Milwaukee: Round 11 preview

Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate McCumbee gets chance to shine despite setback DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 19, 2006) -- Chad McCumbee (No. 08 U.S. Restoration Chevrolet) is a believer in serendipity. Just when life was handing the ...

Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate McCumbee gets chance to shine despite setback

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 19, 2006) -- Chad McCumbee (No. 08 U.S. Restoration Chevrolet) is a believer in serendipity.

Just when life was handing the 21-year-old North Carolina resident lemons, McCumbee squeezed out lemonade -- and how.

McCumbee, on foot after his original team cut back its NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule earlier this month, got the seat in Green Light Racing's Chevrolet when the original driver backed out of his commitment to drive the truck at Texas Motor Speedway.

Enter McCumbee, who'd been knocking on Green Light general manager Bobby Dotter's door for several days.

McCumbee, a go-kart, Allison Legacy and ARCA RE/MAX Series graduate who earned 15 minutes of fame when he portrayed Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the ESPN biopic "3," took the bit in his teeth and charged to a career-best, ninth-place finish in the Sam's Town 400.

His performance was a personal best and Green Light's top finish on a superspeedway.

Owner Gene Christensen and Dotter were particularly impressed with McCumbee's efforts during a late-race restart on which the driver was 10th -- but on older tires than his pursuers.

"I knew everybody behind me had [new] tires but I wanted a top 10," he said. "A hole opened up in front of me and away we went. I think if we'd have had a fifth or sixth but we ran out of laps. You always want more."

McCumbee quickly was promoted from substitute to fulltime driver beginning with last week's event at Michigan International Speedway where he finished 18th and solidified his No. 3 position in Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings.

He'll make his next appearance in Friday's Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200.

"I believe things happen for a reason," said McCumbee. "That's how my whole career has been. You'll get down in a valley and something comes along and helps you."

McCumbee didn't think of racing as much more than a hobby until his talents were praised by Donnie Allison, one of NASCAR's legendary competitors. "He said, 'hey kid, you can do this for a career,'" said McCumbee.

McCumbee agrees that his career will be based on what he does on four wheels -- and not what he did in front of a movie camera. He took on the movie role as a means of promoting himself. McCumbee never took acting lessons and just did what came naturally.

"I didn't have to act; I just played myself," he said. As for the critics, McCumbee added, "Everybody said I did real good."

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Donnie Allison , Chad McCumbee