Clanton Holds Off McCreadie & Lanigan For Thrilling Victory In NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50 At Deer Creek Speedway

Georgia Driver Scores First World of Outlaws Late Model Series Win Of 2012 In Front Of Packed House

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

SPRING VALLEY, MN – July 7, 2012 – Shane Clanton showed some true NAPA Know How on Saturday night at Deer Creek Speedway.

The standout driver from Fayetteville, Ga., made all the right moves in the final laps of the 33rd annual NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50 Charity Late Model Race, holding off the two hottest drivers on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series to earn a thrilling victory before a standing-room-only crowd.

Clanton, 36, raced three-wide for the lead with Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., and Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., off turn two on the last lap before making a timely dive to the inside of the three-eighths-mile oval entering turn three, dulling his challengers’ momentum and preserving his first triumph of 2012 on the WoO LMS. His win in the kickoff event of the circuit’s ‘Wild West Tour’ was worth $11,650, including a $1,000 bonus from NAPA.

McCreadie, 38, settled for a runner-up finish in his Sweeteners Plus Warrior, just 0.217 of a second behind Clanton’s Kennedy Motorsports Capital Race Car. The 42-year-old Lanigan had his Rocket machine right on McCreadie’s rear bumper in third place at the conclusion of one of the most memorable three-car races to the finish in the history of the WoO LMS.

World of Outlaws veterans Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., in a Rocket, and Rick Eckert of York, Pa., in a Team Zero by Bloomquist car, finished fourth and fifth, respectively. They were about two seconds behind the winner at the checkered flag.

McCreadie and Lanigan entered Saturday’s special event, which was co-promoted by the Blooming Prairie (Minn.) Lions Club and Deer Creek’s Queensland family, having won eight of the last 13 WoO LMS A-Mains. Lanigan had five of those victories and McCreadie accounted for three.

But while the sizzling Outlaws ran in the second and third positions for the race’s last 21 laps, they were unable to shake Clanton from the top spot. The Peach State star started from the pole position and led the entire distance to secure his car owner, John Kennedy, a first-ever WoO LMS triumph in deserving fashion.

“It feels real good,” Clanton said of defeating McCreadie and Lanigan. “Just being able to keep pace with them two is a big deal because they’ve set a torrid pace the past month, but this night has been coming for us. We’ve been getting closer and closer to a (WoO LMS) win.

“We started on a roll at the Dream (Clanton’s captured the $100,000 crown-jewel event on June 9 at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway) and carried it over to last weekend (with a fourth-place finish in the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa). We should’ve had a car that could run second (in the Firecracker), but we got a little tight there at the end of the race and they beat me.”

No one outshined Clanton at Deer Creek. After the race’s lone caution flag, on lap 29, stopped Lanigan’s initial bids for the lead, Clanton withstood an all-out assault from both Lanigan and McCreadie over the final 10 laps to reach Victory Lane on the WoO LMS for the first time since July 19, 2011, at Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway.

Lanigan, who started sixth and reached second place by lap 22, ducked underneath Clanton several times to no avail before McCreadie used the extreme inside of the track to nip Lanigan for the runner-up spot as lap 48 was scored. McCreadie, who started third, stayed on the bottom of the track and pulled alongside Clanton at the start/finish line with the white flag flying.

But after McCreadie, Lanigan and Clanton stacked up three abreast through turn two on the last lap, Clanton made the move that decided the race. With a sudden charge to the inside of turn three, Clanton shut off his rivals’ hopes.

“With four laps to go I could see (Lanigan’s) nose just a little bit right in the middle of the corner,” said Clanton, who snapped a 36-race winless streak on the WoO LMS with his 16th career victory. “As long as I just kept a good pace I could beat him off the corner.

“(After getting) the white flag I went into turn one and looked left and I see two cars, and I said, ‘Oh, no.’ I seen it was a red car and I knew McCreadie was on softer tires than what we (were running), so going down the back straightaway I said to myself, ‘Just go down there and take their line. You beat ’em down the straightaway, it’s your racetrack.’

