Heckenast & Lanigan Earn Front-Row Starting Spots In USA Nationals 100 On Friday Night At Cedar Lake Speedway
Both Drivers Pass Up Opportunity To Start From Rear And Chase $25,000 Bonus For Winning Saturday’s Main Event
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
NEW RICHMOND, WI – Aug. 3, 2012 – Frankie Heckenast Jr. of Orland Park, Ill., and Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., earned front-row starting spots in the 25th annual USA Nationals with their performances on Friday night at Cedar Lake Speedway.
Even the possibility of racing for another $25,000 to win Saturday evening’s 100-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main wasn’t enough to shake them from their prime positions.
After Heckenast won Friday night’s 15-lap dash and Lanigan finished second to put them at the head of Saturday’s USA Nationals field, both drivers were given the opportunity to forfeit their spots and start from the last row as part of the ‘Tail-Start Challenge’ in celebration of the event’s 25th anniversary. Accepting the challenge would make them eligible to claim a $25G bonus – on top of the race’s already huge $50,000 first-place prize – if they could drive through the pack to win.
But even with the qualifying night’s big crowd urging them on during the Victory Lane ceremony following the dash, neither Heckenast nor Lanigan took the potentially lucrative gamble.
“No deal,” the 24-year-old Heckenast said when offered the challenge by WoO LMS announcer Rick Eshelman.
“I’m a gambler, but there are too many variables out there with this racetrack,” Lanigan said when Eshelman posed the question. “I hate to let the fans down. Any other time I would’ve done it, but we gotta look at the big picture. I got my favorite car here tonight and I’m gonna play it safe.”
Both drivers will be given a chance to reconsider their decisions overnight. Cedar Lake Speedway officials plan to offer them one more shot to accept the challenge during Saturday evening’s opening ceremonies.
A competitor in the dirt Late Model division for eight years, Heckenast earned his berth in the 10-car dash by finishing second in Friday’s second heat. He drew the pole position and dominated the event, racing virtually unchallenged for the entire distance in his Rocket machine.
Heckenast will make his second career start in the USA Nationals 100. He finished 11th in last year’s 100-lapper.
“I’m just tickled to death,” said Heckenast. “My goal today was just to make the race – you gotta make it before you can win it. We’re in the race and we start in the front, so we’ll take that.”
Lanigan was the biggest heat-race winner of the evening, capturing the third prelim by a convincing 4.977-second margin. He started third in the dash, which featured the top-two finishers in each heat in a battle for USA Nationals starting position, and stayed in the spot until finally overtaking defending WoO LMS champion Rick Eckert of York, Pa., for second place with a inside move through turns three and four on the final lap.
Eckert settled for third in the dash, Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., was fourth and 10th-starter Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., climbed forward to place fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the dash was Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., and heat winners Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill.
With Saturday’s USA Nationals offering only WoO LMS show-up points, Lanigan will have no worries about ceding any of his commanding 152-point lead over Eckert in the tour’s standings. He will be laser-focused on adding a first-ever USA Nationals triumph to his resume – and, in the process, pushing his 2012 earnings on the WoO LMS over the $250,000 mark.
Lanigan will make his fifth career start in a USA Nationals A-Main. His finishes include a personal-best fifth in 2011, plus 10th in 1995, 11th in ’10 and 13th in ’05.
Lanigan has been a serious contender in each of the last two USA Nationals, but overheating issues have plagued his efforts. In 2010 he started from the pole position and led lap one and laps 20-31 before his hot powerplant seized up on lap 75 while he was running third, and last year he advanced from the 18th starting spot to place fifth despite nursing his car late in the distance due to a hole in its radiator.
The evening’s most significant incident came on the opening lap of the third heat when Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., slammed hard into the turn-two wall with the front end of his Rocket Chassis house. The machine sustained heavy damage but the 19-year-old driver was not injured.
Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, topped the event’s 53-car field in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, turning a lap of 13.270 seconds for his third career WoO LMS fast-time honor. It was his second fast time in as many World of Outlaws appearances this season, duplicating his qualifying performance on July 7 at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn.
With the top 15 qualifiers inverted for the heats, Simpson started and finished third in the fifth preliminary. He will start 15th in the USA Nationals.
Saturday’s grand finale program, which includes B-Mains, a last-chance race and the 100-lap USA Nationals plus a full show for Cedar Lake’s NASCAR Late Models, is scheduled to begin with hot laps at 6:30 p.m.
