Rags To Riches: Eckert Thrills Crowd With Come-From-Behind Victory In Backup Car At Attica Raceway Park

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

ATTICA, OH – July 30, 2010 – Rick Eckert went from rags to riches in the course of one memorable evening at Attica Raceway Park. 

Just hours after a blown engine during time trials left him contemplating his immediate future on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, Eckert drove his backup car to a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the national tour’s 50-lap A-Main on Friday night at the one-third-mile oval.

Eckert, 44, of York, Pa., overcame a host of obstacles to post his second WoO LMS triumph of 2010, including a starting spot deep in the pack (18th); a massive mid-race crash that involved more than half the field; a hasty in-race radiator replacement; and, finally, two former series champions who stood between him and an improbable win.

The veteran driver’s stirring rally reached its zenith on lap 47 when he surged ahead of Shinnston, W.Va.’s Josh Richards to take the lead, clinching a $10,575 score that prompted Attica’s big crowd to give Eckert a standing ovation upon his arrival in Victory Lane.

Richards settled for second place after leading laps 12-46, good enough to slightly pad his points lead as he chases a second consecutive WoO LMS title. Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished third to end the night second in the points standings, while 12th-starter Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., placed fourth and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., took fifth to register his third top-five finish of 2010.

“Bad luck, good luck – we experienced it all tonight,” said Eckert, whose 21st career WoO LMS victory was his first since March 26 at Battleground Speedway in Highlands, Texas. “I was ready to go home after we blew the motor (moments after clicking off what would stand as the night’s fourth-fastest qualifying lap). I was about to call it off – I said, ‘We should just load up.’ But we decided to stick it out and now I’m sure glad we did.”

Eckert, who is one of only two drivers to start every WoO LMS A-Main contested since 2004, fell one spot short of transferring to the headline event through a heat race before punching his ticket with a victory in the second B-Main. He made his presence known in the feature by moving up to eighth place by lap 23, but then his night took another unexpected turn.

After Eckert somehow escaped a lap-23 restart accident that sent Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., into a barrel-roll and left more than a dozen cars scattered across the homestretch (“A hole opened and I just drove right through it,” he said), his apparent change in fortune was quickly tempered by the problem his crew discovered when he stopped in turn four under red-flag conditions.

“We were in eighth and three guys ahead of me were in the wreck, so I was thinking, We might have a shot to win this thing,” recalled Eckert. “Then my crew guy, Bob, said, ‘Did you park in a water puddle?’ I said, ‘Nah, I don’t think so. Shove me front and let’s see.’ They pushed me and there was water coming from my car, so we took the hood off and saw there was a hole in the radiator core. I was like, ‘Well, that’s just the way the night’s going.’

“I can’t afford to break another motor, so I said, ‘Let’s go in and fix it right. We’ll change the radiator, and if we don’t get out in time, we don’t get out in time.’”

With some help from western Pennsylvania racer Ron Davies and his crew as well as an assortment of other people nearby, Eckert was back on the racetrack well before the field began rolling toward a restart. He proceeded to take full advantage of his new lease on life, using the extreme inside groove around the track to move into contention.

Eckert was sixth on lap 35 when a caution flag flew for the stopped car driven by 2009 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio, who was the race’s early story while leading laps 1-11. Two laps after the restart Eckert was third, and, after finally disposing of Lanigan to grab second on lap 42, he quickly ran down Richards.

Keeping his Team Zero by Bloomquist car on the inside hub, Eckert slid ahead of Richards exiting turn two on lap 46 and officially assumed command for good as lap 47 was scored.

“I just got a good rhythm around the bottom and got to where I could drive up off the corner really hard,” said Eckert. “But when I got to third I had to race Darrell really hard because he changed his line and wouldn’t let me get out on entry like I had been. When I finally got him cleared I could get back to the way I was running and I caught Josh real fast. I showed myself to Josh on the bottom and he did what anybody would do with a couple (laps) to go – he moved down to the bottom into (turn) one, but he got himself loose and skated up the track and left me the opportunity to pass him.

“I still wasn’t sure he wouldn’t get up on that cushion and beat it harder. When a guy’s leading he’s not necessarily always running as hard as he can, so I thought he’d maybe gas it back up and I’d have to fend him off.”

“That’s the best kind of win – when you come from the back,” added Eckert, who was greeted after the race by his ecstatic wife Kristal. “After everything that happened to us tonight, pulling off a win like this is really exciting.”

Richards, 22, was powerless to stop Eckert’s late-race charge to a storybook triumph.

