Evan J. Smith
Freelancer
June 29, 2015

Multimatic Motorsports found great success fielding two Shelby GT350R-C Mustangs in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge this past weekend at Watkins Glen International. The team put the new Shelby Mustangs into competition for the first time, and Scott Maxwell drove the No. 15 Shelby GT350R-C to the pole position with a lap of 2 minutes, 1.358 seconds.

“For me, it’s more rewarding for everyone at Ford and Multimatic who have put in so many hours into development of this car, both on and off the track,” Maxwell said. “It’s giving something back. Honestly, we (as drivers) have the best job and the easiest job. We jump in the car and benefit from all their hard work. Once in a while it’s nice to earn the pole and let them know all their hard work paid off.”

Multimatic Motorsports entered the No. 15 and No. 158 Shelby GT350R-C Mustangs, which they’ll compete use for the remainder of the 2015 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season.

“The Continental Tire Challenge racing is exceptional racing,” Maxwell added. “The last hour of these races is 10 professional racers going at it, and it’s as good as racing you’ll find anywhere. At lot of times, you don’t know what the outcome will be until the last few minutes.” Maxwell’s co-driver Billy Johnson watched the qualifying session from the team’s stall on pit lane. “That (qualifying session) was definitely tight,” said Johnson. “The first three cars were within 3/10ths of a second, so you can’t ask for much more parity and a competitive race environment. Thankfully, Scott was able to put together that awesome lap and put the No. 15 Shelby GT350R-C on pole for its first race. This Shelby GT350R-C is an awesome car. Even the Mustang GT, with its new independent suspension, is just such a leap ahead of the solid axle suspension from the previous Mustangs. The GT350 just takes that a step further, with all the modifications done to aerodynamics, the suspension and the powertrain. That’s just turned it into a fantastic race car.”

But on race day the rain came, and it came hard. The wet track threw some surprises at the drivers, but they battled on and completed the event with 4th and 7th place finishes. The driver team of Jade Buford and Auston Cindric qualified 4th and finished 4th, while teammates Maxwell and Johnson (in the No. 15), who qualified P1, slipped to 7th after suffering a “drive-through” penalty for jumping start on lap 12 restart.

“It [the penalty] did and didn’t change momentum for us,” said Maxwell. “The other driver missed a shift, so I don’t know what I was supposed to do. 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 when the heavy rain started visibility became a problem. 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.”

Billy Johnson added, “The race getting red-flagged (for heavy rain/track conditions) and then ending under yellow definitely took out a major part of the race itself. 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.”

Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 158 Shelby GT350R-C also commented. “I had no expectations coming into the race. We started P7. 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.” Despite the challenges, Cindric progressed each lap. “I hung out the first two, three laps, just testing the waters, no pun intended. But Jade and Billy were really good, getting me educated on what to do before I got into the car and helping me understand what’s important in the wet in these types of cars and really tried to figure out what was going on. These cars had never been tested or driven in the wet at all, so we were kind of going in blind.”

More information on the series can be found at www.IMSA.com.