Eckert Outduels Richards For Victory In NAPA Auto Parts Winston 50 Presented by Keyser Manufacturing

Lanigan’s Six-Race World of Outlaws Late Model Series Win Streak Ends At Michigan’s Winston Speedway

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

MONTAGUE, MI – Aug. 17, 2012 – Rick Eckert dashed the hopes of two fellow World of Outlaws Late Model Series stars with a triumphant run in Friday night’s NAPA Auto Parts Winston 50 Presented by Keyser Manufacturing at Winston Speedway.

The national tour’s defending champion outdueled returning two-time titlist Josh Richards to gain control of the A-Main on lap 27. He then dominated the race’s second half to snap the six-race win streak of 2012 circuit dominator Darrell Lanigan, who settled for a fifth-place finish after starting 12th.

Eckert, 46, of York, Pa., earned $10,650 for his third WoO LMS victory of the season, tying him with Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., for second on the ’12 win list behind Lanigan’s single-season record of 13. He was also proud to be the driver to finally shut Union, Ky.’s Lanigan out of Victory Lane.

“I’m glad I stopped him,” Eckert said of Lanigan. “He’s been on a roll. He’s been for sure the guy to beat all year long, so this is big for our team.

Richards, 24, of Shinnston, W.Va., started from the pole position and led laps 1-16 and 18-26, but he crossed the finish line as the runner-up, 2.098 seconds behind Eckert’s Team Zero by Bloomquist car. He made his first WoO LMS start in his father Mark’s Rocket Chassis house car since leaving the tour in April to pursue a NASCAR Nationwide Series ride.

Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., started and finished third, maintaining a firm grasp on the show position for the entire distance in his Sweeteners Plus Rocket. Terry Casey of New London, Wis., placed fourth in a MasterSbilt car and Lanigan was fifth in his Rocket after slipping into the position on the final lap when Richards’s teammate, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., lost momentum in a turn-two scrape with the lapped Eric Spangler of Lake City, Mich.

It was Richards who provided Eckert’s stiffest test. Eckert, who started from the outside pole, nosed in front of Richards to lead lap 17 but relinquished the spot the following lap and spent the next nine circuits in chase mode.

“Josh set a heck of a pace there early,” said Eckert, who registered his 27th career win on the WoO LMS. “I couldn’t run with him. Then I got to thinking, Maybe if that top (cushion) blows off, maybe I could rotate the center better than him because he was tight in.

“Finally, (the outside) slowed down and he couldn’t rotate the center quite as well as I could. Besides that, though, we were pretty equal.”

Eckert glided away from Richards once he gained command on lap 27, controlling a race that ran caution-free from lap 12 to the finish. He denied Richards a checkered flag that would have pulled the youngster back into a tie atop the WoO LMS career win list, at 39.

“It’s great to see him come back,” Eckert said of Richards’s return to competition on the WoO LMS. “He’s a heck of a racer and I like him a lot, but I didn’t want to see him win his first race back.”

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Richards was his usual gracious self following the race.

“We were good, but once the track got dirty our car was just too tight,” said Richards, who won last year’s inaugural WoO LMS event at Winston. “We put everything similar to last year, but the track was a little narrower and we were on (DIRTcar Hoosier) LM tires this year versus open tires (in ’11), and the LM tires just don’t steer quite as well. Because of that, we were just too tight.

“I tried to hold (Eckert) off, but he was just better. He did a really good job. He could really turn down into (turns) three and four. That’s where I would lose my time, and that’s where he ended up passing me.

“It definitely feels good to come back, win a heat race, lead some laps and end up second,” he added. “Obviously you want to win, but we’ll take second.”

Coffey, 41, recovered from a heat-race tangle with Lanigan that damaged his car to finish as solid third. He was over seven seconds behind Eckert at the finish but his final position was never seriously in doubt.

“We were much better than we’ve been lately,” said Coffey, who is still seeking his first-ever WoO LMS A-Main victory. “But I think (Eckert and Richards) both had better traction. On those (three) restarts) they would just leave me. I think I could get in the corners as good as them, but from the middle out they were just hooked up a little better.

“Honestly, though, we had so much to fix after the heat, we only had time to make a few minor adjustments before the feature. We probably should have done more – we needed to be a little tighter to get more traction – but we just did what we needed to do to get out there.”

Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, finished sixth, creeping forward from the ninth starting spot. Sheppard, who briefly reached fourth when he passed Casey on lap 33, slipped back to seventh at the finish. Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., started and finished eighth; Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., climbed into the top five late but settled for a ninth-place finish; and Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., quietly drove to a 10th-place finish.

Three caution flags slowed the event. Duane Treadwell of LaGrange, Ga. (lap one) and Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill. (lap 12) slowed to bring out yellows, and on lap 10 Jill George of Cedar Falls, Iowa, who had already been lapped, slowed in turn one and was rammed hard from behind by seventh-place Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga.

Forty-four cars were entered in the event, which was run before a big crowd on a refreshingly cool summer evening.

Clanton led a Kennedy Motorsports sweep of the top two spots in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, besting his teammate Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., for his second WoO LMS fast-time honor of 2012. Clanton’s lap of 13.347 seconds set a new track record, eclipsing the standard of 13.568 seconds set by Eckert during last year’s inaugural WoO LMS event.

Heat winners were Clanton, Fuller, Richards and Brady Smith. Jeep VanWormer of Pinconning, Mich., and Erb captured the B-Mains.

The WoO LMS will complete its Michigan doubleheader on Saturday night (Aug. 18) with the running of the NAPA Auto Parts Merritt 50 at Merritt Raceway in Lake City, Mich.

Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘NAPA Auto Parts Winston 50 presented by Keyser’ at Winston Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (2) Rick Eckert/50 $10,650
2. (1) Josh Richards/50 $5,150
3. (3) Vic Coffey/50 $3,550
4. (6) Terry Casey/50 $3,100
5. (12) Darrell Lanigan/50 $2,650
6. (9) Brian Birkhofer/50 $1,700
7. (10) Brandon Sheppard/50 $1,400
8. (8) Brady Smith/50 $1,300
9. (7) Jason Feger/50 $1,350
10. (11) Chub Frank/50 $1,650
11. (15) Bub McCool/50 $1,850
12. (19) Mike Spatola/50 $1,050
13. (14) Clint Smith/49 $1,500
14. (21) Kent Robinson/49 $1,450
15. (5) Tim Fuller/49 $1,400
16. (13) Pat Doar/49 $1,350
17. (22) Eric Spangler/48 $820
18. (17) Jeep VanWormer/37 $800
19. (20) Tim McCreadie/30 $1,380
20. (18) Dennis Erb Jr./16 $700
21. (4) Shane Clanton/9 $1,250
22. (23) Jill George/8 $700
23. (24) Duane Treadwell/0 $700
24. (16) Matt Miller/0 $700

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 22 Mins., 00.197 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 2.098 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 3 (Laps 1, 10, 12)
Lap Leaders: Richards (1-16); Eckert (17); Richards (18-26); Eckert (27-50)
Provisional Starters: George, Treadwell
Rookie of the Race: McCool ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Casey ($500)

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

1. 25-Shane Clanton/Fayetteville, GA 13.347 (NTR)
2. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 13.480
3. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 13.483
4. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 13.485
5. 55-Jeep VanWormer/Pinconning, MI 13.495
6. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 13.541
7. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 13.566
8. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 13.597
9. 25F-Jason Feger/Bloomington, IL 13.619
10. 23V-Ryan VanderVeen/Six Lakes, MI 13.627
11. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 13.647
12. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 13.662
13. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 13.678
14. 1b-Brandon Sheppard/New Berlin, IL 13.693
15. 42-Terry Casey/New London, WI 13.709
16. 3-Matt Miller/Whitehouse, OH 13.789
17. 11-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 13.804
18. 89-Mike Spatola/Manhattan, IL 13.813
19. 13-J.R. Hotovy/Hartford, MI 13.864
20. 28e-Dennis Erb Jr./Carpentersville, IL 13.903
21. 87-Rich Neiser/Fruit Port, MI 13.927
22. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 13.939
23. 57J-Bub McCool/Vicksburg, MS 13.976
24. 9R-Curtis Roberts/Coleman, MI 13.986
25. 7R-Kent Robinson/Bloomington, IN 14.160
26. 1N-Casey Noonan/Sylvania, OH 14.196
27. 27-Eric Spangler/Lake City, MI 14.198
28. 12-Dave Hartman/Howard City, MI 14.220
29. 115-Matt Pickard/Grant, MI 14.363
30. 21s-Tom Sprague Jr./Muskegon, MI 14.409
31. 51s-Devin Shiels/Britton, MI 14.437
32. 51-Dale Sheehy/Twin Lakes, MI 14.451
33. 44T-Rob Taylor/Muskegon, MI 14.670
34. 28-John McDonald/Muskegon, MI 14.699
35. 22-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA 14.899
36. 20H-C.J. Heskett/Muskegon, MI 14.915
37. 10*-Tom Dusen/Muskegon, MI 15.049
38. 0N-Kevin Nelson/Jr./Muskegon, MI 15.087
39. 02-Jeramy Lange/Muskegon, MI 16.096
40. 81-Alex Kazmarski/Ludington, MI N/T
41. 20W-Kenny Wilson/Muskegon, MI N/T
42. 55-Duane Treadwell/LaGrange, GA N/T
43. 20-Chad White/Coloma, MI N/T
44. 07-Shawn Reed/Grant, MI N/T

