BIRCH RUN, Mich. – Anthony McCune may have dominated Friday night’s American Racer Invitational at Birch Run Speedway, but Jimmy McCune was not to be denied in the closing stages of the 30-lap feature.
The uncle passed his 19-year-old nephew on a late-race restart in the non-points special event, leading the final six circuits around the four-tenths-mile oval for his seventh series win of the year.
“Man, we had to work for this one,” said Jimmy McCune in victory lane. “We were horrible for most of the night. We made every change in the book, it felt like, and it took us forever to find something that worked. Finally, in the heat race, I was able to start working the top … and we were just a little too snug.”
“That top groove was where it was at in the feature. We could make it work well. I just can’t believe the year we’re having, man. (Seven wins) is unbelievable.”
After Anthony McCune led the first 24 laps from the outside pole, Jimmy McCune used traffic to his advantage after rising from fifth on the grid, taking second from Doug Dietsch on lap 10 and cutting a near-three second deficit down to mere car lengths inside of 10 to go as Anthony struggled through traffic.
Just as Jimmy was making the winning pass in Turns 3 and 4 around Anthony’s outside, the caution flag flew coming to five to go for the spinning cars of Kyle Edwards and Christian Koehler – who started from the pole after an invert pill of 10 – on the frontstretch.
With scoring reverting back to the last fully-completed lap, Anthony reassumed the lead for a single-file restart, with Jimmy chasing as the field returned under the green flag with six laps to run.
Anthony remained glued to the bottom as Jimmy attacked the center groove of the race track, drawing even before another caution flew for the slowing car of Derek Snyder on the backstretch.
That set up another restart with six to go, and the second verse was the same as the first, with Jimmy using the same move to complete the pass and take a commanding lead by the time the five-to-go signal came down from the flagstand.
But the two-time champion’s night wasn’t quite done, as Snyder spun on the frontstretch as flagman J.D. Wilbur was set to unfurl the twin checkers, setting up a green-white-checkered restart that saw Jimmy McCune run off into the Michigan night.
Anthony McCune settled for his second runner-up finish of the year by .940 of a second, but admitted he could taste the possibility of his first-career win as the laps wound down.
“I wanted that first win,” he said wistfully. “I thought we had a great shot at it … but I knew somebody would be coming (from behind) eventually. I didn’t want to see that caution; I thought maybe I could have held him off without it, but it’s still a great night for us. I’ve just got to keep following him (Jimmy) and keep learning, and hopefully that first win will come soon.”
Jason Blonde drove from seventh to complete the podium in third, followed by Jacob Wilson and Ryan Gillenwater.
In time trials, former supermodified ace Kyle Edwards scored his first-career Abe’s Auto Parts Fast Time Award with a lap of 12.980 seconds (110.940 mph) around the four-tenths-mile oval.
Tom Jewell, Wilson and Gillenwater won their respective eight-lap heat races.
Friday night’s event marked the inaugural appearance by Must See Racing at the recently-reopened Birch Run facility, which was purchased by Andy Suski and heavily remodeled before the start of the season.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…