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Must See Sprint At Rockford Stopped By Weather

ROCKFORD, Ill. – Mother Nature has scored a victory against the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series’ attempt to compete at Illinois’ Rockford Speedway this weekend.


Track and series officials announced Thursday evening that the sprint car portion of this weekend’s National Short Track Championship program at the quarter-mile bullring has been canceled and will not be rescheduled.


Potential weekend schedule adjustments due to a projected washout on Friday, as well as additional wet weather expected to span from Sunday through the middle of the coming week and heavy travel distances for many of the Must See Racing teams, all contributed to the decision.


The National Weather Service is calling for a 100 percent chance of rain on Friday, as well as a 50 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms for Sunday’s matinee program.


“This early decision, while difficult and disappointing, is our genuine best effort to do the right thing for everyone involved,” said Must See Racing President Jim Hanks. “Whenever possible, we try to avoid unnecessary and avoidable lost time and travel expenses for both our race teams and valued fans.


“Based on a forecast that predicts a realistic chance of rain for the day on Sunday, as well as additional rain coming into the weekend that may compact the schedule further, the track and MSR have determined that it is the best decision to cancel the sprint car portion of the event, rather than ignore the risk and forecast of probable inclement weather.”


The Rockford rainout is the third such weather-related postponement or cancellation for Must See Racing this season, after a postponement from June 1 at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway and the cancellation of the Lake Erie (Pa.) Speedway event that was scheduled for June 15.


With the Rockford weekend scrapped, the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series now looks toward its championship doubleheader, Oct. 18-19 at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C.

Schultz Gunning For MSR Redemption At Rockford

HOLLY, Mich. – Charlie Schultz doesn’t need any extra motivation going into this weekend’s Must See Racing Sprint Car Series presented by Engine Pro event at Illinois’ Rockford Speedway.


He’s been ready to chase redemption at the quarter-mile bullring for more than a year.


Schultz will take aim at the victory in Sunday’s Must See Racing event at Rockford after leading the first 48 laps of last year’s 50-lap feature before being passed by Jimmy McCune coming to the white flag.


In that event, Schultz ultimately crossed the finish line a heartbreaking second, and he’s looking to move the needle by one position this time around.


“Man, I think everyone figures that this one is definitely high on the priority list to get it done this time after that race last summer. We were so strong then,” Schultz lamented. “It was definitely a heartbreaker to lose it after leading that many laps, but I think it actually pushed us to be even stronger.

 

2018-MSR-Rockford-6-Schultz-J-McCune-Lead-Battle-Chris-Seelman-Photo

Charlie Schultz (9s) leads Jimmy McCune during Must See Racing Sprint Car Series action at Rockford Speedway. (Chris Seelman photo)


“When you consider that we came back a month later after that one and won (at Berlin), I think it was motivation for all of us on the team, even though it still stings even now. Rockford owes us one.”


Schultz noted that Rockford, being one of the shortest tracks on the series schedule, is a facility that suits his driving style well – given that he came from a karting background in his youth.


“I do think it’s a good place for us because of the fact that it’s a tight, small ratio (in the corners),” said Schultz of Rockford. “It’s a lot like indoor racing in that respect. I’ve run indoors at Columbus and Marion for a number of years in flat karts, and you just have to get up on the wheel.


“Rockford is one of those types of tracks and that suits my style, or my style suits it, however you want to say it,” Schultz added. “You have to be aggressive to be successful there, and I feel like we will be.”


Considering that Schultz hasn’t been back to Must See Racing victory lane since his win at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway in August of 2018, he’s feeling the impact of a 13-month winless drought.


That’s meant that for he and team owner John Reiser, the chase to end that dry spell is in high gear.


“There's always the push to win races, especially from a team perspective, and that’s why we keep coming to the race track. We go because we enjoy it and have fun, too, but ultimately at the end of the day you want to win races and run up front,” said Schultz. “We’ve been running up front and just haven’t quite gotten to a point where we’ve closed up the deal that last little bit.


“It seems like we don't always start off real strong, but usually by the middle of the summer we get along pretty well. And by the end of the year we’re right where we need to be,” Schultz added. “I think we just need to work on getting off to a little bit stronger of a start. We started (doing some of that) at the beginning of the season, so we’re not quite so far behind, but losing some races to the rain and scheduling issues has been frustrating.


