Chad McCumbee added his name to the list of Myrtle Beach 400 winners, overcoming adversity and holding off a hard-charging youngster to win the 26th running of the Late Model Stock crown jewel.
McCumbee, a veteran of the NASCAR National Series ranks who now runs a limited Late Model schedule in between dates for his newfound successful career in road racing, suffered a broken exhaust during the first half of the 250-lap feature. The halfway break allowed the McCumbee Elliott Racing team to repair the exhaust.
“We’ve got to give a big shoutout to the good Lord above,” McCumbee said in victory lane. “The exhaust broke about 25 to go in the first segment. We made it to the halfway break, the guys fixed it up. They did an amazing job to get that fixed.”
With the mechanical drama behind him, McCumbee made it his mission to set the pace for the second half. McCumbee quickly worked from fifth to the lead on lap 140, and remained at the front of the field for the duration of the second half.
“I feel like the biggest thing is trying to dictate the race,” McCumbee said. “That’s what I tried to do the second half.”
The key to McCumbee’s success was maintaining momentum on the high line. While Justin Johnson and Dexter Canipe Jr. challenged throughout the second half, McCumbee held them off with his advantage in the second groove. The higher line also allowed McCumbee to preserve his tires on the abrasive Myrtle Beach racing surface, giving him something at the end to hold off a late-race charge from Corey Heim.
“The top seemed to work extremely well tonight,” McCumbee said. “I’ve been able to do it time and time again to win races. I felt like rolling the top was the way to go. I was able to save tire a little bit. I had so much tire at the end.”
Heim showed speed throughout the first half of the race, leading at the halfway break. He settled in the top ten for most of the first half before surging to the lead.
“It started out really good,” Heim said. “We kept that top-ten track position we needed. I guess you could say we won that first stage, if you want to put it that way. We had a great car and I conserved my tires perfect through that entire stage.”
The plan for Heim was to execute the same strategy in the second half, but track position did not work out in his favor.
“That entire second half we were just falling back because we were stuck behind I don’t know who,” Heim stated. “We were falling back more and more and more. We got back to 20th at one point. If we had kept the track position in the top ten we would have been able to conserve my tires a little bit longer and make a run at the end. I had to spend so much time getting through the field in the last 50 laps, my right rear was gone with ten to go. I was just holding on for my life. I can’t blame it on anyone but myself.”
While it wasn’t a win, it was another strong run for Heim in Late Model Stock Cars. Just a couple of weeks removed from his first career Super Late Model win with the CARS Response Energy Tour at South Boston Speedway (VA), Heim picked up another runner-up finish to match his second-place effort in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA).
“We try to pick select races that will give me a lot of publicity,” Heim said about his Late Model Stock efforts in Lee Pulliam-prepared cars. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and this team, so we try to pick the best races for me to get a lot of publicity. I seem to be getting a good amount. I can’t thank this team enough for giving me fast cars. Everywhere we’ve gone, it’s a rocket. South Boston, Martinsville, and now here, we’re fast everywhere.”
The Myrtle Beach 400 nearly wraps up the Late Model Stock season, with only one event remaining on the 2018 calendar. Those in the discipline looking for one last shot at a win will go to Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) next weekend for the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic.
Race fans who missed Saturday’s Myrtle Beach 400 can click here to visit our Trackside Now updates and relive all the action from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
– Zach Evans, Speed51.com
Myrtle Beach 400 – Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC)
|4||27||Tommy Lemons, Jr.|
|18||5C||Dexter Canipe, Jr.|