the 26th running of the Late Model Stock crown jewel.
McCumbee, a veteran of the NASCAR National Series ranks who now runs a limited Late Model schedule in between dates for his newfound successful career in road racing, suffered a broken exhaust during the first half of the 250-lap feature. The halfway break allowed the McCumbee Elliott Racing team to repair the exhaust.
“We’ve got to give a big shoutout to the good Lord above,” McCumbee said in victory lane. “The exhaust broke about 25 to go in the first segment. We made it to the halfway break, the guys fixed it up. They did an amazing job to get that fixed.”
With the mechanical drama behind him, McCumbee made it his mission to set the pace for the second half. McCumbee quickly worked from fifth to the lead on lap 140, and remained at the front of the field for the duration of the second half.
“I feel like the biggest thing is trying to dictate the race,” McCumbee said. “That’s what I tried to do the second half.”
The key to McCumbee’s success was maintaining momentum on the high line. While Justin Johnson and Dexter Canipe Jr. challenged throughout the second half, McCumbee held them off with his advantage in the second groove. The higher line also allowed McCumbee to preserve his tires on the abrasive Myrtle Beach racing surface, giving him something at the end to hold off a late-race charge from Corey Heim.
“The top seemed to work extremely well tonight,” McCumbee said. “I’ve been able to do it time and time again to win races. I felt like rolling the top was the way to go. I was able to save tire a little bit. I had so much tire at the end.”
Heim showed speed throughout the first half of the race, leading at the halfway break. He settled in the top ten for most of the first half before surging to the lead.
“It started out really good,” Heim said. “We kept that top-ten track position we needed. I guess you could say we won that first stage, if you want to put it that way. We had a great car and I conserved my tires perfect through that entire stage.”
The plan for Heim was to execute the same strategy in the second half, but track position did not work out in his favor.
“That entire second half we were just falling back because we were stuck behind I don’t know who,” Heim stated. “We were falling back more and more and more. We got back to 20th at one point. If we had kept the track position in the top ten we would have been able to conserve my tires a little bit longer and make a run at the end. I had to spend so much time getting through the field in the last 50 laps, my right rear was gone with ten to go. I was just holding on for my life. I can’t blame it on anyone but myself.”
While it wasn’t a win, it was another strong run for Heim in Late Model Stock Cars. Just a couple of weeks removed from his first career Super Late Model win with the CARS Response Energy Tour at South Boston Speedway (VA), Heim picked up another runner-up finish to match his second-place effort in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA).
“We try to pick select races that will give me a lot of publicity,” Heim said about his Late Model Stock efforts in Lee Pulliam-prepared cars. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and this team, so we try to pick the best races for me to get a lot of publicity. I seem to be getting a good amount. I can’t thank this team enough for giving me fast cars. Everywhere we’ve gone, it’s a rocket. South Boston, Martinsville, and now here, we’re fast everywhere."
The Myrtle Beach 400 nearly wraps up the Late Model Stock season, with only one event remaining on the 2018 calendar. Those in the discipline looking for one last shot at a win will go to Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) next weekend for the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic.
Race fans who missed Saturday's Myrtle Beach 400 can click here to visit our Trackside Now updates and relive all the action from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
- Zach Evans, Speed51.com