Mars becomes first Firecracker 100 repeat winner with flawless performance in 2011
Bloomquist protests Mars’ tires; tires pass inspection
SARVER, PA – June 13, 2013 – Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., turned the 5th Annual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com into a personal joy-ride in 2011; romping to his second career triumph in the crown-jewel World of Outlaws Late Model Series event at Lernerville Speedway.
Driving the same MB Customs car that he steered to the checkered flag in the 2009 edition of the summer-starting spectacular, Mars navigated forward from the seventh starting spot to grab the lead from 2007 Firecracker 100 winner Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., on lap 45 and never looked back. He cruised around the four-tenths-mile oval to post a commanding 4.434-second margin of victory over Bloomquist.
Mars, 39, pocketed $30,050 as he became the first repeat winner of the Firecracker 100, which was contested in front of a massive crowd and the SPEED television cameras. His second success, however, came in much less dramatic fashion than in ’09 when he pitted early to change a cut tire and rallied to snatch the lead from Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., in the final laps.
“This route (to victory) went a little bit smoother,” said Mars, who registered his fourth career win on the WoO LMS. “Usually it seems like all of my bigger wins have been kind of an uphill battle, but tonight went pretty good. Once we were able to get up to the front and kind of run the line that I wanted to, everything was just awesome.”
The 46-year-old Bloomquist, who started third and led laps 31-44, ran roughly a straightaway behind Mars throughout the 53-lap stretch of green-flag racing that closed the race. He was clearly second-best – unable to keep his self-built Team Zero mount close to Mars, but also never in danger of losing the runner-up spot.
Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who started from the pole position and led laps 1-30, finished a distant third, 14.715 seconds behind Mars and over 10 seconds in arrears of Bloomquist. At the time, it was a career-best placing in the Firecracker 100 for Eckert, who put a $7,650 cap on a weekend that also included runner-up finishes in both 30-lap WoO LMS preliminary A-Mains.
Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., also recorded a career-high finish in the Firecracker 100, using a late-race surge to take fourth in his father Mark’s Rocket Chassis house car. He found an outside lane around the track to move from eighth to fourth over the final 30 circuits; falling just a car length short of Eckert at the checkered flag.
Steve Shaver of Vienna, W.Va., completed the top five in the K&L Rumley Rocket car. He started from the outside pole and held second place until losing the spot on a lap-18 restart and ultimately falling two more positions over the remaining distance.
Mars, who finished fourth in Thursday night’s preliminary feature but didn’t compete on Friday evening due to an engine issue, began to show his superiority about a quarter of the way into the 100. A relatively quiet fifth when the race’s third of four caution flags flew on lap 18 for a turn-four spin by Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., Mars soon turned up the wick, grabbing fourth from Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., shortly after the restart, third from Shaver on lap 28 and second from Eckert on lap 38.
The Wisconsinite’s relentless march to the front was complete when he ducked underneath Bloomquist off turn two and surged into the lead on lap 45.
“Once my (hard-compound) tires started to get a little bit of heat in them they started working,” said Mars, whose last WoO LMS win came on July 10, 2010, at Dakota State Fair Speedway in Huron, S.D. “(Bloomquist) kind of left the bottom open so we got in the lead and it worked out.”
After the race’s final caution flag was needed on lap 47 when Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., slowed with MSD box problems, Mars simply drove away from the field in one of the most dominant performances on the 2011 tour. He scarcely let up, lapping up to the 10th-place finisher.
“You just don’t know what’s gonna happen when you haven’t won for a while,” Mars said of his continued aggressiveness despite holding a substantial lead. “I’ve been too passive in lapped cars before and got snooked in lapped traffic, and I wasn’t gonna let that happen.”
Bloomquist had no answer for Mars’s speed, but he did question its source. Following the race Bloomquist lodged a formal protest with WoO LMS officials concerning Mars’s tires; as a result, Mars’s left-rear and right-front Hoosier tires were impounded to be sent off for detailed laboratory testing underwritten by Bloomquist.
“If the tires are right, we just want to know if they’re right,” Bloomquist told DirtonDirt.com when asked about his decision. “Sometimes it’s good to be sure just to keep everybody honest. My hat will be off twice as high if everything comes back (correct) on tires. It’s not about – again, he had a good car. He looked good out there tonight. I just know that the difference between second and first is substantial.”
Mars flatly denied Bloomquist’s accusation of tire doctoring in an interview with DirtonDirt.com following the event.
Eckert, meanwhile, fell short in his bid to top off his successful visit to Lernerville with a flourish.
