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The Working Man Story From Lernerville; No Ice Necessary, Mars Is The Man; McPherson Bests Stocks….Again

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What would it have taken to get around Josh Richards in the Working Man 75 at Lernerville Speedway? It’s hard to say for sure. Luck to be certain. But also a patient, methodical pace, a great sense of timing, and a fast car would be a good place to start. Jimmy Mars had all of those working in his favor on Saturday night, and used all those things en route to his first World of Outlaw Late Model victory in over two years.  The Menomonie, WI native flashed his wide, toothy grin in victory lane at the end of the night, resembling the same smile that he had on two other memorable nights at the action track when he took home Firecracker 100 trophies in 2009 and 2011. But what made this victory different, was there was no ice necessary. With a surface in play that held it’s grip fairly well, the nature of the game had changed for Mars, but the result was still the same, big check on the line, big victory. 

Pat Miller Photo

Richards’ bid for his 18th victory came up short by virtue of contact with the almost lapped car of Chub Frank late in the race. Opening up the door for Mars who drove straight through. 

“It’s too bad for Josh, it’s tough in lapped traffic,” Mars said in victory lane. “That stuff just happens but it sucks, I’ve been in that position before and it’s a tough deal.

Frank Heckenast Jr. and Brian Shirley brought the field to the opening green flag and neither would be at the front for very long. Richards made his intent clear from the outset by way of bolting out to the early lead from his third starting spot while behind him, Mars, 2015 winner Shane Clanton, Brian Shirley and Rick Eckert started their pursuit. All progress was halted though on lap five when Shirley went out of the ball park in turn two with a series of roll overs. Shirley was okay following the wild ride, and when action resumed, Richards rocketed to the top in firm control as Mars, Clanton and Rick Eckert became a breakaway pack, gaining separation from the rest of the field. 

Pat Miller Photo

Out front, Richards didn’t run and hide so much as he rather kept the lead and the pace he wanted to keep, keeping his tires as conserved as possible while still maintaining the top spot. Meanwhile, local hot shoe Michael Norris continued his recent hot streak by moving forward three spots into the top five in the early going and was a contender for a podium finish throughout much of the race. 

As Richards kept the field behind him, Mars started to fall back towards the middle segment of the race with Clanton passing him outside on lap 15 and Eckert diving underneath on lap 21. Following a caution with 24 laps in the books, Eckert looked to be the likely candidate to make a serious charge at the leader as he moved to second on the restart and was then all over Richards for the lead until the next yellow flag waved for Brandon Overton with 32 laps down. 

Pat Miller Photo

On the restart, Richards took off as if he’d been shot out of a cannon and made for the top shelf while mid pack starter Jared Miley, who almost a year to the date came close to shocking the world in the held over Firecracker 100, was making a furious charge to the front on the top side as well. Miley made his way around Morgan Bagley for sixth and was giving Norris all he could handle for fifth and looked ready to battle for a podium finish as the second half of the race became into focus. But Miley’s night would end on a sour note as he made contact with the front stretch wall on lap 43. 

While Miley was making his charge, Mars was undertaking his, making his way underneath Clanton on lap 41 for third and then getting under Eckert for second on the restart following Miley’s caution and behind them, Bagley was able to get by Clanton for third. 

Pat Miller Photo

Mars then set his sights on Richards, working on the bottom, he looked to be making tiny dents in Richards’ lead with each lap until Richards started to encounter heavy lapped traffic at the 60 lap mark. Richards had moved off the top to maneuver through the series of lappers, until he met the one lapper who would end his night from a competitive standpoint. Coming into turns three and four, working lap 64, Richards and Frank made their contact causing one of Richard’s front tires to become flat, and ending his bid for the win.   Richards would join the tail of the field on the restart and put up a valiant comeback effort coming home in the eighth spot. 

But out front, Mars had inherited the lead and he would keep it for good, save for a last ditch effort from Bagley on a late race restart which came up short. Still, for Bagley, it was his best finish of the 2016 season. 

“We’re definitely headed in the right direction, we’ve been working hard all year,” Bagley said.  “We’ve been changing stuff and trying stuff and just trying to get back to the standard. Jimmy was good, hats off to them, they had the car to beat. We got to that restart there and I got into one and two a little better than him and I had to let off the gas so we didn’t crash, both of us, he and I have always run clean together. He was the guy to beat and I’m happy with second.” 

But the night belonged to Mars, who stayed the course, kept his tires, and read the moisture in the surface at a track where the high side had been the fast way around for the entire season. 

Pat Miller Photo

“The bottom had a lot of moisture tonight and our car worked great and I was patient at the beginning and fell back there a little bit, but I wanted to be there at the end, I overshot the corner a couple of times going in to turn one but I slowed down and got my patience and things felt pretty good. It’s awesome to win here at Lernerville, we don’t get to race as much as we want right now but things are going good.” 

Feature Finish:

1. Jimmy Mars  2. Morgan Bagley  3. Billy Moyer Jr. 4. Rick Eckert 5. Michael Norris
6. Eric Wells 7. Jason Covert 8. Josh Richards 9. Shane Clanton 10. Alex Ferree 
11. Dave Hess Jr.  12. Frank Heckenast Jr. 13. Boom Briggs  14. Steve Casebolt  
15. Tyler Erb  16. Chub Frank  17. Joey Coulter  18. Dan Angellichio  19. Donald Bradshear
20. Jared Miley  21. Brandon Overton  22. John Flinner  23. Matt Lux  24. Brian Shirley

Millerstown Pic-A-Part Sportsman:

Corey McPherson clinched the division title weeks before the regular season ended, put an exclamation point on that effort with a win on championship night, and he wasn’t finished yet.  McPherson was once again the class of the field in sportsman stock action, coming up with his 6th win of the season and 30th career win to boot. 

Jeff Miller and division standout Terry Young opened the action on the front row as Young took early command on the top side of the speedway with McPherson and Aaron Easler in hot pursuit. By lap three, McPherson had moved down low and was looking for an inside edge on Young for the lead as the top two cars put distance between themselves and the rest of the field. 

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As the 25 lap feature progressed, McPherson and Young battled door handle to door handle while track championship contender Tyler Dietz exited the speedway with mechanical gremlins on lap nine. Following a lap 10 caution and subsequent restart, McPherson dove low and took the lead away from Young while Joe Kelley advanced to third as another caution slowed the pace on lap 15.  

McPherson elected the high side on the restart and assumed control again as Kelley was becoming pressured by Friday night winner, Jim Fosnaught who made the pass for third with the laps winding down. But out front, McPherson refused to be caught and ran away from the field, including Young in the final stages. 

Pat Miller Photo

“I want to dedicate this win tonight to Ralph Engel who passed away this week,” McPherson said.  “He’s the guy that built this class at Lernerville and without him it wouldn’t be what it is today. He taught me a lot of stuff about racing over the years and watched me grow up racing and I’m going to miss him.

Feature Finish:

1. Corey McPherson  2. Terry Young  3. Jim Fosnaught  4. Joe Kelley  5. Joey Zambotti
6. Aaron Easler  7. Scott Byers  8. Jeff MIller  9. Mike Bordt  10. John Hartman
11. Tyler Dietz  12. Sadie Siegel  13. Butch Lambert  14. Colin Burke

For the full photo gallery from Patrick Miller Click Here: 

For last night’s recap from Trever Steele  Click Here: “Richards and Eckert Score Preliminary Night Victories



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