Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Official Firecracker Preview and Fearless Predictions

Patrick Miller Photo

It's one of our favorite times of the year! The annual Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway takes center stage Thursday night, unveiling three days of racing, partying, fan/driver interaction and of course Steve Boylan's culinary creations!  (At TDN we are required to consume no less than four steaks on a stick portions and six pork chop sandwiches a year at the Firecracker as company policy dictates)

There will be racing, and most of it will be fantastic as drivers from all over the country take on the World of Outlaw Late Models for three straight nights with $42,000 in total winner's prize money! So what should we look for? Who should you call your bookie and place bets on? By the way, if you need bookies to place bets, just let us know, we're good like that.....keep it low.

Here at TDN, we have put our heads together and come up with three different drivers from each of us, who will stand out at this year's Firecracker 100. Basically, we asked our staffers to come up with one sure fire winner for the 100 lap finale on Saturday night.  One darkhorse possibility for Saturday night should our original drivers fail, and one surprise that nobody saw coming at any point in the weekend.

So here we go! What to look for this weekend at The Action Track!

Gary Heeman:

Saturday Winner: When the dust settles, it's going to be Tim McCreadie in victory lane! Why? because he's probably due, but more than that, it feels like it's his year. He's been very close before, has been having a great season to date so far, and was impressive at Eldora and will carry some momentum into the weekend. If ever there was a year for him to do it, this is the year! And I had that same feeling before the USA Nationals a few years ago when he won it.

Darkhorse: Mason Zeigler.  He's been teasing us the last few weeks with some flashes of brilliance that we've seen before, but nonetheless, with more 100 lap race experience, he might just be able to pull off that first big win of his career on a National stage, I'm calling him to win a preliminary night.

Weekend Surprise: Michael Norris takes a preliminary feature win this year!~ That's not just blowing smoke. He's the goods and he's running so well so far this year that I have a hard time calling it a surprise!

Dobie Compton:

Saturday Winner: No weak links! Scott Bloomquist will take home the firecracker 100 trophy Saturday night. He may be "testing" for the first two races, but when the big money is on the line, he is the G.O.A.T.  In closing, Let's be real for a sec, if you had to pick a winner in a life or death pick'em, you choose the voodoo child and never think twice!

Darkhorse: Mike Marlar, if bloomer does not win, Mikey has run well enough at Lernerville to be the man at the end of Saturday night. He seems to be in a different chassis every time i get to see him race. Year after year the "Winfield Warrior"  gets some wins and is competitive on a national level.

Weekend Surprise: Michael Lake, the kid has a lead foot, a good car, and raced at Lernerville many times by now. i don't think a top 3 in the prelims would be earth shattering news to those in the Western Pa, O-H-I-O, and  West Va. area. 100 lap races are a different animal and he would need to find a good pace to save his stuff. Young Mr. Lake has shown this year, he is not afraid to wrinkle a door panel to get a win. That determination against some of the best dirt late model drivers, should help him.

Kyle Symons:

Saturday Winner: I'm going to go with Brandon Overton on this one.  He's been hot ever since he jumped into the Randy Weaver Racing 116 machine, and he will be returning to the place where he picked up his first career World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series victory when he picked up a preliminary victory in the Firecracker 100 last year.  Overton is coming off a podium finish in the Dream, and I'm looking for him to pick up the victory Saturday night for his biggest career victory.

Darkhorse: I have to agree with Gary on this one and go with Mason Zeigler as my darkhorse pick.  Zeigler has been tough in major events in the past, and is having a solid season in both his own car, and the Klindinst 43a machine.  Zeigler could shock everyone on Saturday night and pick up the $30,000 check.

Weekend Surprise: I'm picking Dale McDowell to sweep the preliminary feature events on Thursday and Friday nights.  McDowell has been fast as of late, and he typically runs good at Lernerville.  I look for him to sweep the preliminary features and start on the pole for the feature Saturday night.

Josh Bayko:

Saturday Winner: Scott Bloomquist. Now that the tiregate deal is over and Scott can run WRG events, he's going to be extra motivated for any of those events he decides to run, primarily so he can talk sh*t in victory lane. That said, for many years he struggled at Lernerville and couldn't quite figure it out. However, once the Firecracker became a thing, he figured the place out, and has won the event three times now. The track will be slick for Saturday night, and that's when Scott is at his absolute best.

Darkhorse: I'll go with Gregg Satterlee. Luck has never been on his side on Firecracker weekend, even though Lernerville is effectively Gregg's home track.  One of these years, it'll click and and the chips will fall into place and he will absolutely put together a Firecracker victory. It's entirely possible that this is the year.

Weekend Surprise: Michael Norris. Yeah, a little homerism might be in effect here, but seriously, Michael has made some noise on the national scene at Eldora, PPMS and Volusia. As with Satterlee, Lenerville is his home track. If he puts together a top 4 or 5 qualifying effort on one or both of the prelim nights, he could absolutely get himself a top three that night, which would set him up with a sweet Saturday night heat draw. All of that s a very real possibility, because he tends to be a very good qualifier.

Jerin Steele:

Saturday Winner: Brandon Sheppard. I'll go a bit against the grain here, albeit not much given Sheppard is the points leader, but the way the Rocket house car has performed in the past at Lernerville, Sheppard could be very well find himself holding the check Saturday night. With the way he and the has performed this year, Sheppard has a good chance to defeat obvious favorite Scott Bloomquist.

Dark horse: Morgan Bagley. This may seem like an odd pick with Bagley 10th in WoO points and having only four top 10's this season, but the Texan has run very well at Lernerville in the past. He has a third place finish in the Firecracker and nearly won the Working Man 50 last fall. I expect Bagley to have a good weekend.

Weekend surprise: Matt Lux. The trendy local picks (and rightly so) for locals to do well are Norris, Alex Ferree, Russ King or Jared Miley, but again I'll go against the grain here. Lux is a veteran racer that has plenty of laps around Lernerville and has a 3rd place finish there this year. He's and the 111 car are plenty capable of making the 100-lapper on Saturday.

Aaron Clay:

Saturday Winner: Hate to seem like a band-wagoner here, but I'm "all-in" on Bloomer!  When the Black Zero arrives at the track, he has to command respect. In fact, I'd be curious of the outcome, if someone were to bet on Bloomer winning each race he enters.  I feel like there is a good chance that the person would end up making money on the season!  My backup option?  B-Shepp!  It's the same blue/red #1 Rocket House Car, but it's not "Kid Rocket" driving it anymore.  Doesn't matter!  Don't be surprised if you see Scott Bloomquist and Brandon Sheppard both end up victorious, this weekend!

Dark horse:  I have two "dark horses", just like I've hedged my bet for Saturday winners.  "The Truth" Gregg Satterlee is home and he has stepped-up his game!  After claiming his first Lucas Oil victory earlier this year, I feel like Gregg may be the most competitive now, than ever in his career!  Regardless, he'll be looking to put on a hell of a show for the hometown fans!  "Texas" Tyler Erb has been a force to be reckoned with all season, on the World of Outlaws Late Model tour.  I'm not sure if Tyler will make the trip East, for the Firecracker, but look out, if he does!  This is a really talented young man, who gains confidence with every start of his engine.  Combine that with the fact that he's strapped into a Rocket XR1 Chassis and I assure you that he will be competitive!

Weekend surprise: Watch out for Dan Stone!  A Pennsylvania native, I feel like Stone throws out a great run every now and then.  Another hometown driver looking to "prove himself" in-front of the hometown crowd!  Don't be surprised if you see the 21D running up front and contending for solid finishes!

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