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, Feger, Birkhofer, Doar, VanWormer, Robinson, Neiser, Pickard, Dusen, Wilson, Taylor

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Fuller, Eckert, Sheppard, C. Smith, Spatola, Noonan, Nelson, VanderVeen, Sprague, McDonald

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Richards, Casey, Frank, McCool, McCreadie, Hotovy, Spangler, Shiels, George, Lange

Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): B. Smith, Coffey, Lanigan, Miller, Erb, Roberts, Hartman, Sheehy, Kazmarski, Heskett

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): VanWormer, Spatola, Robinson, Neiser, Noonan, VanderVeen, Pickard, Sprague, Wilson, Taylor, McDonald, Nelson, Dusen

B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Erb, McCreadie, Spangler, Roberts, Hotovy, Hartman, Shiels, Sheehy, Kazmarski, Lange, Heskett, George

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:

Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 product certificate to 23rd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Terry Casey
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Mike Spatola
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chub Frank
Comp Cams ($50 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jason Feger
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Jeep VanWormer/Eric Spangler
Gravely ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jason Feger
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): Bub McCool
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Tim McCreadie
Klotz Synthetic Lubricants ($50 cash to 17th-place finisher or next highest finisher): Eric Spangler
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): none
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash to fast qualifier or next highest w/decal): Jeep VanWormer
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim Fuller
Roush-Yates Performance Products ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Terry Casey
Roush-Yates Performance Products (carburetor repair kit to 18th-place finish in A-Main or next highest w/decal – $100 value): Jeep VanWormer
Roush-Yates Lap Leader Award (one pair of Wiley X Sunglasses to driver who leads most laps in A-Main): Rick Eckert
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Josh Richards
SuperFlow ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim Fuller
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to 9th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jason Feger
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): Ryan VanderVeen
WIX Filters ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Clint Smith
Wrisco Aluminum (three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner if decal displayed – $200 value): Josh Richards
XS Power ($50 cash to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Terry Casey
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): Mike Spatola

2012 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Aug. 17 – 31 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):

1. Darrell Lanigan 4338
2. Rick Eckert 4178 (-160)
3. Tim McCreadie 4038 (-300)
4. Shane Clanton 3986 (-352)
5. Chub Frank 3974 (-364)
6. Bub McCool 3856 (-482)
7. Clint Smith 3818 (-520)
8. Vic Coffey 3734 (-604)
9. Pat Doar 3624 (-714)
10. Tim Fuller 3618 (-720)
11. Kent Robinson 3498 (-840)
12. Jack Sullivan 3268 (-1070)
13. John Lobb 2300 (-2038)
14. Jill George 2190 (-2148)
15. Mike Marlar 1966 (-2372)

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), Gravely Tractors (Official Lawn Equipment), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), 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, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, QuarterMaster, Roush Yates Performance Parts, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filter, Wrisco Aluminum and XS Power Racing Batteries; along with manufacturer sponsors Integra Shocks, GRT Chassis, Jake’s Carts, Longacre, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis, TNT Rescue, and Warrior Chassis.

081712 WinstonLive

LIVE UPDATES 8/17: World of Outlaws Late Model Series At Winston Speedway

MONTAGUE, MI – Aug. 17, 2012 – A 10-day break for the World of Outlaws Late Model Series ends tonight with the NAPA Auto Parts ‘Winston 50’ presented by Keyser at Winston Speedway, a three-eighths-mile oval near the shores of Lake Michigan.

Tonight’s $10,000-to-win event kicks off a doubleheader in the Wolverine State for the WoO LMS, which visits Merritt Raceway tomorrow night. Darrell Lanigan will be looking to extend his tour record consecutive-win streak to seven this evening.