“That’s cost us a couple of races that we could have been building on, but we’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep fighting and see where that gets us.


Schultz, who sits well inside the top five in points entering the weekend, will have to contend in a field including the likes of defending series champion Jimmy McCune; his nephew Anthony McCune; National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Jeff Bloom; Canadian Ryan Litt and Brian Gerster, Must See Racing’s all-time fast qualifier over its 10-year history.


Saturday’s program features the Rumble for the Record time-attack special, before heat racing and a special 54-lap main event takes center stage on Sunday afternoon alongside the ARCA Midwest Tour.


Pit gates at Rockford open at 8:30 a.m. CT on Saturday, with hot laps rolling off at 11 a.m. CT and the first round of qualifying beginning at 2:15 p.m. CT. The remaining rounds will start at 5 p.m. CT.


On Sunday, pit gates open at 8 a.m. CT, with hot laps at 10:45 a.m. Heat racing will commence at 1 p.m. sharp and the feature will follow later in the afternoon.

Must See Racing Honoring Late Series Flagman At Rockford

JD Wilbur

Former Must See Racing flagman J.D. Wilbur will be honored this weekend at Rockford Speedway in his home state of Illinois. (Chris Seelman photo)


HOLLY, Mich. – The Must See Racing Sprint Car Series presented by Engine Pro enters Rockford (Ill.) Speedway this weekend with a greater purpose than simply holding its penultimate event of the year.


The 410ci winged asphalt sprint car tour will honor one of its longtime faces who tragically passed away during the offseason.


J.D. Wilbur, who was the chief starter for Must See Racing from its inception until his death last November, will be remembered during the Saturday portion of National Short Track Championship weekend at the high-banked quarter-mile oval, the series track closest to Wilbur’s Illinois home.


The “J.D. Wilbur Rumble for the Record,” a king-of-the-hill, elimination-style time attack battle which will see the top 16 cars from hot laps battle for an $800 prize and also set qualifying times for Sunday’s portion of the program, will be named in the longtime flagman’s honor, a fitting tribute to his legacy.


“We knew going into this season that we wanted to do something special to honor and remember our friend J.D.,” said Must See Racing President Jim Hanks. “We can think of no better way to do just that than to tribute him by naming Saturday’s Rumble for the Record in his memory at his home track.


“J.D. is missed every day by all of us at Must See Racing, but his legacy lives on and we hope that this weekend’s action at Rockford brings joy to all those in the industry that he touched over the years.”


Prior to his time with Must See Racing, Wilbur was well-known in the motorsports industry for his time in American open wheel racing, serving as a starter for the CART FedEx Championship Series (later Champ Car) for many years.


Saturday’s Rumble for the Record – a format previously used by Must See Racing several years ago at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway – will feature the top 16 cars on speed from Saturday’s hot lap sessions.


Those 16 cars will then make standard two-lap qualifying runs, with the fastest eight drivers from the round moving on to the next elimination segment.


That process will be repeated two more times, trimming the contenders down to four and then to two, before the final pair standing duels for “King of Quick Time” honors in the championship round.


The driver who wins the final round of the Rumble for the Record will be guaranteed a minimum of $800, with a potential $200 bonus on hand if that driver breaks the Rockford track record of 11.380 seconds (79.086 mph), set by Jacob Wilson on July 3, 2011.


A driver’s fastest lap, regardless of round, will be used to pay out series championship points for qualifying and to set the lineups for Sunday’s heat races and the 54-lap main event.


Expected entrants for the Rockford weekend include four-time defending series champion Jimmy McCune, who took over the point lead last time out at Jennerstown; his nephew Anthony McCune; National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Jeff Bloom; Charlie Schultz, who nearly won at Rockford last summer; Canadian Ryan Litt and Brian Gerster, Must See Racing’s all-time fast qualifier over its 10-year history.


Gerster ruled the last Rumble for the Record at Berlin in 2017, setting what was – at the time – a new track record in the No. 50m RAM Engineering-sponsored sprint car for Dick Myers Racing.


