SARVER, Pa. (June 27) — Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., made a potentially disastrous mistake on lap 19 of Friday night’s 30-lap Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com preliminary feature at Lernerville Speedway.
Fortunately for Owens, he was able to joke about his slip over the cushion in turn two after holding on to win the World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main.
“I was waving at the crowd up yonder,” Owens said with a smile when asked what happened on the race’s 19th circuit.
Owens’s edge on second-place Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., at the time of his rare miscue — over 2.5 seconds — was large enough that he had room for error. He was still several car lengths ahead of Bloomquist when he got back in the fast groove and stayed there to the finish, turning back a stiff late-race challenge from the two-time Firecracker champion to complete a flag-to-flag victory off the pole position.
“When we got behind them lapped cars it was like as soon as you got within five car lengths of them they’d throw that dust up,” Owens said, describing the moment that nearly cost him his first-ever triumph at Lernerville and the eighth WoO win of his career. “I entered that corner just like always but them crumbs were up there and I just slid off the track a little bit.
“I knew we had a pretty good lead, though, when we didn’t lose the lead.”
Making his first Firecracker 100 assault in five years and just his third career appearance in the eight-year-old event, Owens, 42, earned $6,050 for a checkered flag that kept Club 29 Race Cars in the spotlight for the second consecutive night. The chassis’s designer, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., won Thursday night’s Firecracker 100 preliminary feature.
Bloomquist, 50, made a determined bid to unseat Owens, but the race’s outside polesitter couldn’t pull off a pass of his fellow Tennessean. Bloomquist stuck his car’s nose inside of Owens several times during the closing laps but settled for his second runner-up finish in as many nights, 0.510 of a second behind the winner.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., hustled forward from the seventh starting spot to third place by lap eight and held strong to the position to the finish. He flashed under the checkered flag alone in third place but nearly three seconds behind Owens.
Two-time Firecracker 100 winner Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., advanced from the ninth starting spot to finish fourth and third-starter Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., placed fifth for his third top-five finish in the last four WoO events.
Owens rode the extreme outside lane of the four-tenths-mile oval to the victory, sticking to the lane even after flirting with disaster on lap 19 and seeing Bloomquist appear underneath him.
While Owens noted that the “top side was going away,” there was enough grip left up there to carry him to the finish.
“We were so successful up there I just hated to move,” Owens said. “I just decided to stay up high. We was getting a good enough run coming off the corner to maybe take care of what we were losing going in.”
Owens felt his car was sufficiently versatile, however, to work in a lower groove, giving him confidence for Saturday night’s $30,000-to-win Firecracker 100.
“I definitely don’t think my car was fading at all,” said Owens, who assured himself a pole starting spot in a Saturday heat race with his first WoO win since Nov. 2, 2012, at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C. “I think if we would’ve moved over to the middle or the bottom we would’ve been just as good. Maybe not, but I think so. I ran the middle through one and two a couple times and the car felt really good.”
Bloomquist walked away from Friday night’s action feeling positive vibes about his Firecracker 100 chances as well.
“We were good,” said Bloomquist, who will also start from the pole position in a heat race on Saturday night. “The thing that makes me really happy is that tomorrow is a hundred laps and we were getting better. I could run on the bottom, right through that middle where it’s really slick.
“When you’ve got a hundred laps coming the next day, the best thing is not to run into anything and keep the car in good shape. There really ain’t much we want to do to this car. We’ll just get tires on it tomorrow and count on the race being long like it’s gonna be and just let the track come to us.”
Bloomquist would have liked to grab the checkered flag, but he was content with his performance after his last-lap bid fell short.
“I actually pushed it a little bit too hard in three and four and got a little bit loose on the last lap,” Bloomquist said. “But the other laps we were gaining and got into position. He could beat me off the corners early, but that went away.
“I’m not gonna think to hard about that. We’re just gonna wait on tomorrow and see what happens.”
Two caution flags slowed the race. The first came on lap 11 when Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., and Jared Miley of South Park, Pa., tangled in turn one, and on lap 24 Russ King of Bristolville, Ohio, stopped on the backstretch.
