By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
GRAND FORKS, ND – July 11, 2008 – Brady Smith will always remember his first career victory on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.
The Solon Springs, Wis., driver came out on top of a classic 50-lap A-Main on Friday night at River Cities Speedway, holding off a frenetic last-lap bid by Shannon Babb that had the quarter-mile oval’s big crowd holding their collective breath.
Concluding a battle that raged for virtually the entire distance, Smith and Moweaqua, Ill.’s Babb crossed the finish line straddling a lapped car. Babb blew off the outside of turn four with a head of steam and attempted to squeeze between the slower machine and the outside wall, but he ran out of room and flashed under the checkered flag with the right-front wheel of his Bowyer Dirt Motorsports car climbing the concrete wall.
The 31-year-old Smith hit the stripe on the inside of the track a scant 0.121 of a second before Babb – while rubbing doors with the lapped car driven by Joey Pederson of East Grand Forks, Minn.
Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., finished less than a second behind the leaders in third, and Kelly Boen of Henderson, Colo., registered a career-best WoO LMS finish of fourth after overtaking Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., on the final lap. Lanigan’s fifth-place finish pushed his streak of consecutive top-five runs to 12 and padded his points lead a bit more.
“That race had to be exciting for the fans,” said Smith, who earned $10,650, including the $500 WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ prize for being the highest-finishing driver who had never won a tour event and wasn’t ranked among the top 12 in the points standings. “I know it was an exciting race for me. I worked hard for it.”
Smith started from the pole position, but he was outgunned for the lead at the initial green flag by front-row mate Babb. It took Smith until lap 26 to slip by Babb for the lead, steering his Amsoil-sponsored Bloomquist Chassis to the front of the pack with an inside move in lapped traffic.
Though Smith never officially relinquished the lead for the remainder of the race, he nearly handed it to Babb on lap 40. Smith bobbled between turns three and four and watched Babb slide under him to move ahead, but he yanked his car hard to the inside and crossed Babb off the corner to maintain command at the start/finish line.
“I jumped the cushion that one time,” said Smith. “I got my right front just a little too high and lost my momentum. My car was just a tick tight, and I didn’t hit it quite right that one lap.”
With the A-Main ending with 14 consecutive laps of green-flag racing, Smith found himself running three-wide for the lead off turn two on lap 43 with Babb and an inside-hugging Clanton. The following circuit Clanton, who started seventh, cleared Babb to seize second place.
But Babb refused to give up. Tossing his Traeger Grills Rocket car around the track’s outside groove, he inched by Clanton’s RSD Enterprises Rocket to reclaim second on lap 48 and drew up to Smith’s rear bumper as the white flag was displayed.
On the final lap Smith dived low through turns three and four to pass the lapped Pederson, presenting Babb an opening to take a last-ditch shot at the lead on the top. Babb appeared to have sufficient momentum to reach the finish line first as he exited turn four, but his charge was thwarted because he didn’t have quite enough space between the lapped car and the homestretch wall.
“I knew Shannon was there,” said Smith, remembering the final lap. “I saw him underneath me a couple times, and I thought if I just rode high, I’d be O.K. to win the race.
“But as I was sizing that lapped car up down the backstraightaway, I saw him start creeping to the middle (into turn three) so I committed to the bottom. I had to go low because I figured Shannon would be coming. I didn’t know he’d get that good of a run off of four on the outside.”
With Smith, Pederson and Babb racing to the finish line under a blanket, there was only so much real estate available. Babb was the one who lost out, hitting the wall just yards shy of the finish line and thus scrubbing off enough speed to stop him from beating Smith.
“It could’ve got real ugly there,” described Smith, whose best previous WoO LMS finish was a third on July 29, 2006, at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn. “I don’t know if (Babb) lifted or not, but I know I was rubbing together with the lapped car and I could see him out there too.”
Babb’s car bounced across the finish line and he immediately drove it off the track in turn one. He limped back to the pit area with damage to the left-side bodywork of the machine and a broken right-front spindle.
