Mars Out Of This World At North-South 100
Jimmy Mars makes dramatic last lap pass to win at Florence
From the August, 2009 issue of Circle Track
By Todd Ridgeway
The outriders for the North...
The outriders for the North South 100 at Florence Kentucky
Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, WI continued his prowess in major dirt late model events as he passed race leader Don O'Neal of Martinsville, IN on the final lap to win the $50,000 27th Annual Sunoco Race Fuels North/South 100 Presented by Lucas Oil on Saturday Night at Florence Speedway. O'Neal, who led laps 24 through 99 saw Mars come the 15th starting spot and pass him in turn four as the two headed to the checkers; Mars took the win by a car length. Trailing Mars and O'Neal across the stripe were Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN; Earl Pearson, Jr. of Jacksonville, FL; and Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN.
Pole sitter Joe Armes took the lead at the start of the 100 lap race with Don O'Neal moving into second place followed by 2-time event winner, Steve Shaver, R.J. Conley and Scott Bloomquist. Armes and O'Neal then diced it out for the lead as the two entered traffic by lap eleven.
O'Neal raced side-by-side with Armes for the lead for two consecutive laps, but Armes maintained the lead at the scoring line. With 15 laps in the books it was a great battle for the lead with Armes and O'Neal as Shaver was closing the gap in the race for the lead.
Jimmy Mars (28) works his...
Jimmy Mars (28) works his way to the front from fifteenth starting position at Florence passing both Jimmy Owens (20) and Steve Shaver (30), both former winners of the North South 100.
On lap 24, O'Neal threw a slider on Armes in turn four as he cleanly passed him to take over the lead. O'Neal then started to open up some distance between himself, Armes, Shaver, Conley and Bloomquist. The top five in the running order remained the same until the first and only caution of the race came out for a slowing Will Vaught on lap 31.
On the restart O'Neal led the Delaware double file restart as Armes slipped back to fourth as Shaver and Bloomquist climbed to second and third. O'Neal built a straightaway lead ten laps into the green flag run and with 45 laps in the books. O'Neal was well out in front followed by a battle royale between Shaver and Bloomquist for second.
O'Neal re-entered traffic at the halfway mark but he still maintained a huge lead as Bloomquist passed Shaver on lap 49 after the two raced against each other for several circuits. Pearson, who had started in the outside of the front row lost several spots at the start of the race, but regrouped as he marched his way up to third passing Shaver on lap 55.
The race for the early lead...
The race for the early lead between Don O'Neal (71) and Joe Armes (77) at Florence during the North South 100
With 40 laps to go O'Neal was in command still holding a straightaway advantage over his competitors as Bloomquist and Pearson were putting on a show for second as the top two in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series fought tooth and nail for not only track position, but for points.
With 25 to go O'Neal had to contend with two cars he was trying to lap in front of him; as Bloomquist and Pearson now had company,; Mars was now in the thick of things as he climbed from his 15th starting slot to put the heat on Bloomquist and Pearson which began a three-way battle now.
Earl Pearson Jr (44), Skip...
Earl Pearson Jr (44), Skip Arp (31), Billy Moyer (21), and Bart Hartman (75) all race for position in the Florence North South 100 race
O'Neal was still the car they were all trying to catch and as the laps were winding down. The trio of Bloomquist, Pearson and Mars were closing ever so slightly on O'Neal. Mars then caught up to Pearson and made a move to the inside of Pearson as he passed him for third with nine laps to go in the race.
Mars then cleared Bloomquist for second on lap 93, but it looked like at this point O'Neal had a big enough lead and that Mars would need a caution to make it close at the end, but Mars quickly made up ground in a hurry and with two laps to Mars had cut the lead to two car lengths.
O'Neal was holding on for dear life as two took the white flag as Mars closed right up on O'Neal as the two entered the last lap. Coming off of turn two heading down the backstretch Mars was able to get low on O'Neal as the two race side-by-side into turn number three. Mars was able to have enough momentum as the two came off of turn four Mars passed O'Neal in an incredible ending. Mars took the $50,000 first place money denying O'Neal his first Crown Jewel win.
