From Jacob Seelman
ALTAMAHAW, N.C. (October 18, 2019) – What appeared to be a straightforward win for Jimmy McCune turned into a final-lap thrill show during the opener to the Must See Racing Championships Friday night at Ace Speedway.
McCune, who assumed command of the 30-lap tilt on lap 14 after early leader Ryan Litt went to the work area with a flat right-rear tire, appeared to be cruising to victory over Brian Gerster as he took the white flag from chief starter Bill Shipman.
Then turn three came along, and McCune found himself suddenly pinned behind the slower car of Johnny Petrozelle III with the checkered flag in sight.
At that moment, Gerster pitched a Hail Mary pass attempt down to the apron of the fourth corner, nosing ahead of McCune for an instant before his longtime rival used the momentum off the high side of the race track to surge back past coming to the finish line.
Knifing around another lapped car and nearly shoving Petrozelle across the stripe, McCune edged out Gerster by 0.114 seconds for his fourth win of the season, extending his point lead.
“I knew he was going to throw it down there; I saw the way that those lap cars were at the end and I was like, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to hit the bottom,’ so I just held it there. And then I saw him go and I just hit the hammer. I was gonna push the 81 (Petrozelle) across the line if I needed to.”
The victory was the 33rd of McCune’s Must See Racing Sprint Car Series career in the tour’s maiden visit to the four-tenths-mile, semi-banked North Carolina oval.
And while Friday night’s triumph did put McCune in prime position to sew up his fifth straight championship during Saturday’s season finale race, that was the last thing on his mind in victory lane.
“Everyone knows I don’t think about points, but man, Litt was real strong early,” McCune acknowledged. “It looked like we were just starting to catch him when he got to the heavier traffic; we were just starting to inch back up, because I made a couple of adjustments during that run and the car seemed to like it and started coming back to me. I thought maybe we would have had something for him.
“It would have been nice to race him. It’s just an unfortunate that he had that tire cut down, because it would’ve been a hell of a battle between the three of us.”
Gerster hung on for second in the breathtaking finish, admitting that if the stakes were higher, he might have used a different tactic to reach the line first instead of the squeaky-clean finish that ensued.
“If we were racing for $10,000 in this one, I probably would have fed him a right rear (tire),” said Gerster of his battle with McCune.
Joe Liguori filled out the podium, racing to his strongest result of the season, with Litt climbing back to fourth after a successful tire change in the work area.
Litt was attempting to pass the lapped car of Tim Henthorne going down the frontstretch when the two made contact, cutting down both Henthorne’s left-front tire and Litt’s right rear.
“I could have been a little more patient, but I basically had him (Henthorne) cleared,” noted Litt. “He came down and apologized. It’s just really disappointing. This thing was a rocketship tonight.’
Must See Racing
Friday October 18, 2019
1. 88 – Jimmy McCune
2. 50M – Brian Gerster
3. 13 – Joe Ligouri
4. 07 – Ryan Litt
5. 95 – Charlie Schultz
6. 75C – Jerry Caryer
7. 26 – Jeff Bloom
8. 81 – Johnny Petrozelle III
9. 8A – Adam Biltz
10. 72S – Joke Speakman
11. 85 – Rick Holley
12. 16 – Tim Henthorne
13. 5 – Anthony Likenhoker
14. 51 – Joshua Sexton
15. 74 – Ivan Shaver
16. 17 – Bobby Komisarski
17. 32 – Todd McQuillen
18. 7 – Tom Jewell
19. 8- Anthony McCune