“So I did,” continued Clanton, who joined Lanigan as just the second driver to win at least one WoO LMS A-Main in each season since 2004. “I turned left and just protected the bottom there and didn’t let ’em get beside me off turn four to beat to the line. I just held my pace and beat ’em to the line.”
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McCreadie attempted to go around the outside of Clanton after having his inside lane blocked, but he slid high and lost traction. Lanigan got bottled up behind McCreadie as well, ending any hope the current WoO LMS points leader had of vaulting from third to first in the final corners.

“He did what you had to do – he covered every lane,” McCreadie, who recorded his 12th top-five finish in his last 14 WoO LMS starts, said of Clanton. “I should’ve stayed where I was at instead of trying to drive through the middle. I should’ve just slowed down even more and crabbed around the bottom. I probably could’ve still nipped him at the line.

“He just came down so fast that I got in the back of him, and when I did I lost the nose. I just couldn’t steer for a second. I got hung behind him in a drift.

“I don’t think anybody expected him to do that,” he added. “I got spooked I guess and slid up the track, and then it was over. We were close (to winning), but that’s not enough.”

Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., finished a quiet sixth, advancing from the 11th starting spot. Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., placed seventh and jumped one spot in the WoO LMS points standings, overtaking Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., for ninth. Top-rookie Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., was eighth, while brothers Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, and Chris Simpson of Oxford, Miss., were ninth and 10th, respectively.

The lap-29 caution flag was disastrous for contenders Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., and Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, who were running third and fourth, respectively, when they were swept up in a backstretch tangle. Contact between several slower cars sent Mike Prochnow of Memononie, Wis., sideways in front of the leaders, and Smith, who started second and ran behind Clanton until being passed by Lanigan on lap 22, slammed into Prochnow with the right side of his machine. Birkhofer, meanwhile, slid into Smith’s car.

Smith limped into the pit area to have his car’s damage patched up and returned for the restart, but he only managed a 17th-place finish. Birkhofer retired due to his car’s right-rear body damage without completing another lap.

Chad Simpson was the quick qualifier in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, topping the 31-car field with a lap of 14.550 seconds. It was his second career WoO LMS fast-time honor.

Heat winners were Clint Smith, McCreadie and Clanton, and Prochnow captured the B-Main.

The WoO LMS ‘Wild West Tour’ continues on Tues., July 10, at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D.; Thurs., July 12, at Red River Co-op Speedway in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Fri., July 13, at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D.; and Sat., July 14, at North Central Speedway in Brainerd, Minn.

Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50’ at Deer Creek Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (1) Shane Clanton/50 $11,650
2. (3) Tim McCreadie/50 $5,750
3. (4) Darrell Lanigan/50 $3,650
4. (6) Chub Frank/50 $3,050
5. (7) Rick Eckert/50 $2,650
6. (11) Jimmy Mars/50 $1,700
7. (12) Tim Fuller/50 $1,950
8. (9) Bub McCool/50 $2,150
9. (10) Chad Simpson/50 $1,800
10. (8) Chris Simpson/50 $1,150
11. (14) Jake Redetzke/50 $1,050
12. (13) Terry Casey/50 $1,000
13. (17) Vic Coffey/50 $1,500
14. (18) Kent Robinson/50 $1,500
15. (15) Jack Sullivan/50 $1,400
16. (16) Pat Doar/50 $1,350
17. (2) Clint Smith/50 $1,420
18. (25) Kyle Jumbeck/50 $750
19. (22) Rick Wendling/48 $730
20. (23) Jill George/47 $750
21. (5) Brian Birkhofer/28 $700
22. (19) Mike Prochnow/28 $700
23. (24) Brady Smith/28 $700
24. (21) Lance Matthees/27 $725
25. (20) Nick Herrick/3 $700

