A nearly flawless drive by co-drivers Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson Jr. in their Multimatic Motorsports Ford Shelby GT350R-C led them to a very important IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge victory Friday at the Circuit of the Americas.
It was the fifth victory of the season for the GT350R-C duo and put them on the cusp of winning the series title. They are 31 points ahead of the second place CJ Wilson Racing Porsche effort, with a maximum 35 points available at any race. There is one race to go in the series, in two weeks at Road Atlanta.Maxwell put the Shelby GT350R-C on the pole Thursday, and took the lead off the start, setting a strong pace early before turning it over to Johnson. The team only lost the lead during pit stops, but with 39 minutes left they were in a strong battle with the CJ Wilson Racing car. However, with 19 minutes left, the Porsche suffered a suspension issue, leaving Johnson with a more than 40-second lead, and he cruised to the win.
The second GT350R-C from the C360R team finished a strong third, after running in the top four all day.
FORD SHELBY GT350R-C FINAL RACE RESULTS
P1 15 Multimatic Ford Shelby GT350R-C (*Billy Johnson/Scott Maxwell)
P3 76 AERO Advanced Paint Technology/Children’s Tumor Foundation (*Pierre Kleinubing/Paul Holton)
NOTE: Maxwell/Johnson scored their fifth victory of the season in a race they started from the pole position, only losing the lead during pit stops. The victory gives them a 31-point lead in the championship with one race to go at Road Atlanta in two weeks.
No. 15 Multimatic/Ford Shelby GT350R-C
SCOTT MAXWELL: “It’s was pretty uneventful. The first hour is really just for setting up for the last hour and trying to relay as much information as I could to Billy and the team. Things like what the car was doing and how it was changing and any concerns. I was able to lead the entire stint but it did take a lot of restraint trying to keep the brakes and the rear tires under me. It’s so slippery for everybody out there so it’s just trying to minimize mistakes which is so easy to do and was fairly successful in doing that. Billy got in a car that was in pretty good shape, other than we had a minor gear box issue that we overcame pretty quickly.”BILLY JOHNSON Jr: “Well, all I have to say is Scott is not taking enough credit for his performance, he definitely checked out and put some time between him and the 33 car. Every little bit counts to run these races. We haven’t had the outright pace and the speed pretty much all season. It’s drives like Scott’s in the first stint, it’s our awesome pit stops and pit strategies that bump us ahead. It’s a team effort and every person who has been a part of this program, whether they’re over the wall, or on the box, or back in the shop help make sure our car is reliable. It takes every single little bit of all that effort to put ourselves in a position to have wins like that. Scott and I do what we do and manage traffic pretty well, but I want to thank everyone who is a part of this program for all that they do because they’re the heroes behind this success.
SM: (ON LEADING THE CHAMPIONSHIP BY 31 POINTS WITH ONE RACE TO GO) “We will just keep our mindset the same as the previous nine races, we go to win. We’re not going to take any unnecessary chances, and I’m sure we’ll figure out how far into the race we have got to get before we know if it’s clinched or not clinched, so we will be careful until that point. If we’re fortunate enough to do it during the race, we will just go for it as usual. There’s no sense in changing things up now for the championship. We want to be aggressive but smart and today was a perfect example of that.”
No. 76 Ford Shelby GT350R-C
PAUL HOLTON: “Well you know it’s an awesome race, Ford’s one and three on the podium. From the beginning, the plan was to give Scotty a big gap, and it ended up working out. We ran a great race, Pierre did awesome, everyone did awesome. Billy had a great race, it was so much fun. I’m really happy to be a part of the Ford family and I couldn’t be more blessed.”PIERRE KLEINUBING: “We seemed to have the short run figured out pretty well, but on the long runs we can’t match the pace of Billy and some of the other guys. So we have to work at it one more time, and go at it again in Atlanta.”
Story and photos: Ford Racing