A Final Look Back: Facts, Figures & Statistical Notes From The 2010 World of Outlaws Late Model Series
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
CONCORD, NC – Dec. 31, 2010 – On the eve of a new year, here’s a final look back at facts, figures and statistical notes from the 2010 World of Outlaws Late Model Series….
WHAT A TALENT: Josh Richards unfailingly credits his powerhouse Rocket Chassis house car operation – featuring his father/team owner Mark Richards, car chief Matt Barnes, tire specialist Jimmy Frye and a host of other sponsors and supporters – for carrying him to a history-making second consecutive tour championship in 2010.
But the modest 22-year-old sensation from Shinnston, W.Va., deserves plenty of praise as well after becoming the first driver to repeat as WoO LMS champion since the circuit was reincarnated in 2004 under the World Racing Group banner. His talent behind the wheel of a dirt Late Model has simply reached superstar caliber.
Already the youngest driver – by nearly a decade – to win the WoO LMS crown after he broke through with an incredibly steady campaign in 2009, Richards authored another age-defying performance record in ’10. Yes, he does run top-notch equipment prepared by experienced hands, but it still takes a smart, skilled racer to do the types of things that made Richards a champion – like, most notably, qualifying through a heat race for 43 of the season’s 44 A-Mains and finishing all but one event on the lead lap.
And of course, Richards also had luck on his side. That lone DNF he absorbed – a 23rd-place finish on Aug. 7 in the USA Nationals 100 at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., due to engine problems that eliminated him on lap 19 – didn’t even hurt him in the championship battle because the race offered only show-up points.
The bottom line: Richards possesses the rare ability to merge aggressiveness with the level-headed approach necessary to collect points, as evidenced by the fact that he led the series in A-Main victories for the third consecutive season (he won eight times to match his career-high set in 2009) while also deftly avoiding race-ending calamities. He registered 27 top-five finishes (second to Darrell Lanigan’s 29) and 36 top-10s (second to Tim McCreadie’s 37) and finished worse than 12th just once in a full-points race (15th on June 20 at Ontario’s Cornwall Motor Speedway).
CHECKERED FLAGS: Richards continued to set the victory bar on the WoO LMS, claiming top-winner status for the third season in a row. He’s owned the honor outright the last two years after finishing the 2008 campaign tied with Steve Francis, with six triumphs.
A total of 18 drivers reached Victory Lane on the WoO LMS in 2010 – exactly the same number of winners as 2009. It’s three short of the single-season record of 21 winners set in ’08.
Twelve drivers recorded two or more wins in 2010 – double the number of repeat victors from the previous season – and there were three first-time WoO LMS winners in 2009: Austin Hubbard, Ricky Elliott and Jonathan Davenport.
TO THE WIRE: Richards’s scant four-point championship margin over Lanigan was the second-closest in WoO LMS history, trailing only the epic 2005 battle that Billy Moyer won over Francis in a tie-breaker (most second-place finishes).
In a campaign that saw the chase for the title go down to the final lap of the season-ending Lowes Foods World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Richards was one of four drivers who held at least a share of the top spot in the points race. He was atop the standings after the most events (38), followed by McCreadie (five), Lanigan (two) and Brady Smith (one).
There were two ties for the points lead, both featuring Richards and McCreadie. They were dead-locked after Race No. 8 at Virginia Motor Speedway and again after Race No. 11 at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway.
The largest points lead a driver was able to muster was Richards’s 56-point edge after the 14th A-Main of the season, on May 15 at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway. He had grabbed the points lead from McCreadie after Race No. 13 and proceeded to hold it for 25 straight races, finally relinquishing the spot to Lanigan after Race No. 38 at Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway.
Richards never slipped below second in the points standings. The biggest deficit he faced all season was 10 points, after Race No. 7 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway and again after Race No. 12 at Bluegrass Speedway in Bardstown, Ky.
HE WAS WORTHY: Richards once again lived up to the lofty expectations placed on him by dirt Late Model press members, who voted him the overwhelming favorite to win the 2010 title in the third annual WoO LMS Pre-Season Media Poll.
