Chad McCumbee’s maiden victory in the prestigious Myrtle Beach 400 on Saturday night was anything but uneventful.
A broken exhaust in the closing laps of the first segment provided a significant hurdle to overcome but his McCumbee-Elliott team was able to restore the No. 16 in time for the second stage. With restored resolve, McCumbee was able to quickly work his way from fifth to the lead and held onto the top spot for the final 110 laps of the annual autumn Late Model Stock classic.
“It’s massive. This is something we’ve tried to do, we’ve had amazing years here with our cars in the past, we’ve always just lacked that little bit in the 400,” said McCumbee. “If you asked me in practice, I would have never told you it was possible. The key was just being able to dictate the race, and ride how I needed to ride to help my car.
“I knew (Corey Heim) was amazing, just had to wait until he fired and see if we had anything for him, and we did.”
Heim ultimately finished second, another should-have or could-have moment in just his fifth Late Model Stock start of his career. Heim masterfully conserved his tires in the second half and charged from 11th to second, but he just didn’t have enough to close the gap on McCumbee.
“We had a great car, I conserved my tires perfect, I guess the first half we conserved our tires perfect. Kept track position the entire time,” Heim said. “Just that entire second time, we were just falling back, because we were stuck behind I don’t know who, so we were just falling back more, and more, and more. If we could have kept track position in that top ten or something, I would have been able to conserve my tires for a little bit longer, and make a good run at the end there, but I just spent so much time getting through the field for the last 50 laps, my right rear was just gone with like ten to go, and I was just holding on for dear life basically.”
Ryan Millington went on to finish third, followed by Tommy Lemons, and Peyton Sellers.
Layne Riggs jumped out to an early lead from his pole position, holding his position until being run down by Bradley McCaskill after the first 15 laps, who then took the lead.
The field behind the starting front row would quickly move their way forward, pushing Layne Riggs and Corey Heim to 5th and 6th respectively by lap 30. The caution came out for the first time at lap 36 when Brandon Pierce went for a spin in turn three, only making it past turn four before needing a tow truck to assist the No. 2 car back to pit road. Possibly a saved by the bell situation, McCaskill had a mirror full of Tommy Lemons when the spun occurred, with Will Burns and Peyton Sellers working their way into the picture during the battle.
The track went green again at lap 43, with Tommy Lemons making the pass on the outside of Bradley McCaskill for his first lead of the night coming out of the restart. Ty Gibbs saw his chances come to an end with right front damage forcing the No. 18 Toyota to limp around the track until he was able to make it to pit road. JR Motorsports driver Sam Mayer also struggled with right front damage, and Michael Faulk had issues arise to end his chances as well. At lap 99, the long green flag run proved to be a saving grace for the No. 78, as Corey Heim worked his way back to the front, taking the lead from Tommy Lemons, coming from as far back as seventh position on lap 71. Caution came out at lap 104 after a turn one pile up involving Myrtle Beach regulars Matt Cox, and Brian Vause, as well as R.A Brown.
Off the restart on lap 115, Corey Heim held on to his lead with Tommy Lemons holding second until the competition caution came out at the halfway point of lap 125. Will Burns, Josh Berry, and Chad McCumbee rounded out the top five at the break. Tommy Lemons would nail the restart after the halfway point to regain the lead from Corey Heim, before a huge incident on the frontstretch ended the night of Josh Berry, as well as numerous other cars on lap 127. Josh Berry was hooked into the wall in traffic, in front of the middle portion of the field.
Lemons went on to hold the lead on the restart with 115 to go, with Will Burns and Chad McCumbee charging to his rear bumper. McCumbee went on to take the lead from Lemons on lap 141, with Justin Johnson grabbing the lead just before Tyler Hughes would go for a spin in turn three, bringing out the caution once more. Between lap 125 and lap 141, the No. 78 of Corey Heim had already dropped back to the 10th spot.
Justin Johnson and Chad McCumbee restarted side-by-side at the front on lap 146, and would stay that way until Johnson cleared McCumbee four laps later. McCumbee wouldn’t take long to charge back to the front, retaking the lead on lap 158. Johnson and McCumbee remained side by side, as did the rest of the field, in a 2-by-2, restrictor plate style of racing.
McCumbee held a narrow lead until the caution came out at lap 171 after a turn 1 spin from Michael Hardin.The following restart on lap 179 showed more of the same, with side by side racing throughout the field, led more by Johnson and McCumbee. The party was broken up by Dexter Canipe Jr, who took the lead at lap 185 from Chad McCumbee, after Justin Johnson fell back to 17th. McCumbee fought back, running side by side with Canipe for multiple laps, before completely clearing the No. 5 of Canipe with 49 to go.
The night started off with Layne Riggs taking the pole position in qualifying, with Corey Heim taking the outside of the front row. The team’s that couldn’t make it into the main event 250-lapper on qualifying alone, would move on to one of three 25 lap qualifying races. The winners of the three heat races were Jeremy McDowell, Lucas Williams, and Justin Johnson.
In the first heat, McDowell would check out early, leaving the best of the racing to the drivers looking to fill the remaining spots before the sixth place cutoff. TJ Baron would have a bad start from fourth, stacking up the field behind him, helping McDowell grab the advantage early. Tyler Hughes, Jamie Weatherford, Michael Faulk, Michael Hardin, and Cameron Bowen would round out the top six in heat one
Lucas Williams would take the win in heat two, followed by Jacob Heafner, Sam Mayer, Ty Gibbs, Justin Snow, and Terry Carroll. Despite being knocked out of the top six on the last lap, RA Brown advanced into the main event, with Lucas Williams already being locked in as a local.
In the more quiet of the three qualifying races, Justin Johnson took the checkered flag first, followed by Justin Hicks, Dexter Canipe Jr, Brandon Pierce, Thad Moffitt, and Brian Vause. Myrtle Beach Speedway 2018 Track Champion Justin Milliken would start the third heat at the rear, after repairing his car from a practice crash Friday. While he did not finish top six in the heat, he would still be locked in to the 250 lap Late Model Stock feature.
- Chad McCumbee
- Corey Heim
- Ryan Millington
- Tommy Lemons, Jr.
- Peyton Sellers
- Will Burns
- Bradley McCaskill
- Lucas Williams
- Jacob Heafner
- Timothy Peters
- Luke Sorrow
- Justin Milliken
- Neil Meredith
- Layne Riggs
- Wes Burton
- Jeremy McDowell
- Justin Johnson
- Dexter Canipe, Jr.
- Thad Moffitt
- David Roberts
- Colin Garrett
- Brian Vause
- Bryant Barnhill
- Michael Hardin
- Sam Mayer
- Tyler Hughes
- Justin Hicks
- Cameron Bowen
- Trevor Rizzo
- Josh Berry
- Jamie Weatherford
- Sam Yarbrough
- Matt Cox
- R.A. Brown
- Blaise Brinkley
- Ashton Higgins
- Justin Crider
- Ed Williams
- Ty Gibbs
- Michael Faulk
- Terry Carroll
- Brandon Pierce
- Justin Snow
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