A Final Look Back: Facts, Figures & Statistical Notes From The 2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

CONCORD, NC – Dec. 31, 2013 – As the calendar turns to a new year it’s time to take one final look back at facts, figures and statistical notes from the 2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series….

GRAND COMEBACK: It was like he never left.

After departing the World of Outlaws Late Model Series early in the 2012 season to take a stab at racing on the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Josh Richards returned as a regular on the national dirt Late Model tour in ’13. He proceeded to seamlessly slide back behind the wheel of his father Mark’s Rocket Chassis house car, putting together a superlative campaign that saw him become the first driver to win three championships since the circuit was restarted in 2004 under the World Racing Group banner.

Richards, 25, of Shinnston, W.Va., started the ’13 season on Feb. 8 with a second-place finish at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga., won the following night at the Peach State track to move into a tie for the points lead with Shane Clanton and took over sole possession of the top spot in the standings after a third-place run in the next event on Feb. 15 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. He never relinquished the points lead over the remaining 43 races en route to the most resounding championship-winning performance of his career.

There was no final-race drama this time for Richards, whose previous WoO LMS crowns came by the scant margins of 14 points (2009) and four points (2010). After a June mini-slump caused his lead in the standings to fall to eight points over Clanton, he responded with an unprecedented $42,000-plus sweep of the Firecracker 100 weekend at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., that pushed his edge up to 44 points and never looked back from there. His advantage didn’t slip below 28 points, and, after clinching the title in the next-to-last race of the season, he capped his year with a victory in the World Finals finale at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C., that left him with a 150-point championship spread over Darrell Lanigan – the third-largest margin in the tour’s modern era.

The key to Richards’s success was readily apparent: for a racer who’s known as an aggressive hard-charger in most quarters, he’s remarkably consistent. Richards qualifies with an unmatched steadiness – not only did he lead the circuit with seven fast times and 24 heat wins, he had to run just two B-Mains and was the only WoO LMS regular who didn’t use a provisional to start an A-Main all season – and has the uncanny ability to run hard but avoid race-ending trouble.

During a season in which Richards racked up a career-high 10 wins (two fewer than ’13 leader Lanigan), 32 top-five and 41 top-10 finishes in 46 A-Mains, he completed a series-best 2,404 of a possible 2,450 feature laps. He failed to finish only two features – season-worst outings of 17th on Aug. 5 at Iowa’s Independence Motor Speedway (broken oil pump) and 19th on Sept. 13 at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill. (busted ring-and-pinion) – and on just two occasions wasn’t on the lead lap at the end of an A-Main.

Richards’s ’13 campaign also put even more polish on his already impressive career WoO LMS stats. In the 352 WoO LMS A-Main starts he has made since debuting on the tour as a fresh-faced 16-year-old in 2004 (he ran a portion of the schedule that season before going fulltime in ’05), he has recorded 49 wins (second alltime to Lanigan’s 53), 159 top-five and 244 top-10 finishes.

And with his 2013 earnings (race and points fund) totaling $342,970, Richards sits at the precipice of a lofty WoO LMS accomplishment. He has just over $1.9 million in career earnings on the WoO LMS, making it very likely that he’ll break the $2 million mark in 2014.

THE SEASON: The 2013 WoO LMS was comprised of 46 A-Mains at 35 tracks in 18 states and two Canadian provinces.

Florida was the site of the most tour events, hosting six races at two tracks. There were five events in Pennsylvania; four in New York and Wisconsin; three in Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina and West Virginia; two in Georgia, Tennessee and the province of Ontario; and one in Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and the province of Manitoba.

Seven tracks presented multiple WoO LMS events: Bubba Raceway Park, Lernerville and Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., hosted three races apiece, while two races were run at Screven, The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., and Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va.

While the 46 A-Mains completed established a new single-season WoO LMS record – eclipsing the previous standard of 44, set in 2007 and ’10 – the ’13 schedule could have blown past 50 races if Mother Nature had cooperated. Weather-related issues forced the outright cancelation of six events: April 19 at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway; April 27 at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway; May 4 at Swainsboro (Ga.) Raceway; May 11 at Whynot Motorsports Park in Meridian, Miss.; July 8 at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D.; and July 12 at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D. In addition, the anticipated first-ever WoO LMS event at Lavonia (Ga.) Speedway was rained out on its initial May 3 date and then its rescheduled Nov. 5 date was canceled due to safety concerns with the track’s homestretch wall.