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 20 Mins., 47.296 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.217 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 1 (Lap 29)
Lap Leaders: Clanton (1-50)
Provisional Starters: George, B. Smith (WoO); Jumbeck (track)
Rookie of the Race: McCool ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Chad Simpson ($500)

Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):

1. 25s-Chad Simpson/Mt. Vernon, IA 14.550
2. 28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 14.685
3. 25-Shane Clanton/Fayetteville, GA 14.693
4. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 14.706
5. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 14.721
6. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 14.796
7. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 14.797
8. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 14.854
9. 57J-Bub McCool/Vicksburg, MS 14.904
10. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 14.905
11. 32-Chris Simpson/Oxford, IA 14.906
12. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 14.945
13. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 15.123
14. 98-Jason Rauen/Farley, IA 15.124
15. 51-Matt Furman/Columbus, OH 15.127
16. 68-Mike Prochnow/Menomonie, WI 15.243
17. 27-Jake Redetzke/Eau Claire, WI 15.272
18. 78-Rick Wendling/Hazleton, IA 15.331
19. 6-Nick Herrick/Kenyon, MN 15.349
20. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 15.407
21. 1s-Jack Sullivan/Greenbrier, AR 15.484
22. 42-Terry Casey/New London, WI 15.499
23. 90-Lance Matthees/Winona, MN 15.577
24. 7R-Kent Robinson/Bloomington, IN 15.624
25. 11-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 15.679
26. 33-Joe Ludemann/Grand Meadow, MN 15.925
27. 01-Kyle Jumbeck/Houston, MN 16.039
28. 40-Nick Kramer/Pine Island, MN 16.167
29. 35-Jerry Bloom/Grand Meadow, MN 16.239
30. 22-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA 16.313
31. 65-Lucas Peterson/Grand Meadow, MN 16.387

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): C. Smith, Lanigan, Eckert, Chad Simpson, Casey, Doar, Prochnow, Herrick, Kramer, Peterson, B. Smith

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): McCreadie, Frank, Chris Simpson, Mars, Redetzke, Coffey, Matthees, Bloom, Rauen, Ludemann

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Clanton, Birkhofer, McCool, Fuller, Sullivan, Robinson, Furman, Wendling, Jumbeck, George

B-Main (12 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Prochnow, Herrick, Matthees, Wendling, Bloom, Jumbeck, Furman, Ludemann, Kramer, Rauen, Peterson, B. Smith, George

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:

Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 product certificate to 23rd-place finisher I n A-Main or next highest w/decal): Lance Matthees
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chad Simpson
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Kent Robinson
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chris Simpson
Comp Cams ($50 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Shane Clanton
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Mike Prochnow
Gravely ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 16th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Pat Doar
JE Pistons (one compete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 11th-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Terry Casey
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Mike Prochnow
Klotz Synthetic Lubricants ($50 cash to 17th-place finisher or next highest finisher): Jill George
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Shane Clanton
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Lance Matthees
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash to fast qualifier or next highest w/decal): Chad Simpson
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Shane Clanton
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jack Sullivan
Roush-Yates Performance Products ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chub Frank
Roush-Yates Performance Products (carburetor repair kit to 18th-place finish in A-Main or next highest w/decal – $100 value): Kyle Jumbeck
Roush-Yates Lap Leader Award (one pair of Wiley X Sunglasses to driver who leads most laps in A-Main): Shane Clanton
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim McCreadie
SuperFlow ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Kent Robinson
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to 9th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chad Simpson
VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (one VP 5-gallon container to fastest qualifier who misses A-Main or next highest with decal – $30 value): Lucas Peterson
WIX Filters ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Vic Coffey
Wrisco Aluminum (three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner if decal displayed – $200 value): Shane Clanton
XS Power ($50 cash to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
XS Power ($60 product certificate to 8th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
XS ‘Power Move of the Race’ ($60 product certificate): Tim McCreadie

