Mars Holds Off Lanigan For $20,000 Illini 100 Triumph At Farmer City Raceway

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

FARMER CITY, IL – March 31, 2012 – Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., added another major-event victory to his already bulging resume, holding off Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., to capture Saturday night’s Illini 100 at Farmer City Raceway.

Racing in front of a standing-room-only crowd, Mars roared off the outside pole starting spot to grab the lead at the initial green flag and never relinquished the position. He turned back repeated challenges from Lanigan during the race’s final circuits to pocket the $20,000 top prize.

“I’ve never really been all that good here at Farmer City where I’ve been in contention to win,” said Mars, who recorded his first-ever triumph at the quarter-mile fairgrounds oval. “So to come out of here with a win – to me, it’s a true honor.”

Mars, 40, drove his Mars Race Car across the finish line 0.308 of a second in front of Lanigan, who advanced from the sixth starting spot in his Rocket mount and retained his WoO LMS points lead. Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., finished a distant third in a Victory Circle machine, defending WoO LMS champion Rick Eckert of York, Pa., placed fourth in a Team Zero by Bloomquist car and Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, was fifth in an MB Customs chassis.

In a blistering-fast race that was slowed by just two caution flags, Lanigan surged to second place on a lap-22 restart and took up the chase of Mars. The 2008 WoO LMS titlist was on Mars’s rear bumper when the second caution flew on lap 80 and made several bids over the remaining distance but couldn’t pull off a pass.
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Mars knew Lanigan was nipping at his heels, but he never made a mistake en route to his fifth career WoO LMS victory. It was his third triumph in a 100-lap event on the national tour, joining his 2009 and 2011 victories in the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.

“I couldn’t keep my momentum up as much as I wanted to on the bottom and I’d get a little loose off (turn) two,” said Mars, whose previous Illini 100 finishes at Farmer City included a fourth in 2009 and 12th in 2010. “My car was really flawless early on when the track was completely slick, but it started to get a little bit narrow and I couldn’t turn quite as good as I needed to. I was just trying to protect it as much as I could.

“But Darrell’s a good driver, we race hard against each other and we respect each other, so I’d have to say I think it would’ve been a clean pass (if he made a move). It wouldn’t have been anything other than that.”

Lanigan, 41, settled for another runner-up finish in a 100-lap WoO LMS show. His only century-grind victory on the circuit came in last year’s ‘Cash Cow 100’ at Columbus (Miss.) Speedway.

“We had an excellent car,” said Lanigan, whose previous best finish in the Illini 100 was seventh, in 2009. “I just wish we could’ve started a little closer to the front. Once we got to second it got tough to make a move. I tried everything I could but I wasn’t getting by (Mars) unless he made a mistake.”

Babb, 38, fell short of a coveted checkered flag in the Illini 100 for the fourth time. While he remained the only driver to finish among the top five in each of the event’s editions, he desperately craves a victory in his home state’s richest race.

Babb started third but ran in the fourth position for the first 58 laps of the event. He finally regained third when he overtook Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., and his legion of fans were roused when the lap-80 caution flag – for a tangle in turns one and two involving Coffey and two-time Illini 100 winner Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., who spun together while battling for fourth – gave him a shot at the leaders.

But Babb was unable to find any traction in the track’s upper lane on the restart and gradually lost ground to Mars and Lanigan, leaving him nearly a straightaway behind at the finish.

“The top (groove) always looks good there,” said Babb, whose previous Illini 100 finishes were second in 2008 and 2010 and fifth in ’09. “But it was wishful thinking. There just wasn’t nothing up there at all.

“We have to be happy with third tonight. Those two guys (Mars and Lanigan) did a helluva job. I got to watch a good race up front.”

Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., moved forward from the 12th starting spot to finish sixth. Polesitter Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., faded to seventh after running second for the race’s first 22 laps; 15-year-old Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., recorded a career-best WoO LMS finish of eighth; WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contender Greg Johnson of Bedford, Ind., advanced from 16th to place ninth; and Frankie Heckenast Jr. of Orland Park, Ill., was 10th.

Saturday night’s program began with a pair of 20-lap B-Mains won by Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., and Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill.

The WoO LMS is idle until embarking on a Southeastern swing to North Alabama Speedway in Tuscumbia, Ala., on Fri., April 27, and Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway on Sat., April 28.

Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Illini 100’ at Farmer City Raceway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (2) Jimmy Mars/100 $20,000
2. (6) Darrell Lanigan/100 $10,700
3. (3) Shannon Babb/100 $6,000
4. (8) Rick Eckert/100 $5,650
5. (7) Brian Birkhofer/100 $4,000
6. (12) Josh Richards/100 $3,650
7. (1) Brian Shirley/100 $2,800
8. (14) Bobby Pierce/100 $3,100
9. (16) Greg Johnson/100 $2,350
10. (7) Frankie Heckenast Jr./100 $2,100
11. (20) Jason Feger/100 $1,950
12. (11) Jack Sullivan/100 $1,850
13. (19) Tim McCreadie/100 $2,350
14. (15) Clint Smith/100 $2,200
15. (17) Kent Robinson/100 $1,650
16. (26) Pat Doar/100 $740
17. (4) Vic Coffey/100 $2,110
18. (24) Chub Frank/100 $2,090
19. (23) Shane Clanton/99 $2,070
20. (5) Billy Moyer/79 $1,650
21. (28) Jill George/56 $110
22. (18) Brandon Sheppard/54 $2,050
23. (10) Steve Lance Jr./41 $1,500
24. (13) Mike Marlar/30 $2,050
25. (22) Chris Simpson/30 $1,500
26. (21) Kevin Weaver/21 $1,500
27. (27) Billy Moyer Jr./17 $110
28. (25) Bub McCool/12 $2,050

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 31 Mins., 00.398 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.308 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 2 (Laps 22, 80)
Lap Leaders: Mars (1-100)
Provisional Starters: Clanton, Frank (WoO points); McCool, Doar, Moyer Jr., George (WoO emergency)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Bobby Pierce ($500)

B-Main No. 1 Finish (20 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Tim McCreadie, 2. Kevin Weaver, 3. Mark Burgtorf, 4. Rich Bell, 5. Derek Chandler, 6. Bret Sievert, 7. Eric Smith, 8. Mike Spatola, 9. Walker Arthur, 10. John Lobb, 11. Kyle Logue, 12. Bob Gardner, 13. Bub McCool, 14. Donny Walden, 15. Shelby Miles, 16. A.J. Diemel, 17. Jeff Larson

B-Main No. 2 Finish (20 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Jason Feger, 2. Chris Simpson, 3. Chub Frank, 4. Shane Clanton, 5. Darren Friedman, 6. Tim Fuller, 7. Pat Doar, 8. Billy Moyer Jr., 9. Torin Mettille, 10. Scott Bull, 11. Jeremy Hines, 12. Greg Kimmons, 13. Russ Adams, 14. John Gardner Jr., 15. Jill George, 16. Don Rance

Drivers not returning for Saturday night’s program: Ryan Unzicker (penalty), Jay Morris

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:

Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 product certificate to 23rd-place finisher I n A-Main or next highest w/decal): Kent Robinson
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Brian Birkhofer
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jack Sullivan
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jason Feger
Comp Cams ($50 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bobby Pierce
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Mark Burgtorf/Pat Doar
Gravely ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Brian Shirley
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 16th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Kent Robinson
JE Pistons (one compete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 11th-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Jason Feger
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Jill George
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Billy Moyer Jr.
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash to fast qualifier or next highest w/decal): Billy Moyer
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bobby Pierce
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Kent Robinson
Roush-Yates Performance Products ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Josh Richards
Roush-Yates Performance Products (carburetor repair kit to 18th-place finish in A-Main or next highest w/decal – $100 value): Chub Frank
Roush-Yates Lap Leader Award (one pair of Wiley X Sunglasses to driver who leads most laps in A-Main): Jimmy Mars
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
SuperFlow ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Clint Smith
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to 9th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Greg Johnson
VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (one VP 5-gallon container to fastest qualifier who misses A-Main or next highest with decal – $30 value): Ryan Unzicker
WIX Filters ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim McCreadie
Wrisco Aluminum (three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner if decal displayed – $200 value): Darrell Lanigan
XS Power ($50 cash to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bobby Pierce
XS Power ($60 product certificate to 8th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bobby Pierce
XS ‘Power Move of the Race’ ($60 product certificate): Jimmy Mars

2012 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of – A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):

1. Darrell Lanigan 1010
2. Josh Richards 974 (-36)
3. Rick Eckert 956 (-54)
4. Shane Clanton 934 (-76)
5. Chub Frank 892 (-118)
6. (tie) Vic Coffey 854 (-156)
6. (tie) Clint Smith 854 (-156)
6. (tie) Tim McCreadie 854 (-156)
9. Bub McCool 846 (-164)
10. Pat Doar 806 (-204)
11. (tie) Mike Marlar 782 (-228)
11. (tie) Brandon Sheppard 782 (-228)
13. Billy Moyer 766 (-244)
14. Jason Feger 738 (-272)
15. (tie) Tim Fuller 722 (-288)
15. (tie) Kent Robinson 722 (-288)
17. John Lobb 704 (-306)
18. Jack Sullivan 684 (-326)
19. Billy Moyer Jr. 682 (-328)
20. Jared Hawkins 654 (-356)

The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Gravely Tractors (Official Lawn Equipment), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award); in addition to contingency sponsors Butlerbuilt, Cometic Gaskets, Comp Cams, Dominator Race Products, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, QuarterMaster, Roush Yates Performance Parts, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filter, Wrisco Aluminum and XS Power Racing Batteries; along with manufacturer sponsors Integra Shocks, GRT Chassis, Jake’s Carts, Longacre, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis, TNT Rescue, and Warrior Chassis.