Richards received 15 of the 27 first-place votes in the poll, which included writers, photographers and broadcasters who cover the WoO LMS. The participants were asked to predict the top-five finishers in the tour’s 2010 points standings.
D.J. Johnson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was the only media member to nail three of the top-five points finishers, correctly predicting Richards as the champion, Lanigan as the runner-up and Rick Eckert as the fifth-place finisher. Eight other participants hit on two of the top five, including six who listed Richards and Lanigan one-two. (It should be noted that McCreadie, who finished third in the points standings, threw a variable into the media’s picks; he had not yet committed to running the series fulltime when the poll was taken, so only three press members rolled the dice and named him on their top-five ballots.)
The poll also asked the media to predict the season’s winningest driver (including number of victories) and the winners of three marquee events – the Commonwealth 100 at Virginia Motor Speedway, the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway and the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway.
Fifteen respondents predicted that Richards would lead the tour in A-Main triumphs, but only Thomas Pope of the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer, Ben Shelton of MidSouthRacing.com, Don Davies of Area Auto Racing News and Mike O’Connor of Dirt Late Model Magazine correctly hit on his final total of eight wins.
In the special-event category, DirtonDirt.com cohorts Michael Rigsby and Todd Turner were the only media types to correctly predict Chris Madden as the winner of the Commonwealth 100; Dale Terry of GeorgiaStockCarRacing.com and Paul Fletcher of Dirt Late Model Illustrated successfully tapped Shane Clanton as the winner of the Firecracker 100; and Rigsby, Scott Jackson of LateModelRacer.com, J.R. Kennerup of Area Auto Racing News and Dave Seay of DirtCast.com correctly picked Scott Bloomquist to capture the USA Nationals.
SELECT TRIO: With Chub Frank failing to win an A-Main during the 2010 season, Francis, Lanigan and Clanton are now the only drivers who have won at least one feature event in each WoO LMS campaign since 2004.
DEADLOCKED: Richards’s prolific win output over the past three years has pulled him into a tie with Francis for winningest-driver status on the WoO LMS since 2004. The two friendly rivals head into the 2011 season atop the tour’s World Racing Group-era victory chart with 28 career wins each.
Rick Eckert now ranks third on the win list since 2004 with 21 triumphs, while Bloomquist and Lanigan are tied for fourth with 19 wins.
Moyer, who won twice in 2010, is the alltime winningest driver on the WoO LMS. He owns 37 career triumphs, including 22 during the tour’s original incarnation (1988-89) under late WoO Sprint Car Series founder Ted Johnson.
BUSY SEASON: The 2010 WoO LMS was comprised of 44 A-Mains at 38 tracks in 19 states and two Canadian provinces.
Pennsylvania was the site of the most tour events, hosting six races. There were four events held in New York and North Carolina; three in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin; two in Georgia, Illinois, Texas, West Virginia and Ontario; and one each in Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Quebec.
Rain did not plague the 2010 season to the extent that it did in ’09, but Mother Nature still reared her head. Three scheduled events – Bedford (Pa.) Speedway on May 28, Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa., on Aug. 18 and the first half of the doubleheader at Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pa., on Sept. 4 – were washed out and not rescheduled. In addition, races at five other tracks – Quebec’s Autodrome Drummond, Brewerton, Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, Mohawk International Raceway in Akwesasne, N.Y., and the first half of the World Finals at The Dirt at Charlotte – were postponed by rain and reset for another date.
FULL PITS: The average field for a WoO LMS event in 2010 was 39.25 cars.
The season-high turnout of 76 cars was for the Lowes Foods World Finals. In all, 10 events drew 50 or more cars and 14 attracted over 40 entrants.
A total of 492 drivers representing 33 states, three Canadian provinces and Australia entered at least one WoO LMS event in 2010, and 239 drivers started an A-Main.
The state from which the most WoO LMS competitors hailed was Pennsylvania, with 73 drivers. Ohio was next with 44 entrants, followed by Illinois (35), North Carolina (33) and Tennessee (31).
CASH: Over $2.8 million was paid out to drivers during the 2010 WoO LMS, including just over $400,000 in points-fund and post-season bonus cash.