“He was able to stick around the bottom and make it work,” Richards said of Eckert. “I don’t know if I could’ve putted around down there and stayed ahead of him or not, but I was more comfortable just carrying my speed and trying to keep my momentum up around the top.

“Rick and his guys just did a heck of a job tonight. He just had the better car tonight.”

Early in the race, however, it appeared that the 21-year-old King had the car to beat. He powered around the track as the leader for the first 11 laps – and then his night went from bad to worse.

First, King spun in turn two on lap 11 to avoid the slowing Mike Knight of Ripley, N.Y. Though King remained in the lead for the ensuing restart because officials ruled that Knight was the reason for the caution, his car’s steering was damaged and he ceded the top spot to Richards. He held on to second until sliding high in turn two on lap 22, and one lap later a scrape with Matt Miller of Waterville, Ohio, sent both drivers sliding off the backstretch and triggered another caution period.

King took the lap-23 restart at the rear of the field and was then marginally involved in the race’s biggest incident. Miller, who restarted in third place, made contact with Richards exiting turn four and ended up turned around in front of the field, setting off a tangle that saw Frank flip after overrunning Miller’s machine.

There were no injuries in the accident, but Frank and Miller joined Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., who was fourth at the time, Brent Robinson of Smithfield, Va., and Devin Shiels of Britton, Mich., as casualties of the wreck.

King continued, but he was never a factor. After stopping on lap 35 to bring out the race’s third and final caution flag, he limped to a 13th-place finish.

Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., finished sixth – a disappointing result because he was up to second and ready to pressure Richards for the lead on lap 32 when he slid over the track’s bank between turns three and four, causing him to fall to eighth before he recovered. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., started third but was involved in the lap-23 accident and fell to seventh in the final rundown, ahead of rookie Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., who also got a piece of the crash; 23rd-starter Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., who used a provisional after his car was eliminated from heat action by left-front suspension damage; and Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., who earned the $500 ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a WoO LMS A-Main and isn’t ranked among the top 12 in the series points standings.

Francis blistered the track in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, setting a new track record with a lap of 14.303 seconds. His circuit bettered the existing standard of 14.345 seconds held since 2004 by Matt Miller, who also broke his old record en route to the second-fastest lap of the 45-car qualifying session.

Heat winners were Francis, Miller, Lanigan and King, who registered his first-ever victory in a WoO LMS heat race. The B-Mains were captured by Bump Hedman of Sugar Grove, Pa., and Eckert.

Ohio-Pennsylvania Speedweek rolls on for two more nights, visiting Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio, on Saturday (July 31) and Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa., on Sunday (Aug. 1). Both events feature 50-lap A-Mains paying $10,000 to win.

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

Results of WoO Late Model Series at Attica Raceway Park (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (18) Rick Eckert/50 $10,575
2. (6) Josh Richards/50 $5,600
3. (8) Darrell Lanigan/50 $3,600
4. (12) Shane Clanton/50 $3,000
5. (7) Clint Smith/50 $2,500
6. (5) Steve Francis/50 $2,350
7. (3) Tim McCreadie/50 $2,000
8. (10) Austin Hubbard/50 $2,050
9. (23) Tim Fuller/50 $1,700
10. (21) Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs/50 $1,600
11. (16) Donnie Moran/50 $1,050
12. (15) Robbie Blair/50 $1,000
13. (2) Russell King/50 $1,450
14. (14) John Mason/50 $900
15. (17) Bump Hedman/50 $900
16. (20) Doug Drown/48 $800
17. (24) Jill George/48 $770
18. (11) Jon Henry/24 $750
19. (4) Matt Miller/23 $730
20. (1) Gregg Satterlee/23 $700
21. (9) Chub Frank/23 $1,200
22. (19) Brent Robinson/23 $1,200
23. (22) Devin Shiels/23 $700
24. (13) Mike Knight/11 $725

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Yellow Flags: 3 (Laps 11, 23, 35); 1 Red Flag (Lap 23)
Lap Leaders: King (1-11); Richards (12-46); Eckert (47-50)
Provisional Starters: Fuller, George
Rookie of the Race: Hubbard ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Briggs ($500)

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

1. 15-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 14.303 (NTR)
2. 7-Matt Miller/Waterville, OH 14.315
3. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 14.355
4. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 14.423
5. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 14.470
6. 71d-Ron Davies/Erie, PA 14.526
7. 22-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA 14.589
8. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 14.610
9. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 15.611
10. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 14.636
11. 15H-Jon Henry/Ada, OH 14.649
12. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 14.683
13. 9K-Mike Knight/Ripley, NY 14.684
14. 19H-Austin Hubbard/Seaford, DE 14.770
15. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 14.805
16. 99-Donnie Moran/Dresden, OH 14.830
17. 99B-Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs/Bear Lake, PA 14.868
18. 72-John Mason/Millersburg, OH 14.871
19. won11-Robbie Blair/Titusville, PA 14.901
20. 25-Shane Clanton/Fayetteville, GA 15.066
21. 8-Craig Vosbergen/Perth, Australia 15.069
22. 50Y-Ryan Missler/Bellevue, OH 15.081
23. 22-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA 15.116
24. 29R-Rocky Owens/Mansfield, OH 15.151
25. 3-Brent Robinson/Smithfield, VA 15.203
26. 15B-Mike Bores/Bellevue, OH 15.235
27. 51-Devin Shiels/Britton, MI 15.261
28. 21-Larry Kingseed/Castalia, OH 15.309
29. 23c-Jeremy Canada/Barberton, OH 15.368
30. B22-Bump Hedman/Sugar Grove, PA 15.381
31. x3-Daniel Wallace/Toledo, OH 15.440
32. 1N-Casey Noonan/Sylvania, OH 15.456
33. 93T-Jeff Esbenshade/Ashland, OH 15.515
34. 40-Wayne Maffett Jr./Mansfield, OH 15.527
35. 27-Ken Hahn/Gibsonburg, OH 15.532
36. 1B-Jeff Babcock/Wayne, OH 15.692
37. 2d-Curtis Deisenroth/Oak Harbor, OH 15.751
38. 83-Bill Hahn/Gibsonburg, OH 15.793
39. 36-Matt Irey/Mansfield, OH 15.859
40. 48-John Bores/Bellevue, OH 16.333
41. 12-Michael Stiltner/Green Springs, OH 16.454
42. 06-Kyle Perry/Perrysburg, OH 16.816
43. 22M-Bobby Michaels/Republic, OH 16.854
44. 1DJ-Doug Drown/Wooster, OH N/T
45. 5H-Ernie Haynes/Rising Sun, MD N/T

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Francis, McCreadie, Frank, Knight, Robinson, Canada, Esbenshade, Deisenroth, Haynes, Stiltner, Briggs, Vosbergen

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Miller, Richards, Hubbard, Mason, Missler, M. Bores, Hedman, Davies, Maffett, B. Hahn, Perry

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Lanigan, Satterlee, Henry, Blair, George, Wallace, K. Hahn, Irey, Shiels, Fuller, Michaels

Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): King, C. Smith, Clanton, Moran, Eckert, Drown, Owens, Kingseed, Noonan, J. Bores, Babcock

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Hedman, Robinson, Briggs, Davies, Missler, Maffett, Haynes, Deisenroth, B. Hahn, Perry, Stiltner, Canada, Esbenshade, M. Bores (DNS) Vosbergen

B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Eckert, Drown, Shiels, K. Hahn, Kingseed, Wallace, George, Irey, J. Bores, Michaels, Noonan, Babcock, Owens (DNS) Fuller

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:

Arizona Sports Shirts ($50 product certificate): Wayne Maffett Jr./Jill George
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main w/decal): Bump Hedman
Eibach Springs (one free spring): Bump Hedman
MSD Ignition ($75 cash award): Rick Eckert
MSD Ignition ($25 cash award): Mike Knight
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash award to fastest qualifier w/decal): Steve Francis
Pink Carburetors ($100 product certificate): Rick Eckert
Pink Carburetors ($50 product certificate): Jill George
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate): Rick Eckert
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate): Tim McCreadie
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate): Bump Hedman
R2C Performance ($100 certificate): Rick Eckert
STP ($50 cash award): Bump Hedman
VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (two five-gallon plastic fuel jugs to fastest qualifier who does not make the A-Main if decal is displayed): Craig Vosbergen
Wrisco Aluminum (three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner w/decal): Rick Eckert

2010 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 30 – 31 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):

1. Josh Richards 4162
2. Darrell Lanigan 4130 (-32)
3. Tim McCreadie 4128 (-34)
4. Steve Francis 4032 (-130)
5. Shane Clanton 3928 (-234)
6. Austin Hubbard 3912 (-250)
7. Rick Eckert 3890 (-272)
8. Tim Fuller 3854 (-308)
9. Chub Frank 3776 (-386)
10. Clint Smith 3704 (-458)
11. Russell King 3496 (-666)
12. Brent Robinson 3134 (-1028)
13. Brady Smith 2786 (-1376)
14. Jill George 2332 (-1830)
15. Brian Birkhofer 1566 (-2596)

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 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), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and Chizmark Larson Insurance; in addition to contingency sponsors Eibach Springs, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pink Carburetors, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance and Wrisco Aluminum.