Oklahoma, Wisconsin drivers win on the dirt

The dirt track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway sprang back to life this weekend.

The half-mile dirt track is used only a few times a year. The Duel in the Desert attracted around 3,000 spectators Saturday and produced big paydays for Eddie Martin and Jimmy Mars.

Martin, of Stillwater, Okla., won the IMCA Modifieds title. Mars, of Menomonie, Wis., finished first in Late Models. Each driver earned $5,000 for winning their respective 40-lap feature races.

“This is a real prestigious event. I’m just tickled to death to have our name on the (winners) list,” Martin said. “Some great racers have won this thing in the past.”

Martin ended the two-year reign of Jeremy Payne of Cave City, Ark., who finished 27th in the 28-car field.

Martin, 31, started outside of pole winner Kellen Chadwick of Oakley, Calif., and took the lead 11 laps into the race.

Mars’ title was his third this year at the speedway. He won a pair of featured races in March driving the car owned by Jess Anderson of Wyoming.

“I love it — it’s been a good season for us,” Mars said. “I can’t say enough about the way the car worked. I was babying my tires because I wanted to make sure we had enough rubber at the end, but the last few laps I just opened ‘er up.”

Clark County schoolteacher Dan Fitzgerald had the best showing of Nevada racers. The 32-year-old Las Vegan won his Modifieds heat race Thursday night and was running second in a qualifying heat race Saturday before being taken out in a crash.

Fitzgerald returned Saturday night to finish third in the Wild West Showdown for the top 20 Modifieds from Northern Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Jeep Berry of Myton, Utah, won the showdown and placed sixth in the featured Modified race.

Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at jwolf@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0247.

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