SARVER, PA – June 30, 2007 – Does Scott Bloomquist have a sixth sense for making the right move on the racetrack?
It’s a question that could be debated after the dirt Late Model legend captured Saturday night’s inaugural ‘Firecracker 100’ at Lernerville Speedway.
After all, just when it appeared that Shane Clanton was ready to complete a stirring late-race charge by executing an outside pass of Bloomquist for the lead, Bloomquist made a fortuitous switch to the top lane in turns three and four that propelled him to victory in the blockbuster World of Outlaws Late Model Series event.
Bloomquist, 43, of Mooresburg, Tenn., asserted that it was merely a case of racer’s intuition that prompted him to slide up to the cushion on lap 88.
“I had no idea anybody was near me,” said Bloomquist, who pocketed $30,463 (including lap money) for his latest big-money triumph. “I didn’t get any signals (from a crewman) to let me know (Clanton) was coming on the outside. I just decided to move up and try the top that lap.”
With Locust Grove, Ga.’s Clanton fading to an ultimate sixth-place finish after having his momentum broken, Bloomquist raced unchallenged to the checkered flag. He crossed the finish line 1.731 seconds ahead of fellow Bloomquist Chassis ‘Team Zero’ driver Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., who wrestled second from Clanton on lap 89 and held off Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., over the final circuits.
Pearson settled for third place in his Bobby Labonte-owned MasterSbilt, while 20th-starter Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., was a late-charging fourth in his Reece Monuments Bloomquist Chassis and Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., took fifth in his Lester Buildings Rocket.
In a clean race that was slowed by only three caution flags, Bloomquist wasn’t headed after overtaking Steve Shaver of Vienna, W.Va., for the lead on lap nine. But he certainly didn’t waltz to his first-ever win at the four-tenths-mile Lernerville oval.
Bloomquist, who started from the pole position in his familiar MBC/Hawkeye Trucking No. 0, never pulled out to more than a half-straightaway edge. He also spent the race’s second half battling an oil leak that soaked his feet in hot oil.
“That made it a little slippery on the pedals, especially the brake,” said Bloomquist. “On the left (brake) side you don’t rest your foot against anything, so I had to hold my foot up off the floor the last 40. I got a little tired doing that, and the biggest thing I had to worry about was (his foot) not slipping off the pedal.”
The 100’s final caution flag, on lap 74 for Zanesville, Ohio’s Bart Hartman stopping in turn four, ended a 63-lap stretch of green-flag racing, but it didn’t phase Bloomquist.
“I didn’t know how far ahead I was, but I wasn’t really that concerned,” said Bloomquist, who repelled some periodic pressure from Madden during the A-Main’s middle stages. “I felt like we were good enough either way.”
Clanton nearly surprised the confident Bloomquist, however.
The WoO LMS regular, who started fifth and ran as high as third early in the race, got a second wind following the caution flag. He began tossing his RSD Enterprises Rocket car through the thick cushion on the extreme outside of the smooth, slick surface and passed Pearson for third, on lap 87, and Madden for second as lap 88 was scored.
“The caution helped me out,” said Clanton. “It helped cool my right-front tire down, and it let me slow down and find the line I needed to run.”
Clanton drew a rise from the huge crowd on lap 88 when he slid up to Bloomquist’s rear bumper through turns one and two. He appeared primed to power around the outside of Bloomer at the other end of the track, but that’s when Bloomquist suddenly shot to the cushion, taking Clanton’s lane.
“When I got to him, I said, ‘Yeah, I got him this time,’” Clanton said of Bloomquist. “But somehow he miraculously changed lanes halfway down the backstraightaway and went to the top going into the corner.
“I got on the binders, got all sideways, and lost all the momentum I had going. Then I guess I lost my rhythm and started over-driving, and you can’t do that on a slick track like this.”
Bloomquist reiterated that he made his critical lane change with no prompting from a team member.
“Every time I moved up there I gained my most time in lapped traffic,” said Bloomquist. “That’s really where I wanted to be, but I just didn’t want to move up there too soon after the (lap-74) caution. When I fire off (on a restart), I like to get a couple car lengths (edge) before moving up.
“I don’t know how many laps I ran (on the bottom) before moving up, but I wanted to move up because then you can look back and see if you’re gaining any ground on the guy behind you.”
Clanton was unconvinced that Bloomquist slid to the top without assistance from a crewman positioned in the infield.
“I think he’s lying,” Clanton said with a smile. “I don’t know how he knew I was coming on the outside. You just don’t change lanes like that.”
Would Clanton have pulled off the biggest win of his career if he had swept by Bloomquist on lap 88? He wouldn’t go that far.
“He had a good car,” bottom-lined Clanton, who has never had much luck at Lernerville. “But if I could’ve passed him, maybe I would’ve got him up on the wheel and broke his rhythm.
“I wish we could’ve finished better than sixth, but going for the win at Lernerville with 10 to go…it feels good.”