Ten drivers topped the six-figure mark in race and points-fund earnings on the ’10 tour, led by Richards with $293,210. He was followed by Darrell Lanigan ($265,260), Tim McCreadie ($204,840), Shane Clanton ($161,250), Steve Francis ($159,545), Austin Hubbard ($146,655), Rick Eckert ($143,285), Tim Fuller ($118,875), Clint Smith ($105,100) and Chub Frank ($104,192).
THE OUTLAWS: Eleven drivers had perfect attendance on the 2010 tour: Richards, Lanigan, McCreadie, Francis, Eckert, Clanton, Hubbard, Fuller, Clint Smith, Frank and Russell King. Of that group, only King did not start all 44 A-Mains; the 21-year-old sophomore driver was absent from the starting field on three occasions.
ROOKS: Austin Hubbard, 18, of Seaford, Del., ran away with the 2010 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year award, easily outdistancing Jill George of Cedar Falls, Iowa, in a points race that was determined using the drivers’ best 30 finishes.
Hubbard established new rookie records with two A-Main victories and a seventh-place finish in the points standings. He started all 44 A-Mains behind the wheel of Dale Beitler’s familiar Reliable Painting Rocket No. 19.
Though Hubbard is just the third WoO LMS Rookie of the Year in seven years who did not compete in the DIRTcar big-block Modified division before arriving on the full-fender tour, the Northeast-based open-wheel class isn’t unknown to the teenager. His father, Mike, was involved in big-block Modified action at the nearby Delaware International Speedway when his son was growing up.
The 32-year-old George, meanwhile, became the first female to follow the WoO LMS. She entered 37 events and started 20 A-Mains, with a top finish of 14th on Aug. 23 at Autodrome Drummond.
MAKING THE CUT: Richards was the most consistent qualifier among the fulltime travelers, leading the way with an average time-trial placing of 6.84.
Francis was second on the average time-trial placing list at 9.21, followed by Eckert (9.86), McCreadie (10.86), Lanigan (11.3), Clanton (12.54), Hubbard (14.02), Clint Smith (14.26), Fuller (15.27), Frank (17.83), King (22.09) and George (30.81).
Richards also had an unmatched heat-race record, failing to transfer through a heat just once (Aug. 19 at New York’s Rolling Wheels Raceway) in 44 events. Francis was second-best with two heat-race DNQs, followed by Lanigan and McCreadie (four apiece); Eckert (seven); Clanton (nine); Hubbard and Clint Smith (13); Frank (14); Fuller (16); and King (23).
Richards and Eckert were the only regulars who did not use a single provisional spot to start an A-Main in 2010. Francis fell back on a provisional just once, while Lanigan and McCreadie each used two; Frank used five; Clanton and Clint Smith used six; Hubbard used seven; Fuller used eight; Jill George used 14; and King used 15.
CHARGING FORWARD: The deepest in the starting field from which a driver advanced to win a WoO LMS A-Main in 2010 was 19th – Scott Bloomquist’s starting spot when he pocketed $50,000 for capturing the USA Nationals on Aug. 7 at Cedar Lake Speedway.
Bloomquist’s victory was one of five earned in ’10 by drivers starting from double-digit positions in an A-Main lineup. Eckert charged forward from the 18th starting spot to win on July 30 at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park (he also pitted at mid-race to change his car’s leaking radiator), while Richards accounted for the other three instances, winning from 17th on Feb. 11 at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park and 10th on both April 30 at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Sept. 1 at Mohawk International Raceway.
Eight A-Mains were won by drivers starting from the pole position, but only four of those victors led the event from flag-to-flag.
The average starting spot for a WoO LMS A-Main winner in 2010 was 4.23. The outside pole produced the most victors (15).
CATBIRD’S SEAT: WoO LMS regulars accounted for 28 pole position starts in A-Mains during the 2010 season, but that was no guarantee of victory. The Outlaws turned just seven pole starts into triumphs – a modest success rate of 25 percent.
