Wednesday, June 24, 2020

SPARKLING STORYLINES: Lernerville's Firecracker Set to Pop Off This Weekend Firecracker 100 Weekend has two 25-lappers on DIRTVision then 50-lap, $30,000-to-win finale on CBS Sports Network

The first crown jewel of the 2020 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series season is upon us.

Racing from Thursday-Saturday, June 25-27, the 14th rendition of the Firecracker will offer three thrilling nights of action at Lernerville Speedway with limited fans in attendance. Concluding on Saturday night, drivers will compete for a $30,000-to-win prize LIVE on national television as the feature is simulcasted on CBS Sports Network, as well as DIRTVision.


Entering the three-day show at the Sarver, Pa. 4/10th-mile, the storylines are plentiful. Here are some of the top themes to watch this weekend:

LIVE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION: The stars and cars of the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series are relishing in the opportunity to compete LIVE on national television this weekend. Thursday and Friday's preliminary shows will be streamed on with 25-lap features capping each night. The Firecracker 100 weekend will then conclude on Saturday with a 50-lap, $30,000-to-win finale simulcasted on CBS Sports Network at 9:oopm ET.

It will mark the first of back-to-back Saturday shows on CBS Sports Network, as "The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet" race into living rooms again on Saturday, July 4 with a spectacular doubleheader at Cedar Lake Speedway alongside the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.

TITLE PARITY: Since 2013, the Firecracker has produced a wide range of seven different champions over seven years. After all, Scott Bloomquist (2007, 2012, 2016) and Jimmy Mars (2009, 2011) are the only multi-time winners in event history.

In that stretch since 2013, six of the seven different champions have been first-time Firecracker winners. That list includes Josh Richards in 2013, Darrell Lanigan in 2014, Rick Eckert in 2015, Brandon Overton in 2017, Chris Madden in 2018 and Tim McCreadie in 2019.

POSSE VS. OUTLAWS: While the World of Outlaws Late Models don't offer near as much as intense rivalry with the PA Posse as the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars do, the matchup is still an intriguing one every time we roll into The Keystone State. Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa. is the only full-time Outlaw hailing from Pennsylvania. He's got eight Firecracker starts to his name with a career-best of 14th in 2015. Rick Eckert of York, Pa. is the only Pennsylvania native to win the Firecracker, but several other locals have made their mark on the race.

That same year Eckert triumphed in 2015, Jared Miley of Pittsburg, Pa. led the opening 63 laps before finishing third. Most recently, The Crusher Kid Mike Norris has been the home state standout. Hailing right there from Sarver, Pa., Norris has won back-to-back preliminary features against the Outlaws and finished 10th (2018) and 7th (2019) in the main events. Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa. is also a four-time top ten finisher at the Firecracker with a career-best of fourth in 2013.

STARTING SPOT SUCCESS: History says that the starting lineup of the Firecracker finale often tells you who has a shot at the $30,000 prize. Through 13 events, only twice has a winner come from outside of the first four rows. That mean that 84% of the time, the Firecracker champion has started inside rows 1-4. In fact, on six occasions, the eventual winner has came from the front row of the feature.

The only two occasions of hard charging champions came in 2009, when Jimmy Mars won it from 18th, and 2019, when Tim McCreadie struck from 11th.

TOP FIVE TITAN: Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. has taken a liking to Lernerville Speedway ever since he first saw it. The Bluegrass Bandit is the clubhouse leader in top five finishes at the Firecracker with seven to his credit. He's trailed by Scott Bloomquist, Josh Richards, Tim McCreadie and Dale McDowell all at five.

Lanigan, the 2014 Firecracker champion, has regained his composure and established a new rhythm with his Viper Motorsports Company, Barry Wright Race Cars N0. 29V at just the right time. After struggling since the RETURN to RACING in mid-May, the three-time World of Outlaws champion returned to form last weekend with a podium appearance at Volunteer Speedway. Now, he heads back to a track where he's notorious for stellar performances.

MO' MONEY, MO' MADDEN: Since joining Scott Bloomquist Racing last summer, Chris "Smokey" Madden has been a factor in every single crown jewel event that he's contested. This weekend, he returns to Lernerville Speedway, where he led every lap of the 2018 Firecracker for a $30,000 triumph. The Gray Court, S.C. native will look to keep his hot streak alive when it comes to big paydays.

In his seven crown jewel appearances in the Drydene Performance Products No. 0M Team Zero Race Car, Madden results have been as follows: 2nd at I-80's Silver Dollar Nationals ($53K), WINNER of Cedar Lake's USA Nationals ($50K), WINNER of Florence's North/South 100 ($50K), WINNER of Batesville's Topless 100 ($50K), 5th at Eldora's World 100 ($52K), 6th at Knoxville's Late Model Nationals ($40K), and he was the pole sitter of Eldora's Dirt Late Model Stream ($50K).

BREAKTHROUGH FOR B-SHEPP: It's rare to find an event, let alone a crown jewel, that Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. has yet to conquer. The Rocket1 Racing house driver has been one of the most dominant forces in Dirt Late Model Racing since he paired with Mark Richards Racing in 2017, but Lernerville's Firecracker has eluded him on every occasion. Is this the year that changes?

He has improved with each trip to the Sarver 4/10th-mile, but has yet to strike for a title in the finale. In 2017, he won a preliminary feature before finishing eighth-from-12th in the main event. He rose to sixth in 2018, but it came after starting on the outside pole. His best performance was last year when B-Shepp started on the pole and led 61 laps, but ultimately a third-place finish was the end-result.

IS BLOOMER BACK: After noticeable struggles seemingly all year long, Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn. was the only driver to finish inside the top five of both World of Outlaws races at Volunteer Speedway last weekend. Is the National Dirt Late Model Racing Hall of Fame Inductee back and better?

In a feature last week, Bloomquist said "we're working on a lot of things around here that I think are gonna help my confidence." He backed that up with a pair of top five finishes and now the Drydene Performance Products No. 0 will head to a crown jewel where nobody has won more than him. His three Firecracker titles from 2007, 2012 and 2016 make him the winningest driver in event history. This weekend, he could extend that mark with a fourth $30,000 win.

The 14th rendition of this crown jewel all kicks off on Thursday night with the first of two preliminary programs capped by 25-lap features on DIRTVision. The Firecracker 100 Weekend then concludes on Saturday night with heat races and a 50-lap, $30,000-to-win finale that will be simulcasted LIVE on CBS Sports Network at 9:00pm ET.

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