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.

Streak…over

11:20 p.m. – Rick Eckert brought an end to Darrell Lanigan’s six-race WoO LMS win streak, outdueling Josh Richards to capture the NAPA Auto Parts Winston 50 presented by Keyser Manufacturing.

Eckert swapped the lead twice with Richards before seizing control for good on lap 27. He marched on to defeat his fellow former WoO LMS champion by 2.088 seconds and reach Victory Lane for the third time this season.

Lanigan, meanwhile, battled forward from the 12th starting spot to finish fifth. He grabbed the spot on the final lap.

A-Main Finish: 1. Rick Eckert, 2. Josh Richards, 3. Vic Coffey, 4. Terry Casey, 5. Darrell Lanigan, 6. Brian Birkhofer, 7. Brandon Sheppard, 8. Brady Smith, 9. Jason Feger, 10. Chub Frank, 11. Bub McCool, 12. Mike Spatola, 13. Clint Smith, 14. Kent Robinson, 15. Tim Fuller, 16. Pat Doar, 17. Eric Spangler, 18. Jeep VanWormer, 19. Tim McCreadie, 20. Dennis Erb Jr., 21. Shane Clanton, 22. Jill George, 23. Duane Treadwell, 24. Matt Miller

Feature time nearing

9:45 p.m. – With the completion of the B-Mains won by Jeep VanWormer and Dennis Erb Jr., a support-division feature is now on the track. The NAPA Auto Parts Winston 50 is set to immediately follow.

If Darrell Lanigan is going to run his consecutive-win streak to seven, he’ll have to work hard to get the job done. He’s starting 12th.

Provisional starting spots were claimed by Jill George and Duane Treadwell, who will start the A-Main in Ryan VanderVeen’s No. 23 because his own No. 55 was sidelined for the night by an expired engine during hot laps.

Matt Miller is scheduled to start 16th, but a broken axle in his No. 3 mount will force him to take the green flag at the rear of the field in fellow Ohioan Casey Noonan’s machine.

A-Main Lineup:

Row 1: Josh Richards/Rick Eckert
Row 2: Vic Coffey/Shane Clanton
Row 3: Tim Fuller/Terry Casey’
Row 4: Jason Feger/Brady Smith
Row 5: Brian Birkhofer/Brandon Sheppard
Row 6: Chub Frank/Darrell Lanigan
Row 7: Pat Doar/Clint Smith
Row 8: Bub McCool/Matt Miller
Row 9: Jeep VanWormer/Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 10: Mike Spatola/Tim McCreadie
Row 11: Kent Robinson/Eric Spangler
Row 12: Jill George/Duane Treadwell

Josh is ready

9:25 p.m. – Josh Richards drew the pole position in the A-Main redraw, increasing the possibility that his return to the WoO LMS will result in a victory — a victory that would not only snap Darrell Lanigan’s six-race win streak, but also pull Richards back into a tie with Lanigan atop the tour’s career win list, at 39 wins.

Rick Eckert drew the outside pole. Vic Coffey will start third, followed by Shane Clanton, Tim Fuller, Terry Casey, Jason Feger and Brady Smith.

Hot & heavy

8:55 p.m.- There was some heated competition in the four 10-lap heat races, which were won by Shane Clanton, Tim Fuller, Josh Richards and Brady Smith.

The most spectacular prelim might have been the second, which saw Fuller rally from third to first following a lap-six restart. He overtook Clint Smith and Rick Eckert to pull off the victory; Brandon Sheppard, meanwhile, rallied from the rear to finish third.

Clint Smith settled for fourth in the second heat, but he wasn’t too terribly disappointed with that placing after seeing his promising night take a turn for the worse during hot laps. Moments after clicking off a lap that would end up second-best on the practice sheet, Smith’s brand-new 454 engine broke, forcing him to hastily pull out his backup car for time trials.

Full heat-race results can be found here.

Kennedy’s boys

8:05 p.m.- Ohlins Shocks Time Trials were very good to Kennedy Motorsports teammates Shane Clanton and Tim Fuller, who swept the top two positions in the qualifying session. Clanton earned his second fast-time honor of 2012 with a new-track-record lap of 13.347 seconds (eclipsing Rick Eckert’s year-old standard of 13.568 seconds) and Fuller was second-fastest at 13.480 seconds.

