ANDERSON, Ind. – A healthy crop of 15 Must See Racing Sprint Car Series drivers and teams officially got the 2019 season underway with open practice on Friday night at Indiana’s Anderson Speedway.
The group in attendance accounted for two-thirds of the expected entries for Saturday’s Must See Racing 50 at the high-banked, quarter-mile bullring, with three rounds of practice fully completed.
While no official times were taken during the evening, veterans and rookies alike got a chance to shake down their machines and get a feel for the race track ahead of the season-opening event.
Among the returning stars looking to get a head start on the competition was Lorain, Ohio’s Charlie Schultz, a former Midwest Supermodified Ass’n champion who finished third in points last season and is entering his third full-time season with Must See Racing this year.
On the unofficial stopwatch, Schultz was among the top-three quickest cars on Friday. He’s hoping to build on his Anderson run from a year ago, when he finished fourth after a top-five qualifying effort.
“The car felt really good,” said Schultz. “We made some changes over the winter and updated a few things, and went off what we had from here last year for our notes and baseline (setup). That was where we started off at here, and I think right out of the trailer we were pretty good.
“I can’t say we’re out of the ballpark for tomorrow; I think we’re in good shape.”
Four-time defending series champion Jimmy McCune was keeping his cards close to the vest Friday, not wanting to give anything away at a track where he’s won five times before in Must See Racing action.
“We just went out to shake everything down and make sure we actually had brakes this time,” McCune noted. “All in all, we’ve got our car in working order and we know what we need to get it fast, so we’re looking for a good day tomorrow to get our run at another championship off to a solid start.”
On the flip side of the coin, two rookies taking their first laps at Anderson in winged asphalt sprint car competition Friday afternoon were 16-year-old Trey Osborne and 14-year-old Brenden Torok.
Osborne showed out strongly in veteran car owner Mike Blake’s No. 81 entry, getting up to speed quickly around the same track at which he’s earned three wins in Kenyon Midget Series competition.
“The Kenyon car compared to this was a different world,” Osborne explained. “When you turn in the corner with this thing, it just sets (down) and hooks. It’s a lot different than the Kenyon car, which you’re muscling around a good bit. … Mike has this car set up well, though. I’m not having to work it too hard.”
Torok nearly didn’t make it to the race track this weekend, but with some hauling assistance from John Reiser, was able to make his first laps in the Dave Koyan-owned No. 99t on Friday afternoon.
“I’m just glad to be here; today was so much fun,” Torok noted. “I can’t say thank you enough to John, Charlie (Schultz) and the whole JR Motorsports team for helping to get our car here this weekend. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to do this deal. It was a solid afternoon, I feel like, and I kept learning every time I got out on the track. The last session, I really felt like we got the handle figured out.
“Saturday is about keeping the car in one piece and not trying to take more than the car and the track are willing to give us, but I feel good about things. This place is tight, but it’s a lot of fun to drive.”
Also taking laps on Friday were Anthony McCune, Tom Jewell, Brian Vaughan, Todd McQuillen, Jerry Caryer, Joe Liguori, Tyler Roahrig, Jeff Bloom and Tony Grams.
Anthony Linkenhoker and Rick Holley were at the track on Friday, but didn’t arrive in time to turn laps during one of the three practice sessions held throughout the evening. Both veterans plan to compete during Saturday’s racing program, however.