An eighth scheduled event, on Oct. 10 at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge, N.Y., was canceled by World Racing Group officials due to a reorganization of the NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week schedule.

Races at three tracks were postponed by rain and run on new dates: I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Ark., Duck River Raceway Park in Wheel, Tenn., and Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio.

Rain also washed out the qualifying night of the Keyser Manufacturing Down & Dirty Weekend presented by NAPA Auto Parts on Sept. 20 at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway, but the event was spun off as a 75-lap one-day show the following evening. It marked the second consecutive year that the weekend at Berlin – a 7/16th-mile asphalt track covered with clay for a season-ending special – was shrunk to one day of action by the weather.

CHECKERED FLAGS: In 2013, Lanigan was the tour’s winningest driver for the second consecutive year. His 12 wins represented the second largest single-season output in the tour’s modern era, falling short only to his own record of 15 victories in 2012.

A total of 16 drivers reached Victory Lane on the WoO LMS in 2013 – exactly the same number as the ’12 campaign produced. Multiple victories were claimed by Lanigan (12), Richards (10), Tim McCreadie (five), Clanton (four), Billy Moyer (two), Gregg Satterlee (two) and Brandon Sheppard (two), while single scores were garnered by Shannon Babb, Scott Bloomquist, Rick Eckert, Tim Fuller, Dave Hess Jr., Dale Hollidge, Bub McCool, Jeep VanWormer and Eric Wells.

For the second year in a row, four drivers registered career-first WoO LMS victories (in order of victories): Wells, Hess, Satterlee and Hollidge.

SHOULD’VE PICKED HIM: Richards’s march to the 2013 championship left a host of dirt Late Model press members second-guessing their picks in the sixth annual WoO LMS Pre-Season Media Poll.

Largely due to some uncertainty surrounding Richards’s plans for the ’13 season, the young star was predicted to win the championship by just nine of the 44 media types who participated in the poll, which awarded points to drivers named on each top-five ballot using a 5-4-3-2-1 system. He was left completely off 13 of the ballots, but he still received enough support (15 second-place, six third-place and two fourth-place votes) to tally 127 points, good for second in the poll behind pre-season favorite Lanigan (27 first-place votes, 195 points).

The nine press members who picked Richards as the ’13 champ were DirtonDirt.com staffers Michael Rigsby and Joshua Joiner; photographers Barry Lenhart and Joe Secka; Late Model Illustrated editor Tim Lee; UpOnTheWheel.net writer Keith Courson; D.J. Johnson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Area Auto Racing News columnist Lou Long; and videographer/internet racing show co-host Webb Dillard.

Joiner and Long were the year’s best overall prognosticators. Both picked the top-five points finishers – Richards, Lanigan, Clanton, Eckert and McCreadie – in the correct order, becoming the first media members in the history of the poll to nail the final WoO LMS top five.

Three media types, meanwhile, correctly picked the top four finishers in the points standings: Courson, Lee and Rigsby.

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 $20,000-to-win ‘Super Sunday Showdown’ on Feb. 17 at Bubba Raceway Park, the Firecracker 100 on June 29 at Lernerville and the USA Nationals on Aug. 3 at Cedar Lake.

A whopping 21 respondents correctly predicted that Lanigan would lead the tour in A-Main triumphs, though none hit on his total of 12 wins.

In the special-event category, 17 media members were on the mark with their picks of Richards as the winner of the ‘Super Sunday Showdown.’ Just four voters were right with their Firecracker 100 winner’s choice of Richards (DirtonDirt.com‘s Ben Shelton, LMI‘s Paul Fletcher, Dirt Late Model Magazine‘s Mike O’Connor and photographer Michael Moats), and only West Coast picture-snapper Tom Macht correctly picked McCreadie as the winner of the USA Nationals.

DYNAMIC DUO: Lanigan and Clanton remained the only drivers who have won at least one feature event in each World of Outlaws campaign since 2004.

STILL THE MAN: After vaulting from fifth to first on the alltime WoO LMS A-Main winner’s list with his record-breaking 2012 season, Lanigan maintained his status atop the checkered-flag chart with another prolific campaign.

Lanigan ended the season with 53 career wins. Richards is next with 49 victories, followed by Moyer (40), Eckert (30) and Steve Francis (28).

LOTS OF EQUIPMENT: The average field for a WoO LMS event in 2013 was 38.61 cars.

