Madden Outruns World of Outlaws Late Model Series Stars For ‘Pine Tree 50’ Glory At Swainsboro Raceway

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

SWAINSBORO, GA – May 5, 2012 – Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., survived a mid-race challenge from Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and marched on to capture Saturday night’s World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Pine Tree 50’ at Swainsboro Raceway.

Madden, 36, raced off the outside pole to lead the entire distance, but it was a timely caution flag on lap 28 that allowed him to stay at the head of the pack. Lanigan had pulled ahead of Madden on the backstretch that circuit as the leaders negotiated lapped traffic but the 2008 WoO LMS champion couldn’t complete a pass because two cars spun between turns three and four.

The remainder of the event belonged to Madden, who kept his Team Zero by Bloomquist machine firmly in command following two more caution periods. He crossed the finish line 1.826 seconds ahead of Bear Lake, Pa.’s Chub Frank, who piloted his Rocket car past Lanigan for second place on the race’s final restart with four laps left.

Lanigan settled for third place after starting sixth in his Rocket. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who won his first A-Main of the season the previous night at 311 Motor Speedway in Pine Hall, N.C., started from the pole position but slipped to fourth at the checkered flag in the Sweeteners Plus Warrior, and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., tied his season-high finish by steering his self-owned Rocket machine to fifth place.

The $10,000 triumph was the eighth of Madden’s career on the WoO LMS, making him the winningest driver who has never run at least one full season as a regular on the national tour since its reincarnation in 2004. He had shared the distinction with Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, at seven wins.

“We were a little tight for our heat race, but we freed it up for the feature and I think we had a great race car,” said Madden, who became the 10th different winner in 11 WoO LMS A-Mains this season. “We were able to get the lead and hold our own for the 50 laps.”

Madden’s moment of truth came when the 41-year-old Lanigan bid for the lead on lap 28. With Madden pinned behind the slower car driven by Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., on the backstretch, Lanigan surged to the outside and powered ahead of both Madden and Coffey entering turn three.

But a tangle between turns three and four involving Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., and John Lobb of Frewsburg, N.Y., forced Madden and Lanigan to take evasive action and kept Madden in front.

“We got to lapped traffic and we were a little bit too tight to maneuver around,” said Madden. “When we got behind those lapped cars we got into an aero-push, and I think Darrell was gonna be a little better than us. I think in open racetrack we had a great race car, but we got lucky there with that caution taking us out of traffic.”

Lanigan, who wasn’t able to mount a serious challenge on Madden before losing second to Frank, didn’t mourn his fate. He professed satisfaction with earning his third straight third-place finish and pushing his points lead to 66 over defending champ Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who finished 19th after engine problems forced him to relinquish fifth place on lap 40.

“I think we could’ve won if that caution didn’t come out (on lap 28),” said Lanigan, who reached second when he passed McCreadie on lap 22. “It’s kind of an unfortunate, but that’s racing.”

Frank, 50, slipped underneath Lanigan for second rounding turns one and two on the race’s final restart, on lap 46, but he didn’t have enough time to even draw within striking distance of Madden.

“I think (Lanigan) thought he had such a good car, and got such a good jump on that restart, that he could just roll around Madden on the outside,” said Frank, who finished in the runner-up WoO LMS spot at Swainsboro for the second consecutive year. “I just filled the hole (on the inside) before he got to it and then he was stuck out there in that loose stuff.

“We didn’t have anything for Madden. He was definitely harder on tire than we were.”

Frank, who started 12th, remained winless on the WoO LMS since August. 2009 – a stretch that has reached 93 races.

“We’re getting closer,” said Frank, whose third WoO LMS top-five finish this season puts him just two away from matching his total from all of 2012. “If we keep running int the top five, we’re gonna get one of these races soon.”

It took two attempts for the A-Main to successfully get a lap in the books. Back-to-back red flags were thrown due to multi-car tangles between turns three and four.

The first, on the original start, swept up WoO LMS regulars Coffey, Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., as well as Chesley Dixon of Swainsboro, Ga., and Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga. Only Overton didn’t pit, but all of the drivers restarted the race.

The second try brought on another crash – this one with even wilder results. Jordy Nipper of Macon, Ga., ended up rolling his car onto its side in the midst of a turn-three scramble that also included Greg Johnson of Bedford, Ind., Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., Chris Ferguson of Mt. Holly, N.C., and Steve Shaver of Vienna, W.Va. No drivers were injured.

