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After starting the season with six top-10 runs in 10 events, Chad McCumbee and MRD Motorsports appeared to have the right momentum as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entered into a tough stretch of races during the summer months.
But this string of races posed some challenges. The team had an unexpected 26th- place average finish that was not indicative of how the team performed during those races. A series of on-track incidents outside of the team’s control left it even more eager to head to the Music City to get back on beat.
McCumbee has had a lot of success at the Nashville Superspeedway in Tennessee. He captured an outside pole during his rookie season in the Truck Series and brought home a Gibson Guitar after taking a victory in an ARCA Re/Max Series event last year.
Practice rolled off for the series on Friday and the team was among the fastest trucks of the day. Although McCumbee didn’t have the quickest lap of the day, he was pleased with the handling of the truck and felt he was one of the better trucks on older tires.
The team ended final practice 13th on the board. After some experimenting with some air pressures for Saturday’s qualifying session, McCumbee posted the 20th-quickest lap for his starting position for the race later that night.
“We were trying a few things,” McCumbee said. “We couldn’t post a quick lap on new tires during practice, so we tried to experiment during qualifying. It’s not the lap we wanted, but I know we’re good for the race.
“The guys have been working hard on trying to get these Malcolmson Construction Silverados better for me. I (hope) we’re gonna get the finish we deserve tonight.”
After the drop of the green flag, McCumbee showed he definitely had a truck to contend with. Although starting the event 20th, McCumbee picked up eight positions in the first five laps of the race. Knowing it had its worst set of tires on at the start of the race, the team patiently rode inside the top 15 until the first pit stop on lap 38.
The team picked up a few spots but would have to come back down pit road the next lap because of a missing lug nut. McCumbee restarted in 28th, but he quickly made work of the trucks ahead of him and got back some of the lost track position.
On lap 65, many of the leaders chose to come down pit road for pit stops. Knowing everyone would still have to pit one more time, crew chief Randy Dean made the call to stay on track to take track position. McCumbee restarted the race second in line. He showed he had one of the best trucks on the track and rode in the second position until the next caution, on lap 114.
The team had to take four tires while others around him only had to take fuel. However, McCumbee was still able to leave pit road in the 10th position and maintained the position until the checkered flag.
“Our number-one goal tonight was to just finish this thing and get a top 10,” McCumbee said. “That’s what we wanted, and that was our goal.
“Man, they made the right calls there at the end, and we were just as good as anybody. We came and got four tires and that put us a little bit behind. “We’ll take that. We should have had three of these in a row. But, that’s how racing works, and the good Lord was with us tonight and we got one.
“Thanks to everybody back at the shop. They’ve been working hard, and we’ll see if we can keep improving.”
McCumbee and the rest of the drivers in the Craftsman Truck Series now head to Bristol Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly 200. The race will be televised at 8 p.m. Aug. 20 on Speed.
“I really like Bristol,” McCumbee said. “I feel like we have a lot of short-track momentum heading there, even though we don’t have the finishes to show. We have made significant improvements in this area. We should have had a top 10 at ORP and a good finish at Memphis. I sure this will be one best races to watch this year.”