BARBERVILLE, FL – Feb. 16, 2011 – Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., gained a dose of redemption with a powerful drive to victory in Wednesday night’s caution-free 30-lap DIRTcar UMP Late Model A-Main during the 40th annual DIRTcar Nationals by Northwestern Ohio at Volusia Speedway Park.
Erasing memories of his heartbreaking last-lap loss 24 hours earlier to Martinsville, Ind.’s Don O’Neal, Mars grabbed the lead from reigning DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., on lap 16 and never looked back en route to his first win since 2000 at the half-mile oval.
“Last night we gave one up on the restart (with three laps remaining), so I was sure hoping we wouldn’t have another one (late in the race),” said Mars, who reached Victory Lane during the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH for the first time since 2000. “But the car was just stuck like suction cups out there. I’m telling you, this thing was unbelievable.”
Feger, 32, settled for a career-best DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH finish of second after surging off the outside pole starting spot to lead laps 1-15 in his Bob Pierce-built machine. He flashed under the checkered flag 7.659 seconds – over a full straightaway – behind Mars’s Deppe Enterprises MB Customs car.
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., registered his best finish of the week, taking third after his bid to steal the runner-up spot from Feger fell just 0.072 of a second short at the finish line. Two-time defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., emerged from a multi-car position battle to place fourth for the second straight evening and 10th-starter Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., finished fifth.
Mars, who turns 39 on Feb. 28, raved about the smooth Volusia racing surface, which produced a frenetic, non-stop feature that was completed in 9 minutes, 26.941 seconds.
“The track is beautiful,” said Mars, who is competing in the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH for the first time since 2007. “It’s a lot racier than what it used to be. There’s a lot of good track prep put into it.”
Feger was unable to stay with Mars, but he understood his shortcoming and was seen wearing a broad smile in the pit area following the race.
“We were set up to run the top,” said Feger, the 2009 DIRTcar UMP Late Model national champion. “We went with soft tires. I didn’t even realize those guys like Mars put on harder right-rear tires. I think if we would’ve had on the same combination as Mars I might’ve had a better chance to hold on.
“I know we would’ve been better toward the end of the race. The track definitely went away, but my tire went away too. We tore up the tire pretty good. I could feel it going away.
“I would’ve loved to get a win, but it’s pretty satisfying to have a run like this,” he added. “The best of the best are here, and this is by far our best run here. We struggled last year and Monday and Tuesday this week, so we’re definitely making progress with our program here.”
Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., ran in the top five for much of the distance but was shuffled back to sixth in the final rundown. Dan Schlieper of Sullivan, Wis., advanced from the 13th starting spot to place seventh, while Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., was eighth, WoO LMS Rookie of the Year candidate Ron Davies of Warren, Pa., finished ninth and Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., rounded out the top 10.
Seventy-four cars entered Wednesday night’s program.
In the group qualifying sessions that set the starting lineups for the evening’s six heat races, O’Neal established a new track record with a sizzling lap of 15.813 seconds. He surpassed the standard of 15.932 seconds held by Richards since Feb. 10, 2009.
Other group fast-timers were Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn. (16.737 seconds), Davies (16.460), Owens (16.428), Davenport (16.077) and Richards (16.089).
Heat winners were Marlar, Feger, Mars, Francis, Bloomquist and Richards. The B-Mains were captured by Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark., and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark.
Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., was victorious in the 12-lap ‘Bulrush Dash’ that closed the night. Back behind the wheel of his Rocket car after parking his new Capital Race Cars mount for the night, the WoO LMS regular earned $300 for topping the short sprint reserved for drivers who haven’t qualified for a DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH A-Main.
The DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH continues on Thursday night (Feb. 17) with a doubleheader featuring the season-opening World of Outlaws Late Model Series event. A 50-lap tour A-Main paying $10,000 to win will top the card, which also boasts a 30-lap Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified headliner.
Gates open at 5 p.m. and race time is 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
For more information on the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, log on to www.DIRTcarNationals.com.
DIRTcar UMP Late Model 30-Lap A-Main Finish (Finish Pos./Start Pos./Driver):
1. (3) Jimmy Mars
2. (2) Jason Feger
3. (6) Scott Bloomquist
4. (4) Josh Richards
5. (10) Jonathan Davenport
6. (5) Steve Francis
7. (13) Dan Schlieper
8. (9) Jimmy Owens
9. (8) Ron Davies
10. (15) Earl Pearson Jr.
11. (24) Tim McCreadie
12. (12) Dennis Erb Jr.