McCool escaped the second crash virtually unscathed and pressed on to finish sixth. Shaver and Ferguson also came back from the accident to place seventh and eighth, respectively, while Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., who used a provisional to start the A-Main, was ninth and Clanton rallied from the rear to finish 10th after receiving pit-area service for damage his car sustained in the opening-lap wreck.

Fuller’s quick lap of 14.768 seconds in the 29-car Ohlins Shocks Time Trials was his eighth career WoO LMS fast-time honor but first since June 25, 2010, at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.

Heat winners were Fuller, Ferguson and McCreadie, and Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., captured the B-Main.

The WoO LMS is idle until embarking on a busy Memorial Day Weekend tripleheader. The tour visits Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio, on Fri., May 25; Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va., on Sat., May 26, for the $25,000-to-win ‘Jackpot 100’; and I-77 Raceway Park in Ripley, W.Va., on Sun., May 27.

Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Pine Tree 50’ at Swainsboro Raceway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (2) Chris Madden/50 $10,000
2. (12) Chub Frank/50 $5,550
3. (6) Darrell Lanigan/50 $3,650
4. (1) Tim McCreadie/50 $3,150
5. (3) Tim Fuller/50 $2,550
6. (9) Bub McCool/50 $2,500
7. (11) Steve Shaver/50 $1,450
8. (5) Chris Ferguson/50 $1,800
9. (23) Pat Doar/50 $1,750
10. (17) Shane Clanton/50 $1,650
11. (24) Jack Sullivan/50 $1,100
12. (19) Mike Marlar/50 $1,550
13. (13) Vic Coffey/50 $1,500
14. (21) Kent Robinson/50 $1,450
15. (16) John Lobb/50 $850
16. (20) Clint Smith/50 $1,350
17. (22) Duane Treadwell/50 $770
18. (7) Greg Johnson/50 $900
19. (4) Rick Eckert/39 $1,280
20. (15) Brandon Overton/24 $700
21. (18) Chesley Dixon/8 $700
22. (8) Jordy Nipper/0 $700
23. (14) Ivedent Lloyd Jr./0 $700
24. (10) Dillon Wood/0 $700

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 21 Mins., 23.266 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.826 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 3 (Laps 28, 40, 46)
Red Flags: 2 (both opening lap)
Lap Leaders: Madden (1-50)
Provisional Starters: Doar, Sullivan
Rookie of the Race: McCool ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Ferguson ($500)

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

1. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 14.768
2. 22F-Chris Ferguson/Mt. Holly, NC 14.980
3. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 14.999
4. 49-Greg Johnson/Bedford, PA 15.030
5. 21-Ivedent Lloyd Jr./Ocala, FL 15.051
6. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 15.102
7. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 15.135
8. 44M-Chris Madden/Gray Court, SC 15.172
9. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 15.174
10. 5b-Mike Marlar/Winfield, TN 15.178
11. 1N-Jordy Nipper/Macon, GA 15.243
12. 57J-Bub McCool/Vicksburg, MS 15.262
13. 1W-Dillon Wood/New Smyrna Beach, FL 15.271
14. 6-Steve Shaver/Vienna, WV 15.315
15. 3d-Chesley Dixon/Swainsboro, GA 15.345
16. 28-John Lobb/Frewsburg, NY 15.354
17. 25-Shane Clanton/Fayetteville, GA 15.401
18. 7R-Kent Robinson/Bloomington, IN 15.432
19. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 15.440
20. 84-Jay Sessoms/Stanley, NC 15.462
21. 76-Brandon Overton/Evans, GA 15.488
22. 1s-Jack Sullivan/Greenbrier, AR 15.598
23. 55-Duane Treadwell/Lagrange, GA 15.603
24. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 15.621
25. 11-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 15.653
26. 2x-John Henderson/Aiken, SC 16.010
27. 3-Philip Pittman/Vidalia, GA 16.096
28. M31-Mike Akeson/Augusta, GA 16.830
29. 22-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA 15.890 (DQ)

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Fuller, Eckert, Johnson, Wood, Coffey, Lobb, Marlar, Doar, Sullivan, Akeson

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Ferguson, Madden, Nipper, Shaver, Lloyd, Clanton, Henderson, George, Treadwell, Sessoms

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): McCreadie, Lanigan, McCool, Frank, Overton, Dixon, Robinson, C. Smith, Pittman

B-Main (12 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Marlar, C. Smith, Robinson, Treadwell, Sullivan, Pittman, Doar, Akeson, George, Henderson