Jimmy Mars winner of the 27th...
Jimmy Mars winner of the 27th annual North South 100 at Florence Kentucky and the $50,000 prize
In the Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the second time this year, Mars savored a win which was his second straight $50,000 win in two weeks. "Man I can't believe it, "said the 37-year old racer as he did an interview for SPEED Channel who was on hand to tape the race. "I didn't think we had a shot at him (O'Neal), but the car kept getting better and better towards the end and I caught up to him quicker than I thought I could and without any cautions, but he drove a heck of race, I mean he was out of sight there for a long time, but this is just unbelievable to win back-to-back $50,000 races with this kind of competition here, it sure feels good and I hope this roll continues," said Mars who captured the USA Nationals in Wisconsin a week earlier.
The win for Mars marked the 8th win in the last eleven $20,000 to win or more dirt late model events for either himself or Brian Birkhofer; the only two drivers who pilot the M-B Customs Chassis. Mars' winning number 28 car has a Pro Power Racing Engine and is sponsored by Deppe Enterprises, Baileigh Industrial, BSB Manufacturing, ChevytownUSA.com, T.L. Sinz Plumbing, Hoosier Tires and VP Racing Fuels.
Scott Bloomquist (L) and Don...
Scott Bloomquist (L) and Don O'Neal (R) started thier day with the fans signing autographs at Florence Ky. At the end of the day they finished second and third in the North South 100 race.
O'Neal's disappointment in finishing second was evident on his face afterwards. "I thought we had that one in the bag, but it just shows you it's not over until the checkered flag comes out, Jimmy made a great move there on the last lap and I couldn't do anything about it," said the driver of the Racing United Marketing, /Jay Dickens Racing Engines/MasterSbilt Monte Carlo SS.
Bloomquist took third in his Miller Brothers Coal/Hawkeye Trucking/Bloomquist Race Cars Monte Carlo SS as he now holds a 185 point lead over Pearson, who finished fourth in the Bobby Labonte Racing/J4 Liquid Energy/MasterSbilt Race Car entry as Owens took fifth in the Mike Reece/Reece Monuments/Bloomquist Race Cars Ford Fusion.
Completing the top ten were Joe Armes of Petros, TN; Skip Arp of Georgetown, TN; Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR; Wendell Wallace of Batesville, AR; and R.J. Conley of Wheelersburg, OH.
To find out more about the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, log on to www.lucasdirt.com or call the series office at (951) 532-2503.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Saturday Night, August 8th, 2009
Sunoco Race Fuels North/South 100 Presented by Lucas Oil
Florence Speedway - Union, KY
PRC Fast Time: Scott Bloomquist / 17.295 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Joe Armes, Scott Bloomquist, Tim McCreadie, Will Vaught, Wayne Chinn, Justin Rattliff, Duane Chamberlain, Brandon Green, Jesse Lay, Adrian Nichols, Jeff Raisor, Michael Walker, Jason Keltner-DNS
Hawk Brake Second Heat (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Don O'Neal, Jordan Bland, Jimmy Mars, Clint Smith, Rick Combs, Brad Neat, Jeff Alsip, Tim Prince, Adam Dixon, Brian Birkhofer, Steve Duderstadt, D.J. Wells-DNS
AFCO Racing Products Third Heat (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance): RJ Conley, Josh Richards, Dustin Neat, Scott James, John Blankenship, Eddie Carrier Jr., Dustin Linville, Tyler Reddick, Jerry Bowersock, Jason Smith, Bob Lanter, Dale McDowell, Josh McGuire-DNS
