Tennessee drivers put on a show at Lernerville
The second night of the World of Outlaws Firecracker turned into a battle of the Volunteer State.
Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., led from green to checkered flag to win his first race at Lernerville Speedway.
Owens bested Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., by half a second for the victory. Bloomquist, a two-time Firecracker champion and four-time Lernerville winner, also finished second in Thursday night's feature.
Timmy McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., finished third. Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., was fourth, and Chub Frank rounded out the top five. John Garvin Jr. of Sarver (15th) was the top local finisher.
“It's tough, really tough, because the track is so racy that sometimes you just don't know where is the groove,” Owens said. “(Thursday) night, the car was tight so we made some changes, and I think we are getting better.”
After the race, Bloomquist was pleased with his car in preparation for Saturday's 100-lap, $30,000-to-win feature event. Heat races are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
“This car is so close that it doesn't need too much of anything done to it,” Bloomquist said.
“I think the longer we run, the better we get, and I think the longer he (Owens) ran out there, the worse he got.”
McCreadie finished 11th in Thursday's main event, so his improvement to third Friday was encouraging to him.
“I got a little tight as we went along,” said McCreadie, who has two WoO victories at Lernerville. “We made big gains, and if we can gain as much for tomorrow as we did after the first night, I think we will be pretty good.”
Qualifying featured 55 cars — just like Thursday — but it featured the first surprise of the night with Garvin scoring the fastest time (16.849 seconds). In Thursday's qualifying, Garvin timed with a 16.858, which was ninth fastest.
Jonathan Davenport was second in qualifying (16.873). In the second group of cars to qualify, Davenport drove the only car faster than 17 seconds. In the first group, led by Garvin, six cars were under 17 seconds.
Just as Thursday night, nobody came close to the track record for Late Models: 15 seconds, set in 2011's Firecracker event. Garrett Krummert of Butler had a
Garvin continued his solid run in the first heat with a third-place finish behind Owens and McCreadie. Garvin's finish locked him into the main event, which he missed Thursday night when his tires failed after seven laps of the heat race. In the second heat, Frank ran away from the group to secure his spot in the feature. He was followed by Shane Clanton in second and Russ King in third. Jared Miley finished fourth.
Mike Marlar took the checkered flag in the fourth heat, followed by Jimmy Mars in second and Eric Jacobson in third. Alex Ferree finished fifth in the heat. Bloomquist cruised to a victory in the fifth heat. Davenport was second, and Gregg Satterlee transferred to the feature with his third-place finish.
The fifth heat had a scary moment when Dale McDowell went off Turn 3 and went hard, backward, into the guard rail. The back of the car was smashed and came to a stop on the guard rail. Once the dust settled and McDowell's car was taken to the pits, Timmy Fuller claimed the checkered flag, followed by Frank Heckenast Jr. in second and Dan Stone in third. Dave Hess Jr. finished fourth.
In the sixth and final heat race Friday, Mason Zeigler was first, followed by Kent Robinson in second and Darrell Lanigan in the third and final transfer spot.
There were three 12-lap B-Mains, with just two transferring from each to the feature. In the first, Miley held off a challenge from John Blankenship. Miley's margin of victory was less than one second. Austin Hubbard claimed the checkered in the second B-Main, and Morgan Bagley was second. Davey Johnson finished first in the final B-Main, followed by Chase Junghans.
Thomas Zuck is a freelance writer.