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): Duane Treadwell
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Steve Shaver
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Mike Marlar
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Shane Clanton
Comp Cams ($50 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Chub Frank
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 Marlar
Gravely ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Steve Shaver
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 16th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Greg Johnson
JE Pistons (one compete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 11th-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Jack Sullivan
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Chesley Dixon
Klotz Synthetic Lubricants ($50 cash to 17th-place finisher or next highest finisher): Greg Johnson
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
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): Greg Johnson
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Chris Madden
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim Fuller
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): John Lobb
Roush-Yates Performance Products ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jack Sullivan
Roush-Yates Performance Products (carburetor repair kit to 18th-place finish in A-Main or next highest w/decal – $100 value): Greg Johnson
Roush-Yates Lap Leader Award (one pair of Wiley X Sunglasses to driver who leads most laps in A-Main):
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chub Frank
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): Pat Doar
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): Jay Sessoms
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): Chub Frank
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): Pat Doar
XS ‘Power Move of the Race’ ($60 product certificate): Chub Frank

2012 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of May 5 – 11 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):

1. Darrell Lanigan 1564
2. Rick Eckert 1498 (-68)
3. Chub Frank 1432 (-132)
4. Shane Clanton 1424 (-140)
5. Bub McCool 1374 (-190)
6. Tim McCreadie 1366 (-198)
7. Vic Coffey 1360 (-204)
8. Clint Smith 1350 (-214)
9. Pat Doar 1274 (-290)
10. Mike Marlar 1252 (-312)
11. Tim Fuller 1236 (-328)
12. Kent Robinson 1218 (-346)
13. John Lobb 1188 (-376)
14. Greg Johnson 1150 (-414)
15. Jack Sullivan 1142 (-422)
16. Josh Richards 974 (-590)
17. Jill George 914 (-650)
18. Billy Moyer 870 (-694)
19. (tie) Brandon Sheppard 782 (-782)
19. (tie) Billy Moyer Jr. 782 (-782)

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 Gaskets, 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.

{vimeo}41642001{/vimeo}

050512_SwainsLive

LIVE UPDATES 5/5: World of Outlaws Late Model Series At Swainsboro Raceway

Live blog-style updates from the World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Pine Tree 50’ at Swainsboro Raceway…
 
Madden’s The Man

Chris Madden blasted off the outside pole to take the lead at the start of the 50-lap A-Main and never looked back en route to his first WoO LMS victory of 2012. He survived three caution flags over the last 22 laps to register his eighth career win on the national tour.

Madden’s most anxious moment came on lap 28 when Darrell Lanigan pulled to his outside racing down the backstretch in lapped traffic. It appeared Lanigan was about to assume command but a caution flag negated the move.

Chub Frank overtook Lanigan on a lap-46 restart to finish second.

A-Main Finish: 1. Chris Madden, 2. Chub Frank, 3. Darrell Lanigan, 4. Tim McCreadie, 5. Tim Fuller, 6. Bub McCool, 7. Steve Shaver, 8. Chris Ferguson, 9. Pat Doar, 10. Shane Clanton, 11. Jack Sullivan, 12. Mike Marlar, 13. Vic Coffey, 14. Kent Robinson, 15. John Lobb, 16. Clint Smith, 17. Duane Treadwell, 18. Greg Johnson, 19. Rick Eckert, 20. Brandon Overton, 21. Chesley Dixon, 22. Jordy Nipper, 23. Ivedent Lloyd Jr., 24. Dillon Wood

Feature time

11:15 p.m. – Following some surface work by the speedway track crew, the eight-minute horn to line up the WoO LMS A-Main has been sounded. The two previous WoO LMS winners at Swainsboro – McCreadie in ’10 and Eckert in ’11 – are starting from the first two rows.

A-Main field is set

10:35 p.m. – After Mike Marlar raced to victory in the 12-lap B-Main, the 24-car A-Main field is set. Clint Smith, Kent Robinson and Duane Treadwell — Smith’s Georgia-based crewman who is racing his dirt Late Model out of Cat Daddy’s trailer tonight — finished 2-4 to earn the final transfer spots. WoO LMS provisionals go to Pat Doar and Jack Sullivan.

Here’s the lineup for the A-Main:

Row 1: Tim McCreadie/Chris Madden
Row 2: Tim Fuller/Rick Eckert
Row 3: Chris Ferguson/Darrell Lanigan
Row 4: Greg Johnson/Jordy Nipper
Row 5: Bub McCool/Dillon Wood
Row 6: Steve Shaver/Chub Frank
Row 7: Vic Coffey/Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Row 8: Brandon Overton/John Lobb
Row 9: Shane Clanton/Chesley Dixon
Row 10: Mike Marlar/Clint Smith
Row 11: Kent Robinson/Duane Treadwell
Row 12: Pat Doar/Jack Sullivan

Pole-Mac

10:20 p.m. – Tim McCreadie’s fortunes are clearly taking a turn for the better. After a week of hard work got him back on the winning track last night at 311 Motor Speedway, he’s looking for two straight tonight — and he’ll chase the checkered flag by starting from the pole position for the second consecutive night.

