DEGRAFF, Ohio – official series release and audio by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman – CSP/Chris Seelman photo –
Brian Gerster took back the reins of the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series from reigning title-holder Jimmy McCune on Saturday night, turning in a stunning performance in the series’ inaugural visit to Shady Bowl Speedway.
Gerster passed early race leader and former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Bobby Santos on lap 10 of the 50-lap Battle at the Bowl, and once he was out front, the Dick Myers-owned “Mopar Missile” lived up to its nickname.
The two-time series champion paced the remainder of the distance with startling speed, lapping all but the top four cars and motoring to a 7.716 second victory over seven-time Auto Value Super Sprints champion Jason Blonde.
All told, the feature ran caution-free and took a scant 10 minutes and three seconds to complete. The race also served as round four of the six-race American Sprint Cup mini-series.
“This car was really, really good tonight,” Gerster said in Engine Pro Victory Lane. “The McCune family kicked our (tails) down in the Carolinas, so Dick Myers and our engineer went back to work and got us a little bit faster for the race tonight. It’s pretty awesome to get this win too, because I’ve got some of my buddies here watching that are gonna be on my pit crew for the Little 500 next week, so I’m glad I could deliver and give them something to push for (at Anderson).”
“Thanks to Must See Racing and Shady Bowl for putting this series on and kudos to all the fans who stuck out the early weather from today to see us race. We couldn’t do it without you guys and I really hope you enjoyed the show.”
Engine Pro polesitter Jerry Caryer and former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Bobby Santos led the field to the green flag, and it was Santos who got the early advantage as he rolled from the outside to the lead on the opening lap.
By the time another circuit was in the books, the Dick Fieler Racing driver had opened up a one second advantage over the field as a furious scramble for second was underway behind him.
That advantage would not last, however.
By lap five, Gerster had worked his way from sixth on the grid to second, and he quickly axed the margin from a second down to two car lengths in just two laps. By the ninth round, Gerster was knocking on the tail tank of the No. 22A and the next time by, he had worked clear of Santos in turn three to assume the lead for good.
As Gerster worked his way through traffic and away from the field, Santos was left to deal with Blonde for the last two-thirds of the race. While the modified ace was able to hold Blonde at bay through halfway and into the final 20 laps, Blonde finally worked his way past with 13 laps to go but finished a distant second at the twin checkers.
“The car just wasn’t rotating in the corner like I needed it to,” explained Blonde. “It was just really tight on entry and got loose from the center off. By the time I finally got to second he (Gerster) was long gone. Congrats to those guys, though; they’re the best there’s been in asphalt sprint car racing the last few years and to finish second – for this team – feels like a win to us.”
McCune was able to follow Blonde past Santos, finishing right where he started in third after falling back in the first half of the race.
“We were junk all night, to be honest,” McCune said. “These tight, bullring-type places are tough on us, setup-wise. We struggled, plain and simple. That’s just the name of the game and it’s why we race. From where we started though, and to end up here on the front stretch, I can’t complain too badly at that.”
Santos hung onto a fading car to finish fourth, the last car on the lead lap. Two-time Little 500 champion Jacob Wilson rounded out the top five, competing in his first Must See Racing event in over a year.
After setting a new track record of 10.666 seconds (101.256 mph) in Engine Pro Time Trials, breaking Dave Baumgartner’s old mark of 10.830 set on Sept. 18, 2010, Johnny Bridges’ run at glory was stalled by the invert die.
Bridges rolled an eight, placing him on the outside of the fourth row for the feature, fell off the lead lap on the 26th circuit and could never recover. He limped home to an eighth-place finish.
With the win, Gerster assumes the points lead by five tallies over McCune, with Bridges nine points further back in third.
In support division action, Jason Purtee won the 20-lap Pure Stock feature and Larry Adams claimed the loot in the 20-lap Compact division main event.
Purtee’s win was a wire-to-wire performance, while Adams passed race-long leader Josh Folz on the outside with four laps remaining, going on to an easy victory down the stretch.
The Must See Racing Sprint Car Series returns to action on Sunday, May 22, with round four of the season taking place at Spitzer Motor Speedway in Mansfield, Ohio.
For more information on Must See Racing, including results, schedule information and the latest driver and team news, visit www.mustseeracing.com.
RESULTS: Must See Racing Sprint Car Series; Shady Bowl Speedway; DeGraff, Ohio; May 21, 2016
Engine Pro Time Trials (best of two laps): 1. #07 – Johnny Bridges, 10.666 seconds (new all-time track record); 2. #50M – Brian Gerster, 10.729; 3. #07W – Jacob Wilson, 10.819; 4. #42 – Jason Blonde, 10.974; 5. #26 – Jeff Bloom, 11.051; 6. #88 – Jimmy McCune, 11.129; 7. #22A – Bobby Santos III, 11.300; 8. #75C – Jerry Caryer, 11.405; 9. #22S – Derek Snyder, 11.431; 10. #9 – Chris Lamb, 11.477; 11. #9L – Kris Leming, 11.964; 12. #11G – Tom Geren, 12.464; 13. #42S – Joe Speakman, NT.
Mahle Heat Race #1 (10 laps, all transfer): 1. Jacob Wilson, 2. Bobby Santos, 3. Johnny Bridges, 4. Jeff Bloom, 5. Derek Snyder, 6. Kris Leming.
SpeedPro Heat Race #2 (10 laps, all transfer): 1. Brian Gerster, 2. Jimmy McCune, 3. Jerry Caryer, 4. Jason Blonde, 5. Chris Lamb, 6. Tom Geren.
Engine Pro A-Feature (50 laps): 1. Brian Gerster , 2. Jason Blonde , 3. Jimmy McCune , 4. Bobby Santos , 5. Jacob Wilson , 6. Jerry Caryer , 7. Chris Lamb , 8. Johnny Bridges , 9. Derek Snyder , 10. Tom Geren , 11. Jeff Bloom .
Time of Feature: 10:03.
Lap Leaders: Santos 1-9, Gerster 10-50.
CREDIT: Must See Racing