Mars Opens USA Nationals On Top
NEW RICHMOND, Wis. – 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.”