From Must See Racing
MARNE, Mich. (May 20, 2023) – In a thrilling display during Berlin Raceway’s Cars & Coneys Night, Jason Blonde kicked off the Must See Racing Engine Pro Sprint Car Series season in winning fashion on Saturday.
Blonde snuck past polesitter and early leader Mike McVetta in traffic, then held off a hard-charging Bobby Santos III as time wound down in the 30-lap feature en route to a 1.036-second victory.
It marked Blonde’s 10th career Must See Racing sprint car win – just the third driver in the series’ 14-year history to reach double digits – and his third score at the home-state track that sits two hours northwest of his Litchfield residence.
Those factors, plus the fact that Blonde brought Santos’ four-race win streak with Must See Racing to an end, made Saturday’s triumph a little bit sweeter for the multi-time pavement sprint car champion.
“I honestly don’t know how we held him off,” said Blonde in victory lane. “When I saw his (car’s) shadow behind me, I knew how close he was, and I knew that I couldn’t lift when I was fighting through traffic or he would be right there on me. Man, that was tough.
“Bobby’s the toughest (driver) there is in these cars right now … so it’s a big deal when you can come and beat those guys like we did today,” Blonde added. “Even (Ryan) Litt and the (No.) 50 car … this field is a gauntlet every night and it’s hard to win. We’re happy and it’s a gratifying win, for sure.”
After a six-invert placed Ohio supermodified ace Mike McVetta on the pole in Dick Myers’ potent No. 50m, McVetta rabbited out to the early lead and paced the first 14 circuits with relative ease.
Even as lap traffic came into play on the sixth rotation, McVetta appeared to have the car to beat before his tire stagger opened up, creating a “wild loose” condition on corner entry for the veteran.
A wiggle in turn one eventually allowed Blonde to pounce, as he used the slower car of Tom Geren as a pick to duck to the inside and assume control on lap 15 – quickly pulling a gap on McVetta and the rest of his pursuers.
The field was tightened, however, after fluid from the ailing machine of Joe Liguori forced a caution flag to be called with 12 laps remaining, setting up a double-file restart with Blonde leading Ryan Litt, McVetta, and Santos.
Santos darted up the outside lane from fourth to second when green flag conditions returned for good, but after abusing his right-rear tire somewhat during a multi-lap battle with Blonde, the past NASCAR modified champion faded slightly over the final few circuits. Santos eventually finished as the runner-up.
“This place is not easy when you get caught in dirty air, and Jason had the advantage of clean track when it was most important,” noted Santos, whose attention will now shift to his non-winged sprint car and next weekend’s Lucas Oil Little 500 at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway.
“We had a great race car; we just came up one spot short, and Jason and his guys did a really great job,” Santos added. “This is the start of a very busy stretch for us, so hopefully we can keep the speed going.”
Litt, the only Canadian in the field, filled out the podium ahead of McVetta and Charlie Schultz. Davey Hamilton Jr., who entered the day on a 10-race win streak in asphalt sprint car racing, finished sixth.
Schultz, the reigning series champion, kicked off his title defense in the best way possible by clocking the fastest qualifying lap among the 18 drivers in attendance. He toured the five-sixteenths-mile oval in 13.275 seconds ( mph) with his rebadged IBT Motorsports No. 9s sprint car.
Dorman Snyder, making his first Must See Racing appearance since 2015, won the first eight-lap heat race. Five-time champion Jimmy McCune topped the second heat, which doubled as the Engine Pro Fast Car Dash, in his return to Must See Racing from burn injuries suffered in a dirt sprint car crash last year.
The Must See Racing Engine Pro Sprint Car Series season continues May 26-27 with the two-day American Speed U.S. Nationals at Birch Run (Mich.) Speedway and Event Center.
Next weekend’s action at Birch Run will be taped for Must See Racing’s new television window on MAVTV, airing as part of the All-American Racing programming block on June 12 (Friday event) and June 19 (Saturday event), respectively.
For more information on Must See Racing, visit the series website at www.mustseeracing.com.
RESULTS: Must See Racing Engine Pro Sprint Car Series; Berlin Raceway; Marne, Mich.; May 20, 2023
Qualifying (best of two laps): 1. Charlie Schultz, 9s, IBT-13.275; 2. Bobby Santos, 22a, Fieler-13.342; 3. Joe Liguori, 13, Liguori-13.425; 4. Ryan Litt, 07L, Litt-13.441; 5. Jason Blonde, 42, Nosal-13.450; 6. Mike McVetta, 50m, Myers-13.467; 7. Jimmy McCune, 88, McCune-13.518; 8. Davey Hamilton Jr., 14, Morgan-13.689; 9. Teddy Alberts, 44, Wolverine-14.025; 10. Rick Holley, 85, Holley-14.056; 11. Dorman Snyder, 99, Stickney-14.184; 12. Bobby Komisarski, 7, Fogle-14.342; 13. Tommy Nichols, 55, Nichols-14.844; 14. Tom Geren, 11g, Geren-14.946; 15. Andrew Bogusz, 17, Bogusz-15.154; 16. Anthony McCune, 8, McCune-15.759; 17. Charlie Baur, 23, Baur-16.082; 18. Jeff Bloom, 26, Bloom-NT.
Mahle Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Dorman Snyder , 2. Tom Geren , 3. Teddy Alberts , 4. Rick Holley , 5. Bobby Komisarski , 6. Tommy Nichols , 7. Andrew Bogusz , 8. Charlie Baur , 9. Anthony McCune , 10. Jeff Bloom (DNS).
Engine Pro Fast Car Dash (8 laps): 1. Jimmy McCune , 2. Jason Blonde , 3. Mike McVetta , 4. Joe Liguori , 5. Ryan Litt , 6. Davey Hamilton Jr. , 7. Charlie Schultz , 8. Bobby Santos III .
Cars & Coneys Night A-Feature (30 laps): 1. #42 – Jason Blonde , 2. #22a – Bobby Santos III , 3. #07L – Ryan Litt , 4. #50m – Mike McVetta , 5. #9s – Charlie Schultz , 6. #14 – Davey Hamilton Jr. , 7. #7 – Bobby Komisarski , 8. #44 – Teddy Alberts , 9. #99 – Dorman Snyder , 10. #11g – Tom Geren , 11. #17 – Andrew Bogusz , 12. #23 – Charlie Baur , 13. #85 – Rick Holley , 14. #13 – Joe Liguori , 15. #55 – Tommy Nichols , 16. #88 – Jimmy McCune , 17. #8 – Anthony McCune , 18. #26 – Jeff Bloom .
Lap Leader(s): Mike McVetta 1-14, Jason Blonde 15-30.
Hard Charger: #7 – Bobby Komisarski (+5)