From Jacob Seelman
WILLIAMSTON, S.C. (April 21, 2017) – Jimmy McCune kicked off his quest for a third-straight Must See Racing Sprint Car Series championship the same way he did one year ago, by winning the season-opening Southern Shootout at Anderson Motor Speedway in dominating fashion on Friday night.
McCune wheeled his No. 88 B&B Machinery Movers mount around the outside of former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Bobby Santos at lap 19 and never looked back, pulling out to a lead of as much as six seconds over the second half of the race en route to victory.
The caution-free affair took just 12 minutes and 40 seconds to complete, at an average race pace of 88.816 mph.
McCune also drove into the Must See Racing history books as a result of his performance on Friday night, scoring his record-breaking 17th career series win and second in a row at AMS.
“Wow. I don’t even know where to start,” said McCune, who broke a tie with fellow two-time champion Brian Gerster atop the series win list. “What a night. This car is just a blast to drive right now. I can’t thank everyone who lays a hand on it enough … because this was a team effort. I’m just the lucky guy who gets to drive it.”
While McCune admitted that Santos was “legitimately faster” over the first part of Friday night’s run, the Ohio veteran moved up a groove in a search for speed – a move that ultimately propelled him from fifth on the grid to the eventual win.
“He got out on us, and I just kept tweaking on the wing … trying to figure out where the car was fastest at. There were times when the car was fastest up on the high line, and I finally found a sweet spot where it really worked well up top. I could tell, once I started lapping cars, how much I was pulling away from them and I knew we had something special.”
Santos faded through the second half of the race after starting on the pole, ultimately coming home 4.831 seconds adrift at the finish in his No. 22A Parker’s Sanitary Pumping/Dick Fieler Racing entry.
“I think it was a combination of us losing a little bit and (Jimmy) gaining a bit,” said Santos, who led the first 18 laps. “We got a little bit tight, but those guys were really, really good tonight. Jimmy is on top of his game right now. They’re the guys to beat … so we’re just going to go home, work a little bit harder and hopefully come back tomorrow night and try to finish one spot better.”
Two-time Little 500 champion Jacob Wilson completed the podium in third, followed by Jeff Bloom and Johnny Petrozelle.
2015 Must See Racing Rookie of the Year Anthony McCune pulled double-duty on Friday night, subbing for Sam Hatfield in the USAC Eastern Midget feature in addition to driving his winged 410ci sprint car.
The younger McCune, Jimmy’s nephew, finished third in the Eastern Midget race and ran sixth in the Must See Racing feature, coming one spot shy of duplicating his career-best mark from 2014 at Salem.
In qualifying, Johnny Bridges defended his Anderson Motor Speedway track record for the second-straight year with a lap of 13.225 seconds (102.079 mph) around the three-eighths-mile oval, earning $100 in qualifying bonus money for his efforts.
Tom Jewell and Jimmy McCune won their respective 10-lap heat races, also collecting $100 in bonus money for their preliminary efforts.
Friday night’s event served as the season-opening event for both the Must See Racing North and Must See Racing South divisions, paying championship points separately towards both series.
The Must See Racing Sprint Car Series continues its 2017 season on April 22, with round two of the Southern Shootout at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway.
RESULTS: Must See Racing Sprint Car Series; Southern Shootout I; Anderson Motor Speedway; April 21, 2017
Engine Pro A-Feature (50 laps): 1. #88 – Jimmy McCune ; 2. #22A – Bobby Santos III ; 3. #07W – Jacob Wilson ; 4. #26 – Jeff Bloom ; 5. #59III – Johnny Petrozelle ; 6. #8 – Anthony McCune ; 7. #07 – Johnny Bridges ; 8. #75C – Jerry Caryer ; 9. #7 – Tom Jewell ; 10. #72S – Joe Speakman ; 11. #4L – Anthony Linkenhoker ; 12. #4B – Bronzie Lawson IV ; 13. #4X – Bronzie Lawson III ; 14. #33 – Joe Larkin  (DNS).
Lap Leaders: Santos 1-18, J. McCune 19-50.
Hard Charger: Jimmy McCune (+4)
Time Trials: 1. #07 – Johnny Bridges, 13.225; 2. #88 – Jimmy McCune, 13.249; 3. #59III – Johnny Petrozelle, 13.610; 4. #26 – Jeff Bloom, 13.690; 5. #07W – Jacob Wilson, 13.775; 6. #22A – Bobby Santos III, 13.821; 7. #75C – Jerry Caryer, 13.891; 8. #8 – Anthony McCune, 13.956; 9. #72S – Joe Speakman, 14.206; 10. #7 – Tom Jewell, 14.487; 11. #4B – Bronzie Lawson IV, 14.510; 12. #4L – Anthony Linkenhoker, 14.874; 13. #33 – Joe Larkin, 15.431; 14. #4X – Bronzie Lawson III, 15.589.
Clevite Heat #1 (10 laps, all transfer): 1. Tom Jewell , 2. Anthony McCune , 3. Bronzie Lawson IV , 4. Joe Speakman , 5. Anthony Linkenhoker , 6. Joe Larkin , 7. Bronzie Lawson III .
Mahle Heat #2 (10 laps, all transfer): 1. Jimmy McCune , 2. Jeff Bloom , 3. Johnny Bridges , 4. Jacob Wilson , 5. Bobby Santos III , 6. Jerry Caryer , 7. Johnny Petrozelle III .