“I just made (the car) way too tight for the race,” said Eckert, who ended the Firecracker 100 weekend with a 16-point edge over Richards. “I was pretty sure, as tight as I was when we fired off, that I was gonna have a hard time fending (Bloomquist) off. I just couldn’t rotate the center of the corner. I could early, but I knew I was using a lot of wheel to do it – and then as soon as I overheated the right-front tire I was dead in the water. I didn’t want to see any cautions because I was fading in a hurry.”
Richards, 23, was the hard-charger of the race’s late stages after discovering a very useful outside line around the oval.
“I wish I would’ve gone up there earlier,” said Richards, who reached fourth with a lap-97 pass of Shaver. “I don’t think we were good enough to beat Mars, but I knew we could’ve beat Scott and Eckert. I was up on Eckert’s bumper there at the end, but it was too late. I didn’t want the race to end.”
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., finished sixth, marking the second consecutive night that he ended the race in the same position that he started it. Tim Fuller, also of Watertown, N.Y., placed seventh, followed by McDowell, who ran as high as fourth; Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., who started 21 st in the Leo Milus-owned Super Duece; and 2010 Firecracker 100 winner Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., who was the first driver one lap down at the finish.
Lanigan, who finished second in the last three Firecracker 100s, was never a factor. He moved from the 16th starting spot to 10th by lap 20, but he couldn’t climb any higher and ultimately faded to 13th at the checkered flag.
The race’s first two caution flags were caused by Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., who slowed with a flat left-rear tire on lap two, and Clint Smith, who spun off the backstretch on lap four after getting jostled around in a tangle.
Sixty cars were entered in the final night of the Firecracker 100 weekend.
With Saturday night’s heat races lined up using drivers’ best finish from the Thursday and Friday preliminary action, the 10-lap qualifiers were captured by Bloomquist, Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., Eckert, McCreadie, Shaver and McDowell. The B-Mains were won by Jared Miley of South Park, Pa., Jared Hawkins of Fairmont, W.Va., and Stone.
Matt Lux of Franklin, Pa., salvaged a rough weekend at Lernerville with a victory in the ‘Uncle Sam 30’ Non-Qualifiers’ Race that preceded the Firecracker 100.
Lux, who repaired his car after it sustained significant damage in an opening-lap tangle during Friday night’s preliminary A-Main, passed Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., for the lead on lap 13 of the ‘Uncle Sam’ event and never looked back. He beat 2009 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio, to the finish line by 1.559 seconds to pocket a cool $3,000 consolation prize.
The Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com was later broadcast as a two-hour special event on the SPEED cable network.
Results of WoO Late Model Series (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (7) Jimmy Mars/100 $30,050
2. (5) Scott Bloomquist/100 $15,175
3. (1) Rick Eckert/100 $7,650
4. (8) Josh Richards/100 $6,650
5. (2) Steve Shaver/100 $5,000
6. (6) Tim McCreadie/100 $4,650
7. (9) Tim Fuller/100 $3,550
8. (4) Dale McDowell/100 $2,500
9. (21) Dan Stone/100 $2,250
10. (17) Shane Clanton/99 $2,550
11. (25) Chub Frank/99 $2,450
12. (18) Jonathan Davenport/99 $1,800
13. (16) Darrell Lanigan/99 $2,350
14. (13) Austin Hubbard/99 $2,150
15. (15) Pat Doar/99 $2,300
16. (22) Mike Marlar/99 $1,400
17. (19) Jared Miley/99 $1,300
18. (10) Clint Smith/99 $1,750
19. (12) Tyler Reddick/99 $1,100
20. (11) Vic Coffey/98 $1,550
21. (20) Jared Hawkins/98 $1,000
22. (26) John Lobb/97 $1,025
23. (24) Ron Davies/97 $1,550
24. (27) Dave Hess Jr./46 $1,000
25. (23) Rick 'Boom' Briggs/45 $1,000
26. (14) Bub McCool/45 $1,000
27. (28) Gregg Satterlee/34 $1,000
28. (3) Brady Smith/17 $1,000
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 49 Mins., 5.528 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 4.434 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 4 (Laps 2, 4, 18, 47)
Lap Leaders: Eckert (1-30); Bloomquist (31-44); Mars (45-100)
Provisional Starters: Frank, Lobb (WoO); Hess, Satterlee (track)
Rookie of the Race: Doar ($250)
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Scott Bloomquist, 2. Jimmy Mars, 3. Austin Hubbard, 4. Jared Miley, 5. Eric Wells, 6. Chub Frank, 7. Matt Lux, 8. Dave Hess Jr., 9. Greg Oakes (DNS) Nick Reges
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Brady Smith, 2. Josh Richards, 3. Bub McCool, 4. Mike Marlar, 5. John Lobb, 6. Gregg Satterlee, 7. John Mason, 8. Tommy Beck, 9. Herman Bertolini, 10. Scott Smith
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Rick Eckert, 2. Tim Fuller, 3. Pat Doar, 4. Rick 'Boom' Briggs, 5. Ken Schaltenbrand, 6. Russell King, 7. Gary Lyle, 8. Donald Bradsher, 9. Garrett Krummert, 10. Steve Francis
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Tim McCreadie, 2. Clint Smith, 3. Darrell Lanigan, 4. Jared Hawkins, 5. Davey Johnson, 6. Lynn Geisler, 7. John Mollick, 8. Brian Tavenner, 9. Jeff Jones (DNS) Ryan Scott
Heat No. 5 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Steve Shaver, 2. Vic Coffey, 3. Shane Clanton, 4. Dan Stone, 5. Mike Johnson, 6. Chip Brindle, 7. John Garvin, 8. Jill George (DNS) Chris Schneider, Ray Kroll Sr.
