The view from my couch

Truck Series/ARCA Driver McCumbee Checks Out CARS Pro Cup Series
by Cheryl Lauer
October 27, 2011

Although this has been somewhat of a transitional year for the short track touring series formerly known as the Hooters Pro Cup Series, fans have seen some fantastic racing. The series now known as CARS (Championship Auto Racing Series) Pro Cup currently has a very tight points battle while maintaining its traditional points system.

At the recent championship race at Myrtle Beach Speedway, Truck Series and ARCA competitor, Chad McCumbee, made his first start in the CARS Pro Cup. Afterwards he spoke about how the ride in the 11 car came together and his impressions of the Series:

McCumbee: “I’d always had interest in the series for years now. When I found out the series was coming back to Myrtle Beach, obviously that place is very special to me and any time there’s any type of special event there, we look to see if maybe we could put something together. I’ve done some work with those guys over at T3R and with Cal Boprey and Bryan Silas and those folks over there. I knew they had a Pro Cup car that they’d run a few races this year and we just got to talking about it and made it work there, so we enjoyed it and maybe we’ve got some more coming.”

Speedcouch: You said Myrtle Beach was special to you. Is that where you got your start in Late Models?

McCumbee: “Yeah, it sure was. That’s where I ran Late Model Stocks back in 2003-2004 when I first moved to that division. It’s always been a place that I try to do anything I can do to help Myrtle Beach, and anything I can do to participate in races they have, I always try to do.”

Speedcouch: Can you talk a little bit about the Pro Cup car, the tires, the engine package, compared to the other series you’ve race in?

McCumbee: “I’ve been running the ARCA Series this year and it was very similar. The BFGoodrich tire was more like a true radial, I would say than the tire that we run on a short track in the ARCA cars. The Hoosier that we run on ARCA cars is a radial, but it’s a short track radial. So there is a similar feel there, obviously the cars weigh about the same and the motor package is real similar. I think the option of motor packages that you can run in the Pro Cup Series now is great because that allows a bunch of different competitors to be able to easily get into the series. They don’t have to have a certain type motor. You know, even with the cars – I feel like a specific Pro Cup car is better, but I think you can still compete with an old Nationwide car or even an ARCA car.”

During the race, chatter on the scanner by CARS Race Control speculated whether McCumbee’s team was aware of the pit stop rules where teams may not take fuel before lap 50 and may not change tires and fuel the car during the same pit stop.

Speedcouch: When the leaders pitted early in the race and your team chose to stay out, were you aware of the two pit stop requirements of Pro Cup or was that just part of your strategy to come in late in the race?

McCumbee: “No, we felt like it was just a bit too early and we wanted to get that clean air and lead some laps. And we felt like our car was easily good enough to do that because we were moving forward, I felt like. We kind of wanted to have fuel and tires somewhat near the same time, just because of keeping our balance correct. We just felt like we were pretty good at that time and I had been somewhat familiar with the two pit stop stuff because back a couple years ago, in the Truck Series, we couldn’t take fuel and tires at the same time. I wasn’t as familiar with the commitment line at the Start/Finish [to drop down to pit]. That kind of threw me off a little bit, so I had to remember that.”

Speedcouch: How as your car handling in the first part of the race – you felt it was good enough you could stay out as long as possible?

McCumbee: “Yes, I was really happy with our car until the first tire pit stop. I felt we had a car to beat and a car to compete for the win easily. We were just riding along there – just making laps. When we put our second set of tires on, we weren’t quite as good there. I don’t know what the difference was there, but that set of tires, whatever the reason, just changed the handle on our race car a little bit. And we weren’t able to be as good as I thought we were going to be at the end there. All and all, I was very pleased with the way we ran there in the first half of the race.”

Speedcouch: Do you feel like you might run other Pro Cup races like Rockingham in November?

McCumbee: “We’re working on some stuff to maybe get there. I don’t think it will be with the same team, if we do come. But I’m working on some stuff to maybe get to that race and certainly any opportunity that comes up. I don’t know with my schedule what we might be able to do. But I was really pleased with how everything went and thought it was a great weekend.”

Speedcouch: How did you feel about the level of competition? Do you think it was comparable to what you see in ARCA or other series?

McCumbee: “Absolutely, and I think as Jack [series owner Jack McNelly] grows the series and gets more car count, I think it will be very similar to what the ARCA Series has there. There were obviously a bunch of really good competitors at Myrtle Beach and I felt like the race was very competitive. A lot of times down there, you get a couple of guys that may get something good and stink up the show. But I think the race was probably great to watch for the fans and it was fun for the drivers.”

This race was the CARS Pro Cup first return to Myrtle Beach Speedway since last racing there in June 2009. As a race fan, I can attest to the fact that the series put on a great show Saturday night. And that the Pro Cup Series had one of the closest championship battles in racing while still utilizing the traditional points system of 5 points difference per position for the top finishers, with the amounts further decreasing in points per position after that. Coming into Myrtle Beach, the top two in points, Caleb Holman and Brad Rogers, were tied and Jeff Agnew was only one point behind in the standings. Agnew’s team used pit strategy to win the race at Myrtle Beach which allowed him to take over the points lead with one race remaining. He now leads Rogers by a mere 9 points, with Holman just 34 points back in 3rd position.

The final race in the CARS Pro Cup season will be held at the historic Rockingham Speedway on the afternoon of Saturday, November 5th. If you are a race fan, come out to Rockingham to watch the Pro Cup competitors duel down to the wire for the 2011 championship! Tickets are only $15.00 for the American 200. You’ll also get to see the UARA-Stars’ season finale before the CARS Pro Cup finale. For more CARS Pro Cup information, visit the official CARS website – www.carsprocup.com and to learn more about Chad, check out his website – www.chadmccumbee.com.

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