latemodelamerica.com - Feb. 16 - Volusia Speedway Park
LateModelAmerica.com by Sam Holbrooks

 
 

UMP: Mars Lands In DIRTcar Nationals Victory Lane For First Time Since 2000 at VSP

Kevin Kovac 

BARBERVILLE, Fla. - Feb. 16. Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., gained a dose of redemption with a powerful drive to victory in Wednesday's caution-free 30-lap DIRTcar UMP Late Model A-Main during the 40th annual DIRTcar Nationals by Northwestern Ohio at Volusia Speedway Park.


A victorious Jimmy Mars at Volusia Speedway Park. (Brian McLeod)
Erasing memories of his heartbreaking last-lap loss 24 hours earlier to Martinsville, Ind.'s Don O’Neal, Mars grabbed the lead from reigning DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., on lap 16 and never looked back en route to his first win since 2000 at the half-mile oval.

"Last night we gave one up on the restart (with three laps remaining), so I was sure hoping we wouldn't have another one (late in the race)," said Mars, who reached Victory Lane during the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH for the first time since 2000. "But the car was just stuck like suction cups out there. I'm telling you, this thing was unbelievable.”

Feger, 32, settled for a career-best DIRTcar Nationals finish of second after surging off the outside pole starting spot to lead laps 1-15 in his Bob Pierce-built machine. He flashed under the checkered flag 7.659 seconds - over a full straightaway - behind Mars' Deppe Enterprises MB Customs car.

Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., registered his best finish of the week, taking third after his bid to steal the runner-up spot from Feger fell just 0.072 of a second short at the finish line. Two-time defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Josh Richards emerged from a multi-car position battle to place fourth for the second straight evening and tenth starter Jonathan Davenport finished fifth.

Mars, who turns 39 on Feb. 28, raved about the smooth Volusia racing surface, which produced a frenetic, non-stop feature that was completed in 9 minutes, 26.941 seconds.

"The track is beautiful,"”said Mars, who is competing in the DIRTcar Nationals for the first time since 2007. "It's a lot racier than what it used to be. There's a lot of good track prep put into it."”

Feger was unable to stay with Mars, but he understood his shortcoming and was seen wearing a broad smile in the pit area following the race.

"We were set up to run the top,"”said Feger, the 2009 DIRTcar UMP Late Model national champion. "We went with soft tires. I didn't even realize those guys like Mars put on harder right-rear tires. I think if we would've had on the same combination as Mars I might've had a better chance to hold on.

 "I know we would've been better toward the end of the race. The track definitely went away, but my tire went away too. We tore up the tire pretty good."

Jimmy Mars VL1 - Volusia Speedway Park 
(Gary Shrey photo) 

"I would've loved to get a win, but it's pretty satisfying to have a run like this," he added. "The best of the best are here, and this is by far our best run here. We struggled last year and Monday and Tuesday this week, so we're definitely making progress with our program here.”

Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., ran in the top five for much of the distance but was shuffled back to sixth in the final rundown. Dan Schlieper of Sullivan, Wis., advanced from the 13th starting spot to place seventh. Seventy-four cars entered Wednesday's program.

In the group qualifying sessions that set the starting lineups for the evening's six heat races, O'Neal established a new track record with a sizzling lap of 15.813 seconds. He surpassed the standard of 15.932 seconds held by Richards since Feb. 10, 2009.

Other group fast-timers were Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn. (16.737 seconds), Davies (16.460), Owens (16.428), Davenport (16.077) and Richards (16.089).

Heat winners were Marlar, Feger, Mars, Francis, Bloomquist and Richards. The B-Mains were captured by Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark., and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark.

Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., was victorious in the 12-lap "Bulrush Dash"’ that closed the night. Back behind the wheel of his Rocket car after parking his new Capital Race Cars mount for the night, the WoO LMS regular earned $300 for topping the short sprint reserved for drivers who haven't qualified for a DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH A-Main.  

Feb. 16 - UMP DirtCar Nationals
1) Jimmy Mars, 2) Jason Feger, 3) Scott Bloomquist, 4) Josh Richards, 5) Jonathan Davenport, 6) Steve Francis, 7) Dan Schlieper, 8) Jimmy Owens, 9) Ron Davies, 10) Earl Pearson, Jr., 11) Tim McCreadie, 12) Dennis Erb, Jr., 13) Don O'Neal, 14) Will Vaught, 15) John Blankenship, 16) Billy Moyer, 17) Rick Eckert, 18) Casey Roberts, 19) Clint Smith, 20) Austin Hubbard, 21) Jack Sullivan, 22) Dillan White, 23) Larry Wight, 24) Mike Marlar, 25) Dale McDowell

Fast Time (74 entries): O'Neal (15,813); Heat winners: Marlar, Feger, Mars, Francis, Bloomquist, Richards; B-Main winners: Clint Smith, Sullivan Moyer; Dash winner: Shane Clanton

Kevin Kovac photo

 

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