NEW RICHMOND, Wis. – official release – World Racing Group photo — With two of the sport’s hottest drivers behind him in Thursday’s main event at Cedar Lake Speedway, Jimmy Mars expected one if not both of his challengers to attempt to charge by him in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series race.
That never happened. Instead, Mars of Menomonie, Wis., led every lap of the 40-lap event in his Deppe Enterprises-sponsored MB Customs Race Car, topping Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., for a $6,000 victory on the opening night of Cedar Lake’s USA Nationals weekend.
“Overall it was good,” said Mars, who started from the pole and maintained a slight advantage over Lanigan for the entire distance of the caution-free race. “We’ve got a pretty good hot rod, but the guys that were behind me, you just wonder if they’re going to light the fuse and take off. But we were able to hold them off.”
The 42-year-old Mars claimed his second WoO LMS victory of the season in beating Lanigan, the two-time series champion and current points leader, to the finish by 0.477 seconds. Owens, who has combined with Lanigan to claim the lion’s share of this year’s Dirt Late Model national touring events, charged from 10th to take third late in the race but wasn’t close enough to the two leaders to make a serious bid for the win. Former WoO LMS champion Rick Eckert of York, Pa., was fourth with Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., rounding out the top five.
Along with earning his second WoO LMS victory of the season, the opening night triumph also gave Mars a boost of momentum heading into the 27th annual USA Nationals the rest of the weekend. Mars, a two-time winner of Cedar Lake’s crown jewel event, will now look for some good fortune as the $50,000-to-win event kicks off with preliminary action on Friday leading into Saturday’s 100-lap main event.
“This whole thing, you still need a lot of luck,” said Mars, who last won the USA Nationals in 2009. “I always got luck, I just don’t have a whole lot of good luck. We’ll just see what happens tomorrow night. We take it one step at time.”
Lanigan, who leads the WoO LMS with 11 victories this season, pressured Mars for much of the distance, especially as the two leaders raced through slower traffic in the second half of the race. Although he never found a way to take his Gotta Race-sponsored Club 29 Race Car around Mars, he too has an eye toward a potential big payday on Saturday.
“We had a great race car. We started fifth, but just couldn’t get by him,” said Lanigan, who won the USA Nationals in 2012. “I think the track conditions will be pretty similar on Saturday, so we should be able to take this package and tweak on it a little bit and be good.”
Owens, who drives a Mike Reese-owned Club 29 car designed by Lanigan, was one of the fastest cars on the racetrack as he charged from his 10th starting spot to third by lap 30. But without a caution, he wasn’t able to catch Mars and Lanigan and had to settle for a third-place finish and some extra momentum for the remainder of the weekend.
“I was looking forward (to a caution) as soon as we got into third there,” said Owens, who’s gunning for his first USA Nationals trophy. “I don’t know if a caution would’ve helped us or not, but we had a really good car to get to where we were.
“We worked on some stuff and qualified with a different deal. Maybe we learned a few things for qualifying and the heat race tomorrow, but for the most part I think we’ve got a decent feature race setup for Saturday.”
Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., recorded his best career Cedar Lake finish with a sixth-place performance while former WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., took seventh. Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., was eighth with five-time USA Nationals winner Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., rounding out the top 10.
Outside polesitter Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., was never a factor after nearly spinning on the race’s opening lap. He faded back to 12th at the finish.
The USA Nationals continues Friday with WoO LMS time trials, heat races and a dash for heat race winners. B-Mains on Saturday will finalize the lineup for the night’s 100-lap feature.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Fans can also follow the WoO LMS on Twitter at Twitter.com/WoOLateModels and Facebook at Facebook.com/WorldofOutlaws.
Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series at Cedar Lake Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (1) Jimmy Mars/40 $6,000
2. (5) Darrell Lanigan/40 $3,700
3. (10) Jimmy Owens/40 $2,000
4. (7) Rick Eckert/40 $2,400
5. (3) Don O’Neal/40 $2,000
6. (4) Gregg Satterlee/40 $1,550
7. (9) Steve Francis/40 $1,400
8. (13) Jason Feger/40 $1,250
9. (6) Billy Moyer/40 $1,250
10. (15) Shannon Babb/40 $1,100
11. (19) Jonathan Davenport/40 $900
12. (2) Brian Shirley/40 $850
13. (8) Bobby Pierce/40 $850
14. (14) A.J. Diemel/40 $775
15. (23) Scott Bloomquist/40 $900
16. (22) Brian Birkhofer/40 $700
17. (12) Billy Moyer Jr./40 $660
18. (11) Brady Smith/40 $690
19. (17) Tim McCreadie/40 $1,270
20. (18) Frank Heckenast Jr./40 $1,350
21. (20) Morgan Bagley/40 $1,150
22. (21) Wendell Wallace/39 $600
23. (25) Eric Wells/39 $1,150
24. (28) Clint Smith/39 $660
25. (26) Chub Frank/39 $1,150
26. (27) Shane Clanton/39 $660
27. (24) Jordan Yaggy/19 $600
28. (16) Chad Simpson/6 $600