Records fell at the hands of the Multimatic drivers with Billy Johnson setting a new qualifying best for the track at a 1:26.46, and 16 year-old Austin Cindric becoming the youngest driver to ever win a race in the Continental Tire SportsCar Championship (CTSC). Unfortunately a perfect race meeting was spoiled by an incident that resulted in Scott Maxwell being taken out of the race in a massive wreck that destroyed the No. 15.
After securing the pole on its debut at Watkins Glen with Maxwell behind the wheel, the No. 15 GT350R-C made it two in a row at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park but this time with Johnson doing the honors. To underline the outstanding performance of the new Mustang the No. 158 lined-up beside its sister car, Jade Buford turning a 1:27.18 to lock down the front row for Ford.
The Multimatic cars led the early going, challenged by only the No. 13 Rum Bum Porsche, as the top three pulled away from the rest of the field. An early yellow - before the mandatory minimum drive time of 45 minutes - saw the Multimatic crew split strategy and bring the No. 15 in for left side tires and fuel while the No. 158 was left out to cover all possible outcomes. This split the field but Johnson was able to quickly pass all of the cars that chose to stay out, up to the back bumper of his race leading teammate, having been first out of the lane amongst the cars that had pitted.
The two Fords continued to lead the race with the only action being a pass made by Johnson on Buford for the lead as the former took advantage of his fresh rubber. The No. 158 strategy looked solid as the race became a one-stop possibility due to the number of fuel saving cautions. However yet another yellow flag at just over an hour into the race threw everybody’s strategy into disarray as all of the lead cars pitted for fuel, tires and driver changes at least eight laps shy of being able to make the finish. All of the leaders were now aligned and it was a race to the end relying on at least one more caution to make it on fuel. Unfortunately it was Maxwell that provided the required fuel-saving respite, as he was hit hard in the left rear in corner four causing the No. 15 to spear off into the tire wall, being comprehensively destroyed as a result. Luckily Maxwell walked away unscathed other than being deeply upset by the blatant aggressiveness of the competitor that had hit him.
With 45 minutes to go Cindric made an easy pass on the No. 6 Stevenson Camaro and started chasing the Rum Bum Porsche. Although the mandated engine restrictor kept the Mustang’s speed in check it was obvious that the No. 158 had a handling advantage over the Porsche and Cindric ran Matt Plumb down and made an excellent pass for the lead with thirty minutes to go. Plumb tried to pursue but ultimately the Porsche used up its tires while the GT350R-C showed its superior chassis performance and ran consistently to the end with Cindric handling the lapped ST traffic like a seasoned veteran, never letting the Porsche get within a couple of seconds while being patient and decisive in his passes of the slower cars.
The highlights of the weekend were pole, outside pole, lap record, fastest race lap, overall win and the youngest driver to ever win a CTSC race... not much more can be said.
The new Ford Shelby GT350R-C Mustang proved its’ potential and there is lots more to come.
Multimatic Motorsports Team Principal, Larry Holt, commented: “The boys at Newman-Haas had a saying for what happened to us this weekend: one with the win and one in the bin. Obviously mixed emotions; I’m very happy that Scott walked away from the shunt, it was huge, a testament to the safety of the cars that Multimatic builds. It’s tough to lose a new car like that and I hope the guy who hit Scotty, in the worst possible place on the track, thinks about it for a long time. Totally stupid and unnecessary; they still hadn’t made their last pit stop, so not remotely in the hunt; Idiot.
“But that is all eclipsed by what Jade and Austin got done. The GT350R-Cs is obviously good but when you start with the ultimate street car it isn’t so difficult; without the mandated restrictor and all the ballast we are carrying they would be incredible. Jade drove a perfect stint, led for a while, voluntarily gave it up to Billy when the No. 15 tires were fresher and then kept the Porsche at bay which was also on newer rubber. And then Austin just made it all look easy, and it really isn’t. Great passes on some top-draw drivers and cars and then kept his cool for half an hour working through the ST cars with Matt breathing down his neck. I can’t say enough about the kid. But the reality is now it’s going to be a busy week for Sean and Jeff and the boys getting a new car built for Lime Rock.”
From: Multimatic Motorsports