Chris Mitchum - 2002 SCCS Champion. BRASELTON, GA - Chris Mitchum, a 26 year-old road racer from Reston, VA, entered the debut season of the Stock Car Championship Series (SCCS) expecting to be the second driver on an under-funded race team. By...
Chris Mitchum - 2002 SCCS Champion.
BRASELTON, GA - Chris Mitchum, a 26 year-old road racer from Reston, VA, entered the debut season of the Stock Car Championship Series (SCCS) expecting to be the second driver on an under-funded race team. By the final race of the season, he had climbed from last-to-first in the points to become the first champion on the new stock car road racing series.
The 2002 SCCS driving title is Mitchum's first professional motorsports championship. A 1988 James Madison University graduate, with a BS in Entrepreneurship, Mitchum began going to road races with his father, a driver and mechanic, at the age of five. By age 12 Chris was an over-the-wall mechanic.
Chris began driving in the Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series (MARRS) at Summit Point, WV. Since then, he has honed his skills as an endurance road racer by competing in the 24-Hours of Daytona and the 12-Hours of Sebring.
"We started out the year hoping to be a two-car team. I wasn't even supposed to be the number one driver," Mitchum said. "After the first race, we realized that the Stock Car Championship Series had so much promise we decided to invest all of our efforts to it. We weren't positive that our budget could get us wins. But from the very start our goal was to win this championship."
Mitchum's climb to the championship began at the bottom. Following a last-place finish in a rented car in the first race of the season, the Moonshine Run at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC, Chris began a string of top five finishes in his family-owned Koons Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Entering the eighth and final event of the season, the DRP Holiday Run at Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA, Chris was tied with three-time SCCS winner John Martin III for the series points lead.
"As the year went on, when we got to the track it seemed that we had a good car. It was always competitive but never the fastest car on the track," Chris said. "We had a competitive car at every race and we raced as hard as we could at every race. The first lap on the track this weekend - the car was the best it's ever been. That's exactly what we needed to win this championship."
In a series that combined racers from ovals as well as road racing, it was not a surprise that a road racer won the first championship. But, the champion was surprised at how quickly the oval racers became competitive at turning left and right.
"I started the season thinking that we (road racers) would be leaps and bounds beyond the oval guys. But, I discovered that the oval racers have competitive pieces and it doesn't take much for them to learn how to turn right," Chris said. "I started driving momentum cars and got used to keeping up momentum in the corners. That's important in these SCCS cars. I'm used to an endurance race - six hours or more. All our team did was to break down these features into segments just like an endurance race. The key is to know when to press an advantage on a road course."
Chris Mitchum will receive the winner's share of over $20,000 in point fund awards as the 2002 Stock Car Championship Series driving champion. The SCCS banquet is to be held in January, 2003.