Firecracker 100 Weekend At Lernerville Speedway Opens With Spectacular Friday-Night Qualifying Program
SARVER, PA – June 27, 2008 – If Friday night’s qualifying program at Lernerville Speedway is any indication, the second annual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com is going to be a show to remember.
Western Pennsylvania’s blockbuster $150,000 World of Outlaws Late Model Series event opened in spectacular fashion on Friday, with a 62-car field providing fans an endless supply of action during six breathtaking heat races.
Side-by-side battles for the lead. Last-lap drama. A storybook comeback from near-disaster by a local hotshoe. Emotions boiling over.
Yes, the preliminary night had it all, setting the stage for Saturday night’s $40,000-to-win Firecracker 100.
The most thrilling heat-race victory was authored by 20-year-old WoO LMS sensation Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who went to the outside of the four-tenths-mile oval to pull off a three-wide pass for the lead on lap 12 of the fourth 15-lap qualifier.
As if a daredevil move to assume command wasn’t exciting enough, the two drivers Richards sailed by for the lead added even more luster to his performance. He overtook dirt Late Model legends Donnie Moran of Dresden, Ohio, and Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., in one deft sweep.
“I knew the only chance I had to start up front (in the Firecracker 100) was if I won the heat, so I got my elbows up and drove as hard as I could,” said Richards, aware that the six heat winners will redraw on Saturday for the top-six starting spots in the 100-lapper. “I didn’t get off to a very good start, but I kept packing the top (groove) during the cautions and I kept getting better and better up there.
“The top has always been my preferred line around this place, so I knew I could make it work. I just had to get it done.”
Bloomquist, who won last year’s inaugural Firecracker 100, tumbled to a fifth-place finish after losing the lead to Richards’ Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket. He’ll have to run a B-Main on Saturday night to make the feature.
Dramatic heat-race competition actually began with the first prelim, when WoO LMS regular Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., passed upstart Coleby Frye of Dover, Pa., on the final lap to emerge triumphant. Frye fell one lap short of an upset, flag-to-flag victory, settling for second when he left the door open for Clanton by bumping the homestretch wall with the white flag waving.
The sixth heat was another barnburner, with Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, winning over Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., following a side-by-side duel that raged for virtually the entire distance.
Other heat victors included defending WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who dominated the second prelim; Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla.; and WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who enters the weekend hot off a tour victory on Wednesday night at Big Diamond Raceway in Minersville, Pa.
The drive of the night was turned in by Mike Blose of New Bethlehem, Pa., who became the darling of the crowd with an amazing rally in the second heat.
Blose, 50, was bidding for the third and final transfer spot on lap nine of the heat when contact with Brandon Kinzer of Allen, Ky., sent him spinning wildly over the third-turn bank at a high rate of speed. A red flag was thrown after he disappeared from the fans’ view, but moments later he drove his car back onto the racing surface and decided to continue racing.
With the fans cheering his every move, Blose slid by Keith Barbara of South Park, Pa., and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., on the 13th lap to snare a third-place finish and transfer to the Firecracker 100. He had started the heat from the last spot after being disqualified from his time-trial run because his car weighed in 18 pounds light.
“I’m too damn old for this,” Blose smiled amid a large crowd of well-wishers at his trailer following the night’s action. “When I went over the bank backwards, I was thinking, Man, this is gonna hurt! But the car stayed on its wheels and all we bent was a left-front tie-rod and a wheel.
“I guess we finally lucked into something,” added Blose, who credited WoO LMS star Chub Frank with providing him valuable setup help.
The close-quarters racing got a little too tight during the third heat, resulting in a confrontation between John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis. After Blankenship rubbed his way past Mars for third place on lap 12, Mars retaliated by running into the left-rear corner of Blankenship’s car and spinning the WoO LMS regular between turns three and four.
As the angry Mars retired to the pit area, Blankenship restarted at the rear of the field and limped to an eighth-place finish.
Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., piloted his Bowyer Dirt Motorsports Rocket to the fastest lap in time trials, roaring around the finely-manicured track in 15.228 seconds. He went on to finish third in the first heat while trailing smoke from an apparent oil overflow.
The Firecracker 100 weekend continues on Saturday with a full day of activities, starting at 12 noon with a driver/fan horseshoe tournament, ‘Best Burger’ and ‘Best Banner’ contests, a ‘weenie roast’ and music by Sarah Wilson. A driver autograph session is scheduled for underneath the grandstand from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by B-Mains, the $3,000-to-win Uncle Sam 30 for non-qualifiers and the main event — the $40,000-to-win Firecracker 100.
Pit gates open at 3 p.m., with hot laps at 6:45 p.m. and opening ceremonies at 7:30 p.m.