Clanton’s fall backward left Madden to chase Bloomquist under the checkered flag, repeating the finish of the WoO LMS-sanctioned Circle K Colossal 100 on April 21 at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
“Our cars were pretty much alike,” said Madden. “I did a few things different, but it wasn’t much of a difference – and everybody knows if you take two cars that are pretty close to equal, it’s hard to pass.”
Madden, 32, didn’t feel bad about finishing second to his mentor once again in a major event.
“I’m not tired of it,” Madden said of being a bridesmaid to Bloomquist. “He’s been doing it 25 years and I’ve been doing it for 11, so I think following a guy as good as him is a pretty good accomplishment.”
Madden paused, and then added, “We’ve got a great relationship. He’s my brother I didn’t have, and I’m his brother he didn’t have.”
The competitive Bloomquist is clearly not ready to cede the spotlight to his protégé.
“That’s the way we like it,” Bloomquist said when asked about winning over Madden. “I always say, ‘As long as we keep the right (finishing) order, I’m happy.’
“Chris has a lot more of a career left than I do, and he has a lot more to look forward to. Hopefully he’ll learn a few things from us. I think it’s probably done him a little good to follow us in some big races. We definitely never get stuck in one groove on a racetrack.”
Bloomquist registered his second WoO LMS win of 2007 and the 16th of his career. The 2004 tour champion’s two series victories this season have earned him a whopping $80,463.
Adding a triumph in the biggest dirt Late Model event ever run in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to his resume sat well with Bloomquist.
“This is gonna be a race that builds into something larger,” asserted Bloomquist. “This is gonna be an event I’m gonna be proud to have on my list of victories.”
The 35-year-old Pearson, meanwhile, finished third in his first career start at Lernerville. He started sixth and ran in the top five for the entire distance.
“I could get a run on Chris a few times but never got quite far enough up to his door where he could see me,” said Pearson. “Passing here is an inch-by-inch deal. It takes a lot of patience because the track is so slick, so we’re happy with third.”
Owens nearly gave Bloomquist’s ‘Team Zero’ chassis another sweep of the top-three spots in a major WoO LMS event – Bloomquist, Madden and Owens finished the Colossal 100 in the same order – but his late bid fell short. He passed Clanton for fourth on lap 98 after surviving a scrape a few circuits earlier with Frank.
Fourth place did earn Owens the $500 WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who’s not ranked among the top 12 in tour points and has never won a WoO feature.
Finishing in positions 7-10 was Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky.; Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., who earned the $250 bonus for being the highest-finishing WoO LMS rookie contender; Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va.; and Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., a former WoO LMS regular who made his first tour start since April’s Colossal 100.
Francis moved into the WoO LMS points lead thanks to the misfortune of Senoia, Ga.’s Clint Smith, who retired from the race with apparent distributor problems on lap 11 and finished 28th.
Francis, who entered the ‘Firecracker 100’ tied with Smith for the WoO LMS points lead, will carry a slim two-point edge over Frank into Tuesday night’s (July 3) tour stop at Missouri’s Lebanon I-44 Speedway.
Saturday’s ‘Firecracker 100’ program included four preliminary events.
Rick Strong of Chambersville, Pa., won the C-Main, while Dutch Davies of Warren, Pa., and Owens captured the twin B-Mains.
Josh McGuire of Ashland, Ky., picked up the day’s biggest consolation prize, pocketing $3,000 for winning the Uncle Sam 30, which featured the drivers who finished 4-15 in the B-Mains.
McGuire took the lead on lap 16 from Jared Miley of South Park, Pa., and reached the finish line ahead of a hard-charging Chad Ruhlman of Bemus Point, N.Y.