Clanton’s quick circuit also comes, of course, in his first race since marrying the former Michelle Davies. He laughed when Michelle suggested that she told him he has to go faster now that he’s married because they “have bills to pay.”

Fuller, meanwhile, registered his fleet lap after installing Clanton’s backup engine in his car this morning at the Keyser Manufacturing headquarters in nearby Coopersville, Mich. The skipping motor Fuller used to finish third in the Aug. 7 WoO LMS A-Main at Shawano (Wis.) Speedway developed terminal problems when he fired it up in his shop during the tour’s break, forcing him to bolt in Clanton’s extra powerplant.

Josh Richards was third-fastest at 13.483 seconds, showing that concentrating on NASCAR Nationwide Series competition for the past four months hasn’t dulled his skills behind the wheel of a dirt Late Model. This is just his fourth dirt start — and first on the WoO LMS — since he finished sixth on March 31 in the Illini 100 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway.

For complete results from time trials, click here.

One fast band

7:05 p.m. – Dennis Erb Jr. was fastest in hot laps, turning a lap of 13.590 seconds that was just off Rick Eckert’s 2011 track record of 13.568 seconds.

Clint Smith was second-fastest in practice at 13.602 seconds, followed by Curtis Roberts (13.695), Devin Shiels (13.752) and Josh Richards (13.786). Darrell Lanigan timed in seventh-fastest at 13.848 seconds.

Happy couple

6:55 p.m. – Shane Clanton and the former Michelle Davies are making their WoO LMS debut as husband-and-wife after tying the knot on Aug. 10 in Panama City, Fla.

When asked if she feels any different now that she’s a married woman, Michelle shook her head to say, “No.” In fact, she noted that she still has to get used to being Mrs. Clanton.

“When I signed in today (at the pit window) I realized that I still wrote Davies,” Michelle said moments ago while standing alongside the WoO LMS trailer watching the practice times on the scoring monitor.

Getting going

6:45 p.m. – Hot laps are underway for the sterling field of 44 cars signed in for tonight’s action.

One WoO LMS regular is among the missing tonight: rookie Jack Sullivan is not in action for the first time this season.

In addition to the top 11 drivers in the WoO LMS points standings, tonight’s field includes such talents as Brian Birkhofer; Wisconsin’s Brady Smith and Terry Casey; Illinois standouts Jason Feger, Brandon Sheppard, Dennis Erb Jr. and Mike Spatola; Ohio’s Matt Miller and Casey Noonan; and Michigan racers Jeep VanWormer, J.R. Hotovy, Eric Spangler, Tom Sprague Jr. and Curtis Roberts.

Musical mechanics

6:10 p.m. – Another race, another WoO LMS crew member change to report.

Tonight marks the first night that Derek Gahring, who served as Chub Frank’s head wrench from early 2011 through the middle of last month, will work for Clint Smith. Gahring briefly worked for Florida’s Dillon Wood after leaving Frank and spent a weekend at Cedar Lake Speedway’s USA Nationals with Tennessee’s Mike Marlar before landing with Smith.

Gahring hails from Georgia and his father is one of Smith’s sponsors, so he seems to be a perfect fit for Cat Daddy’s team. In fact, on Wednesday Gahring Tweeted: “Finally settled in where I believe I belong — crew chief for @ClintSmith44.”

Frank, meanwhile, has brought back his former chief mechanic Brad Baum, who was the 2007 WoO LMS Crew Chief of the Year while working for ‘Chubzilla.’ Baum, who left Smith’s team earlier this year, worked briefly this year for Illinois drivers Bobby Pierce and Randy Manos Jr. before getting a call from Frank, whose second crewman, John Volpe, didn’t make this weekend’s trip because he had to return to college in West Virginia for the fall semester.

What a day

4:30 p.m. – For anyone looking for some respite from a summer of blazing-hot temperatures, today is just what the doctor ordered. Afternoon temperatures are barely reaching 70 under partly sunny skies, and refreshingly cool conditions are expected tonight.

More than 30 cars are already in the pit area for tonight’s action at Winston Speedway, which hosts the WoO LMS for the second consecutive year. The field includes this event’s 2011 winner, Josh Richards, who will make his first WoO LMS start since leaving the circuit in April to pursue a NASCAR career by running the Nationwide Series. Richards will drive one of his father Mark’s Rocket Chassis house cars as a teammate to 19-year-old Brandon Sheppard.