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Firecracker Flashback – Mars pits early and then rallies to win 3rd Annual Firecracker 100

Firecracker Flashback – Mars pits early and then rallies to win 3rd Annual Firecracker 100
Regional star Matt Lux goes the distance; finishes 13th
Robbie Blair scores $3,000 Uncle Sam 30 win

Sarver, PA (May 30, 2013) We’re now just four weeks away from the 7th Annual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com; scheduled for Thursday-Friday-Saturday, June 27-28-29.  Four years ago, Wisconsin Late Model star Jimmy Mars was unstoppable in 2009’s 3rd Annual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com.  After being angered by a scrape with another competitor that forced him to the pit area with a flat left-rear tire on lap 27, Mars stormed through the field to register a dramatic victory in the blockbuster $140,000 World of Outlaws Late Model Series event.

Mars, 37, of Menomonie, Wis., completed his stirring rally by passing defending WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., for the lead on lap 94. He had no trouble over the remaining distance, pulling away from Lanigan with ease after a final caution flag flew on lap 95.

“My emotions were running pretty wild (after sustaining the flat tire),” said Mars, who had advanced his M-B Custom Chassis car from the 18th starting spot to eighth by lap 27. “If I wouldn't have been in a car, I probably would've strangled somebody as mad as I was.

“But I calmed myself back down and said, ‘I'm gonna make something happen here.' I was gonna do my best to try to win it (after restarting at the rear of the field), and obviously it worked out.”

The triumph, worth $30,950 including lap money and other awards, was the first of Mars's career on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series tour.  His best previous finish on the tour was second on two occasions, including his first-ever appearance at Lernerville on April 17, 2007.

Lanigan settled for a runner-up finish in the Firecracker 100 for the second year in a row, driving under the checkered flag 2.472 seconds behind Mars. In a near carbon-copy of his 2008 Firecracker run, the race's polesitter fell short after leading the most laps – a total of 82 circuits this time.

Earl Pearson Jr., who started 20th, made a late charge to finish third. Brady Smith placed fourth and Steve Francis faded to fifth at the finish after starting from the outside pole and leading laps 1-9 and 11-12 due to being hampered by a brake caliper that kept locking up.

For much of the distance it appeared that Lanigan would avenge his '08 Firecracker defeat at the hands of Brian Birkhofer.  He secured the lead from Francis on lap 13 and went on to build as much as a half-straightaway edge during periods of extended green-flag racing.

But Mars simply wasn't to be denied. He methodically worked his way forward after pitting, reaching eighth on lap 62, cracking the top five with an inside pass of Pearson on lap 70 and sliding by Birkhofer for second on lap 81.

Lanigan put up a gallant fight once Mars caught him on lap 86, but he couldn't repel the driver known as the ‘Ice Man.'

“I was doing everything I could to hold (Mars) off,” said Lanigan, who led laps 1-69 in last year's Firecracker 100. “I just kept getting loose up off the corner at the end and his car was stuck to the ground. He got a run on me on the outside and that was all.”

Mars tried several different routes by Lanigan before finally making a move stick off turn two.

“He was making his car wide,” Mars said of Lanigan. “It was gonna be hard to get by him on the top, so I figured if I could stuff it around on the outside of him just enough to show him that I was there, that would allow the bottom to get a little bit wider and give me a chance to get by him.

“Basically I made a cross pass coming out of (turns) one and two. He kinda made his car wide coming out of there and I was able to turn down and grab the traction down the back straightaway.”

Mars praised the performance of his car, which he and his brother, Integra Shocks ‘Wrench of the Race' winner Chris Mars, built in collaboration with Birkhofer.

“My car would just get into the corner so good,” said Mars, whose previous Firecracker 100 assaults resulted in a 15th-place finish in 2007 and a DNQ last year. “When we came back out (after the pit stop) and the track cleaned off and kept wider and wider, and I could run where I needed to. It was so much fun.”

Lanigan's mood wasn't quite so happy after the race despite the cool $18,156 (including lap money) that he earned for his night's work before a massive crowd.  Just two nights earlier Lanigan had led the postponed ‘Showdown in Sarvertown' A-Main at Lernerville until terminal engine problems short-circuited his bid.

“It's aggravating, real aggravating,” said Lanigan, who ended the ‘Great Northern Tour' ranked third in the points standings but also riding a 46-race winless streak on the series. “I have plenty of luck (this year), but it's all bad. We just can't catch a break.”

