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BY COURTNEY MCGARRY
SPECIAL TO THE BEACON
Nighttime is the right time, especially Saturday night for ModSpace driver Chad McCumbee.
The lyrics from the classic song by Nappy Brown and Ray Charles were appropriate for the most recent ARCA Racing Series race.
McCumbee had another top-10 finish, this one Saturday at the Winchester ARCA 200. This was the seventh straight top-10 finish for Andy Belmont Racing and the No. 1 ModSpace Ford.
Like others in the sport, McCumbee loves Saturday night racing, especially at a fast short track like Winchester (Ind.) Speedway. The main event had the kind of racing both fans and McCumbee enjoyed and a chance to give some payback with a lot of beating and banging.
While short-track racing seems to bring out the best and worst in drivers, McCumbee finished seventh. It was his eighth top-10 effort in nine ARCA Racing Series races this year.
The occasional Saturday night racing under the lights is something special, a race to bring the Supply native back to his local short-track racing roots.
“I like it,” McCumbee said. “Winchester was a lot of fun because you can race there a little bit easier. Side-by-side (racing) was easier to accomplish and that made for better racing. When you are able to race with competitors and get around them, it works better. It was a lot of fun.”
As the single-day event unfolded, the ABR team felt positive about the strength of the No. 1 ModSpace Ford Fusion. McCumbee improved throughout the single practice session and posted a strong qualifying run with the seventh-quickest lap.
Rolling off the grid from the seventh spot, McCumbee quickly moved to collect two positions on the first couple laps. But an overheating problem dropped him to 15th on Lap 21. He managed to recover, however, working his way into fifth place by Lap 94.
On Lap 147 of the 200-lap race, McCumbee battled for fourth but surrendered it when the right front tire cut down, sending him to the pits under a green flag. McCumbee was able to overcome the three-lap deficit to finish seventh.
There was plenty of bent sheet metal and angry drivers when the checkers flew with six cautions for 34 laps. But McCumbee drove damage-free for 100 miles on the high-banked half-mile oval. The accomplishment awed even those on his team, like owner Jennifer Belmont.
“The ModSpace Fusion was a great car on a long run,” said Belmont. “The racing gods are just not smiling down on us, but it could have been worse. We ran the whole race at Winchester without a mark on the car and the car loaded into the hauler in one piece.”
It was McCumbee’s debut at Winchester, a historically prestigious track. He is fourth in the championship standings.
“It was a great run and to have a top-10 finish, even when we are faced with adversity,” McCumbee said. “But, it was still another good performance, considering I had never been to Winchester before.”
RACING ON TV
Sprint Cup: 7:30 p.m. July 2, Daytona, TNT. Nationwide: 7:30 p.m. July 1, Daytona, ESPN. No Camping World. No ARCA.