Eckert Ends Nearly Year-Long Absence From Victory Lane With Sunday-Night Triumph At Lincoln Speedway

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

LINCOLN, IL – May 17, 2009 – A smooth and steady run led Rick Eckert to a slump-busting victory in Sunday night’s World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Land of Lincoln 40’ at Lincoln Speedway. 

Eckert, 43, of York, Pa., shot forward from the fifth starting spot to grab the lead from Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., on lap three and never looked back. Racing snug to the quarter-mile track’s inside groove, Eckert stayed firmly in front to pocket $7,600 for his first win on the national tour since June 21, 2008, at Autodrome Drummond in Drummondville, Que.

“This is great for me and the whole team,” said Eckert, whose 17th career WoO LMS A-Main victory tied him with Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., for second on the series win list since 2004. “We’ve run better this year, but we hadn’t won a race and that can get everyone down. Everybody wants to get their picture taken (as a winner).”

Driving the Raye Vest Racing ‘Team Zero’ Bloomquist Chassis that he debuted earlier this year, Eckert snapped a 36-race winless streak on the WoO LMS. It was also his first series victory on American soil since July 8, 2006, at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, where he won the last of his tour-best eight A-Mains that season.

Eckert crossed the finish line a couple car lengths ahead of Shinnston, W.Va.’s Josh Richards, who started from the pole position but lost several spots at the initial green flag. The 21-year-old Richards moved back to second on lap four and stayed there for the remainder of the distance in his Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket car.

Frank, 47, finished a close third in his Corry Rubber Rocket after his head-turning late-race charge around the outside of the track carried him from the seventh position to the brink of a dramatic come-from-behind victory. Seemingly out of contention after fading from the second starting spot to seventh, the veteran came alive following the race’s lone caution flag – for debris on lap 24 – and actually threatened Richards and Eckert rounding turns three and four on the final circuit.

Completing the top five was seventh-starter Dale McDowell of Chickamagua, Ga., who ran as high as third in NASCAR star Clint Bowyer’s Warrior machine, and ninth-starter Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., in NASCAR veteran Bobby Labonte’s Rocket.

No one could match the moves of Eckert, who rode the inner lane to a satisfying score.

“On the pace laps I looked and saw there was moisture right down there on the bottom,” said Eckert. “I figured, Well, I’ll run around down there at the start. When the guys in front of me all got to charging too hard and slid out (in the early laps), I just drove right by them.”

Eckert didn’t dare budge from the inside.

“I think I might have actually had a better car,” he said. “I probably could’ve moved out on the racetrack and carried some speed, but there was moisture right down there on the bottom and I didn’t want to just give it up and let somebody drive by me.

“If they drove by on the top, I was gonna get back up there and try to make some time, but I never needed to do that. I could hear guys close to me hitting the throttle in the middle of the corner, but I just kept hitting my marks and nobody ever drove around me.”

Richards got the closest to Eckert, drawing within striking distance just before the caution flag slowed the race on lap 24. The young sensation couldn’t mount a challenge after the restart.

“I feel like I overran the first part of the race and I think it might have cost me,” said Richards, who finished in the runner-up position at Lincoln for the second consecutive year. “I got up to (Eckert) at one point, but the caution just killed us. I think if the caution wouldn’t have come out I could’ve got him around the top, but I felt like my left-rear (tire) sealed up after that.”

Frank was the show in the closing stages with his outside assault. On the last lap he slid across the track in turns three and four and pulled alongside Richards, but he couldn’t maintain enough traction off turn four to beat Richards back to the finish line.

“I knew I wasn’t gonna get (Richards and Eckert), but I figured I’d slide ‘em and make it look good,” said Frank, who won last year’s WoO LMS event at Lincoln. “If there would’ve been a cushion to get ahold of rather than that (outside) wall, maybe I could’ve got Josh. But I was just trying not to crash when I came off that corner.

“Maybe one more lap,” he added. “That’s all I needed.”

Finishing in positions 6-10 was Steve Sheppard Jr. of New Berlin, Ill., who earned the $500 WoO LMS Bonus Bucks cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a tour event and isn’t ranked among the top 12 of the points standings; Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who challenged McDowell for third at mid-race before slipping back; 16th-starter Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who maintained his WoO LMS points lead; 17th-starter Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill.; and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., who started sixth but was never a factor.

Forty-three cars were signed in for the event – exactly the same turnout as last year’s WoO LMS event at Lincoln. A standing-room-only crowd attended the program.

Pearson established a new track record in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, blistering the quarter-mile oval in 13.022 seconds to surpass Jason Feger’s existing standard of 13.316 seconds. It was the second WoO LMS fast time of 2009 for Pearson, who picked up a $50 bonus.

