WILLISTON, ND – July 13, 2008 – Tim Fuller might be ready to take up residence in North Dakota.
After running the outside line to a convincing victory in Sunday night’s caution-free 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main at Williston Basin Speedway, Fuller owns two career wins on the tour – both in North Dakota.
“It is unbelievable that the two races we’ve won have been in North Dakota,” said Fuller, whose previous WoO LMS triumph came on June 12, 2007, at River Cities Speedway in the eastern portion of the state. “I can’t explain why this is the place we’ve had this success, but I hope that now we can duplicate it everywhere else we go.”
Fuller, 40, of Watertown, N.Y., busted out of a frustrating sophomore slump on the WoO LMS in a big way. He slipped back two positions from the fifth starting spot early in the event, but he soon discovered a high lane around the one-third-mile track and used it to blast by the six cars ahead of him in a matter of nine stirring laps.
The winning pass came on lap 15 when Fuller surged ahead of Shinnston, W.Va.’s Josh Richards, who had led from the initial green flag after starting on the pole position. Fuller dominated the remainder of the distance, artfully negotiating lapped traffic with his Gypsum Express Rocket No. 19 to cross the finish line nearly a straightaway ahead of Richards.
Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., made a strong high-side charge forward from the 11th starting spot to finish third, hot on Richards’s rear bumper at the checkered flag. WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., continued to roll with a fourth-place run, and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., placed fifth.
Though Fuller used the outside groove to explode from fourth to the lead on the opening lap en route to a heat-race win, he didn’t go back to the line in the A-Main until he was forced there.
“I saw (Rick) Eckert burst up inside of me (in a bid for seventh place on lap six), so I had to go to the outside,” said Fuller. “When I got on the outside of (Kelly) Boen I was, ‘Oh, man, this feels pretty good.’
“I was getting ready to try the top, but I never would’ve went up there that quick if Eckert didn’t get under me. I guess it always takes a turn of events to make you do something.”
Fuller thrilled the track’s capacity crowd with his high-side march, driving by Henderson, Colo.’s Boen, Vic Coffey of Leicester, N.Y., Babb, Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., Lanigan and Richards in succession. He completed the charge by sailing around the outside of Richards’s Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket No. 1 through turns three and four to assume command as lap 15 was scored.
What allowed Fuller to become peerless at the top of the track? He credited his success to his Hoosier tire choice, including a 1350-compound left-rear that he obtained from Clint Smith just minutes before the start of the A-Main.
“Clint had the only 1350 left-rear left in the place and he let me run it,” said Fuller, whose head wrench, Mike Countryman, received the Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race Award. “It was a lot softer than everybody else probably ran, and I had a 40 (UMP tire compound) on the right-rear that stuck real good. I could just roll right on the outside of everybody.”
The victory was a welcomed dose of relief for the 2007 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year, who entered the ‘Wild West Tour’ with just three top-five finishes to his credit this season on the series.
“It helps the bank account and it helps everybody’s spirits,” said Fuller, who pocketed $10,150 for capturing the first-ever WoO LMS event at Williston Basin Speedway. “Think about it – we have two days off before we go to Wyoming (for the next Wild West Tour show, on July 16 at Gillette Thunder Speedway), so we can rest easy because we know the things we are doing now are right.
“Hopefully we can ride this momentum for the rest of the ryear. We’re out of the points race (he’s a distant ninth in the standings), so we can gamble like we did tonight and go for wins.”
The 20-year-old Richards, of course, is in the thick of the WoO LMS points battle, sitting a solid second behind Lanigan. That’s why he was satisfied with a runner-up finish.
“I thought that maybe I should’ve moved up (higher on the track) when I was leading, but I didn’t want to even chance it,” said Richards. “Fuller’s car was better than mine anyway, though, so I don’t think it would’ve made a difference if I moved up to the lane he was running.
“I was glad to see Fuller get a win,” he added. “He’s been struggling a lot, so he needed one.”
Richards felt fortunate to escape Williston Basin without taking a huge hit in the points chase. His night began in horrible fashion – first with an off-track excursion over the track’s turn-one berm and into a retaining rail during hot laps, and later a multi-car tangle on the opening lap of the first heat.
The practice-session incident left Richards’s car with significant damage, including crushed sheet metal, a busted radiator and even a slightly bent rear clip. But with assistance from several other teams, his machine was repaired in time for time trials.
“The night turned out way better than it started,” said Richards, who ended the night trailing Lanigan by 48 points. “I have to thank all the guys who helped up fix the car – Lanigan and his guys, Vic Coffey, Clanton, Francis, Babb. They all pitched in.”
Smith, 42, was just as impressive as Fuller on the top side of the track, but his charge stalled at third place on lap 39. He had his J.P. Drilling/J&J Steel GRT car all over Richards for the final circuits but couldn’t pull off a pass.
“If I could’ve just cleared Josh after I got Lanigan (for third), then Fuller was dead,” said Smith. “I knew what tires Fuller had on, so I think I might’ve been able to drive right on by him.
“But Josh got wide when I got to him, so I never got by him.”
Lanigan, 38, started and finished in the fourth spot, registering his 14th consecutive top-five finish in WoO LMS competition.
“I wasn’t good up there (on the outside) like Fuller with the rubber I had on,” said Lanigan, who survived an early-race scrape with Frank that bent the right-rear bodywork of his GottaRace.com Rocket.
The 34-year-old Babb, meanwhile, recovered from an accident that eliminated him on the opening lap of the previous night’s event at Estevan (Sask.) Motor Speedway to score a steady fifth-place finish.
“I was on pins and needles when I tried to go up to the top,” said Babb, who drove NASCAR Sprint Cup star Clint Bowyer’s Rocket car. “I’m still just too loose all the time. I haven’t hit on anything for the slick tracks with this car yet.”