The race was plagued by caution flags, especially during its early stages. Seven cautions flew in the first 27 laps, though none were for serious incidents.  Among the contenders who ran into trouble was Tim Fuller who came together with Birkhofer on the homestretch while bidding for third place on lap 23. The contact blew the left-rear tire and broke the left-rear shock on Fuller's car, costing him two laps while repairs were made.

Scott Bloomquist, who won the inaugural Firecracker 100, started fourth but was never a factor in the 100. He pitted for tire changes during caution periods on laps 13 and 20, but the work was for naught as he was lapped by Lanigan on lap 42 and retired several circuits later.

2009 WoO LMS rookie Jordan Bland won Saturday night's 10-lap C-Main, and the twin 20-lap B-Mains were captured by Mike Blose and Earl Pearson Jr.

Regional Star Robbie Blair salvaged his weekend with a victory in the ‘Uncle Sam 30' non-qualifiers' race, holding off the race-long challenges of Vic Coffey to pocket a $3,000 consolation prize.

Blair's victory came after a broken motor had knocked him from the lead in the fifth heat race on Friday night. He switched to his backup car for Saturday's action and finished second in the C-Main and then fifth in the second B-Main, falling short of transferring to the Firecracker 100 by two spots.

The 28-car field included an event record 11 local/regional Late Model pilots, each taking home at least $2000 just for taking the green flag.  When the checkered flag waved for Mars, Matt Lux and Jared Miley were still on the track.  Matt Lux finished on the lead lap in 13thplace, taking home $2700.  Jared Miley spent multiple laps in the infield pit area during several stops, but finished the race under green flag conditions 10 laps down in 17thplace.

A combination of circumstances created the perfect storm that allowed so many of the local and regional racers to advance to the big dance Saturday Night.  During time trials, the track was slicker, and thus slower, than many of the teams anticipated.  These track conditions gave more of an advantage to the local and regional drivers whom have more experience at the Action Track, as opposed to the big-money, big-horsepower teams.  Then, the heats lined up directly by the results of time trials, thus putting the locals at the front of a few of the heat races.  Another variable created by the unexpected track conditions for time trials was that some of the heats were loaded with local and regional drivers, while others were loaded with tour regulars and big show specialists.  The B-Mains ended up being the same way. 

Jared Miley was the quickest of the locals during qualifying, turning a lap of 18.028 seconds; good enough to be eighth quickest of a star studded 61-car field.  1990 Lernerville Track Champion Ron Davies, (now more of a regional, big race specialist), turned in the ninth quickest lap of qualifying with a time of 18.038 seconds.  Other top 20 qualifiers were Matt Lux (11th), Doug Horton (12th) and Mike Blose (13th).

Doug Horton drove the Bobby Lake Motorsports #46 to the checkered flag in heat race #6 of Friday Night and into a guaranteed starting position for the Firecracker 100.  Horton has been knocking on the door of a feature win at Lernerville Speedway all season and ran a flawless race to transfer ahead of Dale McDowell and eventual Firecracker 100 Champion Jimmy Mars.

By virtue of the heat race accomplishments, Doug Horton, Jared Miley, Boom Briggs, Coleby Frye and Keith Barbara were all locked into $2000-to-start positions in the 3rdAnnual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com after the dust settled on the Action Track Friday Night; as were Gregg Satterlee and Alex Ferree via track provisionals.

B-Main #1 was of the local flavor with more than half of the field hailing from Western Pennsylvania/Eastern Ohio.  Big hitters Vic Coffey, Brandon Kinzer and Eddie Carrier Jr. were in the mix, but in the end it was the trio of Mike Blose, Matt Lux and Dave Hess Jr., (all whom narrowly missed the transfer from the heats), moving on the Firecracker 100.

One of the things that makes the Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com such a special event is the Uncle Sam 30; a non-qualifiers race that pays $3000-to-win.  In most Crown Jewel events, you get in to the finale or you go home.  At the Firecracker, everyone that does not transfer into the A-Main, gets a “last chance” to race for a substantial payday.  This year’s Uncle Sam 30 is being presented by our new marketing partners Turner Dairy Farms and their line of Premium Iced Teas.  The Turner’s TeaBird will pace both the Uncle Sam 30 and the Firecracker 100 A-Main. 

