Longtime IMSA driver Matt Plumb found himself atop two different leaderboards after the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Circuit of The Americas two weeks ago.
Plumb and co-driver Paul Holton raced their pole-winning No. 76 C360R McLaren GT4 to victory lane in the GS class in dominating fashion, leading 32 of 47 laps.
More impressive though was the win moved Plumb back into a tie with Billy Johnson for most Continental Tire Challenge wins by a driver, with 23.
Until last year, Plumb held the title outright, but Johnson passed the mark after winning six times in 2016.
The relationship between Plumb and Johnson dates back to 2005, when both first entered the Continental Tire Challenge Street Tuner class.
Plumb captured his first two series wins in 2006 and Johnson followed with four wins of his own in 2007. In an ironic twist, Plumb joined Johnson for a handful of races in 2007 as part of Kensai Racing, whose primary sponsor at the time was Compass360.
“Ray Lee (C360R Technical Director) and Karl (Thomson, C360R Team Principal), I had both known for a long time,” Plumb said.
“Ray I knew a little better, because he was the one who hired me to come drive for them with Billy a long time ago. We all stayed in touch with what each other was doing.”
Staying in touch would prove to be instrumental for Plumb down the road.
After balancing the roles of lead driver and team manager for Rum Bum Racing since 2010, the Pennsylvania resident found himself looking for a ride after the team suspended operations in April 2016.
It was a new experience for Plumb, who collected 18 wins and the 2013 GS driver championship with Rum Bum.
“It was tough for me in that I had spent such a long time working for Mr. (Luis) Bacardi and starting that team and getting to be a part of it for almost six years,” Plumb said.
“It was a little uneasy to not only find something, but also to find something that would allow me to be competitive and continue to hopefully perform the way we had been performing.”
Plumb was quick to reach out to C360R, ready to provide his experience of developing race cars, which his former team was looking to do with the new and largely untested McLaren GT4.
The alliance was formed for 2017 but as it turned out, Plumb and his future co-driver Paul Holton, had never met. Luckily, the veteran and the up-and-comer became fast friends.
“For some reason, our paths never crossed so it was a leap of faith for Ray and Karl to trust in the fact that we would gel well together,” Plumb said.
“(Paul) is fast, he is smart, he’s an athlete and we’ve personally gotten along extremely well. He takes in every bit of information that he can and he uses it to go fast and make a lot of good decisions behind the wheel.”
Throughout his decorated IMSA career, Plumb has found that a team with great chemistry can make all the difference when it comes to success on the track, and he strongly believes he has found that with his new team.
“Life is short. It becomes really important as time goes on that you spend it trying to achieve the goals you’re focused on and being around people you want to be around,” Plumb said.
“I was extremely lucky in the Rum Bum front and even luckier transitioning into this Compass360 situation because everybody here I get along with and everybody here I respect.
“With Ray and myself and Paul and the rest of the crew, we were able to do a ton of testing and the results have shown, including a win in the third race of McLaren’s history.
“That was very much due to all the development work, which can’t happen if people can’t work together properly.”