Chad McCumbee endured an odd mixture of positives and negatives during the Aaron’s 250 at Florence Motor Speedway on Saturday to bring home a third place finish, which was his best run of the 2020 Solid Rock Carriers CARS LMSC Tour season to date.
McCumbee was determined to finally break through for his first CARS LMSC Tour victory in the series’ first visit to Florence, but was relieved that he and his team were able to put together a complete race despite some misfortunes throughout the day.
“This is really rewarding,” McCumbee said. “I was actually mad after the race because I thought we really had a car that could win tonight, but I’m blessed that we were in a position to race. We haven’t had an amazing season, but the speed has definitely been there.”
McCumbee’s Saturday began to unravel during his qualifying run when a throttle linkage issue caused him to lose control of his car going in Turn 3. With Florence having no walls in the turns and on the backstretch, McCumbee only suffered minor damage as he slid into the runoff area.
Once track crews retrieved McCumbee’s car, he proceeded to go around the track the wrong way to restart his qualifying run. Despite getting mud and grass on his tires in the spin, McCumbee still managed to put down a time of 17.920, which placed him sixth out of 21 cars.
McCumbee and his team worked feverishly to repair the carburetor, throttle linkage and other parts of the car before the start of the 125-lap LMSC feature, but he considers himself fortunate that no one had to fix an entire car after his mishap in qualifying.
“When I was driving the rig around [Florence], I had a real nice view of how steep it was off Turn 4,” McCumbee said. “I thought this would be a bad place to hang a throttle, but it’s actually a perfect place to hang a throttle. If there was a wall in Turn 4, I wouldn’t have been racing.”
With McCumbee having to go to the rear of the field due to his adjustments after qualifying, he elected to conserve his equipment during the opening 40-lap stretch by riding around at the tail end of the lead lap.
Tire conservation would not be enough to spare McCumbee from a major accident on Lap 42 that started when Mini Tyrrell got turned around by Lee Pulliam coming off Turn 4. McCumbee checked up to avoid the spinning cars, but received damage to his right-rear quarter panel.
Instead of pitting to repair the damage, McCumbee maintained his track position and found himself in a tight battle with Timothy Peters for the lead. McCumbee’s car ended up fading as the run progressed and he was forced to settle for third after getting passed by Nolan Pope, who went on to win the race.
Despite coming up short of a win, McCumbee said that the third place showing at Florence is a much-needed confidence booster for his team as they prepare to chase a $30,000 paycheck in the Old North State Nationals at one of McCumbee’s favorite tracks in Greenville-Pickens Speedway.
“Greenville has been a good track for us in the past,” McCumbee said. “We ran really fast there in a Super when they first paved it, and we almost won a CARS Tour race there before in a Late Model. I think the new pavement will present a few new challenges from what we’ve seen in years past, but I’m certainly looking forward to going there.”
The Old North State Nationals at Greenville-Pickens are scheduled to take place from Oct. 24-25.