In 2009, the Uncle Sam 30 belonged to Robbie Blair.  Blair has never had much luck at Lernerville Speedway, but he was hitting on all cylinders during the Uncle Sam 30 and took home the $3000, the same amount Rick Eckert and Shane Clanton took home for top ten finishes in the Firecracker 100!

Despite Blair’s performance, the most impressive part of the Uncle Sam 30 from a local perspective was the run turned in by Dave Murdick.  After a month layoff waiting for a new engine in the Pitkavish #1J, Murdick ran most of the 30-lap race in third place.  He faded a bit late in the race, but still brought home a top five. 

As mentioned above, 11 local/regional drivers started the 3rdAnnual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com, with Matt Lux finding the most success with a 13thplace finish.  Jared Miley was the only other local/regional driver to finish the race on the track, scored 10 laps down in 17thplace.

Lux set the 11thquickest mark in time trials with a lap of 18.069 seconds.  He started on the outside pole of heat race #5 and ran most of the race in or battling for the transfer, but contact with Dave Hess Jr. on the final lap allowed Keith Barbara to pass both of them at the stripe.  Barbara’s last lap pass put Lux into the B-Main where he once again battled Dave Hess Jr. for the final transfer.  This time, after Eddie Carrier Jr. dropped out late in the race, both Lux and Hess would advance to the big show!  In the A-Main, Lux picked up a couple positions during each green flag session between the handful of cautions that slowed the early stages of the 100-lapper.  He also gained positions during those cautions as other locals took advantage of the infield pit area to make adjustments to their cars.  Lux chose, instead, to stay on the track and take advantage of track position.  And while he was never in serious contention for the win, Lux finished all 100 laps and took home $2700 for his endurance and the 13thfinishing position.

Jared Miley was the only other local/regional driver still on the track when the checkers flew for Jimmy Mars.  Miley was one of those whom took full advantage of the infield pit area to make adjustments, (and later repairs), to his car before returning to the track.  As the laps ticked off and the going got tough, many of the local drivers chose to save their equipment for the coming weeks of Fab Four Racing, but Jared Miley and the H1 crew persevered and kept on racing despite being 10 laps down.  Miley finished 17thand took home $2200.

In his World of Outlaws Late Model Series Rookie of the Year campaign of 2009, Russell King a gained priceless seat time travelling the country with the WoO LMS.  And while his qualifying efforts did not produce the desired results; King did earn an Outlaws provisional and completed 92 laps to be officially scored 16thbefore pulling off late in the race. 

The rest of the local contingent dropped out or had mechanical failures earlier in the race; Coleby Frye finished 20th, Keith Barbara 21st, Mike Blose 22nd, Boom Briggs 23rd, Dave Hess Jr. 25th, Alex Ferree 26th, Gregg Satterlee 27thand Doug Horton 28th.

This year’s Firecracker 100 promises to be another action-packed weekend of racing and off-track entertainment.  Thursday and Friday are complete $6,000-to-win World of Outlaws programs, followed by heat races, B-Mains, the Uncle Sam 30 presented by Turner’s Premium Iced Teas and the $30,000-to-win Firecracker 100 A-Main.  Entertainment options throughout the weekend include post-race parties, concerts and fireworks, the Firecracker 100 “Kick It!” kickball game, the ever popular Driver/Fan Horseshoe tournament and Driver/Fan Cornhole tournament.  We’ll also be crowning Ms. Firecracker 2013 and have promotional activities with the Firecracker girls all weekend.

For more information about the 7th Annual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com weekend, log on to Lernerville.com and click the Firecracker 100 tab.  Tickets are on sale 24/7 on our website with three-day packages available for just $69, (including a FREE fan pit pass upgrade for Thursday and Friday Nights), by clicking the “Buy Tickets” icon or by calling the speedway office during normal business hours at (724) 353-1511.

Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com' (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (18) Jimmy Mars/100 $30,950
2. (1) Darrell Lanigan/100 $18,156
3. (20) Earl Pearson Jr./100 $8,000
4. (10) Brady Smith/100 $6,000
5. (2) Steve Francis/100 $5,325
6. (9) Brian Birkhofer/100 $4,500
7. (15) Jimmy Owens/100 $4,000
8. (6) Josh Richards/100 $3,500
9. (13) Rick Eckert/100 $3,000
10. (25) Shane Clanton/100 $3,000
11. (22) Steve Shaver/100 $2,800
12. (16) Chub Frank/100 $2,700
13. (21) Matt Lux/100 $2,700
14. (3) Jamie Lathroum/99 $2,500
15. (7) Tim Fuller/98 $2,400
16. (26) Russell King/92 $2,650
17. (8) Jared Miley/90 $2,200
18. (24) Clint Smith/73 $2,100
19. (12) Dale McDowell/66 $2,150
20. (14) Coleby Frye/64 $2,000
21. (17) Keith Barbara/51 $2,000
22. (19) Mike Blose/50 $2,000
23. (11) Rick Briggs/48 $2,000
24. (4) Scott Bloomquist/43 $2,000
25. (23) Dave Hess Jr./41 $2,000
26. (28) Alex Ferree/41 $2,000
27. (27) Gregg Satterlee/22 $2,000
28. (5) Doug Horton/19 $2,000