Lanigan enjoyed the most pole position starts (seven), but he converted just one (Rolling Wheels) into a victory during a season that saw him capture a career-best seven A-Mains. Francis, meanwhile, had six pole starts and won twice – his only victories of the season.
The best winning percentages for pole starts belonged to Richards, who converted his only pole position start of the season into a victory at Eriez Speedway; Clanton, who was two-for-three (winning at Lincoln and Tazewell); and Hubbard, who was one-for-two (winning the rain-shortened event at River Cities). Failing to capitalize on pole starts were McCreadie (two), Eckert (two), Clint Smith (two), Chub Frank (two) and Fuller (one).
HEART-STOPPER: What was the most thrilling WoO LMS A-Main of 2010? Many observers will give that honor to the Pepsi Nationals, held on Sept. 18 at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo.
DirtonDirt.com recently named the Pepsi Nationals the Best Dirt Late Model Race of 2010. The event, won by Shannon Babb, was a 55-lap pulse-pounder that featured six lead changes among four drivers and saw Babb and Moyer battle right down to the checkered flag.
MANUFACTURER BATTLE: Five dirt Late Model chassis companies claimed victories in WoO LMS A-Mains during the 2010 season.
Rocket Chassis once again led the way with 32 wins, divided among Richards, Lanigan, McCreadie, Clanton, Francis, Hubbard, Fuller, Steve Shaver, Ricky Elliott and Shannon Babb. The domination of Victory Lane brought Rocket its seventh straight victory in the WoO LMS Chassis Builders’ Challenge.
Team Zero by Bloomquist Chassis finished second on the win list with seven victories (Eckert, Jimmy Owens, Bloomquist, Madden and Brady Smith). MB Customs (Jimmy Mars) and Victory Circle by Moyer (Billy Moyer) each claimed two triumphs, and Barry Wright Race Cars (Jonathan Davenport) earned one checkered flag.
A total of 11 engine builders, meanwhile, laid claim to a WoO LMS A-Main triumph in 2010. Cornett Racing Engines – the winner of the tour’s Engine Builders’ Challenge for the third consecutive year – led the way with 20 victories, split among Richards, Lanigan, Hubbard, Owens and Madden.
Other motor builders with multiple victories were Pro Power (seven); Clements and Malcuit (three); and Dickens, Custom, Lee Roy Rumley and Kevlar (two). Single wins were credited to Vic Hill, Russell Baker and Roush-Yates.
FAST RACES: There were four caution-free A-Mains in 2010 – May 7 at Lincoln Speedway, June 24 at Lernerville Speedway, July 31 at Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio, and Aug. 1 at Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa. Four more features were slowed by just a single caution flag.
An average of 3.98 caution flags flew in WoO LMS features during the ’10 campaign. The most caution-plagued events were the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake (13 yellows) and the Commonwealth 100 at VMS (12)
Four red flags were displayed for significant wrecks during A-Mains in 2010 – on July 3 at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway (Vic Hill flip); July 9 at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D. (Brian Birkhofer rollover); July 30 at Attica (massive multi-car incident in which Chub Frank tumbled); and Aug. 7 at Cedar Lake (Babb’s late-race flip).
* Twenty-four different drivers earned a WoO LMS fast-time honor in 2010, led by Richards’s six. He had one impressive streak of three consecutive fast times – July 10 at Dakota State Fair Speedway in Huron, S.D., July 27 at Central PA Speedway in Clearfield, Pa., and July 29 at Sharon.
* Fifty-one different drivers won at least one heat race on the tour in ’10. Richards and McCreadie finished tied for the lead in the category, with 18 victories.
* There were 52 different B-Main winners, with Frank and Fuller tying for the lead with six last-chance victories apiece.
* Twenty-nine different drivers led at least one A-Main lap in 2010. Lanigan paced the most (417 laps), followed by Richards (342), McCreadie (286), Francis (163) and Moyer (144). Rounding out the top 10 on the lap-leader list was Mars (127), Fuller (106), Clanton (88), Owens (82) and Babb (73).
* The only Outlaw who entered every event in 2010 but did not lead an A-Main lap was Clint Smith, who saw his two-plus-year tour winless streak reach 114 races at the conclusion of the season. He did, however, record three runner-up finishes during the ’10 campaign.