“A door opened up and I went for it – and then it closed,” said Babb. “We ran out of racing room there.
“Coming out of four I was just gonna try to beat (Smith) to the line off the outside, but I saw that lapped car move up a little and I was just thinking, ‘I’m done.’”
It was the second straight year that Babb put on a show but fell short of victory in WoO LMS action at River Cities. In June 2007 he started 23rd after moving into a backup car for the A-Main and finished a fast-closing third.
“I got into traffic that one time (on lap 26) and he got by me,” said Babb, recalling how he lost the lead. “I was thinking I was still gonna get back by him, but every time I was setting him up a caution came out. There were like three cautions one after another (laps 27, 31 and 36) after the first half of the race ran non-stop, and that hurt me. I just needed to race more.
“It’s disappointing to come so close, but it was a fun race.”
Smith certainly enjoyed the action.
“Right now this is the second favorite win of my career,” said Smith, who ranks his $35,000 Knoxville (Iowa) Late Model Nationals victory in 2007 as his greatest triumph. “To win against this level of competition – man, these guys are the best of the best.
“I’m just proud that we finally won a World of Outlaws race. It’s been a long time coming.”
Clanton, meanwhile, was in the mix at the end, but he fell short of grabbing his elusive first WoO LMS win of the season.
“I was good on the bottom for a few laps after the restarts because that part of the racetrack got packed down under caution,” said Clanton, 31. “But after a few laps it would get dirty and I’d get to bouncing through the corners, so I couldn’t make any ground up on them.
“I think if there had been a caution with about five laps to go, we could’ve won the race.”
Boen, 43, was the race’s surprise, pulling off a fourth-place finish in his first WoO LMS start of the season. He got as high as third midway through the A-Main in his Rocket car.
Lanigan also moved his GottaRace.com Rocket as high as third early in the event before finding himself in a multi-car battle for fourth. Losing fourth to Boen on the final lap didn’t sit well with Lanigan, who made it clear to Boen following the race that he took exception to the physical pass.
Finishing in positions 6-10 were Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who cracked the top five briefly; Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky.; Rick Eckert of York, Pa.; Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis.; and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., who was never a factor at the track where he won his first career WoO LMS A-Main in 2007.
A field of 37 dirt Late Models was signed in for the event.
Ricky Weiss, 19, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, upset the star-studded assemblage by setting fast time with a lap of 12.179 seconds.
Heat winners were Clanton, Babb, Boen and Lanigan. The B-Mains were captured by Pederson and Mike Balcaen of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The WoO LMS ‘Wild West Tour’ continues on Saturday night (July 12) with a first-ever visit to Estevan (Saskatchewan) Motor Speedway.
Results of WoO Late Model Series (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (1) Brady Smith/50 $10,650
2. (2) Shannon Babb/50 $5,200
3. (7) Shane Clanton/50 $3,000
4. (5) Kelly Boen/50 $2,500
5. (6) Darrell Lanigan/50 $2,000
6. (10) Josh Richards/50 $1,700
7. (11) Steve Francis/50 $1,400
8. (9) Rick Eckert/50 $1,300
9. (13) Jimmy Mars/50 $1,200
10. (15) Tim Fuller/50 $1,100
11. (16) Clint Smith/50 $1,050
12. (8) Chub Frank/50 $1,000
13. (12) Vic Coffey/50 $1,200
14. (4) John Blankenship/50 $900
15. (14) Brad Seng/49 $850
16. (23) Joe Isabell/49 $800
17. (18) Mike Balcaen/49 $770
18. (17) Joey Pederson/49 $750
19. (21) Jeff Isabell Jr./48 $730
20. (24) Sean Beardsley/47 $700
21. (20) Dustin Hapka/47 $700
22. (19) Ricky Weiss/34 $700
23. (25) Tom Corcoran/34 $700
24. (22) Harold Schill Jr./33 $700
25. (3) Al Purkey/31 $700
Time of Race: 21 Mins., 54.012 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.121 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 3 (Laps 27, 31, 36)