2012 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 7 – 23 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):

1. Darrell Lanigan 3274
2. Rick Eckert 3118 (-156)
3. Tim McCreadie 3092 (-182)
4. Chub Frank 3010 (-264)
5. Shane Clanton 3002 (-272)
6. Bub McCool 2870 (-404)
7. Vic Coffey 2832 (-442)
8. Clint Smith 2824 (-450)
9. Tim Fuller 2682 (-592)
10. Pat Doar 2672 (-602)
11. Kent Robinson 2584 (-690)
12. Jack Sullivan 2496 (-778)
13. John Lobb 2300 (-974)
14. Mike Marlar 1906 (-1368)
15. Jill George 1574 (-1700)

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LIVE UPDATES 7/7: World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50’ at Deer Creek Speedway

SPRING VALLEY, MN- July 7, 2012 – Following a rainout last night at Amsoil Speedway in Superior, Wis., the World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Wild West Tour’ kicks off tonight with the 33rd annual NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50 at Deer Creek Speedway.

A tradition-laden charity race co-promoted by the Blooming Prairie (Minn.) Lions Club and Deer Creek’s Queensland family, the Gopher 50 is part of the WoO LMS schedule for the eighth consecutive year. A $11,000 top prize — including the $1,000 bonus available if the winner runs a NAPA sticker on both sides of their car — is on the line.

For live updates of all the news, pit notes and results from tonight’s action, click the ‘Full Story’ link below. Be sure to refresh your browser throughout the night to see the latest information.
 
Clanton on top in classic finish

10:55 p.m CT – Shane Clanton led the entire distance to win the NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50, but he had to hold off the two hottest drivers on the WoO LMS — Tim McCreadie and Darrell Lanigan — to grab the $11,000 victory.

Both McCreadie and Lanigan were all over Clanton during the race’s final circuits. The three drivers even raced three-wide off turn two on the last lap, but Clanton’s dive to the inside of turns three and four with the checkered flag waving allowed him to reach the finish line first, just 0.217 of a second in front of McCreadie. Lanigan was right behind McCreadie in third.

The triumph was Clanton’s first on the 2012 WoO LMS and his first-ever at Deer Creek.

Gopher 50 Finish: 1. Shane Clanton, 2. Tim McCreadie, 3. Darrell Lanigan, 4. Chub Frank, 5. Rick Eckert, 6. Jimmy Mars, 7. Tim Fuller, 8. Bub McCool, 9. Chad Simpson, 10. Chris Simpson, 11. Jake Redeezke, 12. Terry Casey, 13. Vic Coffey, 14. Kent Robinson, 15. Jack Sullivan, 16. Pat Doar, 17. Clint Smith, 18. Kyle Jumbeck, 19. Rick Wendling, 20. Jill George, 21. Brian Birkhofer, 22. Mike Prochnow, 23. Brady Smith, 24. Lance Matthees, 25. Nick Herrick.

Anticipation building

10:00 p.m CT – After some ‘farming’ of the three-eighths-mile oval by the top-notch Deer Creek track crew, the 25-car starting field for the Gopher 50 is rolling onto the speedway. The drivers will be introduced to the crowd and then it will be race time.

Packed house ready for Gopher 50

9:05 p.m CT – There isn’t a seat to be had in the Deer Creek Speedway bleachers. Speedway owner Randy Queensland reports that tonight’s crowd is one of the top three his family has enjoyed during their 11-year tenure at the track, perhaps surpassed only by the first Gopher 50 at Deer Creek in 2005 and the inaugural WoO Sprint Car Series event in 2009.

Mike Prochnow just won the 12-lap B-Main, which also transferred Nick Herrick, Lance Matthees and Rick Wendling to the Gopher 50. WoO provisionals go to Jill George and Brady Smith, and Kyle Jumbeck has received the track provisional.