* Earnings include lap money and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 1 Hour, 5 Mins., 25.180 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 2.472 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 10 (Laps 5, 13, 15, 20, 23, 24, 27, 65, 76, 95)
Lap Leaders: Francis (1-9); Lanigan (10); Francis (11-12); Lanigan (13-93); Mars (94-100)
Provisional Starters: Clanton, King (WoO); Satterlee, Ferree (track)
Rookie of the Race: King ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks' Winner: Mars ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Chris Mars (Mars)
Top Local Finisher (in memory of Joe Pitkavish): Matt Lux ($100)
Hard Luck Award (courtesy Mr. Motorsports 2009 Alyssa Sharman): Dale McDowell ($100)
Hard Charger Award (courtesy Mr. Motorsports 2009 Alyssa Sharman): Jimmy Mars ($100)
Fast Time Award (courtesy R2C Competition Filters): Darrell Lanigan ($500)
Lap Money Awards: Lanigan ($2,606); Francis ($275); Mars ($250)
Top Ohio Finisher in Firecracker 100 (courtesy JMS Pro Photo): Russell King ($100)
Fastest Ohio Qualifier (courtesy JMS Pro Photo): John Mason ($25)
Ohio Driver Hard Luck (courtesy JMS Pro Photo): John Mollick ($50)

C-Main (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer to B-Mains): 1. Jordan Bland, 2. Robbie Blair, 3. Vic Coffey, 4. Dave Murdick, 5. Michael Norris, 6. Nick Reges, 7. Peter Mantha Jr., 8. Jason Fosnaught, 9. Todd Bachman, 10. John Mollick, 11. Tim McCreadie, 12. Ken Schaltenbrand, 13. Dustin Hapka (DNS) Gregg Satterlee

B-Main No. 1 (20 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Mike Blose, 2. Matt Lux, 3. Dave Hess Jr., 4. Vic Coffey, 5. Brandon Kinzer, 6. Brent Robinson, 7. Ron Davies, 8. Bump Hedman, 9. Greg Oakes, 10. Jordan Bland, 11. Lynn Geisler, 12. Eddie Carrier Jr., 13. Russell King, 14. Herman Bertolini, 15. Dan Stone, 16. John Mason

B-Main No. 2 (20 laps – Top 3 Transfer):1. Earl Pearson Jr., 2. Steve Shaver, 3. Clint Smith, 4. Shane Clanton, 5. Robbie Blair, 6. Austin Hubbard, 7. Tyler Reddick, 8. Mike Knight, 9. Gary Lyle, 10. Dave Murdick, 11. Tony Burke, 12. April Farmer, 13. Jeremy Miller, 14. Tony Musolino, 15. John Garvin, 16. Alex Ferree

Uncle Sam 30 Non-Qualifiers' Race Finish (30 laps):1. Robbie Blair ($3,000); 2. Vic Coffey ($2,000); 3. Austin Hubbard ($1,500); 4. Dan Stone ($1,200); 5. Dave Murdick ($1,000); 6. Brandon Kinzer ($800); 7. Greg Oakes ($700); 8. Ron Davies ($600); 9. Bump Hedman ($500); 10. Lynn Geisler ($400); 11. Gary Lyle ($300); 12. Brent Robinson ($300); 13. Michael Norris ($300); 14. Tyler Reddick ($300); 15. Tony Burke ($300); 16. Herman Bertolini ($300); 17. Tony Musolino ($300); 18. Todd Bachman ($300); 19. Jason Fosnaught ($300); 20. Nick Reges ($300); 21. Mike Knight ($300); 22. April Farmer ($300)

Contact: Lernerville Speedway                 

Eric J. Westendorf, Public Relations Director

(724) 664-1075 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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