By Team Ford Racing Correspondent
In Multimatic Motorsports’ Larry Holt’s mind there seems to be little that could possibly go wrong during the 2014 Continental Tires Sports Car Challenge season, so good does he feel about reprising an old and mostly good-time role with Ford Racing.
“It feels so good to have the Ford Blue Oval back on our shirts again,” Holt said while pointing at the famed logo not long after driver Billy Johnson put the No. 158 Ford Mustang Boss 302R on the inside of Row 2 during CTSCC qualifying Thursday afternoon, posting a 2:16.400 lap at an average speed of 98.710 mph over the 3.74-mile, 16-turn Sebring International Raceway course.
Sounding like someone who was happy just to kick off his shoes, put the feet up and relax for awhile, Holt and Multimatic Motorsports team manager Sean Mason said they’re “back home” after having undertaken for the last two seasons a racing program for a European sports car manufacturer. The team fell well short of matching a racing history otherwise filled with victories and championships scored with Ford, and especially in the Ford Mustang, that reaches deep into the early 1990s and stretches from Canada, where Multimatic is based, and across the border into the U.S.
For 2014 Multimatic wasted little time in creating waves, mostly picking up where primary Ford flag bearer Roush Performance Racing in 2013 had left off, with Canadian driver Scott Maxwell and his No. 15 Ford Mustang Boss 302R scoring the pole at Daytona and then teaming with co-driver Jade Buford, who in the race scored the fastest lap, to give the Mustang Boss 302R a field-best finish of seventh place.
The team’s second driver combination includes former Roush driving standout Billy Johnson, who for the better part of six seasons paired with Jack Roush Jr. in Roush Performance’s flagship-bearing Ford Mustangs but who in 2014 is teamed with English driver Ian James. The pair scored a ninth–place finish in Daytona after failing to qualify at all and started at the race field’s rear.
“And that was accomplished with used-up equipment,” Holt said. “We took the No. 15 Boss off a museum floor. The other Mustang was one we last campaigned three years ago and it, even freshened up, was about as tired as one can get. But our 2014 deal was put together at the last minute so we didn’t exactly have a lot of depth in our inventory.”
“The guys (Buford/Maxwell; Johnson/James) did so much with so little at Daytona that we felt compelled to build them a couple of new cars between Daytona and now. Sean (Mason) and his guys built them in a little under seven days.”
“In all candor we worried that a superstar like Billy (Johnson) wouldn’t fit in very well with a team that already had a superstar in Scotty (Maxwell). But Billy fit in with the team like a glove. He and Scotty get along better than we could’ve even hoped and are helping each other out. Or maybe it’s Billy teaching Scotty a lot,” Holt said, tongue-in-cheek.
“We’ve got a heckuva team for 2014,” Holt insisted while Mason and Maxwell nodded agreement.
The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge 250 at Sebring International Raceway gets underway at 1 p.m. EDT Friday and can be watched via live streaming at www.IMSA.com.