Prior to the start of the ‘Firecracker 100,’ Lernerville general manager Gary Risch Jr. announced that the event will return to the track’s schedule in 2008 to build on the successful inaugural weekend.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Firecracker 100’ (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (1) Scott Bloomquist/100 $30,463
2. (3) Chris Madden/100 $15,600
3. (6) Earl Pearson Jr./100 $8,000
4. (20) Jimmy Owens/100 $6,500
5. (10) Chub Frank/100 $5,000
6. (5) Shane Clanton/100 $4,500
7. (12) Steve Francis/100 $4,000
8. (13) Tim Fuller/100 $3,750
9. (4) Josh Richards/100 $3,000
10. (15) Dale McDowell/100 $2,900
11. (9) Dave Hess Jr./100 $2,800
12. (26) Brian Shirley/100 $2,700
13. (17) Brian Birkhofer/100 $2,600
14. (16) Darrell Lanigan/99 $2,500
15. (11) Jimmy Mars/99 $2,400
16. (25) Rick Eckert/99 $2,300
17. (22) Donnie Moran/99 $2,200
18. (18) Robbie Blair/99 $2,100
19. (14) Jeremy Miller/99 $2,050
20. (27) Alex Ferree/98 $2,000
21. (24) Rick Briggs/97 $2,000
22. (21) Bart Hartman/72 $2,000
23. (7) Doug Horton/66 $2,000
24. (2) Steve Shaver/53 $2,080
25. (19) Dutch Davies/52 $2,000
26. (21) David Scott/33 $2,000
27. (28) Mike Blose/18 $2,000
28. (8) Clint Smith/11 $2,050
Time of Race: 44 Mins., 16.145 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.731 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 3 (Laps 11, 11, 74)
Lap Leaders: Shaver (1-5); Bloomquist (6); Shaver (7-8); Bloomquist (9-100)
Provisional Starters: Eckert, Shirley (WoO); Ferree, Blose (Track)
Rookie of the Race: Tim Fuller ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Jimmy Owens ($500)
National Interstate Insurance Fast Time Award: Chris Madden ($100)
National Interstate Insurance Hard Luck Award: Clint Smith ($50)
Uncle Sam 30 Results: 1. Josh McGuire $3,000; 2. Chad Ruhlman $2,000; 3. Matt Lux $1,500; 4. Jason Covert $1,200; 5. Jared Miley $1,000; 6. Mike Balzano $800; 7. Rick Aukland $700; 8. Sam Stile $600; 9. Ken Schaltenbrand $500; 10. Billy Decker $400; 11. Bob Close $300; 12. Lynn Geisler $300; 13. Brent Rhebergen $300; 14. Jeremy Clements $300; 15. Gregg Satterlee $300; 16. Chuck Harper $300; 17. John Flinner $300; 18. Dan Stone $300; 19. Dan Swartzlander $300; 20. Dane Laraway $300; 21. Nick Jones $300; 22. Davey Johnson $300; 23. Rick Strong $300; 24. Dick Barton $300
C-Main (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer To B-Mains): Rick Strong, Dan Stone, Pete Alspaugh, Tony Musolino, Dan Swartzlander, Jared Miley, Jim Kurpakus, Kerry Jackson, Brian Shirley, Roy Mitchell, Chris Hackett (DNS) Mel Minnick Jr.
B-Main No. 1 (20 laps – Top 3 to A-Main; 4-15 to Uncle Sam 30): 1.Dutch Davies, 2. Bart Hartman, 3. David Scott, 4. Jason Covert, 5. Davey Johnson, 6. Sam Stile, 7. Matt Lux, 8. Jeremy Clements, 9. Dane Laraway, 10. Chad Ruhlman, 11. Lynn Geisler, 12. John Flinner, 13. Rick Strong, 14. Dick Barton, 15. Dan Swartzlander, 16. Rick Eckert, 17. Mike Blose (DNS) Pete Alspaugh
B-Main No. 2 (20 laps – Top 3 to A-Main; 4-15 to Uncle Sam 30): 1. Jimmy Owens, 2. Donnie Moran, 3. Rick Briggs, 4. Rick Aukland, 5. Ken Schaltenbrand, 6. Nick Jones, 7. Josh McGuire, 8. Brent Rhebergen, 9. Jared Miley, 10. Mike Balzano, 11. Chuck Harper, 12. Gregg Satterlee, 13. Bob Close, 14. Dan Stone, 15. Billy Decker, 16. John Blankenship, 17. Tony Musolino, 18. Alex Ferree
2007 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of June 30 - 25 features completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Steve Francis 1-12-22-$60,250-3,430 (-0)
2. Chub Frank 4-13-20-$77,030-3,428 (-2)
3. Clint Smith 2-11-19-$67,700-3,388 (-42)
4. Rick Eckert 0-8-17-$51,970-3,350 (-80)
5. Josh Richards 1-7-16-$49,590-3,344 (-86)
6. Shane Clanton 1-7-16-$52,610-3,338 (-92)
7. Darrell Lanigan 2-3-17-$50,840-3,253 (-177)
8. Tim Fuller 1-5-7-$46,000-2,897 (-533)
9. Shannon Babb 4-10-13-$68,340-2,812 (-618)
10. Eddie Carrier Jr. 0-2-4-$22,720-2,439 (-991)
11. Brian Shirley 1-2-6-$32,040-2,357 (-1073)
12. Chris Madden 1-7-11-$68,990-2,229 (-1201)
13. Billy Moyer 1-9-10-$38,625-1,904 (-1526)
14. Brian Birkhofer 0-1-5-$17,810-1,624 (-1806)
15. John Blankenship 0-0-0-$10,570-1,588 (-1842)
16. Jimmy Mars 0-4-6-$22,830-1,322 (-2108)
17. Roy Mitchell 0-0-0-$5,560-1,261 (-2169)
18. Dennis Erb Jr. 2-4-6-$30,800-1,173 (-2257)
19. Billy Decker 0-0-1-$6,430-1,072 (-2358)
20. Adam Hensel 0-0-0-$3,710-840 (-2590)
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The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including National Interstate Insurance Company and contingency sponsors Wrisco Industries, Crane Cams, Ohlins Shocks, Quarter-Master, Hawk Brake, MSD Ignitions and Eibach Springs.