Chad McCumbee Overcomes Exhaust Leak To Win His First Myrtle Beach 400by Hunter Thomas November 18, 2018 0 comments
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – After being exposed to carbon monoxide at the halfway break on Saturday night at Myrtle Beach Speedway, Chad McCumbee charged to the front to win his first Myrtle Beach 400.
McCumbee started the 26th running of the Myrtle Beach 400 in the 13th position. While he kickoff the prestigious race mid-pack, McCumbee’s experience had him quickly moving forward. By the halfway break on lap 125, McCumbee sat in the fifth position.
“It was eventful, uneventful and it was a pretty wild night,” McCumbee said. “I wasn’t very happy with our car all weekend long. That being said, it was the most consistent car we’ve ever had here in practice. It just didn’t have the speed that I wanted it. We made a couple of last-ditch efforts and found a little speed qualifying. It was all up in the air and then just riding around there trying to position myself with the guys that I knew were going to be factors. At the end of the first 125 (laps), we were right there.”
While McCumbee had raced his way to fifth by the halfway mark, there was one major problem. Just prior to the completion of the first half of the race, McCumbee’s car suffered an exhaust leak, which allowed large amounts of carbon monoxide to enter the cockpit. Disoriented, McCumbee fought to just get to the halfway break. Once parked, he jumped out of the car and was treated by medical staff that was on-site.
“The biggest problem was that there was an exhaust leak with like 50 (laps) to go in the first half, and I’ve never been so disoriented in a race car,” McCumbee said. “That was about the limit, so that was the only change that I asked for. Just fix that, the car is close.”
McCumbee added and said, “If we hadn’t fixed it, there’s no way that I would’ve been able to make it. Heck, I never drank any water because it was so cold tonight. Heat was never a factor or anything else. I’ve never dealt with that.”
Once the crew fixed the leaking exhaust, it was like McCumbee hit a switch as he went from being a top-five contending driver to competing for the win. The latter stage of the race featured a long green flag run to the finish, and that’s when McCumbee was able to set the pace once he got out in front of the field. Corey Heim charged towards the lead, but he wasn’t able to catch McCumbee. In the end, McCumbee won by a large margin to capture hist first Myrtle Beach 400 victory.
“The 78 (Corey Heim) was amazing,” McCumbee said. “Even when we first went, that’s when the exhaust broke, I didn’t have the pace that he had, but I knew the only chance I had, was to dictate the pace and ride the way my car needed to drive, and I really think that was the difference. I was able to save the tire that I needed to save. I was able to get into the position that I needed to get in and avoid the position that I didn’t want to be in. I’m amazed at how good that thing was at the end. We’ve not had a race car like that in a long time.”
Heim started the race on the outside of pole-sitter, Layne Riggs. He led a good portion of the first half of the 250-lap race. At the halfway mark, Heim was the leader. Once back to green, he got held up in traffic and fell way back in the pack. Charging towards the front to challenge for the lead, Heim burned up too much time and too much tire. He was able to make it to second, but he wasn’t able to challenge McCumbee for the race win without a late-race caution to bunch the field back together. That caution never came, and the bridesmaid of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 once again finished second in another prestigious NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model event.
“We had a great car tonight,” Heim said. “Conserved my tires perfectly for the entire stage. I guess for the first half of the race, we conserved our tires really good. Kept track position the entire time and was first at the break, and just that entire second time, we were just falling back, because we were stuck behind I don’t know who, so we were just falling back more and more and more, and we just got back to like, probably 20th at one point, so we were really far back.
“I felt good if we could have just kept that track position in like the top-10 or something, I would’ve been able to conserve my tires for a little bit longer and made a good run at the end there, but I just spent so much time getting through the field for the last 50 laps that my right rear was gone with like 10 (laps) to go.”
After starting the race in 11th, Ryan Millington fought his way to a solid third-place finish. The North Carolinian challenged for the lead for a few laps following the halfway break, but he came up short for the victory. The competitive performance marks Millington’s best-career finish in the prestigious event.
“We started the race 11th and worked my way up into the top-10 throughout the first 50 laps, and then after that, we had a few problems and fell way back,” Millington said. “We ended the first half of the race in 24th, and we made quite a few changes at the halfway break, and they were all positive, so that’s a good thing.
“We started 24th at the halfway break, and I just started pushing for three-wide coming down the frontstretch, because that’s really the only way you can pass when everybody is double-file. It worked out, I didn’t get into any wrecks and really put any marks on the car, so that’s a good thing. We worked our way all the way up to second about lap, I’m thinking 190 or so. I ran second and challenged for the lead for a few laps, but overall, it was a great night.”
Completing the top-five on Saturday were Tommy Lemons Jr. and Peyton Sellers. Rounding out the top-10 were Will Burns, Bradley McCaskill, Lucas Williams, Jacob Heafner and Timothy Peters.