The 2020 CARS Solid Rock Carriers Late Model Stock Car Tour season will have strong representation from Myrtle Beach Speedway, as veterans Chad McCumbee and Matt Cox will team up to contest for a championship in the series.
Although McCumbee has sporadically competed in the CARS LMSC Tour since the series’ inception in 2015, he believes that everyone at Robert Elliott Racing is more than prepared to field race-winning Late Models for both himself and Cox in every single race on the schedule.
“The CARS Tour is something that we’ve had our eye on during the last few years,” McCumbee said. “We had to figure out what we needed to do to make that work, and we finally put everything together over the offseason, so I’m pretty excited about everything.”
A diverse schedule has prevented McCumbee from being a full-time competitor in Late Models during recent seasons, but he was able to participate in a handful of events at Myrtle Beach in 2019 while also making room for three starts in the CARS LMSC Tour.
McCumbee completed all but one lap in those three attempts, which included a sixth-place finish in the Heritage Truck Centers 250 at Motor Mile Speedway, and a strong showing in the Solid Rock Carriers Crystal Coast 125 at Carteret County Speedway that saw him finish 10th after he started on the pole and led 72 laps.
Cox competed alongside McCumbee in all three of those races but did not experience the same amount of consistency as his teammate, with his season-best finish of 17th at Carteret County occurring after a mechanical failure sidelined him on the 103rd lap of the race.
The 2015 Myrtle Beach Speedway Late Model track champion enjoyed the atmosphere provided by the CARS LMSC Tour in his select appearances to date, but his focus for 2020 is to move forward from the shortcomings he experience during the previous year and to put his #51 Aarons Sales & Lease Ford at the front of the field as he battles for a title and Rookie of the Year honors.
“We had a lot of bad luck,” Cox said. “Our car was fast at several places, but we had something break in qualifying at Carteret, and we cut a right front tire down at Motor Mile after 40 laps. We did finish second at Myrtle Beach twice last year, but we’ve just had a lot of things go against us and hopefully we can shake all of that off this year.”
The 2020 CARS LMSC Tour schedule will feature a return visit to Carteret County, but will also include tracks that McCumbee and Cox are less familiar with, such as two trips each to Orange County Speedway and Hickory Motor Speedway.
McCumbee himself does not have any race in particular circled on his calendar, but he added that having Cox as a teammate will make Robert Elliott Racing stronger for marquee races in the CARS LMSC Tour like the Throwback 276 at Hickory and the Old North State Nationals at Orange County.
“It’s great having someone to bounce ideas off of,” McCumbee said. “The CARS Tour is so competitive, and we’re certainly going to go out there and do the best that we can, and having a second car out there helps in that regard, especially if you’re going to a place that you don’t have any notes on. One car can try one thing, and the other one can try something else.”
Cox himself is looking forward to visiting Hickory in March and August after not competing at the historic short track in nearly a decade, but he also wants to be a part of the stellar 28-car field that battle it out for a $30,000 paycheck in the Old North State Nationals.
Although Cox would love to compete for wins every single week, he understands that achieving that goal will require patience and dedication to maximizing the potential of the Robert Elliott Racing Late Models, which will go up against former CARS LMSC Tour champions Josh Berry, Bobby McCarty and Deac McCaskill in every single race.
“It would mean a lot to win a CARS Tour race, but we’ve set realistic goals heading into the year,” Cox said. “Hopefully we can run inside the Top 10 to start with, then work our way into the Top 5 once we get a grasp on things. If we win one, that’s great, but if we don’t, then being competitive every week would be a good accomplishment for us as well.”
Like Cox, McCumbee knows the challenges that lay in front of him for his first full-time CARS LMSC Tour season, but he is confident that his #16 Aarons Sales & Lease Ford will consistently mix it up with the rest of his fellow Touring 12 competition and emerge as a championship contender when the series heads to South Boston Speedway for its finale in September.
“It’ll be an uphill battle competing with the regulars,” McCumbee said. “We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think we had a chance at multiple race wins. We’re going to take everything race-by-race and try not to worry too much about the future, but if we can do a good job every week, then we’ll be there contending for the title at the end.”
McCumbee and Cox will make up a solid field for the CARS LMSC Tour season-opener at Southern National Motorsports Park on March 7, where the duo finished 14th and 20th respectively in the 2019 edition of the event.
Cover photo by Jaden Austin.