LAS VEGAS, NV – Nov. 21, 2009 – Jimmy Mars lived up to his pre-race favorite status with a victory in Saturday night’s 50-lap Silver State DIRTcar Championships finale at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
But the superstar driver from Menomonie, Wis., had to survive a late-race challenge from Trevor Glaser of Tangent, Ore., in order to complete a weekend sweep of the ‘topless’ DIRTcar Late Model program.
Glaser, a 31-year-old who spent most of the 2009 season on the sidelines due to an arm injury, ran down Mars in the closing stages and actually slipped ahead to lead lap 48. But the Pacific Coast standout had his momentum dulled by a lapped car that blocked his path rounding turns one and two, allowing Mars, 37, to regain command and hold on for the $5,000 victory.
“It’s awesome,” Mars said of backing up his Friday-night preliminary-feature score with a thrilling down-to-the-wire triumph in his Deppe Enterprises MB Customs machine. “I always love racing out there at Vegas. Hopefully we can drink old Harrah’s (the casino on the nearby Las Vegas Strip) out of beer tonight – that way we’ll know we did a good job of celebrating.”
Glaser settled for second place, just 0.701 of a second behind Mars at the checkered flag. Eddie Kirchoff of Gillette, Wyo., marched forward from the ninth starting spot to finish third, followed by polesitter A.J. Kirkpatrick of Castroville, Calif., who led laps 1-7 before ceding the top spot to Mars, and 2009 Western Allstars DIRTcar Late Model Series champion Bobby Hogge IV of Salinas, Calif.
Mars, who entered the weekend as the country’s hottest dirt Late Model driver (three $50,000 victories in 2009) and with four wins in six starts to his credit at LVMS over the 2007-2008 seasons, appeared headed to a runaway victory when he built a near-straightaway edge on the field midway through the A-Main. But Glaser refused to let the event’s highest-profile entrant leave Sin City without a fight.
Glaser, who started seventh but nearly fell out of the top 10 early in the race, overtook Kirkpatrick for second following a lap-33 restart and then slowly inched toward Mars. The Oregonian pulled up to Mars’s rear bumper exiting turn four on lap 45 and led lap 48, but he couldn’t pull off the upset.
Mars counted his lucky stars after securing his sixth career win at the half-mile LVMS oval.
“I saw Trevor (surge ahead on lap 48),” said Mars, who started second. “Luckily enough there was a lapped car that was kind of his pick (in turns one and two) and I was able to get back in front of him.”
Glaser, who ironically used a carburetor that he borrowed from Mars, could only mourn his fate after coming so close to slaying one of dirt Late Model division’s titans.
“I was killing him coming out of (turn) four, but he’d cut up in front,” said Glaser, who found a fast line higher up the track after he went “searching” for traction. “I finally got up far enough alongside him off the corner to get by him (on lap 48) – and the next lap a car came up and blocked me off. I got help from traffic, and then I got hurt by it.”
A runner-up finish to Mars was disappointing but still honorable for Glaser.
“If Jimmy wasn’t here I would’ve won,” said Glaser, “but if Jimmy wasn’t here I wouldn’t have learned anything either. When you get to chase him for 50 laps, you learn something.
“To go door to door with Jimmy Mars – he said he was a little bit worried, so if I worried him a little bit, that’s a plus for us.”
Mars hailed Glaser’s performance after the two drivers exchanged a handshake in Victory Lane.
“He’s a good driver,” said Mars. “These guys on the West Coast are doing a good job. They keep picking the pace up all the time.
“It was obviously close, so the fans got a show. It’s not like we came out here and blew everybody away by any means. These guys do a good job.”
Three caution flags slowed the event, but none were for serious incidents. Andy Obertello of Hollister, Calif., spun in turn four on lap 131; John Duty of Portland, Ore., twirled into the turn-one wall on lap 18; and Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., stopped in turn four on lap 33.
Rounding out the top 10 was 17th-starter Zack Forster of Bakersfield, Calif.; Rob Mayea of Bend, Ore.; Brad Pounds of Bakersfield, Calif.; 2009 O’Reilly MARS DIRTcar Late Model Series champion Terry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., who drove a car owned by Missouri’s Steve Rushin; and Kellen Chadwick of Oakley, Calif.
Forty-one dirt Late Models were signed in for Saturday night’s action.
Heat winners Kirkpatrick, 2009 Northwest I-5 DIRTcar Late Model Tour champion Jeremy Shank of Salem, Calif., Dean Moore of Grand Junction, Colo., and Pounds. Kirkpatrick also won the 6-lap pole dash for the top-four finishers in Friday’s A-Main and Saturday’s heat winners, while Obertello captured the C-Main and Forster topped the 20-lap B-Main.
Grant Junghans of Manhattan, Kans., emerged triumphant in the companion 30-lap UMP DIRTcar Modified Silver State DIRTcar Championship A-Main.
The first-ever weekend of UMP DIRTcar Modified racing at LVMS ended with a command performance by Junghans, whose father fields the dirt Late Models driven by veteran John Anderson of Omaha, Neb.
Junghans, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Nov. 17, chased polesitter Brad Pounds, who pulled double-duty all weekend, until grabbing the lead on lap 15. The Midwesterner slipped inside Pounds entering turn one and was ahead for good by the backstretch.
After the race’s lone caution flag came out on lap 23, Junghans drove away from the pack to beat fourth-starter Stormy Scott of Las Cruces, N.M., by a comfortable margin of 2.170 seconds.
Scott, who turns 20 next month, fell short in his bid to sweep the weekend’s pair of UMP DIRTcar Modified features. He dominated Friday night’s 20-lapper, but his hopes of overtaking Junghans were effectively dashed when he clipped an inside tractor tire late in the distance and damaged the left-front corner of his car.
