Chad McCumbee, veteran of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and driver for a few Cup starts for Richard Petty Motorsports, is set to make his Nationwide Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway in the O’Reilly 300.
McCumbee will be driving in a one-race deal for RAB Racing in the No. 09 Ford Fusion.
“I’ve known Robbie Benton and the guys at RAB Racing for a few years now,” McCumbee said. “We’ve been talking about trying to get together and the opportunity came about to put it together this weekend.”
“Texas has been one of my better race tracks,” McCumbee said. “I’ve had a lot of success there. So what better place to make a debut than a place like that.”
McCumbee has eight starts at Texas Motor Speedway. His best start at TMS was second in 2007 and his best finish was sixth in 2008, both in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“I’ve been really fast there,” McCumbee said of Texas Motor Speedway. “The track has been a place full of milestones in my career and a place that has propelled me up where I’ve been able to go.”
McCumbee is also excited to work with his new crew chief Ben Gable, as well as the new team. “There’s a bunch of young guys over there and it’s exciting to be a part of something where you have a crew that’s eager to go out there and show what they’ve got,” McCumbee said. “There is a lot of motivation and a lot of ‘want to’ at RAB.”
McCumbee is relieved that RAB’s previous drivers, including Scott Riggs and most recently Jason Bowles at the Phoenix race last weekend, have kept the car high enough in the points that he does not have to qualify in on time.
“When I was with Petty and we had to qualify in, we made some and we missed some,” McCumbee said. “It was a pressure cooker.”
While the car is guaranteed a place in the show, unfortunately the hood will be bare, as there is no primary sponsor. McCumbee is committed to changing that in whatever way possible.
“I’m going to work as hard as I can to keep something going,” McCumbee said of the sponsorship search. “The goal is to run good enough that we will get some attention. I feel like if we can go out there and have a good showing in Texas that we may turn some heads.”
McCumbee has experienced sponsorship woes in the past. In fact, he lost his most recent Truck Series ride due to the downturn in the economy and the drying up of sponsorship dollars.
“It’s the way things are going right now with this economy,” McCumbee said. “This season’s been tough. We are looking hard and trying to find something each week.”
Although McCumbee started racing at the age of 10 in go karts and has steadily worked his way up through ARCA and the Truck Series, he still feels he has to prove himself each and every race. But he also feels there is no better place to do that than in Texas.
“I feel like going someplace that I’ve had so much success and feel comfortable at makes it easier,” McCumbee said. “When you come out of the box fresh and perform well, it gets people’s attention.”
Although McCumbee would like to get people’s attention with a win, he is also realistic about his chances. “I want to complete every lap, and if we do that, a top-15 isn’t out of the question,” McCumbee said. “If we can get up there and finish, I think we can finish well.”
While McCumbee is in Texas this weekend, his off-track activities also involve racing, although of a different sort. McCumbee owns a late model stock car team that races at Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina.
In addition to his racing, McCumbee also loves the beach and the coastal area that is his home. He and his wife, who is a teacher working on her Master’s degree, go there along with their "baby," an English bulldog, as often as they can when not on the track.
But for this weekend, Chad McCumbee has just one thing in mind: making his Nationwide debut. “This is a great opportunity for me,” McCumbee said.
“RAB has had a successful start in 2010 and I’m blessed to be able to do something with them,” McCumbee continued. “I really want to thank them and I can’t think of a better team to make my first Nationwide start with.”
McCumbee will make his debut along with the other Nationwide Series drivers on Saturday, Apr. 17 at 3:00 PM ET. The race will be broadcast live on PRN and Sirius Satellite Radio.