Additional details and ticket info on the USA Nationals can be obtained by logging on to www.cedarlakespeedway.com.
Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 25s-Chad Simpson/Mt. Vernon, IA 13.270
2. 5b-Mike Marlar/Winfield, TN13.380
3. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 13.439
4. 25-Shane Clanton/Fayetteville, GA 13.548
5. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 13.555
6. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 13.560
7. 32-Chris Simpson/Oxford, IA 13.567
8. 1-Brandon Sheppard/New Berlin, IL 13.577
9. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 13.594
10. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 13.647
11. 3s-Brian Shirley/Chatham, IL 13.648
12. 11-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 13.652
13. 27T-Tyler Reddick/DuQuoin, IL 13.657
14. 10-Pete Parker/Kaukauna, WI 13.667
15. 0-Scott Bloomquist/Mooresburg, TN 13.765
16. 7R-Kent Robinson/Bloomington, IN 13.771
17. 99Jr-Frankie Heckenast Jr./Orland Park, IL 13.776
18. 32P-Bobby Pierce/Oakwood, IL 13.786
19. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 13.812
20. 28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 13.816
21. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 13.829
22. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 13.836
23. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 13.859
24. 21-Billy Moyer/Batesville, Ar 13.860
25. 28e-Dennis Erb Jr./Carpentersville, IL 13.894
26. 87-Walker Arthur/Forest, VA 13.906
27. 18c-Ross Camponovo/Clarksdale, MS 13.955
28. 20-Jimmy Owens/Newport, TN 13.956
29. 1s-Jack Sullivan/Greenbrier, AR 13.957
30. 81-Scott James/Bright, IN 13.966
31. 25F-Jason Feger/Bloomington, IL 13.973
32. 27R-Jake Redetzke/Eau Claire, WI 13.975
33. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 13.998
34. 14M-Morgan Bagley/Longview, TX 14.009
35. 1d-Don O’Neal/Martinsville, IN 14.012
36. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 14.114
37. 98-Jason Rauen/Farley, IA 14.141
38. 58-A.J. Diemel/Elk Mound, WI 14.147
39. 42-Terry Casey/New London, WI 14.162
40. 5M-Mike Fryer/Freeport, IL 14.186
41. 89-Mike Spatola/Manhattan, IL 14.186
42. 57J-Bub McCool/Vicksburg, MS 14.190
43. 21Jr-Billy Moyer Jr./Batesville, AR 14.219
44. 9T-Tim Isenberg/Marshfield, WI 14.221
45. 15-Nick Anvelink/Navarino, WI 14.263
46. 90-Lance Matthees/Winona, MN 14.288
47. R15-Mark Burgtorf/Quincy, IL 14.317
48. 27-Rodney Melvin/Logan, IL 14.349
49. 22M-Charlie McKenna/Clear Lake, IA 14.612
50. 40-Bryan Wennen/Lindstrom, MN 14.907
51. 57-Chad Williamson/Watertown, SD 15.151
52. 55-Duane Treadwell/Lagrange, GA 15.399
53. 22-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA N/T
Heat No. 1 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): B. Smith, Eckert, Feger, Bloomquist, K. Robinson, Spatola, Matthees, Coffey, Arthur, Hapka, Williamson
Heat No. 2 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Babb, Heckenast, C. Smith, Clanton, Redetzke, Camponovo, Rauen, McCool, Burgtorf, Treadwell, Parker
Heat No. 3 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Lanigan, Owens, Reddick, Pierce, Frank, Moyer Jr., Fuller, Diemel, Melvin, Sheppard (DNS) George
Heat No. 4 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Moyer, Marlar, Birkhofer, Doar, Bagley, Chris Simpson, Isenberg, Sullivan, McKenna, Casey
Heat No. 5 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Shirley, O’Neal, Chad Simpson, Anvelink, Erb, Mars, James, Wennen, McCreadie, Fryer
Dash Finish (15 laps): Heckenast, Lanigan, Eckert, O’Neal, Owens, Marlar, B. Smith, Moyer, Shirley, Babb
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 Gasket, 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.
LIVE UPDATES 8/3: World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘USA Nationals’ At Cedar Lake Speedway
NEW RICHMOND, WI – Aug. 3, 2012 – The World of Outlaws Late Model Series kicks off a two-day stay at Cedar Lake Speedway with tonight’s qualifying program for the 25th annual USA Nationals.