Finishing in positions 6-10 was Frank, who was shuffled back from the second starting spot; Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., who ran as high as fifth at the race’s halfway point; Coffey, the A-Main’s top-finishing rookie; Al Purkey of Coffeyville, Kan., who drove Clint Smith’s backup car to the $500 WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ prize for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a tour A-Main and isn’t ranked among the top 12 in the current points standings; and defending tour champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky.
Francis started 24th in the A-Main after seeing his night take a rough turn in the third heat. He was running second on the final lap when he spun in turn two after apparently catching a hole in the track and then receiving a tap from Frank.
Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., entered the program riding a two-race WoO LMS win streak, but he never threatened to score a hat trick. He retired on lap 16 after sliding through the infield in turn four while running 12th.
The entry list numbered 26 cars at Williston Basin, which is operated by the Williston Basin Racing Association. The fairgrounds track sits 18 miles from the Montana border.
Vic Coffey of Leicester, N.Y., was the quickest in time trials, turning a new-track-record lap of 13.774 seconds from the next-to-last slot in the qualifying order. It was the 2008 Rookie of the Year contender’s first-ever fast-time honor on the WoO LMS.
Heat winners were Coffey, Lanigan and Fuller.
The first heat began in wild fashion when front-row starters Coffey and John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., came together on the homestretch, sending Blankenship sideways to trigger a multi-car wreck. Blankenship came to rest with his car’s nose smashed into the right side of the car driven by Rick Eckert of York, Pa., with Richards, Joe Isabell of Pennellville, N.Y., and Dustin Hapka of Grand Forks, N.D., also involved.
The WoO LMS ‘Wild West Tour’ will take a break for two days before concluding with shows on July 16 at Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway; July 18 at Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen, S.D.; July 20 at the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks; and July 21 at Boone County Raceway in Albion, Neb.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Williston Basin Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (5) Tim Fuller/50 $10,150
2. (1) Josh Richards/50 $5,100
3. (11) Clint Smith/50 $3,000
4. (4) Darrell Lanigan/50 $2,500
5. (3) Shannon Babb/50 $2,000
6. (2) Chub Frank/50 $1,700
7. (14) Shane Clanton/50 $1,400
8. (6) Vic Coffey/50 $1,550
9. (12) Al Purkey/50 $1,700
10. (24) Steve Francis/50 $1,100
11. (8) Kelly Boen/50 $1,050
12. (7) Rick Eckert/50 $1,000
13. (18) Darryn Waldo/50 $950
14. (15) Ricky Weiss/50 $900
15. (13) John Blankenship/50 $850
16. (10) Troy Heupel/50 $800
17. (20) Gary Webb/50 $770
18. (19) Dustin Hapka/49 $750
19. (23) John Winge/49 $730
20. (16) Sean Beardsley/48 $700
21. (25) Joe Isabell/44 $700
22. (21) Jeff Isabell Jr./33 $700
23. (9) Brady Smith/16 $700
24. (17) Brad Seng/7 $700
25. (22) Jimmy Mars/3 $700
Yellow Flags: None
Lap Leaders: Richards (1-14); Fuller (15-50)
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Purkey ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Mike Countryman (Fuller)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Richards (half-off tire warmers)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 13.774
2. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 13.877
3. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 13.903
4. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 13.932
5. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 13.965
6. 41-Al Purkey/Coffeyville, KS 13.991
7. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 14.051
8. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 14.083
9. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 14.157
10. 28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 14.211
11. 12s-Brad Seng/Grand Forks, ND 14.352
12. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 14.470
13. 4T-Troy Heupel/Williston, ND 14.478
14. 07-Kelly Boen/Henderson, CO 14.482
15. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 14.484
16. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 14.596
17. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 14.734
18. 2W-Darryn Waldo/Billings, MT 14.736
19. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 14.760
20. w56-Gary Webb/Bluegrass, IA 14.777
21. 27J-Jeff Isabell Jr./Pennellville, NY 14.795
22. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 15.032
23. 17J-John Winge/Rossville, GA 15.096
24. 7-Ricky Weiss/Winnipeg, MAN 15.441
25. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 15.481
26. 11M-Paul Mueller/Bismark, ND N/T
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 2 Redraw): Coffey, Richards, Eckert, Heupel, Blankenship, Beardsley, Hapka, Mars, Joe Isabell
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 2 Redraw): Lanigan, Babb, Boen, C. Smith, Clanton, Seng, Webb, Winge
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 2 Redraw): Fuller, Frank, B. Smith, Purkey, Weiss, Waldo, Jeff Isabell Jr., Francis
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 12 – 22 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-14-20-$64,850-3025 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-12-18-$82,660-2977 (-48)
3. (tie) Rick Eckert 1-9-16-$53,750 -2903 (-122)
3. (tie) Chub Frank 1-7-15-$45,730-2903 (-122)
5. Steve Francis 1-9-17-$92,850-2893 (-132)
6. Clint Smith 1-8-12-$42,560-2859 (-166)
7. Shane Clanton 0-10-15-$43,030-2855 (-170)
8. Shannon Babb 1-8-15-$61,400-2853 (-172)
9. Tim Fuller 1-4-8-$34,120-2733 (-292)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$24,820-2651 (-374)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-3-$18,120-2152 (-873)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$9,990-1859 (-1166)
13. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$11,200-1724 (-1301)
14. Tim McCreadie 1-6-9-$38,200-1463 (-1562)
15. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$5,520-1412 (-1613)
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 several sponsors and partners, including Advance Auto Parts – the official auto parts store of the WoO LMS – and contingency sponsors Wrisco Industries, Chicken Hawk Racing, Crane Cams, Ohlins Shocks, Quarter-Master, Eibach Springs, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Qwikliner and Super Clean.