Multimatic wins its fifth race and closes in on an IMSA championship
By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company
IMSA racing rolled into the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, for the second to last race of the season. In the blazing heat of the Lone Star State, the Multimatic Motorsports/Ford Performance Shelby GT350R-C—piloted by Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson—clocked its fifth victory of the season.
“We’re here to solidify our championship lead, so qualifying is not the be-all, end-all. Whether we qualified first or qualified last, we’re here. Qualifying first is nice for the drivers and the crew, and it’s a good indicator that we should have a good car for the race,” Scott said. “The race is everything tomorrow, though, and getting a top-three finish there would be great. We need to stay out of trouble, conserve our brakes and the rear tires on the Mustang…”
With the pole position in hand, Scott’s teammate Billy Johnson was counting on some good fortune to come away with a win.
“The key to winning here is to have a balanced car and we definitely have a well-balanced Shelby GT350R-C. Unfortunately, for much of the season, we have not had the outright pace of the Porsche, and have had a lot of success due to great pit stops and great strategy,” Billy added. “At this race, we’re gonna need a little bit of luck, are going to have to have great stops, and hope our pace is as close to our competition as we can, and we’ll see how things turn out.”
On race day, things definitely turned out well. The Multimatic Motorsports Shelby led all but three of the race’s 55 laps despite limited traction.
“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,” Scott said. “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.”
While Scott put the Multimatic machine at the front of the pack, it was teammate Billy Johnson that closed out the race in the lead. He crossed the finish line more than 34 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
“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,” Billy said. “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…”
Meanwhile, the Number 76 C360R Racing Shelby driven by Paul Holton and Peter Kleinubing finished in the third position after fighting through some transmission troubles in qualifying.
“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,” Paul said. “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.”
Both Shelby GT350R-C teams will head to Road Atlanta to close out the season in the 2016 Petit Le Mans, which runs from September 28, 2016 through October 1, 2016.
Driver Scott Maxwell earned the Multimatic Motorsports’ Shelby GT350R-C’s fifth Total Pole award of the season at the Circuit of the Americas race in Austin, Texas.
Scott and teammate Billy Johnson led all but three laps of the race and finished in first place over 34 seconds ahead of the their nearest competitors.
With another win, the Multimatic team leads the championship points by 31 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," Scott (far right) said. "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.”
The C360R Racing Shelby (right) also finished on the podium in the third position. “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,” driver Peter Kleinubing said. “So we have to work at it one more time, and go at it again in Atlanta.”