Notes: All 23 cars running at the finish were on the lead lap. … Lanigan had a rare off-night, finishing a quiet 11th after starting 18th. It marked the first time he’s finished outside the top 10 in 16 WoO starts this season — and just his second run outside the top five — but he still extended his points lead to 164 points over Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who finished 17th after using a provisional to start the feature. … John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., was the race’s biggest mover, advancing from the 22nd starting spot to finish seventh. … Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., battled for a top-five spot for most of the distance but finished sixth. … Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., was in contention for a second consecutive top-five finish when he pulled out of the race on lap 12.
First consolation (top two transfer): Jared Miley, John Blankenship, Mike Knight, Eric Wells, Matt Cochran, Clint Smith, Mike Pegher Jr., Garrett Krummert, Brian Tavenner, Gary Lyle, Tony Musolino, Bo Lockwood, Boom Briggs.
Second consolation (top two transfer): Austin Hubbard, Morgan Bagley, Mike Benedum, Alex Ferree, Doug Drown, Vic Coffey, Max Blair, Justin Kann, Casey Roberts, Michael Norris, Chuck Sarver, Todd Bachman.
Third consolation (top two transfer): Davey Johnson, Chase Junghans, Rick Eckert, Dave Hess Jr., Ken Schaltenbrand, Dan Angelicchio, John Flinner Jr., Mike Altobelli, Herman Bertolini, Chris Casner, Colton Flinner (DNS) Dale McDowell.
(12 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: John Blankenship, Jared Miley
Row 2: Mike Knight, Eric Wells
Row 3: Clint Smith, Garrett Krummert
Row 4: Mike Pegher Jr., Matt Cochran
Row 5: Tony Musolino, Boom Briggs
Row 6: Brian Tavenner, Gary Lyle
Row 7: Bo Lockwood
Row 1: Mike Benedum, Austin Hubbard
Row 2: Alex Ferree, Morgan Bagley
Row 3: Doug Drown, Justin Kann
Row 4: Max Blair, Vic Coffey
Row 5: Michael Norris, Chuck Sarver
Row 6: Casey Roberts, Todd Bachman
Row 1: Dave Hess Jr., Rick Eckert
Row 2: Chase Junghans, Davey Johnson
Row 3: Dan Angelicchio, Ken Schaltenbrand
Row 4: Mike Altobelli, Chris Casner
Row 5: Dale McDowell, Colton Flinner
Row 6: John Flinner Jr., Herman Bertolini
Heat race finishes
First heat (top three transfer): Jimmy Owens, Tim McCreadie, John Garvin Jr., John Blankenship, Mike Knight, Clint Smith, Mike Pegher Jr., Tony Musolino, Brian Tavenner, Bo Lockwood.
Second heat (top three transfer): Chub Frank, Shane Clanton, Russ King, Jared Miley, Eric Wells, Garrett Krummert, Matt Cochran, Boom Briggs, Gary Lyle.
Third heat (top three transfer): Mike Marlar, Jimmy Mars, Eric Jacobsen, Mike Benedum, Alex Ferree, Doug Drown, Max Blair, Michael Norris, Casey Roberts.
Fourth heat (top three transfer): Scott Bloomquist, Jonathan Davenport, Gregg Satterlee, Austin Hubbard, Morgan Bagley, Vic Coffey, Justin Kann, Chuck Sarver, Todd Bachman.
Fifth heat (top three transfer): Tim Fuller, Frank Heckenast Jr., Dan Stone, Dave Hess Jr., Chase Junghans, Dan Angelicchio, Mike Altobelli, Dale McDowell, John Flinner Jr.