The season-high turnout of 74 cars was for the Nov. 7-9 World Finals doubleheader at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. In all, 10 events drew 50 or more cars and 35 attracted over 30 entrants.

A total of 493 drivers representing 33 states, two Canadian provinces and Australia entered at least one WoO LMS event in 2013, and 273 drivers started an A-Main.

The state from which the most WoO LMS entrants hailed was Illinois, with 72 drivers. Pennsylvania was close behind with 71 competitors, followed by Michigan (34), Tennessee (30) and Minnesota (23).

THE OUTLAWS: Ten drivers had perfect attendance on the 2013 tour: Richards, Lanigan, Clanton, Eckert, McCreadie, Wells, Fuller, McCool, Morgan Bagley and Chub Frank. Clint Smith missed two races; he skipped September’s Belle-Clair/I-55 doubleheader because he was recovering from knee surgery.

The top seven drivers in the final points standings – Richards, Lanigan, Clanton, Eckert, McCreadie, Wells and Fuller – started all 46 A-Mains. McCool, Bagley and Frank appeared in 44 A-Mains and Smith ran 39.

CASH: Over $2.9 million was paid out to drivers during the 2013 WoO LMS, including just over $400,000 in points-fund and post-season bonus cash.

Richards led the money-won list with $342,970 in event and points-fund earnings. Lanigan ranked second at $300,110, marking the first time in WoO LMS history that two drivers topped the $300,000 mark. Also reaching six-figures was McCreadie ($225,070), Clanton ($191,550), Eckert ($172,280), Wells ($126,095), Fuller ($114,360), McCool ($101,700) and Bagley ($101,350).

Moyer was the top non-WoO regular on the money-won list, coming in 12th with $48,480 in earnings for 16 appearances and 12 A-Main starts.

ROOKS: Hazard, Ky’s Wells won the 2013 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year battle, outdistancing Longview, Texas’s Bagley by 52 points (3,978-3,926) in standings determined using drivers’ best 30 finishes.

Wells, 25, beat the 27-year-old Bagley in wins (1-0) and top-fives (8-1), while Bagley was best in top-10 finishes (19-16). Wells’s first-ever WoO LMS triumph, on April 28 at Duck River Raceway Park, made him the sixth driver to reach Victory Lane during their Rookie of the Year campaign, joining Richards (’05), Fuller (’07), Brian Shirley (’07), Austin Hubbard (’10) and McCool (’12).

MAKING THE CUT: Richards was the most consistent qualifier among the fulltime travelers, leading the way with an average time-trial placing of 5.51.

Eckert was second-best on the average time-trial list at 6.67, just nipping Lanigan’s average of 6.87. Clanton was fourth at 7.13, followed by Wells (9.0), McCreadie (10.04), Fuller (11.36), Bagley (12.31), McCool (13.07), Smith (13.35) and Frank (14.51).

Richards was also the strongest heat-race performer, failing to transfer through a heat just twice in 46 events. Clanton and Eckert tied for second-best with four B-Main appearances apiece, followed by Lanigan (seven); McCreadie (14); Fuller and Wells (17); Bagley and McCool (18); Smith (20); and Frank (21).

Richards was the only driver to complete the season without using a single points provisional to start an A-Main. Clanton was second-best in the category with one provisional used, followed by Lanigan (two); Eckert (three); Bagley (five); McCool (six); Wells (seven); Fuller and Smith (nine); and Frank and McCreadie (10).

ON THE CHARGE: The deepest in the starting field from which a driver advanced to win a WoO LMS A-Main in 2013 was 14th. Fuller came from the mid-pack position on Aug. 17 at Merritt Raceway in Lake City, Mich., to win a down-to-the-wire thriller over Michiganders Eric Spangler and Rich Neiser that featured the season’s smallest margin of victory: a mere 0.101 of a second.

Twelve A-Mains were won by drivers starting from the pole position and 10 were captured off the outside pole.

The average starting spot for a WoO LMS A-Main winner in 2013 was 3.5.

MUST BE ON THE FRONT ROW: WoO LMS regulars accounted for 30 pole position starts in A-Mains during the 2013 season, but they turned those prime spots into a modest nine triumphs – a success rate of 30 percent.

Richards enjoyed the most pole position starts with six. He converted two into victories: a Firecracker 100 preliminary A-Main on June 29 at Lernerville and the World Finals finale on Nov. 9 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.

