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Last-lap pass is out of this world for Mars

June 06, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Jimmy Mars got just a little bit more out of the high groove than anybody else.

Running in third on the final lap, Mars used the top side to slide around leader Steve Shaver in Turns 1 and 2 and held off runner-up Austin Hubbard to win at Hagerstown Speedway on Saturday night, taking the 40-lap opener of the third annual Appalachian Mountain Dirt Late Model Speedweek.

In his first start in several years at the track, Mars of Menomonie, Wis., overcame his 11th-starting spot after he was docked several spots for jumping restarts in his heat race to notch his first career win at Hagerstown and take the $5,000 winner’s purse.

“Our car was good on the outside the whole time,” Mars said. “We’ve done well in the heat races (here) before … but I haven’t been out here a whole lot and to get a win at a track like this, with all the history behind it, it’s pretty cool.”

The week-long series visited Winchester Speedway on Sunday and will also run at Roaring Knob (Monday), Williams Grove (Tuesday), Lincoln (Wednesday) and Port Royal (Thursday) before wrapping up at Bedford on Friday.

Hubbard got into second by passing early leader and 2010 Speedweek champ Rick Eckert on Lap 17 and tried to figure out a way around Shaver in the remaining laps before Mars came out of nowhere to steal the victory.

“I was so concentrated at looking Shaver and figuring out what I needed to do, and then all of a sudden, Mars is to the right of me on the last lap,” Hubbard said. “Anytime you have Jimmy Mars next to you on the last lap, it’s not good.”

With an open tire rule for the event, tire choice was a big factor to the win. Shaver said he and Hubbard were running the same tires, but didn’t know what Mars went with.

“I think Jimmy’s tires the last couple laps might have been a little better in that upper groove and I tried to move down a little bit and I think it actually hurt me,” Shaver said. “But third place here is pretty good. I don’t normally run that well here at Hagerstown, so we’re tickled to death.”

Jamie Lathroum and Vic Coffey finished fourth and fifth. Notching top 10s were Dan Stone, J.T. Spence, Tim McCreadie, current Late Model points leader Roy Deese Jr. and last week’s Three State Flyers series winner Jason Covert.

Heat winners were Gary Stuhler, McCreadie, Jeremy Miller and Coffey.

In the only other division running Saturday, Eddie McClellan of Winchester, Va., earned his first official win in the 15-lap Pure Stock feature by passing runner-up Tony Catlett on the second circuit and cruising to Victory Lane.

McClellan won a feature earlier this season at the track, but was disqualified after his car failed the post-race inspection. He made sure that didn’t happen again after winning by about a full straightaway.

“We had a win a few weeks ago for 45 minutes; that was our own fault,” McClellan said. “They’re going to have a hard time taking this one away tonight because we made the car legal.”

Steve Lowery, the current division points leader, recovered from a spin on Lap 6 that sent him to the rear to finish third, followed by Danny Beavers and Frank DiBella in the top five.

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