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JUN 27, 2015

Rain Dampens GT350R-C Debut at Watkins Glen


The all-new Ford Performance Shelby GT350R-C made its race debut at Watkins Glen International as both Multimatic Motorsports cars faced stiff competition and treacherous track conditions to finish fourth and seventh overall. The final thirteen minutes of the race were run under full course caution and behind the safety car after heavy rain forced a seventeen minute red flag period.

Jade Buford brought home the No. 158 Ford Performance Multimatic Shelby GT350R-C in fourth position, just missing the podium for the Continental Tire 150 at the Glen. “It’s a good day to be disappointed in fourth with the debut of these cars, Scott getting the pole and us running up front, even in the rain, our pace was very good,” said Buford. “Obviously we would have liked for it to go green, to compete for the win, rather than sit in pit lane, but that’s the call they made and we have to live with it.”

Austin Cindric started the No. 158 from seventh on the grid and drove an excellent first stint in very wet and continuously changing conditions, moving all the way up to second position before pitting to hand over the car to Buford. “I had no expectations coming into the race,” explained Cindric. “We started P7 and I’ve never driven a sedan in the wet, and our new Shelby GT350R-C had never been in the wet either, so we were kind of in the same boat. I just kept on working up to it and figured out what worked and what didn’t, and picked them off one-by-one. A few dove down in the pits and a few I passed. It was a blast, really.”

The first race weekend for the Ford Performance Shelby GT350R-C started nearly perfect on Friday as Scott Maxwell put the No. 15 Ford Performance Multimatic Motorsports Shelby GT350R-C on the pole for the race. But by Saturday morning the weather conditions had changed dramatically and the first race for the Shelby GT350R-C was going to be on a wet track.

Maxwell made a great start from the pole and took the lead going into Turn 1, stretching out a couple of seconds back to second by the end of the first lap. He continued to run in front, swapping the lead with the No. 13 Porsche 911 a couple of times. After the second full-course caution, Maxwell was assessed a drive-through penalty for jumping the restart which dropped him to tenth position.

“The other driver missed a shift, so I don’t know what I was supposed to do," explained Maxwell. "In the end, it was sort of irrelevant. The car was really, really good in the first 20, 25 minutes, when it was just spitting rain. It was consistent. When the heavy rain started it went away a little bit, but then visibility became a problem. In the end, it was a disappointing day, but we still qualified No. 1 and I think if it was dry, we would be on the podium for sure today. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Maxwell emphasized that it really was a successful debut weekend for the Shelby GT350R-C. “I think, overall, we shouldn’t be discouraged as a team. We proved the car is fast and we’re going to some tracks we like and I think we’ll be a threat for the rest of the year.”

Billy Johnson finished the race in the No. 15 and was disappointed that he didn’t have the opportunity at the end to challenge for a higher finish. “The race getting red-flagged and then ending under yellow definitely took out a major part of the race itself,” said Johnson.

Johnson explained the challenge of racing a new car for the first time in the rain and optimism about future races with the Shelby GT350R-C. “This was the first time the car’s ever seen rain, so it’s just like every session we’ve had so far. Every time we have the car out is a learning experience; learning more about the car, working on it to make it faster and faster. The rain just throws in so many different, complex challenges to racing and the inherent preparation of the car that you can’t really perfect until you actually run it. All the cars we’re racing against have raced in the rain multiple times, so we definitely didn’t have that log book on what works and what didn’t work. We’re building that log book and we’ll be even stronger the next time out.”