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New Ford Shelby GT350R-C Shows Promise at Watkins Glen

New Ford Shelby GT350R-C Shows Promise at Watkins Glen

July 2nd, 2015Courtesy of Miller Racing The debut of the brand-new Ford Shelby GT350R-C by Multimatic Motorsports / Miller Racing in Round 4 of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) at New York’s Watkins Glen International on Saturday, June 27, didn’t produce the desired results, but showed great promise for things to come.

The weekend started off extremely well, with Scott Maxwell qualifying on pole with the No. 15 that he shares with Billy Johnson, while the sister No. 158 of Jade Buford and Austin Cindric clocked in seventh with Cindric at the controls.

The sunny skies in Friday’s qualifying session gave way to light rain at the start of Saturday’s 2.5-hour race which only got worse as the race progressed. Maxwell led away from the pole and swapped the lead back and forth with the No. 13 Porsche 911 in tricky, wet conditions. Following the race’s second full-course caution, Maxwell was assessed a drive-through penalty for jumping the restart, which dropped him to 10th in the order.

“The other driver missed a shift, so I don’t know what I was supposed to do,” said Maxwell. “In the end, it was sort of irrelevant. The car was really, really good in the first 20, 25 minutes, when it was just spitting rain. It was consistent. When the heavy rain started it went away a little bit, but then visibility became a problem.”

Cindric took the opening stint in the No. 158 and, despite having no experience in the rain in this type of car, drove smartly up through the field and made it up to second place before handing off to Buford.

“I had no expectations coming into the race,” explained Cindric. “We started P7 and I’ve never driven a sedan in the wet, and our new Shelby GT350R-C had never been in the wet either, so we were kind of in the same boat. I just kept on working up to it and figured out what worked and what didn’t, and picked them off one-by-one. A few dove down in the pits, and a few I passed. It was a blast, really.”

The last hour of the race thwarted the team’s plans for the new car’s debut, as a 17-minute red flag stopped the proceedings, and then IMSA put the field under caution for the final 13 laps. Buford brought the No.158 home in fourth, but felt he could have done more under green-flag conditions.

“It’s a good day to be disappointed in fourth with the debut of these cars,” said Buford. “Scott getting the pole and us running up front, even in the rain… our pace was very good. Obviously we would have liked for it to go green, to compete for the win rather than sit in pit lane, but that’s the call they made and we have to live with it.”

Johnson was able to use the little green-flag time he had after taking over from Maxwell to move up to seventh at the finish, but was similarly frustrated.

“The race getting red-flagged and then ending under yellow definitely took out a major part of the race itself,” he said, but acknowledged that this was a promising initial step for a brand-new car. “This was the first time the car’s ever seen rain, so it’s just like every session we’ve had so far. Every time we have the car out is a learning experience; learning more about the car, working on it to make it faster and faster. The rain just throws in so many different, complex challenges to racing and the inherent preparation of the car that you can’t really perfect until you actually run it. All the cars we’re racing against have raced in the rain multiple times, so we definitely didn’t have that log book on what works and what didn’t work. We’re building that log book and we’ll be even stronger the next time out.”

Maxwell agreed, the veteran driver taking the philosophical long view. “In the end, it was a disappointing day, but we still qualified No. 1 and I think if it was dry, we would be on the podium for sure today,” he said. “It just wasn’t meant to be. I think, overall, we shouldn’t be discouraged as a team. We proved the car is fast, and we’re going to some tracks we like and I think we’ll be a threat for the rest of the year.”

With four rounds in the books, Maxwell and Johnson are tied for fourth in the driver championship, while Buford and Cindric are tied for sixth. The No. 15 lies fifth, and the No. 158 in seventh, in the team championship.

In Sunday’s six-hour TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race, longtime Miller Racing driver Ian James represented team sponsors Total Care Auto and 888DropMyRate in the No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America in the GTD class. After starting fifth and running as high as second with co-driver Mario Farnbacher, a late-race spin by Farnbacher dropped them to seventh place at the finish.

“What an emotional end to the race on Sunday,” said James. “After five hours and 55 minutes of the six-hour race, the final caution period flew whilst we were in second place. Unfortunately, a lapse in concentration by my teammate caused him to slide off the road in the rain and we ended up in seventh place as the race ended under caution. These things happen, but unfortunately it broke our podium run.”

Following Round 6, James and Farnbacher are tied for fifth in the driver championship, and the team also holds fifth place in the team championship.

The Multimatic/Miller team will be back to work on the weekend of July 10-11, as the series heads north to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly known as Mosport International Raceway). Although the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will be racing there, the GT Daytona class will not, so the next outing for James and Farnbacher will be at Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park on July 24-25.

Live streaming and timing and scoring from Watkins Glen is always available at www.IMSA.com. The CTSCC race from Watkins Glen will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday, July 5. 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 websites at www.MillerRacing.com and www.MultimaticMotorsports.com. Fans are invited to follow the team on Facebook: www.facebook.com/roger.miller158 and www.facebook.com/MultimaticMotorsports or on Twitter: @millerracingUT (team), @MutimaticRace (team), @smaxwell27 (Scott Maxwell), @BillyJracing (Billy Johnson), @bufordjm (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, 888DropMyRate and ViON. 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.