Eckert, Lanigan and McCreadie, meanwhile, each had five pole starts. McCreadie had the best winning percentage with three victories (June 19 at Fonda, N.Y., July 5 at Superior, Wis., and Aug. 3 in the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake); Lanigan converted two pole starts into triumphs (July 6 at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn., and Nov. 8 at The Dirt Track) while Eckert was unable to capitalize on any of his pole positions.

Other Outlaws who had pole starts were Clanton (three, with two wins), Wells (three, no wins) and Frank (one, failed to win).

MANUFACTURERS BATTLE: Five dirt Late Model chassis companies claimed victories in WoO LMS A-Mains during the 2013 season, down from eight the previous year.

Rocket Chassis led the way with 29 wins, divided among Lanigan, Richards, Satterlee, Sheppard, Hess, VanWormer and Hollidge. The Shinnston, W.Va.-based business ended the season on a 10-race winning streak.

Capital Race Cars (Clanton and Fuller) and Warrior Chassis (McCreadie) were credited with five wins apiece. Victory Circle (Moyer, McCool and Babb) had four A-Mains and Team Zero by Bloomquist (Eckert, Bloomquist and Wells) earned three victories.

A total of eight engine builders, meanwhile, laid claim to a WoO LMS A-Main triumph in 2013. Roush Yates Engines led the way with 14 victories, split among Richards, Satterlee, Wells and Bloomquist. Cornett Racing Engines was second on the list with 12 wins (all courtesy of Lanigan); Clements Racing Engines (Clanton, Fuller, Moyer) had seven wins; and Pro Power (McCreadie, Babb) earned six wins.

Other engine builders with multiple victories were Dickens (three) and Mullins (two), while Craiger and Hershey claimed a single triumph.

FAST RACES: There were two caution-free A-Mains in 2013 – 50-lappers on June 19 at Fonda Speedway and Aug. 24 at Winchester (Va.) Speedway. Seven more features were slowed by just a single caution flag, including events on July 11 at Red River Co-op Speedway in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Sept. 1 at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway that ran uninterrupted for 50 laps after a caution flew on the original start.

An average of 3.61 caution flags flew per A-Main during the ’13 campaign – just a tick above the 3.4 average of 2012. The most caution-plagued event was Lernerville’s Firecracker 100, which was slowed by 11 yellow flags (plus two red flags).

Five red flags were displayed for significant wrecks during A-Mains in ’13: April 28 at Duck River; May 25 at Tyler County; the Firecracker 100; and July 5 at Superior, Wis.

ETCETERA:

* Twenty-seven drivers earned a WoO LMS fast-time honor in 2013. Richards led the list with seven followed by Lanigan (five); Clanton and Eckert (three); Moyer, Wells and Mike Marlar (two); and 20 drivers with one.

* Richards ended the season with 38 career WoO LMS fast-time awards, leap-frogging Eckert to become the modern-era leader in the category. Eckert now sits second with 36 and Lanigan is third with 31.

* Steve Francis failed to earn a fast-time honor in nine WoO LMS appearances in 2013, leaving Richards as the the only driver who has registered at least one fast-time in every season since ’04.

* Fifty-nine drivers won at least one heat race on the tour in ’13. Richards led all drivers with 24 victories – a new single-season record, surpassing Bloomquist’s 21 heat wins in 2004. Clanton (16), Lanigan (16) and Eckert (11) were the only others to crack double figures.

* Francis entered the 2013 season as the most prolific WoO LMS heat-race winner since ’04 with 121 victories, but he failed to capture a prelim in his limited appearances and fell to third on the alltime win list. Lanigan now leads the category with 134 career wins and Richards sits second with 132.

* The list of drivers with at least one heat race win in every season since ’04 now numbers 10 – Richards, Lanigan, Eckert, McCreadie, Clanton, Moyer, Frank, Clint Smith, Babb and Dale McDowell – after Francis dropped off in ’13.

* There were 55 B-Main winners in ’13. Wells set the pace with seven victories, establishing a new single-season record for Last Chance Showdown wins. The old standard was six B-Main wins, by Frank in ’08 and ’12 and Fuller in ’10 and ’12.

* For the second season in a row 31 drivers led at least one A-Main lap. Richards led the most (451), with Lanigan (435), McCreadie (299) and Clanton (228) the only other drivers to top the 100-lap plateau.

Other WoO LMS regulars who led laps were Eckert (90), Fuller (61), Clint Smith (61), Wells (50) and McCool (32). Bagley and Frank were the lone World of Outlaws fulltimers who did not pace a single circuit in ’13.

