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World of Outlaws Notebook

Notes: Firecracker tire reports come next week

July 1, 2011, 5:04 pm
By Kevin Kovac
World of Outlaws Late Model Series
Jimmy Mars (28) overtakes Scott Bloomquist in Lernerville's Firecracker 100. (stivasonphotos.com)
Jimmy Mars (28) overtakes Scott Bloomquist in Lernerville's Firecracker 100. (stivasonphotos.com)

Almost one week after the fifth annual Firecracker 100 presented byGottaRace.com at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., ended with conversation-starting intrigue, there remains no official news concerning the protest that race runner-up Scott Bloomquist lodged on winner Jimmy Mars’s tires.

That will soon change, however. World of Outlaws Late Model Series director Tim Christman said Mars’s tires — as well as tires used in the Firecracker 100 by Bloomquist and third-place finisher Rick Eckert — are currently at a laboratory for testing and results should be available shortly after Fourth of July weekend.

Mars’s tires became the story of the Firecracker 100 weekend after Bloomquist publicly questioned their legality following Mars’s convincing second career $30,000-plus victory in the WoO event. Bloomquist’s protest asked WoO officials to conduct a detailed laboratory test on the left-rear and right-front tires that Mars used in the race, which was run under DIRTcar UMP’s four-compound Hoosier tire rule that strictly forbids the use of chemical agents to enhance the rubber.

Christman noted that WoO officials were going to impound tires from the top-three finishers in the Firecracker 100 for further testing as standard technical procedure regardless of Bloomquist’s protest, but Bloomquist specifically requested that Mars’s left-rear and right-front tires be tested for unapproved chemical treatment. As part of the protest, Bloomquist is responsible for underwriting the cost of the detailed laboratory testing procedure that is being done to Mars’s tires.

Bloomquist told Speed following the Firecracker 100 that he put in the protest because he wondered if Mars’s speed had derived from more than simply bolting on harder-compound tires.

“The big thing is, I never want to leave a race and not be 100 percent sure why I was beat,” said Bloomquist. “It’s nothing against Jimmy Mars.”

Mars didn’t mince any words when presented Bloomquist’s rational for the protest, telling Speed: “If he would’ve went with that tire combination, he would’ve thought he was the smartest guy in the pits.” While denying the accusations of tire doctoring, Mars also accused Bloomquist of being “a sore loser.”

Two-driver battle

Don’t look now, but Rick Eckert and Josh Richards have suddenly turned the 2011 WoO LMS points race into a two-driver battle.

Eckert, 46, of York, Pa., and Richards, 23, of Shinnston, W.Va., distanced themselves from the rest of the World of Outlaws points pack with solid performances during the Firecracker 100 weekend. Eckert finished second in both 30-lap semifeatures and third in the 100-lapper, while Richards scored a victory and a fifth-place finish in the prelims and registered a late-charging fourth in the Firecracker finale.

Entering the inaugural $20,000-to-win Outlaw Sizzler 101 this weekend at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway, Eckert leads the WoO LMS points standings by 16 points (2,072-2,056) over Richards. Former series champions Darrell Lanigan and Tim McCreadie are next in line, trailing Eckert by 116 and 124 points, respectively.

No driver, it should be pointed out, has ever won the Wo) championship after falling more than 100 points out of the lead.

Lanigan’s ballooning points deficit is one of the tour’s most surprising current trends.

While Lanigan knew his margin for error would be small this season after he missed the 2011 opener at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park due to medical issues related to his treatment for lower-back pain, he roared back with a vengeance and after eight events had pulled from a season-high 120 points out of first to just 22 back. But even with four wins and eight top-three finishes to his credit in ’11, a DNF in the ninth race (at Georgia’s Needmore Speedway) and his unexpected failure to score a single top-10 finish during the Firecracker 100 weekend have left him with another triple-digit points gap to make up.

McCreadie's drought

Tim McCreadie dearly needs a win in this weekend’s Outlaw Sizzler 101 at Tazewell. Without one, his winless streak on the WoO LMS will exceed one year.

The 37-year-old McCreadie hasn’t won on the tour since July 7, 2010, at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn. — a span of 33 races entering this weekend’s action. He’s hopeful that he’s closing in on a victory after running increasingly better during the Firecracker 100, finishing ninth (Thursday ), seventh (Friday) and sixth (Saturday).

Of course, McCreadie did win on Tennessee soil last year, capturing the Independence Day weekend event at Wartburg Speedway before heading over to Tazewell (where a flat tire forced him to pit and settle for a 12th-place finish).

And McCreadie did at least get a taste of victory last weekend at Lernerville, where he combined with Jerry Daugherty-Rouse of Millersburg, Ohio, to win the first-ever Firecracker 100 Driver-Fan Cornhole Tournament on Saturday afternoon.

“I haven’t won anything all year,” McCreadie said after capturing the beanbag-tossing game, “so this is pretty cool.”

Crew member banged up

Clint Smith’s chief mechanic, Brad Baum, is hoping to be a bit more mobile this weekend at Tazewell after experiencing a painful Firecracker 100 weekend.

Baum’s visit to Lernerville became a tough one after he was struck in the pit area during Thursday night’s racing program by a four-wheeler steered by a Scott Bloomquist crew members. While Baum escaped serious injury when he was knocked to the ground, he did make a trip to a nearby emergency room for a checkup.

He sported bruises to his ankles, leg and back and a bump on his head as he assisted Smith for the remainder of the weekend, albeit at a slower pace.

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