Media Coverage

Fighting to the Finish

Fighting to the Finish

October 6th, 2015Courtesy of Miller Racing – The Multimatic Motorsports / Miller Racing team wrapped up its 2015 campaign in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) season finale at Georgia’s Road Atlanta on October 2. The team overcame horrendous weather, an early-race penalty and bad visibility to score fourth- and sixth-place finishes.

The weekend was plagued with heavy rains associated with Hurricane Joaquin, but the team’s pair of Ford Shelby GT350R-Cs were very competitive in the opening practice sessions, with the No. 158 of Jade Buford and Austin Cindric second-fastest in the first session and the No. 15 of Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson second-fastest in the second and third sessions.

All the preparatory work was for naught in qualifying, which was called due to inclement weather and grid positions assigned based on points. As a result, the No. 158 lined up fifth and the No. 15 seventh. With heavy rain teeming down, a last-minute decision to switch the No. 15 from slicks to rain tires at the start of Friday’s 2.5-hour race resulted in a one-lap penalty, giving Maxwell a lot of work to do in bad conditions.

The No. 158 fared better in the opening laps, with Buford moving up through the pack to lead laps 5 through 39 and setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. The bad weather led to a number of on-track incidents with four full-course cautions, however, and the timing of the cautions did not play into the team’s strategy.

Maxwell fought through the traffic with veteran skill, getting the team’s lap back before handing over to Johnson. Johnson drove well, despite battling visibility problems, to finish fourth after 77 laps, a great result considering the early-race penalty and the weather conditions. Cindric took over from Buford in the No. 158, and similarly struggled with visibility problems to soldier home in sixth place.

In the year’s final points tally, Maxwell and Johnson wound up tied for third in the drivers’ championship, with Buford and Cindric tied for sixth. In the teams’ championship, the No. 158 was sixth and the No. 15 eighth (no team points were scored at Virginia International Raceway due to using the No. 51 Ford Mustang Boss 302R after the primary car was damaged in a practice crash). In the manufacturers’ championship, Ford finished third, just three points behind Porsche.

“We tried to change tires on the grid because it was obvious the weather started to turn,” said Maxwell, “but we missed the window and they wouldn’t let us change to rain tires. Even on the pace lap, I could tell it was going to be dangerous on slicks, so I came in at the start of the race, right as it went green. It was the right call, because it was the tire to go on, but they gave us a penalty for it. We went a lap down, but the car was great and I got through the field and caught up to Jade, which was great. I got around him and got back on the lead lap and that was the key to get back in the hunt, but then Billy had some visibility issues. We had a potentially winning car, but I think the visibility killed him. He did a great job to finish fourth, but we were hoping for a podium or a win to end the year. It was still a great result.”

“Finishing fourth felt like a win after the 60-second penalty on top of pitting for wet tires at the beginning of the race,” said Johnson. “Scott drove a great stint to get our lap back, the Multimatic Ford Performance team gave me a great car and we were able to bring the car home in fourth. With a little better visibility, I think we could have contended for the win.”

“I think I’ve had better drives (this year), but it was enjoyable,” said Buford. “The team gave me a great car. We were all arguing before the race what to do, but they made the right call (and sent me out on rain tires). Whoever made the decision made a good one. It was definitely wet weather, so that gave me an advantage. I was able to get the lead and was able to stay there. I think both cars had the potential to finish on the podium today. It just doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. I think it was a pretty awesome season, with debuting the new car and all the poles and podiums and wins we had. I really couldn’t be happier. I hope to do it again.”

“It was looking to be a great day,” said Cindric, “with Jade leading a dominant stint. An untimely caution cost us our lead. As conditions hampered our pace, Billy and I struggled to gain much lost ground. Although sixth isn’t what we wanted, I’ve learned so much this season and can’t thank Multimatic, Ford Performance and all of our supporters enough. Hopefully there’s an opportunity next year to go try and kick some butt again!”

The team will now begin preparations for the 2016 season, which will take the green flag at Daytona International Speedway on January 28-29.

Ian James, the longtime Miller Racing driver who represents Miller Racing team sponsors Total Care Auto and 888DropMyRate in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s GTD class, finished seventh in class with teammates Mario Farnbacher and Alex Riberas in the TUDOR series’ 10-hour Petit Le Mans season finale on Saturday, which was similarly rain-soaked and ended just over two hours early due to the conditions. James and Farnbacher wound up fourth in the final TUDOR GTD driver and team standings.

“What a final race!” said James. “It’s a little bit disappointing to come up just short in the championship race, but what an exciting year: two wins and four podiums in all on the TUDOR side, and all the success with the Mustang program as well. I’m thrilled that we could deliver for 888DropMyRate and Total Care Auto. Great partners deserve success, and I believe we managed to deliver on the track just as they do off the track. I’m very excited to be part of the Miller Racing program, and look forward to 2016.”

The CTSCC race from Road Atlanta will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis on Fox Sports 1 at 9:00 am EDT on Sunday, October 18. IMSA offers mobile apps for both iPhone and Android platforms, available at Google Play and the App Store, respectively, which also provide live timing and scoring among other features.

For more information on Multimatic Motorsports / Miller Racing, visit the team’s website at www.MultimaticMotorsports.com. Fans are invited to follow the team on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MultimaticMotorsports or on Twitter: @millerracingUT and @MultimaticRace (team), @smaxwell27 (Scott Maxwell), @BillyJracing (Billy Johnson), @buforjm (Jade Buford), @AustinCindric (Austin Cindric) and @ijracer1 (Ian James).

About Multimatic Motorsports / Miller Racing: The Multimatic Motorsports / Miller Racing team combines the resources of Canada’s renowned, championship-winning Multimatic Motorsports with the Salt Lake City-based Miller Racing, founded in 2011 by the late Roger Miller. The team fields two Ford Shelby GT350R-C entries in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge’s Grand Sports (GS) class. Driving the No. 15 entry are Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson. The sister No. 158 is co-driven by Jade Buford and Austin Cindric. The team’s commercial partners are Ford Performance, Total Care Auto and 888DropMyRate. Ian James, Roger Miller’s longtime co-driver, represents the team and its sponsors with the No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America in the GTD class of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

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Photo Caption: Multimatic Motorsports/Miller Racing drivers Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson, in the No. 15 Ford Shelby GT350R-C, fought back from a lap down to finish fourth in the season finale for the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) at Georgia’s Road Atlanta on October 2. (Photo courtesy Ford Performance)