Tonight’s show at the high-banked, three-eighths-mile oval will include time trials, heat races and a dash for the top-two finishers in each preliminary event. The program sets the stage for tomorrow night’s 100-lap USA Nationals that carries a $50,000 top prize.
For live updates of all the news, pit notes and results from tonight’s action, click the ‘Full Story’ link below. Be sure to refresh your browser throughout the night to see the latest information.
10:25 p.m. CT – Frankie Heckenast Jr. controlled the 15-lap dash, leading from start-to-finish to emerge victorious and claim the pole position starting spot in tomorrow night’s USA Nationals 100.
Darrell Lanigan passed Rick Eckert with an inside move rounding turns three and four on the final circuit to grab second, earning himself the outside pole for a $50,000-to-win race that is not yet on his impressive resume.
As the drivers earning front-row starting berths, Heckenast and Lanigan were offered the opportunity to start from the last row of the 100-lapper in order to chase a $25,000 bonus if they should win it. Heckenast quickly dismissed the notion, while Lanigan considered it after climbing from his car but ultimately decided to stick with his prime starting slot.
Of course, Cedar Lake officials will offer Heckenast and Lanigan the chance to reconsider. During tomorrow night’s opening ceremonies, both drivers will be asked again if they would like to go for the tail-start bonus.
Dash Finish: 1. Frankie Heckenast Jr., 2. Darrell Lanigan, 3. Rick Eckert, 4. Don O’Neal, 5. Jimmy Owens, 6. Mike Marlar, 7. Brady Smith, 8. Billy Moyer, 9. Brian Shirley, 10. Shannon Babb
Reviewing the heats
9:35 p.m. CT – The five 15-lap heat races are now complete, with wins going to Brady Smith, Shannon Babb, Darrell Lanigan, Billy Moyer and Brian Shirley. Moyer is the only driver among the five who has won the USA Nationals (a record-tying five times).
Lanigan’s victory in the third heat was easily the most dominant. He won by 4.977 seconds over Jimmy Owens more than doubling the next largest margin of victory (Moyer’s 2.366-second triumph over Mike Marlar in Heat 4).
Runners-up Rick Eckert, Frankie Heckenast Jr., Owens, Marlar and Don O’Neal will join the heat winners in the 15-lap Dash coming up after the NASCAR Late Model B-Main that is heading out on the track now. All 10 drivers will redraw for starting spots in the dash, and then the finish will determine the first five rows of tomorrow night’s USA Nationals 100 — though the dash winner and second-place finishers will have the opportunity to start from the last row of the 100-lapper to chase a $25,000 bonus should they be able to win the race.
The evening’s most serious crash came on the opening lap of the third heat when outside-polesitter Brandon Sheppard slammed hard into the outside wall off turn two with the front end of his Rocket Chassis house car. The machine sustained significant front-end damage, but the 19-year-old driver escaped injury.
For full heat-race results, check here.
Racing coming up
8:25 p.m. CT – The second of three heats for Cedar Lake’s weekly NASCAR Late Model division is on the track. Upon completion of the prelims, the five WoO LMS heats will roll out.
Heat polesitters are Scott Bloomquist, Pete Parker, Tyler Reddick, Pat Doar (a WoO LMS regular who’s a former weekly Late Model champ at Cedar Lake) and Brian Shirley.
8:15 p.m. CT – Tonight marks the second WoO LMS start of the season for Iowa’s Chad Simpson — and he’s now two-for-two in qualifying, registering the fastest lap for the second time this season. He was also quickest for last month’s Gopher 50 at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn.
The top 15 qualifiers have been inverted to set the lineups for the five 15-lap heat races. Five-time USA Nationals champ Scott hit the invert on the mark, timing 15th to earn a pole position start in the first heat race.
For full results from time trials, click here.
7:35 p.m. CT – There are some familiar WoO LMS mechanical faces in new places on this trip.
With Tim Fuller’s move to the Kennedy Motorsports team, Ross Robinson, who was working for the team’s former driver John Lobb, is now paired with Fuller. Robinson has relocated to upstate New York and is living in an apartment above Fuller’s bar and grill in Edwards, N.Y.
