It felt like a long time coming as Jonathan Shafer finally broke through in CARS Tour competition on Friday night at Ace Speedway.
The win came in his 31st start across two seasons with Nelson Motorsports and now R&S Race Cars.
Victory Lane was a party with a large crowd gathered to see him climb out and jump into team owner and crew chief Marcus Richmond’s waiting arms. The scene included visits by Bobby McCarty, Kaden Honeycutt, Chad McCumbee and several other fellow drivers.
Everyone likes Shafer and even more respect Richmond. Combined, there was much to celebrate.
“It was a big deal,” Shafer said. “It felt good to close out on one. It was a good confidence booster for the rest of the season too.”
Shafer led wire-to-wire from the pole, the only threat coming on restarts before he could create space between his No. 91 and the rest of the field. As a result, track position and restarts were the keys to victory.
“I wanted to lead early, set the pace and save my right rear tire,” Shafer said. “Once we got to the 40 to go mark, I was told I could go all out and was able to hold on for the win.”
McCumbee provided the most consistent threat from behind over the course of 125 laps but lost his brakes over the final 30 laps. He wasn’t sure if he just used them up or if there was a failure that cause him to lose ground over the closing laps.
“I thought about brakes, the entire race and had no rotors so not sure what happened,” McCumbee said. “Bummed about that but proud of the run. The car was what we needed tonight and will give us momentum the rest of the season.”
McCumbee has only made two prior starts at Ace and they didn’t go well.
“Sam (Yabrough) and I both so I was happy to come here and be really competitive,” McCumbee said. “I think there are several of similar tracks, another race here, and maybe we can pick up some more wins this year.”