Pit gates at Rockford open at 8:30 a.m. CT on Saturday, with hot laps rolling off at 11 a.m. CT and the first round of qualifying beginning at 2:15 p.m. CT. The remaining rounds will start at 5 p.m. CT.

Santos Romps To Must See Glory At Jennerstown

JENNERSTOWN, Pa. – Bobby Santos left Jennerstown Speedway frustrated one year ago, vowing to come back stronger after being defeated by Jimmy McCune in the inaugural American Racer David D. Mateer Memorial.


Santos did just that on Saturday night, putting on a driving clinic to capture the second running of the event and pick up a victory in his first Must See Racing Sprint Car Series presented by Engine Pro start of the season.

2019 MSR Jennerstown Bobby Santos And Crew Check Hoist Jacob Seelman Photo

Bobby Santos hoists the winner's check alongside his crew Saturday night at Jennerstown Speedway. (Jacob Seelman photo)


After being squelched by rain and a call into action as a substitute driver on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for much of the summer, Santos came back to asphalt sprint car racing at the lightning-fast half-mile and proved quickly he hasn't lost his touch at driving the methanol-fueled beasts.


Santos started fourth, but raced his way to the lead by the eighth revolution and set sail after that. He had two seconds in hand by lap 10 and when the lone caution of the race waved with five to go, the Franklin, Mass., veteran was more than eight seconds clear of his nearest pursuer.


Not even the ensuing restart could slow Santos down. He drove away from second-running Ryan Litt to take the checkered flag in front by 1.815 seconds at the finish.


Saturday night's romp, worth $4,000, was the second Must See Racing victory of Santos' career.


"These guys did an awesome job today. We made all the right adjustments and it was a lot of fun," said Santos in victory lane. "It's an honor to win this event tonight, with the caliber of field and the heavy hitters that were here. None of these wins are ever easy, but this one was definitely tough.


"Last year, we just weren't good enough, and we had to make a couple of adjustments on it compared to what we had last year," Santos added. "We continued to work on it throughout the day today. I was a little rusty through the first two practices with these things, just because I haven't done it much this year, but my dad and everybody gave me what I needed and we put a good car where it belonged."


The only incident in the 30-lap feature came when Joshua Sexton spun off the second corner and came to a stop on the backstretch, slowing the pace with 25 laps complete and setting up the final restart.

2019 MSR Jennerstown Bobby Santos Action Jacob Seelman Photo

Bobby Santos at speed on Saturday at Jennerstown Speedway. (Jacob Seelman photo)


Litt, who drove past early leader Jason Blonde with 12 to go to secure the runner-up spot, said afterward that he simply had nothing for Santos as the laps wound down.


"Man, I knew that clean air would play a big role at a really fast tracks like this one, so once he got out there, I knew it wasn't going to be easy," said Litt. "My only shot was getting into turn one (on the final restart) and I tried him there and I was just sliding all over the place, whereas he had all the grip.


"This was a good run for us, but I just really want to win one of these things. I'm tired of being second."


New all-time track record holder Brian Gerster, who turned a lap of 15.198 seconds in qualifying and had to start eighth due to the inversion, completed the podium in the Dick Myers Racing No. 50m.


"We didn't have anything for Bobby, and I'm not sure anyone else did either," Gerster admitted. "We wound up just being a little bit too free there in the feature. Bobby's a hell of a race car driver. I mean, pavement fans know that he can drive anything and he's real good, so it's not really anything to hang your head about when you get beat by Santos.


"We don't like running third, but we had a pretty good start," Gerster added. "I thought we were going to have a shot at getting up there and racing with those guys, but Bobby got away from us a little bit late and I traded spots in there one time. We just weren't quite good enough to get the job done."


Charlie Schultz crossed the line fourth ahead of Jimmy McCune, with Blonde coming home sixth as the final car on the lead lap after pacing the first seven rotations around the Pennsylvania speed plant.


Polesitter Kevin Feeney finished eighth, one lap behind the frontrunners.


Anthony McCune lost the series point lead after fuel flow issues that he and his No. 8 team battled all afternoon prevented him from taking the green flag in Saturday night's 30-lap feature.


Jimmy McCune, who came into the day 10 points back of his nephew, assumed command of the standings by virtue of his quiet fifth-place finish.


While only Sexton's spin hampered the main event, two major incidents did mar heat-race action.


