By Team Ford Performance Correspondent
Austin Cindric took the lead with 30 minutes remaining and drove a perfect race to the checkered flag to earn the first win for the No. 158 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Performance Shelby GT350R-C.
“I knew we had a great car for Watkins Glen for the debut so we really just needed to go ahead and capitalize and try to make a perfect race and I think that is what was key to this win,” said Cindric.
Jade Buford started the No. 158 Shelby GT350R-C from the outside of the front row for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and both drivers executed a perfect race strategy to earn the win. It was the first Continental Challenge win for both drivers.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my co-driver Austin, he did a fantastic job,” said Buford. “We knew exactly what we needed to do today and that was to go out and execute a perfect race. We both did our job, the team did a good job and we got the result that we wanted.”
What started off as a perfect scenario for Multimatic and Ford Performance with both Shelby GT350R-Cs on the front row was clouded by a heavy race-ending crash for the pole-winning No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Performance Shelby GT350R-C.
Billy Johnson started from the pole and led the first 19 laps before pitting for fuel and new tires. At about the half-way point of the race, Scott Maxwell took over and a few laps later was hit while passing a slower lapped car and crashed heavily into the tire barrier.
“It was definitely a bittersweet day for the whole team,” explained Johnson. “We started off great with two cars on the front row at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The whole team from Multimatic, and Ford Performance has put a lot of hard work into making great race cars and this was our second race. It’s just unfortunate that all that hard work was thrown away by somebody’s lack of judgement and the No. 15 was crashed out in the race.”
It was also a big race win for Multimatic Motorsports because Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is the home track for the team.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Larry Holt, team principle for Multimatic Motorsports. “We have a couple of hundred employees here and everyone had high expectations. We had the front row wrapped up and it was unfortunately what happened to Scott. I think, with all due respect to our competitors there would have been two Shelbys racing at the end for the win. I’m totally happy with the outcome.”
“You could have written the script slightly better but you couldn’t have written that part of the script any better,” said Holt. “And Austin Cindric’s first win. The kid was absolutely spectacular the last 45 minutes of that race. He drove way beyond his years; an unbelievably mature drive and fast.”
With the win, Cindric became the youngest race winner ever in Continental Challenge at the age of 16 years, 10 months, 9 days. While Cindric made it look easy and drove flawlessly, the last 30 minutes of the race he was pursued relentlessly by Matt Plumb in the Rum Bum Racing Porsche, the winningest driver in Continental Challenge history.
“It feels great to be able to come here in my rookie season and be able to run with a team like Multimatic, it’s really special,” said Cindric. "They give me the car to win the race and I have to go out and do my job and prove that I can do it. With a great teammate like Jade, and also Billy and Scott it’s a great opportunity.”
Buford has started from pole numerous times but up until now the first win has eluded him.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Buford. “I couldn’t be more proud of my team Multimatic and Ford Performance for giving us the great piece of equipment we had today. The team worked tirelessly all weekend and the car was race winning capable; it was perfect. I couldn’t be happier from that standpoint.
“We actually struggled a little bit all weekend with our car, we just couldn’t find the balance that we liked. And then we made one change before the start of the race and it was just spot on. It was exactly what we needed and the car really came to life. I knew from the get-go that if everything went well, we were going to have a good day. Then everyone just needed to do their job and they did it.”
“I’m really happy and proud of our team car No. 158 of Austin Cindric and Jade Buford for doing a phenomenal job winning the race,” said Johnson. “I’m happy for them and happy for the team because if it wasn’t going to be the 15 I’m happy that it was the No. 158 team car that was able to win the race for the team. But we definitely have a lot of work to do back at the shop.”