A-Main Lineup:

Row 1: Shane Clanton/Clint Smith
Row 2: Tim McCreadie/Darrell Lanigan
Row 3: Brian Birkhofer/Chub Frank
Row 4: Rick Eckert/Chris Simpson
Row 5: Bub McCool/Chad Simpson
Row 6: Jimmy Mars/Tim Fuller
Row 7: Terry Casey/Jake Redetzke
Row 8: Jack Sullivan/Pat Doar
Row 9: Vic Coffey/Kent Robinson
Row 10: Mike Prochnow/Nick Herrick
Row 11: Lance Matthees/Rick Wendling
Row 12: Jill George/Brady Smith
Row 13: Kyle Jumbeck

All-Georgia front row

8:55 p.m CT – Peach State neighbors Shane Clanton and Clint Smith will lead the Gopher 50 to the green from the front row. Clanton drew the pole position and Cat Daddy will start second.

Tim McCreadie, who reported that he had to fix a busted oil tank after his heat race, picked the third starting spot, Darrell Lanigan will go fourth, Brian Birkhofer has the fifth slot and Chub Frank has to be satisfied with the sixth position.

Hoping for a better trip

8:30 p.m CT – So far, so good for Rick Eckert.

After experiencing arguably the worst road trip of his career when the WoO LMS swung through Canada, New York and Pennsylvania from June 22-30 — thanks to a faulty transmission in his hauler and three broken engines in his race cars — Eckert’s ‘Wild West Tour’ has started without any major problems. His rig didn’t act up during his long haul from York, Pa., and he has three engines at his disposal: two borrowed pieces from California racer Eric Jacobsen, and one of his own fixed powerplants that Bub McCool’s father transported last weekend from Jay Dickens’s shop in Mississippi to Pennsylvania’s Lernerville Speedway.

Eckert, who towed his trailer to Lernerville last weekend with his father Junior’s Renegade toterhome while his own orange rig sat in a Syracuse, N.Y., Freightliner dealership awaiting a new computer installation, hitched a ride with New Yorker Tim Fuller following Lernerville’s Firecracker 100 to pick up his hauler. Fuller dropped Eckert off in Syracuse early on the morning of July 1, and then Eckert immediately drove back to his Keystone State shop. He spent much of Sunday catching up on sleep before getting back into his garage to prepare his equipment for the western swing.

Eckert finished third in tonight’s first heat, giving him the seventh starting spot for the Gopher 50.

Outlaws sweep heats

8:05 p.m CT – Each of the three 10-lap heat races was won by a WoO LMS regular: Clint Smith, Tim McCreadie and Shane Clanton. They will redraw with the second-place finishers (Darrell Lanigan, Chub Frank and Brian Birkhofer) for the top-six starting spots in the Gopher 50.

Drivers running into trouble during the heats included Brady Smith, who experienced steering problems on the opening lap of the first lap and couldn’t restart, and Jason Rauen, the sensation of last year’s USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway (he retired from the second heat on lap seven).

Heat race results can be seen here.

Super Simpson

7:45 p.m CT – Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, was quickest in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials with a lap of 14.550 seconds. It was his second career fast time on the WoO LMS; his previous came on Aug. 8, 2011, at Independence (Iowa) Motor Speedway.

For full time trials results, click here.

Race time nearing

6:05 p.m CT – With the drivers’ meeting now underway, 31 cars are signed in for action in the Gopher 50. The field includes former Gopher 50 winners Darrell Lanigan, Rick Eckert, Tim McCreadie, Chub Frank and Brian Birkhofer. Other drivers on hand to challenge the Outlaws include Jimmy Mars, Brady Smith, Chad and Chris Simpson, Terry Casey, Lance Mathees and Jason Rauen.

Still going

5:30 p.m CT – After Tim Fuller left last week’s Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., he had no plans to head west for this week’s WoO LMS swing. He was down to one motor and was, for the second time this season, conceding that he couldn’t press on with a World of Outlaws assault.