Heat winners were Bloomington, Ill.’s Feger, Shannon Babb, McDowell and Frank. The B-Mains were captured by Erb and Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill.

The WoO LMS will swing back into action with a tripleheader in the Midwest over Memorial Day Weekend. The tour will visit U.S. 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo., on Fri., May 22; 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa, on Sat., May 23; and Charter Raceway Park in Beaver Dam, Wis., on Sun., May 24.

Billed as the Tri-State Late Model Challenge, a $10,000 bonus has been posted by event organizers SLS Promotions for a driver who can win two of the three holiday weekend A-Mains.

For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.

Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Land of Lincoln 40’ (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (5) Rick Eckert/40 $7,600
2. (1) Josh Richards/40 $3,500
3. (2) Chub Frank/40 $2,500
4. (7) Dale McDowell/40 $1,700
5. (9) Earl Pearson Jr./40 $1,550
6. (4) Steve Sheppard Jr./40 $1,800
7. (10) Steve Francis/40 $1,800
8. (16) Darrell Lanigan/50 $1,700
9. (17) Dennis Erb Jr./40 $1,000
10. (6) Shannon Babb/40 $1,550
11. (3) Jason Feger/40 $850
12. (18) Brian Shirley/40 $800
13. (12) Tim Fuller/40 $1,250
14. (23) Shane Clanton/40 $1,240
15. (14) Vic Coffey/40 $1,210
16. (24) Clint Smith/40 $1,180
17. (8) Eric Smith/40 $650
18. (22) Brad Neat/39 $630
19. (21) Daren Friedman/39 $620
20. (19) Brandon Sheppard/39 $610
21. (15) Richie Hedrick/38 $600
22. (11) Brady Smith/25 $1,100
23. (13) Denny Woodworth/24 $600
24. (20) Steve Lance Jr./13 $600

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Yellow Flags: 1 (Lap 24)
Lap Leaders: Frank (1-2); Eckert (3-40)
Provisional Starters: Clanton, C. Smith
Rookie of the Race: Brent Robinson ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Steve Sheppard Jr.($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Zach Frields (Eckert)

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

1. 44P-Earl Pearson Jr./Jacksonville, FL 13.022
2. 28e-Dennis Erb Jr./Carpentersville, IL 13.245
3. 0-Richie Hedrick/Urbana, IL 13.280
4. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 13.302
5. 25F-Jason Feger/Bloomington, IL 13.327
6. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 13.369
7. 5s-Steve Sheppard Jr./New Berlin, IL 13.445
8. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 13.500
9. 45DW-Denny Woodworth/Mendon, IL 13.545
10. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 13.575
11. 41-Brad Neat/Dunnville, KY 13.632
12. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 13.665
13. 9-Eric Smith/Bloomington, IL 13.726
14. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 13.733
15. 17M-Dale McDowell/Chickamauga, GA 13.759
16. 3s-Brian Shirley/Chatham, IL 13.798
17. 89-Daren Friedman/Forrest, IL 13.799
18. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 13.852
19. 11-Tyler Reddick/Corning, CA 13.875
20. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr./Orland Park, IL 13.940
21. 30-Mark Voigt/Marine, IL 13.947
22. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 13.971
23. 99J-Jimmy Dehm/Lexington, IL 14.003
24. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 14.006
25. B5-Brandon Sheppard/New Berlin, IL 14.066
26. 33H-Roben Huffman/Clinton, IL 14.107
27. 25L-Steve Lance Jr./Cuba, IL 14.125
28. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 14.136
29. 24U-Ryan Unzicker/El Paso, IL 14.149
30. 6K-Michael Kloos/Trenton, IL 14.192
31. 91-Terry Babb/Decatur, IL 14.276
32. 95-Aaron Ricketts/Fairbury, IL 14.325
33. 10-Scott Schmitt/Tonica, IL 14.344
34. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 14.364
35. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 14.385
36. 12-Jordan Bland/Campbellsville, KY 14.642
37. Z-Joe Harlan/El Paso, IL 14.688
38. 16H-Mike Hammerle/St. Charles, MO 14.890
39. 3-Brent Robinson/Smithfield, VA 15.027
40. 82-Roger Brickler/Springfield, IL 15.713
41. F15-Jeremy Conaway/Springfield, IL 15.978
42. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA N/T
43. z45-Paul Zehr/Fisher, IL N/T

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Feger, E. Smith, Pearson, Woodworth, Friedman, B. Sheppard, Unzicker, Voigt, Harlan, Conaway, Schmitt