* The only drivers to win consecutive A-Mains in ’13 were Richards and Lanigan. Richards ran off three straight victories with his sweep of the Firecracker 100 tripleheader at Lernerville, while Lanigan captured back-to-back races in February and June.

* Richards made WoO LMS history during his domination of the 2013 Firecracker 100, becoming the first driver to win two World of Outlaws A-Mains in a single day. He captured the postponed 30-lap preliminary the afternoon of June 29 and claimed the 100-lap finale later that night.

* Richards was best in the laps-completed category, running 2,404 of a possible 2,450 circuits in 46 A-Mains. Among the six other drivers who started all 46 features, Eckert was second with 2,401 laps completed, followed by Lanigan (2,366), Clanton (2,354), Wells (2,334) and Fuller (2,303).

Frank led the group of drivers who started 44 A-Mains, completing 2,168 of a possible 2,300 laps. Bagley was next with 2,164 laps and McCool ran 1,963 circuits.

Clint Smith completed 1,743 of a possible 2,130 laps in his 39 A-Main starts.

* Lanigan and Fuller tied for the most consecutive lead-lap finishes among WoO LMS regulars, with each driver rolling up 19 in a row. Richards and Clanton were next with 16 straight, followed by Frank (15), Eckert (13), McCool (12), Bagley (11), McCreadie (seven), Wells (seven) and Smith (five).

* Richards had the fewest DNFs in ’13, with two. Eckert, Clanton and Bagley failed to finish three A-Mains while Lanigan, Frank and Wells were pitside at the checkered flag four times. Fuller was next with five DNFs, followed by McCool (10), Smith (11) and McCreadie (14).

* Lanigan authored the longest streak of top-five finishes, rolling off seven in a row from April 28 at Duck River to June 1 at Stateline Speedway in Busti, N.Y. All seven were podium finishes.

Richards was second on the consecutive top-five list with six straight, followed by Clanton (four); Eckert and McCreadie (three); and Wells and McCool (two). Bagley, Frank, Fuller and Smith were unable to string together consecutive top-fives.

* Clanton recorded a season-best streak of 16 consecutive top-10 finishes. Eckert and Richards were next with 12 in a row, followed by Lanigan and McCreadie (seven); Frank and Fuller (five); Bagley and McCool (four); Wells (three); and Smith (two).

* Richards had the best average A-Main finish in 2013, at 4.85. He was followed by Lanigan (6.5), Clanton (6.59), Eckert (6.8), McCreadie (10.65), Wells (11.46), Fuller (11.74), Bagley (12.39), Frank (12.57), McCool (12.64) and Smith (13.82). Not surprisingly, that’s the exact order the drivers finished in the WoO LMS points standings.

* Richards ended the 2013 season with a tour-best average A-Main starting position of 6.67. Clanton was next with an average starting position of 7.96, followed by Lanigan (8.09), Eckert (8.89), McCreadie (11.59), Wells (13.43), McCool (14.39), Bagley (14.52), Fuller (14.85), Smith (15.28) and Frank (16.39).

* The WoO LMS career win lists now show 51 drivers have won an A-Main since 2004 and 61 drivers own tour victories when the 1988-89 seasons are included.

* Since 2004, there have been 399 WoO LMS A-Mains contested at 135 different tracks in 31 states and four Canadian provinces. The ’13 season added five new tracks (I-30 Speedway, Duck River Raceway Parkk, Brighton Speedway, Fairbury American Legion Speedway and Selinsgrove Speedway) and one new state (Arkansas) to the tour’s alltime list.

*****

The 2014 WoO LMS season will begin on Feb. 7-8 with the ‘Winter Freeze’ doubleheader – two 50-lap, $10,000-to-win A-Mains – at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. A busy month of February for the tour also includes the Bubba Army Late Model Winter Nationals on Feb. 14-16 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., and the WoO LMS portion of the DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment on Feb. 20-22 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.

The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: American Racing Custom Wheels (Official Custom Wheel), Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), KMC (Official Custom Truck Wheel), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award); in addition to contingency sponsors: Butlerbuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Dominator Race Products, Edelbrock, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, QuarterMaster, Roush Yates Performance Parts, Superflow Dynos, Wrisco Aluminum and XS Power Racing Batteries; along with manufacturer sponsors Capital Race Cars, Integra Shocks, GRT Chassis, Jake’s Carts, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis, TNT Rescue, and Warrior Chassis.