(WWLP) – Wreckers to checkers. Two weeks ago the Ford Shelby Mustang of Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell was destroyed in a racing crash in Canada. Two weeks later, with a brand new car built from scratch, the pair started dead last at Lime Rock Park and convincingly won the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Grand Sport race.
Maxwell started the event on the Lakeville, Connecticut mile and a half road course. In a post-race interview, Johnson praised his teammate, saying he did the heavy lifting. “Well he did all the hard work, he had to pass everyone starting from the back.” Maxwell tipped his cap to Johnson when he said, “I think Billy’s probably the best closer in the whole series.” Johnson and Maxwell drive for Multimatic Racing based in Canada.
Party time continued Saturday for Multimatic at Lime Rock as their team of Jade Buford and 16 year old Austin Cindric finished second. Buford & Cindric teamed up for the win 2 weeks ago at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Brad Jaeger and B.J. Zacharias took third.
Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer drove their Mazda to Lime Rock victory lane in the Street Tuner race. Their second win of the season capped a powerhouse weekend for the team as they started from the pole after breaking the track record in qualifying. They also left Lime Rock with a 4 point lead in the championship standings, jumping ahead of the Mazda team of Liam Dwyer and Andrew Carbonell who settled for an 11th place finish. McCumbee talked with 22News about the rhythm of racing, “I was telling my teammate just last night some of the toughest tracks you go to on the NASCAR circuit are the shorter tracks just because it’s such a rhythm place. When you go to Martinsville, it’s all about getting in a rhythm. Lime Rock is absolutely just like that. It’s a very rhythm race track. It’s easy to get out of a rhythm and once you get in the rhythm it’s easy to stay in there and just go fast. I actually look at as a short track in the sports car world and that’s how you kind of approach it. It’s a very nice flowing race track.”
Before the race Dwyer told 22News his #26 team planned to keep doing what they’ve been doing during the second half of the season. “We’re not planning on changing anything as far as drive times, driver strategies, the way I’m driving, the way Andrew’s driving for the rest of the season . What we’ve been doing is right. We have 3 top 5’s this season already with a win. And we’ll be tough to beat if we can continue doing that.”
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Northeast Grand Prix rounded out the day’s action. In the Prototype Challenge, Mike Guasch and Tom Kimber-Smith won their third race of the season. Michael Marsal and Dane Cameron came back from an early race spin to put the Turner Motorsports #97 BMW in victory lane for the 1st time this season in the GT Daytona event.
Two drivers at Lime Rock have NASCAR racing in their backgrounds. Street Tuner winner Chad McCumbee has raced in Sprint Cup, XFINITY, and Camping World Trucks. He told 22News, “NASCAR’s what I know. It’s what I’m comfortable with. I’m still learning sports car racing. And I’ve been doing it now for 3 years. The difference in those 3 years I’ve only ran 30 races, where I would run 30 races in 1 season in NASCAR. So the transition I think takes a little longer. I honestly still run a late model stock car as much as I possibly can down North Carolina, South Carolina, in that southeast region. We’ve got a couple calls lately to maybe go do an XFINITY race or truck race here and there. If the schedule works out that’s what we’re going to do. I’ll go try to have a little bit of fun and just stay current with that stuff. It’s obviously a really important part of my heritage. But the number 1 goal right now is concentrating on this ModSpace Mazda, and trying to move up the ladder in sports car racing. The same thing as when I went into the ARCA ranks and went into the truck ranks. You look at that Sprint Cup garage and that’s where you want to be. The same thing over here. I look over there at the prototypes, you know the GT cars, that’s where you want to be eventually as a driver. But the only way to take care of the future is to take care of the present. So that’s why winning all the races we can and running up front with this team is very important.”
McCumbee also talked about learning Lime Rock Park, “There’s a lot of elevation change. That was probably the biggest transition for me. This is the first place I had run a sports car. The challenge for me was the elevation change. Obviously over the years I’ve gotten used to it, there’s other circuits that have that too.”
Area race fans first watched Rueben Pardo of Mexico City, Mexico compete in the NASCAR Busch East series in 2006. Nine years later Pardo was back at Lime Rock Park in the Continental Tire Series SportsCar Challenge Street Tuner division. Pardo is currently enjoying success racing south of the border. He told 22News, “I’m doing the NASCAR Mexico series. I’m in 3rd place right now. I’m very, very happy with my team. We’re having an awesome year. We started with a win at Phoenix International Raceway at the beginning of the season.” In June 2009 Rueben’s brother, 33 year old Carlos Pardo was killed in a racing accident. He was leading a NASCAR Mexico series event when he crashed with 3 laps to go. Carlos Pardo was declared the race winner. 22News asked Pardo if his family had asked him to reconsider racing after his brother’s death. “No, they know that this is my passion, this is my job. They support me all the time. This is my life. It is still a tragedy for me but I’m learning to live with that.”
Fans sitting in the infield area of LRP saw some of the improvements the facility has been making. There is an expanded seating area on the lawn with an extended view of that portion of the road course where some of the closest racing action can take place. The work is part of the track’s Road To 60 project leading up to Lime Rock’s 60th anniversary in 2017.