13. (11) Don O’Neal
14. (17) Will Vaught
15. (22) John Blankenship
16. (21) Billy Moyer
17. (18) Rick Eckert
18. (16) Casey Roberts
19. (19) Clint Smith
20. (23) Austin Hubbard
21. (20) Jack Sullivan
22. (25) Dillan White
23. (7) Larry Wight
24. (1) Mike Marlar
25. (14) Dale McDowell
Heat No. 1 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Mike Marlar, 2. Larry Wight, 3. Dan Schlieper, 4. John Blankenship, 5. Tommy Kerr, 6. Jon Henry, 7. Vic Coffey, 8. Billy Moyer Jr., 9. Pat Doar, 10. Brian Reese, 11. Brad Neat, 12. Chuck Julien, 13. Brent Robinson
Heat No. 2 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Jason Feger, 2. Ron Davies, 3. Dale McDowell, 4. Clint Smith, 5. Eric Jacobsen, 6. Justin Ratliff, 7. Freddie Carpenter, 8. Dan Stone, 9. Wendell Wallace, 10. Tyler Bruening, 11. Brandon Sheppard, 12. John Lobb, 13. Tyler Ivey
Heat No. 3 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Jimmy Mars, 2. Jimmy Owens, 3. Earl Pearson Jr., 4. Jack Sullivan, 5. Frankie Heckenast Jr., 6. Dillan White, 7. Jason McBride, 8. Brandon Thirlby, 9. Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs, 10. Eddie Carrier Jr., 11. Mason Zeigler, 12. Tim Fuller
Heat No. 4 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Steve Francis, 2. Jonathan Davenport, 3. Casey Roberts, 4. Austin Hubbard, 5. Brady Smith, 6. Ricky Weiss, 7. Jared Landers, 8. Danny Mitchell, 9. Lee DeVasier, 10. Chad Hollenbeck, 11. Joel Callahan, 12. Chris Madden
Heat No. 5 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Scott Bloomquist, 2. Don O’Neal, 3. Will Vaught, 4. Billy Moyer, 5. Tim McCreadie, 6. Eric Wells, 7. Jeff Beyers, 8. Chub Frank, 9. Shane Clanton, 10. John Garvin Jr., 11. Mike Hammerle, 12. Lee Thomason
Heat No. 6 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Josh Richards, 2. Dennis Erb Jr., 3. Rick Eckert, 4. Kent Robinson, 5. Russell King, 6. John Mason, 7. Ryan Unzicker, 8. Roger Brickler, 9. Ken Schrader, 10. John Henderson, 11. Jill George, 12. Billy Ogle Jr.
B-Main No. 1 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Clint Smith, 2. John Blankenship, 3. Justin Ratliff, 4. Tommy Kerr, 5. Dan Stone, 6. Eric Jacobsen, 7. Jon Henry, 8. Pat Doar, 9. Vic Coffey, 10. Billy Moyer Jr., 11. Tyler Bruening, 12. Brandon Sheppard, 13. Wendell Wallace, 14. Tyler Ivey, 15. Brian Reese, 16. Chuck Julien, 17. Freddie Carpenter, 18. John Lobb, 19. Brent Robinson (DNS) Brad Neat
B-Main No. 2 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Jack Sullivan, 2. Austin Hubbard, 3. Brady Smith, 4. Frankie Heckenast Jr., 5. Jared Landers, 6. Dillan White, 7. Brandon Thirlby, 8. Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs, 9. Jason McBride, 10. Joel Callahan, 11. Chad Hollenbeck, 12. Mason Zeigler, 13. Ricky Weiss, 14. Tim Fuller, 15. Danny Mitchell (DNS) Lee DeVasier, Eddie Carrier Jr., Chris Madden
B-Main No. 3 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Billy Moyer, 2. Tim McCreadie, 3. Kent Robinson, 4. Shane Clanton, 5. John Mason, 6. Ryan Unzicker, 7. Eric Wells, 8. Jeff Beyers, 9. Ken Schrader, 10. Chub Frank, 11. Roger Brickler, 12. John Garvin Jr., 13. John Henderson, 14. Jill George, 15. Mike Hammerle, 16. Lee Thomason (DNS) Russell King, Billy Ogle Jr.
‘Bulrush Dash’ Finish (12 laps): 1. Shane Clanton, 2. Roger Brickler, 3. Brandon Thirlby, 4. Jeff Beyers, 5. Jon Henry, 6. Eric Wells, 7. Brandon Sheppard (DNS) Justin Ratliff, Jared Landers, Eric Jacobsen, Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs, Billy Moyer Jr., Jason McBride, Ken Schrader, Joel Callahan