Mike Marlar, a dirt Late Model regular from Winfield, Tenn., drove a Bakersfield, Calif.-based car to a third-place finish. Mike Villanueva of Atwater, Calif., placed fourth and Royal Jones of Las Cruces, N.M., took fifth.
UMP DIRTcar Modified heat winners were Pounds and Bobby Hogge IV of Salinas, Calif., and Pounds captured the dash to earn the pole position starting spot for the A-Main.
Additional info on all of the series, sanctioning and member tracks of DIRTcar Racing is available at www.DIRTcar.com.
Late Model Preliminary A-Main Finish (50 laps):
1. Jimmy Mars
2. Trevor Glaser
3. Eddie Kirchoff
4. A.J. Kirkpatrick
5. Bobby Hogge IV
6. Zack Forster
7. Rob Mayea
8. Brad Pounds
9. Terry Phillips
10. Kellen Chadwick
11. Chris Shannon
12. Lonnie Parker Jr.
13. Jeremy Thornton
14. John Malcolm
15. John Lowrey
16. Scott Lewis
17. Paul Guglielmoni
18. Andy Obertello
19. Pat Doar
20. Mike Kirby
21. John Duty
22. Jeremy Shank
23. Dean Moore
24. Robert Sanders
UMP DIRTcar Modified Preliminary A-Main Finish (30 laps):
1. Grant Junghans
2. Stormy Scott
3. Mike Marlar
4. Mike Villanueva
5. Eddie Kirchoff
6. Royal Jones
7. Brad Pounds
8. Alex Stanford
9. Kellen Chadwick
10. John DeBenedetti
11. Jim Bonetti
12. Mark Allison
13. Jeff Thomas
14. Ron Bartels
15. Chester Kniss
16. Ricky Childress Jr.
17. Joe Carr
18. Bobby Hogge III
19. Bobby Hogge IV
Late Model Group 1 Qualifying Times:
1. 32B-Clay Daly/Bakersfield, CA 18.973
2. 10N-Robert Sanders/Bakersfield, CA 19.586
3. 00-Eddie Kirchoff/Gillette, WY 19.751
4. 11-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 19.769
5. 12K-A.J. Fitzpatrick/Castroville, CA 19.806
6. 29-Andy Obertello/Hollister, CA 20.083
7. 5-John Duty/Portland, OR 20.120
8. 96T-R.C. Whitwell/Tucson, AZ 20.273
9. 51c-Randy Neal/Lincoln City, OR 20.874
Heat 1 Finish (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Kirkpatrick, Kirchoff, Duty, Sanders, Daly, Obertello, Whitwell, Doar, Neal
Late Model Group 2 Qualifying Times:
1. 30-Jeremy Shank/Salem, OR 19.682
2. 83-Kellen Chadwick/Oakley, CA 20.163
3. 14JR-Terry Phillips/Springfield, MO 20.274
4. 91T-Tony Toste/Arroyo Grande, CA 20.327
5. 98-Alex Stanford/Chowchilla, CA 20.572
6. 8P-Lonnie Parker Jr./Phoenix, AZ 20.585
7. 27-Nick Bartels/El Segundo, CA 20.841
8. 9-Doug Thompson/Sacramento, CA 21.439
9. 61-J.T. Botts/Broomfield, CO 21.943
Heat 2 Finish (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Shank, Chadwick, Phillips, Parker, N. Bartels, Stanford, Thompson, Botts, Toste
Late Model Group 3 Qualifying Times:
1. 14M-Dean Moore/Grand Junction, CO 19.878
2. 7-Billy Griffin/Buena Park, CA 20.180
3. 37-Rob Mayea/Bend, OR 20.418
4. 2J-Zack Forster/Bakersfield, CA 20.574
5. 23-Brad Williams/Arizona City, AZ 20.589
6. 91P-Jason Papich/Nipomo, AZ 20.699
7. 48-Jeremy Thornton/Tucson, AZ 20.832
8. 26-Mark Carrell/Redmond, OR 21.510
9. 1-Paul Stone/Merced, CA N/T
Heat 3 Finish (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Moore, Mayea, Thornton, Forster, Griffin, Williams Carrell, Papich (DNS) Stone
Late Model Group 4 Qualifying Times:
1. 8-John Lowrey/Bakersfield, CA 20.172
2. 15B-Brad Pounds/Bakersfield, CA 20.246
3. 5K-Mike Kirby/Torrano, CA 20.439
4. H20-Jess Anderson/Gillette, WY 20.669
5. 99-Scott Lewis/Henderson, CO 20.762
6. 3-Johnny Malcolm/Corona, CA 21.065
7. 4R-Anthony Restad/Santa Rosa, CA 21.098
8. 22G-Paul Guglielmoni/Vacaville, CA 21.596
9. 136-Lisa Stroup/Redmond, OR 22.217
10. 58-Jim Giardina/Riverside, CA 22.312
Heat 4 Finish (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Pounds, Kirby, Lowrey, Scott Lewis, Malcolm, Anderson, Guglielmoni, Restad, Stroup, Giardina
Late Model C-Main Finish (12 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Obertello, Stanford, Guglielmoni, Doar, Williams, Whitwell, Anderson, Carrell, Stone, Papich, Restad, Neal, Giardina, Stroup, Botts
Late Model B-Main Finish (20 laps – Top 8 Transfer): Forster, Sanders, Doar, Parker, Lewis, Obertello, Guglielmoni, Malcolm, Whitwell, Daly, Griffin, Williams, Anderson, Carrell, Stanford, N. Bartels
Late Model Dash Finish (6 laps): Kirkpatrick, Mars, Shannon, Pounds, Moore, Hogge, Glaser, Shank