The month of July could not have gone better for McCumbee Elliott Racing.
Following strong showings by Chad McCumbee in the first two Virginia Late Model Triple Crown events, the team’s other primary driver in Sam Yarbrough ended the month by finishing third in Saturday’s Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Yarbrough said that third place was more than satisfying since it was the second time he had ever driven a Late Model Stock at Hickory.
“It was a fun night for the most part,” Yarbrough said. “Early on there were some cars beating and banging around me and I just tried to keep my stuff clean. [Hickory] isn’t super abrasive but it’s pretty hard on tires. However, we started up front and stayed up front.”
Yarbrough’s first race at Hickory back on March 20 proved to be a struggle. He started in the seventh position but gradually fell back as the evening progressed and ultimately settled for a disappointing 17th.
Despite his inexperience at Hickory, Yarbrough is no stranger to success at tracks with rough surfaces, having raced at the now-defunct Myrtle Beach Speedway for more than a decade.
Along with winning six track championships and the facility’s prestigious 400-mile race back in 2007, Yarbrough also won his lone CARS Tour race at Myrtle Beach in 2015 after passing Deac McCaskill with 21 laps remaining.
Yarbrough said there are many differences between Myrtle Beach and Hickory but he felt optimistic about putting together a solid performance after observing McCumbee’s speed at South Boston Speedway and Langley Speedway earlier in the month.
Once the green flag dropped, Yarbrough was focused on maintaining his track position inside the Top 10 and was not overly concerned with what the eventual race-winner in Josh Berry was doing at the front.
“You just know [Josh Berry] is going to win more than likely,” Yarbrough said. “His team is really good everywhere but we don’t even look at that car. We just focus on what we’re doing and where we need to be and that’s all that matters for us at the end of the day.”
Yarbrough added that his first Top 5 of the 2021 CARS Tour season felt more special driving a paint scheme that his car owner Robert Elliott won 13 races with in 1995 between Myrtle Beach and Florence Motor Speedway. Those triumphs also included a championship at Florence and a victory in the Myrtle Beach 400.
The efficiency Elliott displayed back then still remains today with his Late Model Stock program, which scored a major victory in the Icebreaker at Florence to begin 2021 with McCumbee behind the wheel.
Yarbrough believes McCumbee Elliott Racing is getting a closer to another win and plans to keep working hard over the next few months with big events like the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and South Carolina 400
“We’re making gains every week,” Yarbrough said. “We’ve gotten more familiar with the directions we need to go and how we need to attack each weekend. I was really ecstatic with where we were in [the Throwback 276].”
With July now over, Yarbrough and the rest of the McCumbee Elliott Racing organization will look to have a strong August at Florence and the next CARS Tour event at Motor Mile Speedway on Aug. 28.