Tiger Rear Ends Fourth Heat (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Earl Pearson Jr., Skip Arp, Darrell Lanigan, Wendell Wallace, Ray Cook, Jason Jameson, Jerry Rice, Shannon Babb, Josh Williams, John Gill, Tony Knowles, Troy Cruse, Donnie Moran-DNS
Hawk Brake Fifth Heat (12 Laps- Top 3 Advance): Steve Shaver, Steve Francis, Jimmy Owens, Steve Casebolt, David Spille, Matt Miller, Mark Douglas, Dan Schlieper, John Mason, Brett Wyatt, Steve Landrum, Gary Engle
Hawk Brake Sixth Heat (12 Laps- Top 3 Advance): Billy Moyer, Bart Hartman, Eric Wells, Chris Wilson, Eric Jacobsen, Victor Lee, Jeep VanWormer, Freddy Smith, David Breazeale, Robby Hensley, Whitney McQueary, Mike Marlar, David Webb-DNS
Mason Racin' Rebel Shock Dyno First B-Main (15 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Will Vaught, Clint Smith, Scott James, John Blankenship, Eddie Carrier Jr., Wayne Chinn, Justin Rattliff, Duane Chamberlain, Brandon Green, Dustin Linville, Jerry Bowersock, Rick Combs, Jesse Lay, Tyler Reddick, Adrian Nichols, Jason Keltner, Adam Dixon, Jason Smith, Michael Walker, Jeff Raisor, Bob Lanter, Steve Duderstadt, Tim Prince, Chris Combs-DNS, Dale McDowell-DNS, Jeff Alsip-DNS, Brian Birkhofer-DNS, D.J. Wells-DNS, Josh McGuire-DNS
Wiles Drive Shafts Second B-Main (15 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Mike Jewell, Wendell Wallace, Ray Cook, Steve Casebolt, Chris Wilson, Eric Jacobsen, Jason Jameson, Victor Lee, Jerry Rice, Jeep VanWormer, David Spille, Matt Miller, Mark Douglas, Josh Williams, John Gill, Freddy Smith, Dan Schlieper, David Breazeale, Robby Hensley, Tony Knowles, John Mason, Brett Wyatt, Steve Landrum, Troy Cruse, Gary Engle, Shannon Babb-DNS, Whitney McQueary-DNS, Mike Marlar-DNS, Donnie Moran-DNS, David Webb-DNS
17th Annual Sunoco Race Fuels North/South 100 Presented by Lucas Oil
Feature Finish (100 Laps): Jimmy Mars, Don O'Neal, Scott Bloomquist, Earl Pearson Jr., Jimmy Owens, Joe Armes, Skip Arp, Billy Moyer, Wendell Wallace, R.J. Conley, Tim McCreadie, Bart Hartman, Steve Shaver, Eric Wells, Steve Francis, Josh Richards, Ray Cook, Dustin Neat, Dale McDowell, Will Vaught, Darrell Lanigan, Brad Neat, Clint Smith, Jordan Bland, Jerry Rice, Mike Jewell
Finish (Start) Car Number Driver Name
1. (15) #28M Jimmy Mars
2. (3) #71 Don O'Neal
3. (7) #0 Scott Bloomquist
4. (2) #44 Earl Pearson Jr.
5. (16) #20 Jimmy Owens
6. (1) #77 Joe Armes
7. (8) #31 Skip Arp
8. (6) #21 Billy Moyer
9. (22) #88 Wendell Wallace
10. (5) #71c R.J. Conley
11. (13) #4 Steve Shaver
12. (12) #Bart Hartman
13. (4) #30 Steve Shaver
14. (18) #18E Eric Wells
15. (10 #11F Steve Francis
16. (11) #1 Josh Richards
17. (24) #53 Ray Cook
18. (17) #25 Dustin Neat
19. (23) #Dale McDowell
20. (19) #1V Will Vaught
21. (14) #29 Darrell Lanigan
22. (26) #41N Brad Neat
23. (21) #44C Clint Smith
24. (9) #12x Jordan Bland
25. (25) #11R Jerry Rice
26. (20) #9J Mike Jewell
Lap Leaders: Joe Armes (Laps 1-23); Don O'Neal (Laps 24-99); Jimmy Mars (Lap 100)
Caution Flags: Lap 31 (Will Vaught)
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Dale McDowell, Ray Cook
Emergency Provisional: Brad Neat
PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race: Jimmy Mars
Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Scott Bloomquist
K&N Filters Clean Pass of the Race: Wendell Wallace
Quarter Master Rookie of the Race: none
Comp Cams Engine Builder of the Race: Pro Power Racing Engines
Time of the Race: 37 minutes 56 seconds