In the first heat, a broken right-front wheel center on the No. 7 of Tom Jewell sent the Michigan veteran hard into the outside wall at full speed in turns three and four working lap two. Jewell's car grinded to a halt high off the exit of the fourth corner, and he climbed from his car and walked back to the pit area.


The second heat saw Bobby Komisarski's No. 17 grenade a right-rear tire on the final lap of the heat in turn one. Komisarski tagged the outside wall and spun to a stop, done for the night, but was unhurt.


The Must See Racing Sprint Car Series season continues Sept. 28-29 at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway.


RESULTS: Must See Racing Sprint Car Series; Jennerstown Speedway; Sept. 14, 2019


Hamilton Trucking Time Trials (best of two laps): 1. #50m – Brian Gerster, 15.198 (NTR); 2. #9s – Charlie Schultz, 15.421; 3. #07L – Ryan Litt, 15.431; 4. #88 – Jimmy McCune, 15.640; 5. #22a – Bobby Santos III, 15.653; 6. #13 – Joe Liguori, 15.725; 7. #42 – Jason Blonde, 15.738; 8. #8 – Anthony McCune, 15.915; 9. #6k – Kevin Feeney, 16.107; 10. #10k – Christian Koehler, 16.139; 11. #26 – Jeff Bloom, 16.177; 12. #7 – Tom Jewell, 16.245; 13. #8a – Adam Biltz, 16.400; 14. #17 – Bobby Komisarski, 16.770; 15. #81 – Johnny Petrozelle III, 16.783; 16. #75c – Jerry Caryer, 16.813; 17. #51 – Joshua Sexton, 18.094; 18. #15 – Tim Henthorne, 18.324; 19. #85 – Rick Holley, 18.387; 20. #32 – Todd McQuillen, 19.087; 21. #4 – Anthony Linkenhoker, 19.626; 22. #74 – Ivan Shaver, 20.430.


Abe's Auto Parts Heat #1 (8 laps, all transfer): 1. Ryan Litt [5], 2. Kevin Feeney [3], 3. Joe Liguori [4], 4. Johnny Petrozelle III [1], 5. Rick Holley [7], 6. Tim Henthorne [6], 7. Ivan Shaver [8], 8. Tom Jewell [2].


Abe's Auto Parts Heat #2 (8 laps, all transfer): 1. Bobby Santos III [4], 2. Jeff Bloom [2], 3. Charlie Schultz [5], 4. Anthony McCune [3], 5. Bobby Komisarski [1], 6. Joshua Sexton [6], 7. Todd McQuillen [7]. (2:10.331)


Abe's Auto Parts Heat #3 (8 laps, all transfer): 1. Adam Biltz [2], 2. Jimmy McCune [5], 3. Brian Gerster [6], 4. Jerry Caryer [1], 5. Christian Koehler [3], 6. Jason Blonde [4], 7. Anthony Linkenhoker [7]. (2:19.055)


David D. Mateer Memorial A-Feature (40 laps): 1. #22a – Bobby Santos III [4], 2. #07L – Ryan Litt [6], 3. #50m – Brian Gerster [8], 4. #9s – Charlie Schultz [7], 5. #88 – Jimmy McCune [5], 6. #42 – Jason Blonde [2], 7. #13 – Joe Liguori [3], 8. #6k – Kevin Feeney [1], 9. #8a – Adam Biltz [11], 10. #10k – Christian Koehler [9], 11. #26 – Jeff Bloom [10], 12. #75c – Jerry Caryer [13], 13. #81 – Johnny Petrozelle III [12], 14. #85 – Rick Holley [16], 15. #51s – Joshua Sexton [14], 16. #15 – Tim Henthorne [15], 17. #74 – Ivan Shaver [19], 18. #4L – Anthony Linkenhoker [18], 19. #32 – Todd McQuillen [17], 20. #8 – Anthony McCune (DNS), 21. #7 – Tom Jewell (DNS), 22. #17 – Bobby Komisarski (DNS).


Lap Leader(s): Jason Blonde 1-7, Bobby Santos III 8-30.


Hard Charger: #50m – Brian Gerster (+5)

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Jacob Seelman
Freelance Writer
Series Announcer for Must See Racing