* One year after Fuller tied Eckert’s modern-era record of four consecutive series wins, no driver captured more than two A-Mains in succession during the 2010 season. Four drivers strung together back-to-back victories: Lanigan (twice), Richards, Shaver and Fuller.
* Richards won the season-opener at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year.
* Lanigan completed the most A-Main laps on the 2010 tour: 2,311 of a possible 2,336. Like Richards, the only race he did not finish on the lead lap was the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake, where he suffered his lone DNF due to engine woes.
Francis was second on the laps-completed list (2,283), followed by Richards (2,255), McCreadie (2,239), Frank (2,234), Hubbard (2,230), Eckert (2,200), Clint Smith (2,115), Clanton (2,100) and Fuller (2,074).
* Richards and Lanigan shared top billing on the list of most consecutive lead-lap finishes in 2010, rolling up 34 apiece. Fuller was next with 21 straight lead-lap finishes, followed by McCreadie (20), Clanton (20), Eckert (17), Francis (nine), Frank (nine), Clint Smith (eight), Hubbard (eight) and King (three).
* When Richards retired from August’s USA Nationals at Cedar Lake, it marked the first time he had failed to finish a WoO LMS A-Main due to terminal mechanical failure since the event on July 27, 2007, at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio – a span of 130 races.
* Richards, Lanigan and Francis tied for the lead in the fewest DNFs category in 2010, with just one each. Eckert failed to finish three A-Mains, followed by Frank and Hubbard (four); McCreadie and Clint Smith (five); Clanton and Fuller (seven); and King (13).
* Lanigan put up the longest streak of consecutive top-five finishes: nine races, including an unprecedented four straight runner-up placings during July’s Wild West Tour. Richards registered six top-fives in a row, followed by McCreadie and Clanton (four); Francis, Fuller and Hubbard (three); and Eckert, Frank and Clint Smith (two).
* Richards’s 15 straight top-10 finishes were the most in the category. Lanigan had 11, followed by McCreadie (10); Clanton (eight); Francis and Eckert (seven); Fuller (six); Frank (five); Hubbard (three); Clint Smith (two); and King (one).
* Lanigan had the best average A-Main finish in 2010, at 5.34. He was followed by Richards (5.73), McCreadie (6.68), Francis (7.96), Eckert (9.54), Clanton (9.66), Hubbard (10.45), Fuller (12.02), Frank (12.23), Clint Smith (12.54), King (17) and George (19.2).
* Richards ended the 2010 season with a tour-best average A-Main starting position of 6.57. Lanigan was next at 7.41, followed by McCreadie (7.64), Francis (8.07), Eckert (9), Clanton (11.18), Hubbard (13.05), Clint Smith (13.3), Fuller (13.64), Frank (14) and King (18.05).
* The WoO LMS career win lists now show 42 drivers have won an A-Main since 2004 and 52 drivers own tour victories when the 1988-89 seasons are included.
* Francis and Eckert remain the only drivers who have started all 281 WoO LMS A-Mains contested since 2004.
* The WoO LMS had its first-ever Australian A-Main qualifier in 2010 when West Perth’s Jay Cardy started the Aug. 23 event at Autodrome Drummond in Clint Smith’s backup car. The 23-year-old Australian dirt Late Model regular, who has flown over to the U.S. for three consecutive summers and provided Smith extra crew assistance, finished 21st in the 50-lapper.
The 2011 WoO LMS campaign is scheduled to kick off with a pair of 50-lap A-Mains on Feb. 17 and 19 as part of the 40th annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. Ticket information for the blockbuster winter racing meet – which runs from Feb. 8-19 and also includes action for the DIRTcar UMP Late Models, WoO Sprint Car Series, O’Reilly All-Star Sprint Car Series, Super DIRTcar Series for big-block Modifieds and UMP Modifieds – is available at www.dirtcarnationals.com or by calling 386-985-4402.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and Chizmark Larson Insurance; in addition to contingency sponsors Eibach Springs, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pink Carburetors, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance and Wrisco Aluminum.