But just like the last time Fuller publicly announced that he would be dropping off the tour — back in March, following the Illini 100 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway — he’s ended up continuing down the road with the Outlaws. Though he still only has one engine at his disposal, he’s hoping to make it through the week unscathed.

Pointing his hauler west was for a last-minute decision for Fuller. He called his crewman, Eugene (‘Donnie Corellis’) Mullany, at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday and told him that he was going to make the trip. Mullany got up at 3 a.m. to begin hastily loading up Fuller’s equipment, Fuller joined him a few hours later, and shortly thereafter they were on the road.

Fuller said sponsorship help from Steve Hastings and Joe Knoth, who field the DIRTcar big-block Modified that Fuller drives in selected events in the Northeast, allowed him to make the trip. Fuller was scheduled to run the Hastings/Knoth big-block last night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y., and again on Tuesday in a Super DIRTcar Series show at Albany-Saratoga, but after the car owners decided that weight rules for the series race would favor cars equipped with 358 engines (Fuller said the J&S Modified team doesn’t have a small-block powerplant available) they opted to skip the two races and back Fuller’s WoO LMS trip to keep him racing.

Relaxing off day

4:55 p.m CT – With last night’s scheduled ‘Wild West Tour’ opener at Amsoil Speedway falling to rain early in the morning, WoO LMS teams were saved a trip to the track in northern Wisconsin. The rainout also gave them an opportunity for a day of R&R before embarking on a stretch of five races over the next eight days.

Several Outlaw teams — Chub Frank, Clint Smith, Shane Clanton, Tim Fuller and Bub McCool — invaded the famed Mall of America outside Minneapolis by early afternoon. Frank and McCool dined at Hooters while Frank’s wife, Mary, shopped, and Smith, Clanton and Fuller had lunch at Dick’s Last Resort; after eating they walked the sprawling facility, which includes the Nickelodeon Universe amusemust park.

The Sweeteners Plus team of Vic Coffey and Tim McCreadie, meanwhile, arrived at engine builder Bill Schlieper’s shop in Sullivan, Wis., on Thursday night. After the Amsoil race was canceled, Schlieper arranged for Coffey, McCreadie and their crewmen to spend the late afternoon and early evening hours sailing Lake Pewaukee on one of his customer’s boats.

WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contender Jack Sullivan opted to spend Friday night at a racetrack, taking in the WoO Sprint Car event at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis.

Lobb off tour

4:30 p.m CT – A dozen WoO LMS regulars — plus Jill George, who has entered 18 of this season’s 22 events — are in the pits for tonight’s action. Missing from the World of Outlaws traveling roster for the first time this season is John Lobb, who is scheduled to run his Kennedy Motorsports car in a weekly show tonight at Stateline Speedway in Busti, N.Y., near Lobb’s home in Frewsburg, N.Y.

According to Lobb’s Kennedy Motorsports teammate, Shane Clanton, team owner John Kennedy has decided to focus Lobb on local competition for the time being. Lobb, who ran the entire WoO LMS for the first time in 2011 and finished third in the Rookie of the Year battle, ranks 13th in the tour’s current points standings with one top-10 finish in 16 A-Main starts.

Perfect day

3:30 p.m CT – The sweltering heat wave that has had a stranglehold on much of the country, including the Upper Midwest, has finally broken today here in southern Minnesota. A cloudly morning has turned bright and sunny, but temperatures have risen only to the low 80s and a light breeze is blowing, providing welcome relief.

The spic-and-span Deer Creek facility — operated by the Queensland family, who shared the 2009 WoO LMS Promoters of the Year Award with the Blooming Prairie Lions Club — is prepped for a huge night of racing. With pre-race ticket sales up nearly 25 percent from last year as the Gopher 50 moves to a Saturday-night date for the first time in its illustrious history, a huge crowd is expected to pack the stands.

The pit sign-in opened a half-hour ago, and the drivers’ meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.