LOVES PARK, Ill. – Jimmy McCune broke Charlie Schultz’s heart on Saturday night at Rockford Speedway, stealing the lead with two laps left and going on to win the Must See Racing Sprintacular at the semi-banked quarter-mile.
McCune, who was running third with five laps left in the 50-lap main event, executed a pair of perfectly-timed slide jobs in turns one and two to leapfrog both Jacob Wilson and then Schultz in the final laps.
The three-time defending series champion forced his way to Wilson’s inside with four to go and then stalked Schultz, who led the first 48 circuits from the outside pole. Finally, coming to two laps remaining, McCune got a run to the inside exiting turn four and muscled his way past on the opposite end of the track, charging into the top spot and darting away into the Illinois night.
Saturday night’s victory was the 28th of McCune’s Must See Racing career, as well as his fourth of the season and his fourth at Rockford. He ran the closing stages with little to no brakes onboard his car.
“I don’t even know where to start with this one,” said McCune, driver of the Abe’s Auto Parts & Sales/B&B Machinery Movers/Rev-X Oil sprinter. “We worked our tails off all day on this car. We changed every ounces of brakes … all three calipers … bled the brakes like 18 times, and somehow it all worked out.
“Those last five laps, I don’t even know where that came from, to be honest with you,” McCune continued. “It was hard tonight, but for some reason we started getting a good run on the high side and started catching the guys in front of us. They took that lane away, so I knew I had to go back to the bottom. We used up a lot of race track, but we got the W and that’s what counts at the end of the day.”
Combined with his five wins at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway, nearly a third of McCune’s series wins have come on quarter-mile bullrings, a type of track that McCune simply says suits his driving style “to a tee.”
“I grew up doing the quarter-mile stuff,” noted McCune. “I came to these types of tracks 15 or 20 years ago in a midget … maybe even longer than that. I’ve always loved these little places and how you can root and gouge for space when you need to. It’s just fun, hard racing, man.”
Schultz jumped into the lead off the initial start and fended off multiple advances from Wilson for the first three-quarters of the race, with only a caution flag on lap eight for the blown motor on Joe Speakman’s car slowing the roll of the Lorain, Ohio veteran.
As the laps wore on, however, Schultz’s car got “wicked tight” until he finally pushed too wide in turns three and four. He led lap 48 by a half car length, but McCune’s run through turns one and two was just too strong and Schultz was forced to settle for second in the end, 1.114 seconds adrift.
Despite the heartbreak of just missing out on his first Must See Racing win, Schultz climbed from his car with a smile on his face and his head held high after a career-best performance.
“With about five laps to go, the car just started getting tighter and tighter. Earlier in the run, the 07 (Wilson) stuck a nose underneath me, but I was able to get back going again and get moving through traffic,” said Schultz. “The lapped cars didn’t hurt me any; we just got a little too snug.
“Last year here, we were a lap down in sixth, so to come out with this kind of a performance is big for this being only my second time here,” Schultz added. “To finish second tonight was a huge confidence builder. It’s both frustrating and rewarding … but we’re happy with where we’re headed as a team.”
Wilson completed the podium in third, followed by Anthony McCune and Johnny Petrozelle III, who was the final car on the lead lap in fifth.
Even in spite of the lap eight caution flag, Saturday night’s feature was completed in just 13 minutes and 19 seconds, at an average race pace of 56.316 mph.
Anthony McCune kicked off the night by scoring his second-career Hamilton Trucking Fast Time Award with a lap of 11.601 seconds (77.580 mph) in qualifying. Joe Speakman and Jacob Wilson won their respective heat races.
The Must See Racing Sprint Car Series season continues with the Fast Forty at Owosso (Mich.) Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 4. Jimmy McCune is the defending event winner.
RESULTS: Must See Racing Sprint Car Series; Rockford Speedway; July 28, 2018
1-800-RADIATOR A-Feature (50 laps): 1. #88 – Jimmy McCune ; 2. #9s – Charlie Schultz ; 3. #07 – Jacob Wilson ; 4. #8 – Anthony McCune ; 5. #81 – Johnny Petrozelle ; 6. #75c – Jerry Caryer ; 7. #8a – Adam Biltz ; 8. #4L – Anthony Linkenhoker ; 9. #72s – Joe Speakman ; 10. #26 – Jeff Bloom ; 11. #7 – Tom Jewell .
Lap Leader(s): Schultz 1-48, J. McCune 49-50.
Hard Charger: #88 – Jimmy McCune (+4)
Hamilton Trucking Time Trials (best of two laps): 1. #8 – Anthony McCune, 11.601; 2. #88 – Jimmy McCune, 11.736; 3. #07 – Jacob Wilson, 11.753; 4. #26 – Jeff Bloom, 12.098; 5. #9s – Charlie Schultz, 12.105; 6. #7 – Tom Jewell, 12.212; 7. #81 – Johnny Petrozelle, 12.404; 8. #75c – Jerry Caryer, 12.526; 9. #72s – Joe Speakman, 12.608; 10. #4L – Anthony Linkenhoker, 13.616; 11. #8a – Adam Biltz, no time.
Abe’s Auto Parts Heat #1 (10 laps): 1. Joe Speakman , 2. Johnny Petrozelle , 3. Jerry Caryer , 4. Adam Biltz , 5. Anthony Linkenhoker . (2:07.553)
Abe’s Auto Parts Heat #2 (10 laps): 1. Jacob Wilson , 2. Anthony McCune , 3. Jimmy McCune , 4. Charlie Schultz , 5. Jeff Bloom , 6. Tom Jewell . (2:02.881)
-Jacob Seelman/Must See Racing Sprint Car Series Press Release
-Photo Credit: Chris Seelman