Lap Leaders: Babb (1-25); B. Smith (26-50)
Provisional Starters: Joe Isabell, Beardsley (WoO); Corcoran (track)
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: B. Smith ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Brandon Butler (Brady Smith)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Babb (half-off tire warmers)
Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’: Babb ($100)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 7w-Ricky Weiss/Winnipeg, MAN 12.179
2. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 12.193
3. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 12.214
4. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 12.234
5. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 12.287
6. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 12.332
7. 07-Kelly Boen/Henderson, CO 12.336
8. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 12.366
9. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 12.497
10. 12s-Brad Seng/Grand Forks, ND 12.560
11. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 12.581
12. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 12.634
13. 28M-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 12.642
14. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 12.781
15. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 12.903
16. 41-Al Purkey/Coffeyville, KS 12.937
17. 1c-Ryan Corbett/E. Grand Forks, MN 12.944
18. 9-Steve Anderson/Grand Forks, ND 12.951
19. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 12.999
20. 4*-Harold Schill Jr./West Fargo, ND 13.029
21. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 13.136
22. w56-Gary Webb/Bluegrass, IA 13.178
23. 35-John Halvorson/Warren, MN 13.240
24. T1-Tom Corcoran/E. Grand Forks, MN 13.263
25. F9-Brandon Fuller/Grand Forks, ND 13.320
26. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 13.368
27. 10-Mike Balcaen/Winnipeg, MAN 13.419
28. 21-Chad Corbett/Grand Forks, ND 13.474
29. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 13.540
30. 7P-Joey Pederson/E. Grand Forks, MN 13.592
31. 52-James Sangrait/Park River, ND 13.601
32. 11-Troy Schill/Grand Forks, ND 13.808
33. 4N-Nolan Olmstead/Rodeau, MN 13.898
34. 17J-John Winge/Rossville, GA 14.530
35. 14-Bruce Hart/Larimore, ND 18.163
36. 99-Doyle Erickson/Baglen, MN N/T
37. 27J-Jeff Isabell Jr./Pennellville, NY DQ-light
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, B. Smith, Eckert, Mars, Jeff Isabell Jr., Weiss, Joe Isabell, Olmstead, B. Fuller, Ryan Corbett
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Babb, Frank, Richards, Seng, Pederson, Beardsley, Winge, Anderson, Webb
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Boen, Blankenship, Francis, T. Fuller, Balcaen, Hapka, Sangrait, Halvorson, Hart
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Lanigan, Purkey, Coffey, C. Smith, Corcoran, H. Schill, Erickson, Chad Corbett, T. Schill
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Pederson, Weiss, Jeff Isabell Jr., Joe Isabell, B. Fuller, Anderson, Beardsley, Winge, Olmstead, Webb (DNS) Ryan Corbett
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Balcaen, Hapka, H. Schill, Erickson, Chad Corbett, T. Schill, Sangrait, Halvorson, Corcoran, Hart
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 11 – 20 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-12-18-$57,250-2737 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-11-16-$75,860-2693 (-44)
3. Rick Eckert 1-9-16-$52,050-2673 (-64)
4. Chub Frank 1-7-13-$42,830-2633 (-104)
5. Shane Clanton 0-10-14-$40,930-2621 (-116)
6. Steve Francis 1-8-15-$88,750-2619 (-118)
7. Shannon Babb 1-7-14-$58,700-2611 (-126)
8. Clint Smith 1-6-10-$37,060-2573 (-164)
9. Tim Fuller 0-3-6-$22,670-2449 (-288)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-5-$22,770-2401 (-336)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-2-$16,570-2018 (-719)
12. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$11,200-1724 (-1013)
13. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$8,140-1629 (-1108)
14. Tim McCreadie 1-6-9-$38,200-1463 (-1274)
15. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$4,020-1184 (-1553)
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 and Qwikliner.