For more information on this weekend’s event, visit www.lernerville.com and www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Contact: World Racing Group
Kevin Kovac, World of Outlaws Late Model Series P.R. Director
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 15.228
2. 15-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 15.229
3. 21-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR 15.307
4. 0-Scott Bloomquist/Mooresburg, TN 15.416
5. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 15.449
6. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 15.462
7. F1-Coleby Frye/Dover, PA 15.493
8. 43A-Jason Covert/York Haven, PA 15.504
9. 44p-Earl Pearson Jr./Jacksonville, FL 15.523
10. 4J-John Mollick/Toronto, OH 15.545
11. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 15.553
12. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 15.577
13. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 15.577
14. 20-Jimmy Owens/Newport, TN 15.578
15. 28M-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 15.590
16. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 15.630
17. 24M-Jeremy Miller/Gettysburg, PA 15.636
18. 71d-Ron Davies/Warren, PA 15.652
19. 9k-Mike Knight/Ripley, NY 15.665
20. 28-Eddie Carrier Jr./Salt Rock, WV 15.666
21. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 15.699
22. 44M-Chris Madden/Gray Court, SC 15.702
23. w11-Robbie Blair/Titusville, PA 15.707
24. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 15.721
25. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 15.732
26. 18K-Brandon Kinzer/Allen, KY 15.733
27. 22-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA 15.742
28. 99-Donnie Moran/Dresden, OH 15.765
29. 1L-Dane Laraway/Irwin, PA 15.819
30. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 15.830
31. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 15.844
32. 17M-Mike Marlar/Winfield, TN 15.856
33. 1c-Lynn Geisler/Cranberry Twp., PA 15.869
34. 21L-Matt Lux/Franklin, PA 15.879
35. 1J-Davey Johnson/Latrobe, PA 15.902
36. 44H-Dave Hess Jr./Waterford, PA 15.911
37. 34-Josh McGuire/Ashland, KY 15.914
38. H1-Jared Miley/South Park, PA 15.914
39. 3-David Scott/Garland, PA 15.926
40. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 15.941
41. 07R-Brent Rhebergen/Clymer, NY 15.948
42. 04-Bob Close/Eldred, PA 15.969
43. 4-Alex Ferree/Saxonburg, PA 16.008
44. 17-Keith Barbara/South Park, PA 16.026
45. 2V-Chad Valone/Warren, PA 16.051
46. 27J-Danny Johnson/Phelps, NY 16.056
47. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 16.072
48. 10-Gary Lyle/Hyde Park, PA 16.155
49. 46-Doug Horton/Bruceton Mills, WV 16.173
50. 66-Todd Bachman/Natrona Heights, PA 16.179
51. 28c-Clate Copeman/Greensburg, PA 16.188
52. 29s-Ken Schaltenbrand/Sarver, PA 16.209
53. 40-Dutch Davies/Warren, PA 16.247
54. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 16.316
55. 48-John Flinner/Zelionople, PA 16.346
56. 23T-Tony Burke/Sarver, PA 16.520
57. 6A-Chuck Kennedy/Mars, PA 16.638
58. 38R-Nick Reges/Butler, PA 16.837
59. 21T-Tony Musolino/Scott Twp., PA 17.036
60. 0s-Ryan Scott/Garland, PA 17.381
61. 8A-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY N/T
62. 5-Mike Blose/New Bethlehem, PA DQ (light)
Heat No. 1 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Clanton, Frye, Babb, Horton, Eckert, Knight, Flinner, McGuire, Ferree, Isabell, King
Heat No. 2 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Francis, Kinzer, Blose, Owens, Barbara, Burke, Bachman, Carrier, Covert, Marlar, Miley
Heat No. 3 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Pearson, Moyer, Satterlee, D. Scott, Copeman, Kennedy, Valone, Blankenship, Mars, Geisler
Heat No. 4 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Richards, Moran, Madden, Lux, Bloomquist, Stone, Mollick, Danny Johnson, Reges, Schaltenbrand
Heat No. 5 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Lanigan, Fuller, Miller, Davey Johnson, Dutch Davies, Blair, Rhebergen, Coffey, Laraway (DNS) Musolino
Heat No. 6 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Birkhofer, Frank, McCreadie, Ron Davies, Hess, Clint Smith, Lyle, Beardsley, R. Scott (DNS) Close
LISTEN ONLINE: If fans can’t get to a track to see the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, they can experience the excitement of the nation’s premier tour live on DIRTvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network.
To listen to the free audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including Advance Auto Parts – the official auto parts store of the WoO LMS – and contingency sponsors Wrisco Industries, Chicken Hawk Racing, Crane Cams, Ohlins Shocks, Quarter-Master, Eibach Springs, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Qwikliner and SuperClean.