OVID, Mich. – Jimmy McCune and Jason Blonde put on one of the most memorable shows in Must See Racing Sprint Car Series history on Saturday night at Owosso Speedway, with McCune ultimately topping the Firecracker 50 for his fifth victory of the season and making history in the process.
In a feature that saw four overall lead changes, including two inside the final nine laps, McCune dove to the inside of Blonde in turn four coming to five laps to go as Blonde washed up the race track – taking the lead for good after Blonde had passed him on the outside just three laps before.
McCune ultimately rocketed away to a 4.277-second victory at the twin checkers, but the win was made more significant in multiple ways.
Not only did the third-generation racer win the first Must See Racing event held since the loss of his grandfather, Irish Jim McCune, in early June – he also tied Brian Gerster’s all-time series wins record with 16 career victories in the process.
“Man, what a battle that was,” McCune laughed in victory lane. “That was a lot of fun. I didn’t know if I was going to get another shot at him when he passed me, but I stood on the gas, roasted the (right rear) tire off and when I did get back in front of him, I took his lane away. The lapped traffic may have helped us a little bit at the end, but all in all, we got the win and it was a great night.”
After a 10 was rolled on the inversion die by Blonde, who scored his fifth-career Must See Racing Quick Time Award earlier in the night with a blistering lap of 12.962 seconds, young gun Grant Galloway started on the pole with a host of hounds behind him at the initial green flag.
However, it didn’t take long for chaos to strike.
Going down into turn one, eighth-starting Brian Gerster wheel-hopped over the right-rear tire of Ryan Gillenwater, after Gillenwater shot from the bottom lane up the race track. The loss of traction sent Gerster straight into the outside wall in turn one, demolishing the right side of his No. 50M Dick Myers Racing Mopar sprinter and ending his night.
“We were on the outside row, and he (Gillenwater) just locked up his brakes and shot up the track from the bottom,” Gerster explained. “He came right into our path and I had nowhere to go. Not sure if someone checked up in front of him or what happened, but he changed lanes without signaling and we ran over his right rear (tire).”
“Unfortunately it was another hard hit for the race team and tore the car up pretty bad, but we’ll bounce back, get things fixed up again and be back before too long.”
The incident drew a six-minute red flag for cleanup, and forced a complete restart as no laps were officially completed. Once the green flag flew again, Jerry Caryer shot around Galloway from the outside pole and took the early lead as Galloway fell back through the field.
While Galloway was falling, Blonde was rising. He had moved up to fourth in less than two laps and by lap five, he was on the podium in third as Tyler Roahrig began to pressure Caryer for the top spot.
Caryer led the race until the ninth round, when Roahrig edged ahead by .024 of a second at the stripe before clearing the No. 75C in turns one and two. From there, the Plymouth, Ind. Native began to check out – leading by nearly three-quarters of a second and turning back every challenge that was thrown at him through the race’s first half.
McCune dispatched Caryer for second on lap 11 and gave chase to Roahrig, but it wasn’t until the lap after halfway – the 26th round – that the reigning series champion used slower traffic to get around Roahrig and take the lead for the first time on the night.
Though Roahrig had another look to the inside two laps later, he quickly lost touch with McCune as they fought through traffic – falling off by 3.3 seconds before a timely caution flew with 17 laps to go, with Grant Galloway coasting to a stop down the backstretch.