Heat No. 6 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Dale McDowell, 2. Tyler Reddick, 3. Jonathan Davenport, 4. Coleby Frye, 5. Ron Davies, 6. Jacob Hawkins, 7. Chris Casner, 8. Tony Burke, 9. Jim Detman, 10. Derrick Casner
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Jared Miley, 2. Mike Marlar, 3. Eric Wells, 4. Chub Frank, 5. Dave Hess Jr., 6. Greg Oakes, 7. Matt Lux, 8. Gregg Satterlee, 9. John Mason, 10. John Lobb, 11. Tommy Beck, 12. Herman Bertolini (DNS) Nick Reges, Scott Smith
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Jared Hawkins, 2. Rick 'Boom' Briggs, 3. Ken Schaltenbrand, 4. Russell King, 5. Davey Johnson, 6. Lynn Geisler, 7. John Mollick, 8. Garrett Krummert, 9. Gary Lyle, 10. Brian Tavenner, 11. Donald Bradsher, 12. Jeff Jones (DNS) Steve Francis, Ryan Scott
B-Main No. 3 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Dan Stone, 2. Ron Davies, 3. Coleby Frye, 4. Jacob Hawkins, 5. Chip Brindle, 6. Mike Johnson, 7. John Garvin, 8. Chris Casner, 9. Derrick Casner, 10. Chris Schneider, 11. Jill George, 12. Jim Detman, 13. Tony Burke (DNS) Ray Kroll Sr.
'Uncle Sam 30' Non-Qualifiers' Race Finish (30 laps): 1. Matt Lux ($3,000); 2. Russell King ($1,500); 3. Coleby Frye ($800); 4. Chip Brindle ($700); 5. Jacob Hawkins ($600); 6. John Mason ($500); 7. Greg Oakes ($400); 8. Gary Lyle ($375); 9. Tommy Beck ($350); 10. Ken Schaltenbrand ($325); 11. Chris Schneider ($300); 12. Brian Tavenner ($300); 13. Derrick Casner ($270); 14. Donald Bradsher ($260); 15. Jeff Jones ($250); 16. Herman Bertolini ($240); 17. Garrett Krummert ($230); 18. Jim Detman ($220); 19. Chris Casner ($210); 20. Lynn Geisler ($200); 21. John Mollick ($200); 22. Jill George ($200); 23. Eric Wells ($200); 24. Mike Johnson ($200); 25. John Garvin ($200); 26. Tony Burke ($200); DNS – Davey Johnson
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:
Arizona Sports Shirts ($100 apparel certificate to 22nd fastest qualifier): None
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main w/decal): Steve Shaver
Comp Cams ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Comp Cams (certificate to 11th place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Shane Clanton
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Matt Lux/Rick 'Boom' Briggs/Mike Johnson
JE Pistons ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
JE Pistons (one set of Pro Seal rings to 11th-place or next highest w/decal, redeemable w/next purchase of one complete set of rings): Chub Frank
JE Pistons (one set of Pro Seal rings to 21st-place or next highest w/decal, redeemable w/next purchase of one complete set of rings): John Lobb
MSD Ignition ($75 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Scott Bloomquist
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to last-place in A-Main or next lowest w/decal): John Lobb
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash to fast qualifier or next highest w/decal): None
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Jimmy Mars
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place or next highest w/decal): Steve Shaver
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place or next highest w/decal): Pat Doar
R2C Performance ($100 certificate to highest-finishing driver w/decal or $100 cash if race winner is using R2C filter and decal is displayed): Rick Eckert (certificate)
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Superflow Dynos ($50 cash to 7th-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim Fuller
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to winner of Heat 1 or next highest w/decal): Jimmy Mars
VP Racing Fuels 'Nice Jugs Award' (one five-gallon plastic fuel jugs to fastest qualifier who does not make the A-Main or next highest w/decal): None
WIX Filters ($50 cash to 13th-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
Wrisco Aluminum (Three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner w/decal): Scott Bloomquist