Sixth heat (top three transfer): Mason Zeigler, Kent Robinson, Darrell Lanigan, Rick Eckert, Davey Johnson, Ken Schaltenbrand, Chris Casner, Colton Flinner, Herman Bertolini
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: John Garvin, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Tim McCreadie, Clint Smith
Row 3: Mike Knight, Tony Musolino
Row 4: John Blankenship, Brian Tavenner
Row 5: Mike Pegher, Bo Lockwood
Row 1: Chub Frank, Garrett Krummert
Row 2: Boom Briggs, Russ King
Row 3: Eric Wells, Shane Clanton
Row 4: Jared Miley, Gary Lyle
Row 5: Matt Cochran
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Mike Benedum
Row 2: Jimmy Mars, Eric Jacobsen
Row 3: Doug Drown, Michael Norris
Row 4: Max Blair, Alex Ferree
Row 5: Casey Roberts
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Justin Kann, Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Austin Hubbard, Chuck Sarver
Row 4: Morgan Bagley, Vic Coffey
Row 5: Todd Bachman
Row 1: Tim Fuller, Dan Stone
Row 2: Frank Heckenast Jr., Dale McDowell
Row 3: Dave Hess Jr., Chase Junghans
Row 4: John Flinner Jr., Dan Angelicchio
Row 5: Mike Altobelli
Row 1: Kent Robinson, Mason Zeigler
Row 2: Darrell Lanigan, Rick Eckert
Row 3: Davey Johnson, Chris Casner
Row 4: Colton Flinner, Ken Schaltenbrand
Row 5: Herman Bertolini
Time trial results
John Garvin (J4), Sarver, Pa., 16.849
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.875
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 16.907
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.914
Garret Krummert (29K), Butler, Pa., 16.935
Mike Benedum (25b), Salem, W.Va., 16.986
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y. 17.016
Boom Briggs (99b), Bear Lake, Pa., 17.021
Jimmy Mars (28M), Menomonie, Wis., 17.064
Clint Smith (44), Senoia, Ga., 17.105
Russ King (56), Bristolville, Ohio, 17.134
Eric Jacobsen (5), Sea Cliff Beach, Calif., 17.156
Mike Knight (9K), Ripley, N.Y., 17.218
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 17.237
Doug Drown (20d), Wooster, Ohio, 17.32
Tony Mussolino II (21), Pittsburgh, Pa., 17.331
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 17.348
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 17.37
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 17.422
Jared Miley (H1), South Park, Pa., 17.446
Max Blair (111), Titusville, Pa., 17.448
Brain Tavenner (37), Winchester, Va., 17.481
Gary Lyle (10L), Leechburg, Pa., 17.548
Alex Ferree (10), Saxonburg, Pa., 17.634
Mike Pegher Jr. (1c), Wexford, Pa., 17.709
Matt Cochran (16), Williamsport, Pa., 17.847
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 17.9
Bo Lockwood (57), Brookville, Pa., 17.937
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 16.873
Tim Fuller (19), Watertown, N.Y., 17.195
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 17.245
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 17.303
Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 17.407
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 17.415
Justin Kann (66), Hesston, Pa., 17.541
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99Jr), Frankfurt, Ill., 17.567
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 17.607
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 17.622
Dale McDowell (17M), Chickamauga, Ga., 17.633
Rick Eckert (1), York, Pa., 17.665
Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 17.843
Dave Hess Jr. (44H), Waterford, Pa., 17.872
Davey Johnson (1J), Latrobe, Pa., 17.905
Chuck Sarver (88), W. Sunbury, Pa., 17.907
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 17.93
Chris Casner (c33), Mifflintown, Pa., 18.043
Morgan Bagley (14M), Longview, Texas, 18.099
John Flinner Jr. (48), Zelionpole, Pa., 18.149
Colton Flinner (75), Allison Park, Pa., 18.168
Vic Coffey (32c), Caledonia, N.Y., 18.297
Dan Angelicchio (14), Mt. Pleasant, Pa., 18.413
Ken Schaltenbrand (29s), Sarver, Pa., 18.453
Todd Bachman (66), Natrona Heights, Pa., 18.469
Mike Altobelli (79), Saxton, Pa., 18.563
Herman Bertolini (7x), Creighton, Pa., 18.707
Schedule of events
6:50 p.m.: WoO hot laps
7:15 p.m.: WoO time trials (two groups; three cars at a time; two laps)
8 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
· WoO heats (six races; 10 laps; top three transfer)
· WoO feature redraw
· WoO consolations (three races; 12 laps; top two transfer)
· Driver intros
· WoO feature (30 laps)
· Post-race entertainment