The CARS LMSC Tour’s return to Carteret County Speedway in Swansboro, North Carolina on Saturday has come with much more notoriety and prestige, as over two dozen Late Model competitors are expected to battle it out for the win in the 125-lap feature.
Among the early entries for the Solid Rock Carriers Crystal Coast 125 is Supply, North Carolina native Chad McCumbee, who will be making his first laps around the short track when the gates open for practice on Friday afternoon.
Despite having no experience at Carteret County, McCumbee is not intimidated by the challenges the facility will present to him and his team, as he believes his #16 Robert Elliott Trucking/Jim Whitehead Auto Ford will be strong enough to compete against the regulars of the CARS LMSC Tour.
“Carteret is pretty local to us besides Myrtle Beach and Dillon,” McCumbee said. “We haven’t really had a chance yet to go up there and check it out, but this is a perfect opportunity to do just that. My goal for the short track program this year was for us to venture out to several different places so that we could get better as a team.”
McCumbee admitted that he has been working hard with Elliott over the past several months to try and get their Late Model program back on the right track after struggling with speed and consistency during the first half of 2018.
The dedication of McCumbee and Elliott eventually paid off with more strong runs in the second half of the season leading into the Myrtle Beach 400, where McCumbee managed to secure the most prestigious victory of his Late Model career after dealing with carbon monoxide poisoning and a hard charge from Corey Heim in the closing laps.
The momentum from McCumbee’s win in the Myrtle Beach 400 carried over for Robert Elliott into the 2019 Late Model season with Sam Yarbrough behind the wheel, as he currently holds a 30-point lead over Justin Milliken in the standings after registering four victories.
McCumbee has also noticed that additional speed in the handful of starts that he has made during the season, but he is optimistic that the Solid Rock Carriers Crystal Coast 125 will finally yield him an overdue victory.
“I’ve been really pleased with the way we have run in the races that I have been able to compete in,” McCumbee said. “Unfortunately, I could probably count the starts on my hand because I haven’t been able to run as much as I like. In the races we have been able to run, we’ve been very competitive, but more often than not, we could have finished better than we actually did.”
Along with a fourth-place finish at South Boston on June 15th, McCumbee also has two CARS LMSC Tour starts on his resume for the 2019 season, which included the season-opening Solid Rock Carriers 300 at Southern National Motorsports Park.
McCumbee would finish that race in 14th one lap off the pace, but he rebounded several weeks later at Motor Mile Speedway by coming home in sixth.
McCumbee hopes to improve on his solid finish at Motor Mile by taking home a checkered flag at Carteret County on Saturday evening, but he will have to contend with a plethora of tough competitors that include Josh Berry, Bobby McCarty and Layne Riggs.
McCumbee expects Carteret County to race similarly to Myrtle Beach and South Boston by featuring side-by-side racing throughout the pack, but he stated that the being patient and using caution will be imperative in deciding who gets to race upfront at the end of the event.
“We’re going to see where we stack up,” McCumbee said. “We’re not going to put a whole lot of pressure on ourselves, and that’s really worked out for us so far this year. We’re going to do the best we can do, but I am cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a win.”
McCumbee and the rest of the CARS LMSC Tour field will be able to shake down their cars and get acclimated to the track with three rounds of practice on Friday afternoon. The green flag for the Solid Rock Carriers Crystal Coast 125 will drop following the Mini Stock race on Saturday evening.
Cover photo by Jaden Austin.