Fuller’s Kennedy Motorsports teammate, Shane Clanton, also has a new crewman assisting his head wrench Jonathan Owenby after the departure of his longtime pal Buddy Chapman, who had traveled with Clanton from the start of the season.
Pat Doar, meanwhile, now has Josh Boch, a “retired Pure Stock racer” from Rice Lake, Minn., turning wrenches for him after young Cody Duncan, who joined Doar’s team in March, decided to return home to Ohio. Duncan has already landed a new gig working for the Rocket Chassis house car team and driver Brandon Sheppard and he’s in the pits here at Cedar Lake.
And Chub Frank’s former chief mechanic, Derek Gahring, is here helping Mike Marlar. Gahring decided to leave Frank’s team last month to take a position with Floridian Dillon Wood’s team, which is based at shock guru Gary Winger’s shop in Georgia, but with Wood not racing this weekend Winger helped match Gahring with Marlar for the USA Nationals.
7:30 p.m. CT – Georgia’s Duane Treadwell, who has worked as a fulltime mechanic for Clint Smith from the start of the season, has left Cat Daddy’s team in an attempt to further his own driving career. He’s accepted an offer from Rick Hartzell, who fields the dirt Late Models driven by his wife Jill George, to maintain George’s equipment and race under the Jill George Racing banner.
After last month’s WoO LMS event at North Central Speedway in Brainerd, Minn., Treadwell rode with Hartzell and George to their shop in Iowa, unloaded the car that George wrecked hard during time trials at North Central, and then drove the JGR rig back to his garage in the Peach State. Treadwell spent the past two-and-a-half weeks preparing his own pair of Rocket cars for action and tonight he’s driving one machine (No. 55) and George is behind the wheel of the other (No. 22) with one of her engines under its hood.
“I’m going to try to help them with their racing and Rick and Dirt Late Model Magazine are helping me with my racing,” said Treadwell, who failed to qualify for last night’s Corn Belt Clash event (George was not on hand because she returned home to see 55 patients at his chiropractic office). “I thank Clint for the opportunity to work for him, but this is a deal I couldn’t refuse because it lets me try to move my racing career along.”
George doesn’t currently have a race-ready car in her stable, so she plans to drive Treadwell’s until one is ready. She missed time trials tonight because her departure from her chiropractic office was delayed by an appointment with a patient.
7:10 p.m. CT – The Cedar Lake Speedway surface has been packed and hot laps have begun. We’re halfway through six groups of practice with Iowa’s Chad Simpson currently topping the speed charts at 12.991 seconds, just a bit faster than Darrell Lanigan’s 13.119-second circuit.
Frustration for K-Rob
6:15 p.m. CT – WoO LMS rookie Kent Robinson’s season of hard knocks has continued this weekend. He’s already using his third engine of his visit to Cedar Lake tonight after experiencing an up-and-down outing during last night’s Corn Belt Clash Series tuneup.
Robinson’s Thursday evening began in disastrous fashion with a blown engine just one lap into practice. Making matters worse, the engine he lost was brand spanking new.
The 24-year-old driver made a great recovery, however, pulling out his backup car and driving it to a heat-race victory. He started fifth in the 50-lap Corn Belt Clash A-Main and finished a solid fourth — his best special-event run of the 2012 season to date — but his satisfaction was tempered by the fact that he hurt another powerplant. His car’s radiator shifted into the fan during the feature, causing his motor to run out of water and melt down.
With only an old, underpowered engine left in the team’s trailer, Robinson’s father purchased a used ProPower engine from Jimmy Mars and it was delivered to the Cedar Lake pit area this afternoon. The engine is now in Robinson’s yellow car and the budding young talent is hoping that the remainder of his weekend goes smoothly.
5:55 p.m. CT – Fifty-three cars are signed in for tonight’s action, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. with hot laps. Ohlins Shock Time Trials will immediately follow, with the top 15 qualifiers inverted to set the lineups for the five 15-lap heat races.
The top-three finishers from each heat will transfer to the USA Nationals 100; the top-two finishers will also have an opportunity to run a 15-lap dash later tonight that will set the first five rows of tomorrow’s A-Main. The 10 drivers eligible for the dash will redraw for starting positions, and then the finishing order will determine Saturday’s A-Main lineup — with one caveat, however. The winner and runner-up in the dash will be brought in front of the crowd tonight and given the opportunity to start from the last row of the USA Nationals and chase a $25,000 bonus if they are able to win from that position.