McCreadie redrew the pole for the A-Main (thanks to a kid from the stands he was paired with). Chris Madden will started second, followed by Tim Fuller, Rick Eckert, Chris Ferguson and Darrell Lanigan.

When someone at the redraw told McCreadie that another pole selection indicates his ‘dial’ seems to be pointed straight up, he could only smile. He also added that he sure hopes that ‘dial’ stays straight as an arrow for tonight’s feature. “I have a house payment coming up,” he quipped. “I sure could use another win.”

The 12-lap B-Main, qualifying the top four finishers, is now on the track.

Heat racing complete

9:40 p.m. – Tim Fuller, Chris Ferguson and Tim McCreadie were victorious in the three 10-lap heat races. Second-place finishers Rick Eckert, Chris Madden and Darrell Lanigan will join the winners in the A-Main redraw coming up.

Fuller and McCreadie each won a WoO LMS heat race for the first time this season. Ferguson, meanwhile, captured a heat for the second consecutive night, backing up his triumph at 311.

Fuller’s run to the checkered flag was the most dramatic. He lost the top spot to Eckert midway through the prelim but roared back to regain command with a couple circuits remaining.

For complete heat race finishes, click here.

Heat time…

9:10 p.m. – The field for the first of three 10-lap heat races is now assembling in the pit area. The top six finishers in each prelim will advance to the A-Main, with the top two redrawing for the first six starting spots in the headliner.

Fuller, of course, starts on the pole in the first heat. He’ll be trying to exorcise a Swainsboro demon when the green flag flies. The last time he started on the front row of a heat at Swainsboro — in the WoO LMS event on May 1, 2010 — he was on the outside and got shoved over the backstretch bank on the opening lap, causing him to fall to the back of the pack and effectively ending his hopes for a big night. He had to use a provisional to start the A-Main that evening.

You go, Fuller

Tim Fuller finally gave himself a reason to smile (below, talking with Clint Smith at his trailer) during his struggle-filled season by ripping off the fastest lap (14.768 seconds) in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials. It’s his eighth career WoO LMS Fast Time honor but first since June 25, 2010, at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.

And remember, Fuller is back driving his own No. 19 this weekend after steering the Mark Richards Racing Enterprises Rocket Chassis house car in last weekend’s WoO LMS doubleheader.

For complete time trials results, click here.

050512_FullerFT
Hot-lap action…

Here’s something you don’t see every day: an accident before cars even get on the racetrack for practice!

When Chub Frank stopped his car just before going onto the racetrack to set his steering wheel and put on his gloves, he was rammed from behind by John Lobb. Lobb said he was “looking to the left” and simply didn’t see Frank stop in front of him — and when Lobb gassed his car up for a moment, his nose went under Frank’s rearend. Frank’s rear tires ended up atop Lobb’s hood, near the air cleaner.

While Frank was able to hot lap after a wrecker pulled his car off Lobb’s machine — he just sported some rear body damage — Lobb had some work to do in the pits before time trials. Not only was his car’s nose bent, but he had to replace its radiator.

Darrell Lanigan was fastest in hot laps with a circuit of 14.130 seconds. Chris Ferguson was next on the speed chart, followed by Tim Fuller, Frank and Rick Eckert.

It’s now 8 p.m. and time trials are about to get the green flag.

Here we go…

7:30 p.m. – The first session of WoO LMS hot laps is now on the track. A late entry has pushed tonight’s field to 29 cars.

A new night

Vic Coffey and Shane Clanton are both hopeful that they got their problems for the weekend out of the way last night at 311 Motor Speedway.

Coffey’s bid for a top-10 finish at 311 ended in the lap-38 restart wreck that also involved Bub McCool (see entry below). The hit from McCool tore up the bodywork on the left side of Coffey’s Sweeteners Plus No. 32c; he doesn’t think there was any frame or rearend damage, but he decided it was best to trailer it tonight and check it over once he’s back home so he’s running his backup car.

