MARS WINS 27TH ANNUAL NORTH/SOUTH 100; ANOTHER CROWN JEWEL WIN POWERED BY VP`S LATE MODEL PLUS
UNION, KY (August 8, 2009) – Powered by VP’s Late Model Plus racing fuel, Jimmy Mars 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 North/South 100 Saturday at Florence Speedway. It marked the second $50,000 check Mars pocketed in two weeks, after his earlier win in the USA Nationals. O'Neal led laps 24 through 99, but saw Mars come from the 15th starting spot to pass him in turn four as the two headed to the checkers; Mars took the win by a car length. Late Model Plus was also the fuel of choice for Scott Bloomquist, who finished third and Jimmy Owens, who finished fifth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.