ALTON, Va. – The weather quickly became the star at the Continental 150 at VIRginia International Raceway on Saturday as a sudden burst of powerful rain and wind red flagged the race just over 30 minutes into the 2-hour, 40-minute event.
Scott Maxwell, who started a solid p3, was one of the early victims of the surprise downpour, spinning on dry tires in the No. 15 Multimatic Ford Shelby GT350R-C. He recovered quickly with little damage to the car and remained on the lead lap as the race first went under yellow, then red, with Paul Holton in the No. 76 Ford Shelby GT350R-C at the front of the pack.
A blazing fast pit stop gave Multimatic the lead for the eventual restart, with Billy Johnson now behind the wheel of the No. 15 and 45 minutes left on the clock. Johnson drifted around a corner into p2, yielding the lead, but held on for the second step on the podium and vital points toward the team’s defense of their lead in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge points.
“That was a strange, strange one,” Maxwell said. “It’s a bit of a blur. In the end, for what we set out to do today, it was a good one for us. We wanted to go out and get points. Now with just two races to go, it’s important for us to maintain our lead in the championship at every race. We’re down to the last two races. We couldn’t afford a DNF or a bad run and Billy did a good job there at the end to hold off the (third-place finisher).”
C360R finished sixth in the No. 76, with Pierre Kleinubing jumping in after the red to drive to the checkers.
Despite their lead in the points, Multimatic isn’t taking it easy.
“To finish second like we did was an excellent day,” Johnson said. “We could lose our whole lead (in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge championship points) in a race or two. Now that we only have two races left, that makes it a little better, but I’m hardly in the mindset of just taking it easy, because we have to keep charging. We can’t be stupid and we can’t make mistakes. We have to just keep pushing as hard as we can.”
The rain totally changes the game for WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams who expected to have lots of fresh rubber on the track for Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIR.