By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
MINERSVILLE, PA – June 25, 2008 – Everything is going Darrell Lanigan’s way on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.
Proof positive came on Wednesday night at Big Diamond Raceway, where Lanigan continued his surge to the top of the tour’s points standings with an eventful victory in the inaugural Jack Rich Inc. ‘Coal Country 40.’
Angry after being penalized two spots from his outside-pole starting position because officials ruled he jumped the race’s original green flag, Lanigan came back to secure his second WoO LMS triumph of 2008 thanks to a little assist from Lady Luck.
Lanigan, 38, of Union, Ky., appeared headed to a runner-up finish in his GottaRace.com Rocket when Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., saw his thrilling high-side charge to the front end with a flat left-rear tire on lap 34, putting the ‘Bluegrass Bandit’ in the lead for good.
“I figured we’d run second and be happy with that,” said Lanigan, who earned $7,150 for his 10th career win on the WoO LMS. “We got behind when (officials) put us back (to fourth) on that start, but it came back to us.”
Polesitter Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., chased Lanigan for the final six circuits but never offered a serious challenge, finishing second, 0.741 of a second behind his fellow WoO LMS traveler. It was his best outing in the J.P. Drilling GRT car since opening the ‘Great Northern Tour’ with a victory on June 17 at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway.
Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., finished third in the Mark Richards Racing/Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket. He led laps 1-29 before losing the top spot – and two additional positions – when a scrape with Babb momentarily sent him sliding off the track in turn two, effectively ending his bid for a third straight WoO LMS win.
Completing the top five was eighth-starter Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., in the RSD Enterprises Rocket and sixth-starter Rick Eckert of York, Pa., in Raye Vest’s GRT mount.
The 34-year-old Babb, meanwhile, finished 10th – a tough pill to swallow for the driver who got the evening’s near-capacity crowd jumping with a show-stopping, cushion-pounding run to the front.
Driving NASCAR Sprint Cup star Clint Bowyer’s Rocket No. 18, Babb found the outside lane of the three-eighths-mile oval to his liking and used it to hustle forward from the seventh starting spot. He seemingly had completed his march when he slipped underneath Richards and nosed ahead at the start/finish line to lead lap 30.
After Babb executed a power-slide that forced Richards over the turn-two bank moments after the A-Main’s first lead change, the first-year WoO LMS regular found himself with a healthy edge over Lanigan and ready to snap out of a recent funk on the tour.
But Babb slowed to bring out the race’s sixth and final caution flag on lap 34, the victim of a flat left-rear tire. He ceded the lead to Lanigan while making a pit stop for new rubber.
“I went into (turn) one, got into the (rough) stuff at the top and pulled the left-rear tire off the rim,” Babb said of his heartbreaking misfortune on lap 34. “It was real disappointing after we got going so good on the outside, but actually our day was doomed anyway. Our right-rear (tire) had a rock hole in it and was losing air, so we probably wouldn’t have made it to the finish.”
Lanigan gladly stepped into the void left by Babb. He controlled the remainder of the distance to extend his streak of top-five finishes to 10 in a row – a run that has taken him from fifth place in the points standings (64 points out of first) to a 36-point lead over Richards through 18 events.
“I didn’t know if we’d be able to hold on for the last few laps,” said Lanigan, who had a coal-miner’s helmet placed on his head for Victory Lane photos. “I thought I could hear somebody back there a few times, but you always hear something when you’re leading.
“I was just happy to hold on and get a win after the way the race started.”
Smith, 43, couldn’t threaten Lanigan over the final sprint to the finish.
“I was married to the bottom (lane),” said Smith, who slipped as far back as fifth during the A-Main. “I didn’t have the gear to run the top, so I basically had to follow Lanigan around at the end.”
A second-place finish still sat well with the driver known as ‘Cat Daddy.’
“It was a lot of hard work and a lot of hard racing to get this finish,” said Smith.
For starters, Smith drove a car that needed extensive repairs after he was involved in an accident on Saturday night at Quebec’s Autodrome Drummond. He also dropped in his smaller 412 cubic inch engine after hurting his stronger piece the previous night at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Speedway, and he had to survive some metal-rubbing exchanges with Jason Covert of York Haven, Pa., during the A-Main.
Richards, 20, was unable to recover after his run-in with Babb knocked him from the lead. He didn’t blame Babb for his fate, however.
“During the caution (on lap 29 for Danny Johnson’s flat tire) my dad showed me ‘elbows up,’ which means, ‘Go to the top,’” said Richards. “He only meant to run the top in one and two, but I thought he meant to run the top in three and four too. I went to the top in three and four and that let Babb get under me.
“I saw Babb lead that lap (30), so I just tried to drive in there (turns one and two) as hard as I could. I got outside of him, but he slid up into me and pushed me over the bank.
“I don’t hold anything against him for it,” he added. “It was just hard racing. He’s extremely competitive and wanted to win just like I did, and I know he didn’t do it on purpose.”
Clanton, 32, was the race’s early outside hustler, moving from eighth to third in just five laps. But he slid high in turn two on a lap-17 restart, fell to fifth and never fully recovered.
“When the (top) started getting rough, I was done,” said Clanton. “I didn’t have the right shocks on to get through the holes, so I’m happy to get a fourth out of it.”
The 42-year-old Eckert quietly recorded his fifth consecutive top-five finish on the ‘Great Northern Tour.’
“I was too tight in (the corners),” said Eckert. “Some of those guys could run wide-open through the middle, but I had no traction.”
Finishing in positions 6-10 was Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who latest unspectacular run prompted him to call the Northeast swing “one of the worst trips I’ve ever had”; John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., whose run forward from 19th helped earn his crew chief, Brian Imler, the Integra Shocks ‘Wrench of the Race’ award; Covert, who who earned the $500 WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash 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; Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.; and Babb.
The race’s most serious incident came on lap three when several cars stacked up in turn two, including 2007 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y.; Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa.; and Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., who drove the Tracy Seymour-owned No. 17H. All three drivers had their cars towed off with significant damage.
Thirty-four cars were signed in for the first-ever WoO LMS event at Big Diamond Raceway, which is promoted by Buddy Biever, Barry Bashore and Dave Dissinger.
Marlar registered the first WoO LMS fast-time award of his career, lapping the oval in 16.235 seconds.
Heat winners were Babb, Lanigan, Richards and Francis. Jeff Rine of Danville, Pa., and Jimmy Bernheisel of Lebanon, Pa., captured the B-Mains.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Coal Country 40’ (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (2) Darrell Lanigan/40 $7,150
2. (1) Clint Smith/40 $3,600
3. (4) Josh Richards/40 $2,000
4. (8) Shane Clanton/40 $1,700
5. (6) Rick Eckert/40 $1,500
6. (5) Steve Francis/40 $1,300
7. (19) John Blankenship/40 $1,200
8. (3) Jason Covert/40 $1,600
9. (11) Chub Frank/40 $1,000
10. (7) Shannon Babb/40 $900
11. (12) Ricky Elliott/40 $850
12. (10) D.J. Myers/40 $800
13. (13) Jim Yoder/40 $750
14. (18) Jimmy Bernheisel/40 $740
15. (20) Vic Coffey/40 $960
16. (23) Joe Isabell/40 $680
17. (22) Danny Johnson/28 $650
18. (14) Scott Haus/22 $630
19. (17) Jeff Rine/14 $620
20. (9) Mike Marlar/3 $610
21. (16) Dan Stone/3 $600
22. (15) Tim Fuller/3 $600
23. (24) Jeremy Miller/3 $600
24. (25) Jeff Strunk/3 $600
25. (21) Chad McClellan/2 $600
Time of Race: 33 Mins., 29.901 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.741 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 6 (Laps 3, 3, 6, 17, 29, 34)
Lap Leaders: Richards (1-29); Babb (30-33); Lanigan (34-40)
Provisional Starters: Isabell, Jeremy Miller (WoO); Strunk (track)
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Covert ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Brian Imler (Blankenship)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Richards (half-off tire warmers)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 17H-Mike Marlar/Winfield, TN 16.235
2. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 16.263
3. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 16.398
4. 19F-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 16.448
5. 24M-Jeremy Miller/Gettysburg, PA 16.500
6. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 16.577
7. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 16.584
8. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 16.649
9. 43A-Jason Covert/York Haven, PA 16.677
10. 119M-Chad McClellan/Stoystown, PA 16.684
11. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 16.708
12. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 16.718
13. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 16.726
14. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 16.788
15. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 16.857
16. 119R-Ricky Elliott/Seaford, DE 16.859
17. 27Y-Jim Yoder/Selinsgrove, PA 16.875
18. 70J-D.J. Myers/Greencastle, PA 16.921
19. 119-Jimmy Bernheisel/Lebanon, PA 16.950
20. 21s-Chris Shuey/Macungie, PA 16.957
21. 4Ds-Chad Hollenbeck/Kingsley, PA 16.975
22. 26-Tony Knowles/Tyrone, GA 17.129
23. 27-Bobby Stokes/Milton, PA 17.227
24. 119B-Jeff Strunk/Mohnton, PA 17.232
25. 44M-Jason Miller/Germansville, PA 17.328
26. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 17.366
27. 27J-Danny Johnson/Phelps, NY 17.371
28. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 17.385
29. 4-Danny Snyder/Green Lane, PA 17.572
30. 99z-Dave Zona/Montrose, PA 17.871
31. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 17.923
32. 7J-Josh Young/Berwick, PA 19.667
33. 2J-Jeff Rine/Danville, PA 20.680
34. 1H-Scott Haus/Hamburg, PA N/T
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Babb, Covert, Marlar, Yoder, Rine, Jeremy Miller, Jason Miller, Hollenbeck, Snyder
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Lanigan, Clanton, Myers, Haus, McClellan, Knowles, Blankenship, Zona, Isabell
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Richards, Eckert, Frank, Fuller, Bernheisel, Coffey, D. Johnson, Stokes
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Francis, C. Smith, Elliott, Stone, Shuey, Strunk, Beardsley, Young
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top Transfer): Rine, Blankenship, McClellan, Jeremy Miller, Jason Miller, Knowles, Snyder, Zona, Hollenbeck (DNS) Isabell
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top Transfer): Bernheisel, Coffey, D. Johnson, Stokes, Strunk, Shuey, Young (DNS) Beardsley
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of June 25 – 18 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-10-16-$50,150-2451 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-10-14-$72,160-2415 (-36)
3. Rick Eckert 1-9-14-$49,050-2401 (-50)
4. Steve Francis 1-8-14-$86,650-2381 (-70)
5. Chub Frank 1-7-12-$40,630-2375 (-76)
6. Shane Clanton 0-8-12-$35,430-2335 (-116)
7. Shannon Babb 1-6-12-$52,200-2331 (-120)
8. Clint Smith 1-5-9-$33,010-2301 (-150)
9. Tim Fuller 0-3-5-$20,620-2195 (-256)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-5-$21,070-2161 (-290)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-2-$14,470-1772 (-679)
12. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$9,950-1598 (-853)
13. Tim McCreadie 1-6-9-$38,200-1463 (-988)
14. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$6,590-1397 (-1054)
15. Billy Moyer 4-6-6-$70,420-1181 (-1270)
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.
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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 and Qwikliner.