By Jacob Seelman
ALTAMAHAW, N.C. – Jimmy McCune may not come to the race track to run second, but his runner-up finish during Saturday’s Must See Racing Sprint Car Series presented by Engine Pro finale did carry plenty of weight.
By outrunning his chief rival, Canadian Ryan Litt, during both halves of a two-day weekend at Ace Speedway, McCune was able to secure his record-extending fifth Must See Racing championship.
A Friday night victory at the four-tenths-mile oval, combined with his second-place finish Saturday afternoon, was enough to give McCune the crown by an unofficial final margin of 35 points.
In contrast, Litt finished fourth and third in the two season-ending features.
McCune has won every Must See Racing championship from 2015 through 2019, an impressive feat that wasn’t lost on him after all the racing finally died down on Saturday evening.
“Five straight, that’s pretty cool,” he said. “We work our tails off as a team for moments like these.”
McCune’s season was one that was a roller-coaster ride from the very beginning, after an engine failure prior to the second feature of the year at Birch Run (Mich.) Speedway relegated him to seventh in points – the first time since 2015 that McCune had found himself anywhere else other than the top spot.
That gave the whole season a bit of a different feel to it, as instead of defending his position at the head of the points order, McCune was playing from behind almost all year long.
“It was different, yeah, but we tried not to focus on that too much and just stuck to our guns of going out and trying to win every race every time we went to the track,” McCune noted. “We know that if we do that, then the points more often than not take care of themselves, and you see what happened.”
And just as McCune said, things began to look up for him as others around him faltered late.
Charlie Schultz was forced out of the Sandusky Speedway feature in August with electrical issues, McCune’s nephew Anthony lost an engine in the penultimate round at Jennerstown (Pa.) Speedway and Litt just simply couldn’t match McCune’s torrid pace of podium finishes when it mattered most.
All of that added together to give Jimmy McCune the points lead back with three races left on the table, and he held it thereafter to secure the big trophy and a seat at the head table during the series’ annual awards banquet in Coldwater, Mich., in January.
But even as he came into the Carolinas finally back in a familiar position, McCune refused to think about the prospect of adding another championship to his collection.
“If you let that get into your head, you’re already in trouble; you want to stay focused on the next race,” he said. “We didn’t think about points. Hell, I haven’t thought about points for five years. I just go out, try to collect trophies and we’ve been fortunate enough to turn those into five titles as a team.”
And in the end, that plan worked out – just as it had four times before for the Must See Racing kingpin.
“Just like that, it’s over. A season’s done and we got the championship,” McCune said. “It’s no big deal. I’d rather have had that win … but Litt had the balls to race us from the back and they didn’t. It’s just a shame, man. I would have loved to race Brian from the back, like we should have, but it happens.
“Hats off to all my guys. They’ve worked their asses off all year,” he continued. “To come back from not even starting a race earlier in the season and be standing on the frontstretch with a championship, a win and a second … that’s pretty damn cool in my book.”
McCune will be honored for his championship season during the Must See Racing Awards Banquet in Coldwater, Mich., on Saturday, Jan. 18.