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): S. Babb, Eckert, Francis, Coffey, Erb, C. Smith, Kloos, Clanton, Hammerle, Huffman, Hapka

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): McDowell, S. Sheppard, B. Smith, Hedrick, Lance, Neat, Robinson, T. Babb, Reddick, Dehm (DNS) Zehr

Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Frank, Richards, Fuller, Lanigan, Shirley, Ricketts, Kings, Heckenast, Bland, Brickler

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Erb, B. Sheppard, Friedman, Voigt, Unzicker, Clanton, C. Smith, Harlan, Hammerle, Hapka, Kloos, Huffman, Schmitt (DNS) Conaway

B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Shirley, Lance, Neat, Ricketts, Robinson, Dehm, Brickler, Heckenast, T. Babb, Bland, King, Reddick

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:

* Arizona Sport Shirts ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in B-Mains): Ryan Unzicker, Brent Robinson
* Armor All (case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main w/decal): Dale McDowell
* Champ Pans ($50 product certificate to ‘Bonus Bucks’ winner w/decal): Steve Sheppard Jr.
* Crane Cams ($100 cash award to A-Main winner w/decal): Rick Eckert
* Crane Cams ($100 cash award to 10th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Shannon Babb
* Crane Cams ($100 product certificate to Heat 3 winner w/decal): Dale McDowell
* Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner w/decal): Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Shirley
* Fusion Energy ($50 cash award to Heat 2 winner w/decal): Shannon Babb
* Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash award to fast qualifier w/decal): Earl Pearson Jr.
* Quarter-Master ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner w/decal): Rick Eckert
* Quarter-Master ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Earl Pearson Jr.
* Quarter-Master ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Vic Coffey
* Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’ (one case of product): Chub Frank
* VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (two free VP five-gallon containers to fastest qualifier who does not make the A-Main if decal is displayed): Tyler Reddick
* Wrisco Aluminum (three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner w/decal): Rick Eckert

2009 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of May 17 – 9 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):

1. Darrell Lanigan 0-4-8-$49,550-1173 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 1-6-7-$42,200-1161 (-12)
3. Shane Clanton 1-1-7-$35,750-1157 (-16)
4. Steve Francis 2-5-6-$41,080-1135 (-38)
5. Rick Eckert 1-3-5-$24,495-1133 (-40)
6. Shannon Babb 1-3-6-$37,530-1125 (-48)
7. Chub Frank 0-2-6-$19,150-1111 (-62)
8. Tim Fuller 0-0-2-$15,030-1075 (-98)
9. Brady Smith 0-2-3-$17,375-1050 (-123)
10. Clint Smith 0-0-3-$14,350-1043 (-130)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-0-$8,940-914 (-259)
12. Jordan Bland 0-0-0-$7,190-833 (-340)
13. Russell King 0-0-0-$6,900-800 (-373)
14. Dustin Hapka 0-0-0-$4,090-765 (-408)
15. Brent Robinson 0-0-0-$3,100-759 (-414)
16. Dale McDowell 0-2-3-$12,400-717 (-456)
17. Tyler Reddick 0-0-0-$2,335-702 (-471)
18. Chris Madden 1-3-3-$20,000-615 (-558)
19. Chas Shellenberger 0-0-0-$1,145-600 (-573)
20. Austin Hubbard 0-0-1-$4,535-475 (-698)

FOLLOW THE ACTION ON TWITTER: Fans can now keep up-to-date with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series online and through text messages on cell phones via the Twitter, the internet’s fast-growing social-networking and micro-blogging website. Updates are provided to Twitter ‘followers’ of the WoO LMS throughout each race night, and fans also receive breaking news and interesting notes from the tour.

To sign-up as a WoO LMS ‘follower’ on Twitter to receive updates anywhere at anytime, visit http://twitter.com/WoOLateModels.

LISTEN ONLINE: If fans can’t get to a track to see the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, they can experience the excitement of the nation’s premier tour live on DIRTvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network.

To listen to the free audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo.

Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. For technical support or questions, e-mail [email protected]

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), Crane Cams (Official Valvetrain), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Fusion Energy Boost (Official Energy Boost), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser) and VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors Champ Pans, Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tires, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Ohlins Shocks, Racing Electronics, Quarter Master and Wrisco Aluminum; Crane Cams Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Cornett Racing Engines, Custom Race Engines and Pro Power Racing Engines; and Chassis Builder Challenge participants Rocket Chassis and Team Zero by Bloomquist.<!– Coming soon alt alt –> <!– Coming soon alt alt –>