Clanton, meanwhile, was running seventh at 311 when a broken right-rear axle forced him pitside on lap 38 (he returned a bit later to make one more slow lap, which allowed him to pick up a couple spots in the finishing order). He’s in dire need of a strong finish tonight; while he remains third in the points standings for the third consecutive race, he’s gone from 68 points out of the lead after North Alabama on April 27 to 126 points behind tonight.

Up, down…

Bub McCool is riding a rollercoaster over the past three WoO LMS races. He’s hoping that tonight’s program will be on the up side of his recent trajectory.

After experiencing problems and finishing two laps down with a brand-new Victory Circle car on April 27 at North Alabama Speedway, McCool pulled out his older machine the next night and promptly won his first-ever WoO LMS A-Main at Tazewell Speedway. He was back in the new mount last night at 311 Motor Speedway and saw his fortunes go downhill again, getting swept up in a multi-car tangle on a lap-38 that ended his hopes for a top 10 finish.

McCool’s new car sustained some significant damage when he contacted Vic Coffey, who was sent sliding sideways in front of McCool off turn two. McCool reported moments ago that the machine’s front clip was bent, forcing him to park it for tonight’s action and run his Tazewell-winning car.

Despite the rough night at 311, McCool remains upbeat about his rookie WoO LMS campaign. He’s not even worrying about having to take his new car back for a front clip after just two races.

“What can you do?” said McCool. “Hey, sometimes when you take ’em back for a clip they get even better.”

Racing for some wood

5:40 p.m. – With the drivers’ meeting about to start, 28 cars are signed in for tonight’s competition. The challengers to the Outlaws include West Virginia’s Steve Shaver, South Carolina’s Chris Madden and John Henderson, Florida’s Ivedent Lloyd Jr. and Dillon Wood, and Georgia’s Chesley Dixon, Jordy Nipper and Brandon Overton.

050512_SwainsTrophiesAll the entrants will be chasing a $10,000 first-place prize in the 50-lap A-Main as well as possession of one of the most unique trophies in dirt Late Model racing. With the WoO LMS show running in conjunction with the town of Swainsboro’s annual Pine Tree Festival for the third straight year, Swainsboro promoter Paul Purvis has once again commissioned the ‘Masters of the Chainsaw’ – a group of the nation’s top professional chainsaw sculptors – to create one-of-a-kind keepsakes carved out of pine wood for not only the WoO LMS winner, but the support-class victors as well. The line of trophy-carvings is on display for the fans in the track’s concession area (photo at left).

Rick Eckert: Prince of Darkness

Two consecutive weekends of long overnight drives to events has changed Rick Eckert’s internal clock. He noted this around 3:30 p.m. while sitting on the back of his trailer in the Swainsboro pit area, relaxing before the start of tonight’s action.

“The last two weeks I’ve turned nocturnal,” quipped Eckert. “I’m like a bat. I’m up all night, and sleeping during the day. I can’t get myself to go to sleep at a normal time.”

Eckert drove every mile of the 311-Swainsboro overnighter (Lanigan switched off with a crewman). He did have his chief mechanic, Bob Miller, riding alongside in the passenger seat to help keep him awake — well, most of the time at least.

“He was 50/50,” Eckert said of Miller. “Fifty percent awake, and 50 percent sleeping. He just kept fluctuating.”

The race to Swainsboro

Darrell Lanigan already has a win — well, an unofficial victory — under his belt today before turning a lap on the Swainsboro red clay. His hauler was the first to pull into the track’s pit area early this morning following the long, 340-mile-plus overnight haul from 311 Motor Speedway in Pine Hall, N.C.

But Lanigan earned his ‘honor’ on a slight technicality.

Most of the WoO LMS teams pulled out of 311 at approximately the same time on Friday and immediately began the trip south. Rick Eckert actually pulled into the lead early on, passing a pack of rigs on the Interstate near Winston-Salem, N.C. The defending WoO LMS champion remained the pacesetter almost all the way to Swainsboro — that’s almost, because just miles away from the track he made a wrong turn that forced him to turn around and back track, allowing Lanigan to swoop by and drive into the pit area first around 6:30 a.m.

Eckert followed Lanigan’s black hauler into the pits and Rookie of the Year candidate Kent Robinson was third in. Another bunch of rigs that included Clint Smith, who fell behind when he stopped for fuel, arrived maybe 10 minutes later.

As of 4:30 p.m., all of the WoO LMS teams are in the pit area and working on their cars in muggy, mid-90s temperatures. Mike Marlar was the last Outlaw traveler to arrive; he was delayed after suffering some mechanical trouble with his hauler about an hour from Swainsboro.