Chad McCumbee Kicks Off 2011 Season with a Top-10 Finish at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 13, 2011) - Chad McCumbee and his No. 1 Ford team got the 2011 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season off on the right foot with an eighth-place finish in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway Saturday evening.
Race strategy seemed to be the name of the game for McCumbee and his Andy Belmont Racing team and it was something they started even before the drop of the green flag. McCumbee relinquished the 28th starting position to bring his Ford down pit road, which resulted in him, along with a few other teams using the same strategy, to start from the back of the 43 car field.
"You have to be patient," explained McCumbee. "With so many rookies and the inexperience in the field you are watching some scary stuff sometimes. You just never know what is going to happen, so we decided to play it safe for the beginning of the race and let some of the action play out."
It didn't take long for the action to get started as the first caution of the night came out on lap seven. The team took the early yellow as an opportunity to short pit for fuel only. It was a strategy call that would prove to be beneficial for McCumbee as it was his only stop of the night.
The green flag brought the field back to racing on lap nine and McCumbee took the restart from the 22nd position. It didn't take long for the pit strategy to pay off as a lap 19 caution brought several cars to pit road for service. McCumbee kept his Ford on the track and moved into the seventh position.
On the lap 22 restart, McCumbee looked to make a move on the outside but got shuffled back to 16th in only one lap. For the next 43 laps, McCumbee patiently bided his time strategically moving up to the 12th position by the halfway point on lap 40.
The red flag came out on lap 46 after Chad Hackenbracht's No. 58 crashed in turn 4, flipping against the wall. The delay gave McCumbee and his ABR team an opportunity to discuss their strategy for the final shoot-out to the finish.
Several cars decided to come down pit road after the yellow came out to get the field back rolling. McCumbee kept his No. 1 Ford on the track, moving into the ninth position for the lap 51 restart. For the next 10 laps McCumbee reported to his Andy Belmont Racing crew that he was "just riding" to get himself in position to compete for the win.
The final caution of the day came out on lap 64 for a nine car wreck, setting up a shoot-out to the checkered flag. As had been the case for most of the race, passing proved to be difficult. McCumbee held his line on the bottom of the track for the final laps of the race and crossed the finish line in eighth place.
"I am really happy with our run today," said McCumbee. "That finish puts us on the podium among the guys that are going to run for the championship all year. You want to go out there and try to win, but in a race like this you just have to be conservative all race long. Having team owners like Andy and Jennifer Belmont that want to come hire a driver, that's pretty special. It was a good start to the year and we will go do it again in Talladega in a couple of months."
Team Owner Andy Belmont was also very happy with their top-10 finish in the premier event of the ARCA Racing Series season.
"Today was a great start for the No. 1 team and our championship run. To come out of here with a whole race car, there isn't a mark on it, means a lot. We will go home and buff on it and get ready for Talladega. I am excited for the 2011 season."
McCumbee and his team will have some time off before continuing their championship run at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, April 15th for 250 miles of racing action.