By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
FRANKLIN, PA – Aug. 31, 2008 – Shane Clanton turned Sunday night’s finale of the Oil Region Labor Day Classic Weekend presented by Armstrong Cable into a runaway.
The Locust Grove, Ga., star dominated the caution-free 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main at Tri-City Speedway, leading from flag-to-flag without receiving a single challenge.
“Tonight we had a dominant car,” bottom-lined Clanton, who earned $10,250 for his third WoO LMS victory of the season. “I knew from lap one, when it didn’t spin the tires, that this thing was pretty good and we were gonna be tough to beat.”
Clanton, 32, simply blew out the field at the half-mile oval. He grabbed the lead at the initial green flag from the outside-pole starting spot and never looked back, lapping up to the 10th-place finisher and crossing the finish line a commanding 11.284 seconds – more than a half-lap – ahead of Waterford, Pa.’s Dave Hess Jr.
Rick Eckert of York, Pa., finished third, followed by Saturday-night winner Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., and WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky.
Clanton’s ninth career WoO LMS win came after he fell to Francis in the previous night’s Oil Region Labor Day Classic opener. He finished a distant second following a strong charge forward from the ninth starting spot.
“We did a little bit different tire prep tonight versus last night and it made all the difference,” related Clanton, who used Hoosier rubber on his Custom-powered RSD Enterprises Rocket car. “We ran the same compound we did last night, but we just worked on them a little different and they worked all 50 laps this time.”
With no caution flags to close up the field, Clanton raced no one but himself for the entire distance. He never relaxed even though his advantage grew larger every lap.
“I think I looked at the scoreboard for the first time when it was lap 47, and I said, ‘Dang, I’ve been riding a long time,’” recalled Clanton. “I was just staying focused to hit my marks and hit my line so I didn’t push.
“I’m always on the edge every lap, driving as hard as I can,” he added. “I don’t know how to save a race car, so I’m just glad it lasted.”
After completing what he called “the most dominant World of Outlaws win” of his career, Clanton felt a sense of satisfaction and looked toward the future with confidence. His strong weekend at Tri-City moved him to third in the WoO LMS points standings, past Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who went down a lap to Clanton near the halfway mark of Sunday’s A-Main and finished a dismal 18th.
“There’s no ifs, ands or butts about whether I should’ve won this one or not,” said Clanton, who also won Tri-City’s Oil Region Labor Day Classic finale in 2006. “I know I earned this one.
“We’ve had two wins with the Outlaws the last two years (2006-2007), but this year we have three now,” he continued. “Hopefully things will just keep rolling and we get six more this year. I know that if me and the guys keep making the right tire choices and right adjustments on the car, we’re gonna keep winning.”
There was plenty of close competition behind Clanton, including a spirited battle for second between Hess, Eckert and Francis.
Francis, who started seventh, steered Dale Beitler’s Reliable Painting/Valvoline Rocket forward to take the runner-up spot from Hess on lap 17. The steady advance appeared to put the 40-year-old in position to bid for a third straight WoO LMS victory, but he never got close to Clanton and ultimately faded to fourth at the finish.
A loss of power steering just a handful of laps into the A-Main hampered Francis, who ceded second place to Hess on lap 30 and third to Eckert on lap 37.
“I started running wider in the turns because it was easier to make that arc without power steering,” said Francis. “I lost a couple spots because of it, but we’re still happy with our weekend.
“I got to second tonight and I think I could’ve stayed there if we didn’t lose the power steering, but I don’t think we had anything for Clanton. He was real good tonight.”
Hess, 24, earned a loud post-race reception from the western Pennsylvania fans who know him well after securing a career-best WoO LMS finish of second. The run earned him the $500 ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a WoO LMS A-Main since 2004 and isn’t ranked among the top 12 in the current points standings.
“When my right-rear tire got working, we could get down there on the bottom (groove) in the moisture,” said Hess, who started third in his family-owned Rocket car. “I used that traction to get back by Francis and hold off Eckert.
“I’m real happy, but I’m also kinda surprised we had this kind of run here. I haven’t been as good at big tracks like this, but I guess we found something.”
Eckert, 42, was able to pull his Raye Vest-owned GRT car underneath Hess’s machine with seven laps remaining, but he couldn’t complete a pass and settled for third place. It was his third top-five finish in the last four WoO LMS A-Mains after he had gone without a top-five for 16 consecutive races.
“We never got where we needed to be, but we were definitely better tonight than last night,” said Eckert, who started fifth. “We just made a whole bunch of changes today and gradually got better as the night went on.
“I think we probably needed about five more laps to get by (Hess). He said he got tired at the end from all the green-flag laps, and that’s why he kept missing the lane down there in (turn) one. I got up beside him there once, but he started coming down (in turn two) so I had no choice but to go up on the (inside) hill or we would’ve hit each other hard.
“I lost some ground there and just didn’t have enough time to come back up and really challenge him.”
Lanigan, 38, was drawing close to Francis when the race ended, flashing under the checkered flag less than a second behind the defending WoO LMS champion in fifth place. He started eighth in his Fusion Energy Rocket car but lost several positions on the race’s opening lap when he slowed to avoid polesitter Rick Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., who nearly spun between turns one and two.
“A caution would’ve really helped me,” said Lanigan, who reached fifth place with a lap-27 pass of Titusville, Pa.’s Robbie Blair. “The car was good, but I had to play catch-up the whole race.”
Francis finished in front of Lanigan for the fourth race in a row, but not by enough positions to significantly cut into Lanigan’s points lead. Lanigan is 128 points ahead of Francis with six WoO LMS events remaining on the 2008 schedule, putting him in position to clinch his first-ever tour title by finishing 12th or better in each A-Main.
Finishing in positions 6-10 were 12th-starter Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who lost several spots on the opening lap when he took evasive action to avoid Briggs but came on strong during the race’s late stages; Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., who started 15th; Robbie Blair; Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., who surged from the 17th starting spot to seventh place in just 10 laps before falling two positions later; and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., who was the first driver one lap down at the finish.
Forty-six cars were entered in Sunday’s action – a three-car increase from the previous night’s turnout.
Richards registered his fourth fast time of the 2008 WoO LMS, sliding around a sun-baked qualifying surface with a lap time of 19.662 seconds.
Heat winners were Francis, Hess, Lanigan and Clanton. The B-Mains were captured by Frank and Jared Miley of South Park, Pa.
The WoO LMS will have a week off before heading to the Midwest for a doubleheader, on Sat., Sept. 13, at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo., and Sun., Sept. 14, at La Salle (Ill.) Speedway.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Oil Region Labor Day Classic’ Night 2 (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (2) Shane Clanton/50 $10,250
2. (3) Dave Hess Jr./50 $5,600
3. (5) Rick Eckert/50 $3,000
4. (7) Steve Francis/50 $2,500
5. (8) Darrell Lanigan/50 $2,000
6. (12) Tim McCreadie/50 $1,700
7. (15) Clint Smith/50 $1,400
8. (6) Robbie Blair/50 $1,300
9. (17) Chub Frank/50 $1,200
10. (19) Tim Fuller/49 $1,100
11. (10) Vic Coffey/49 $1,300
12. (9) Doug Drown/49 $1,000
13. (14) Dan Stone/49 $950
14. (16) Mike Knight/49 $900
15. (21) Dick Barton/49 $850
16. (4) Shannon Babb/49 $800
17. (11) Matt Lux/49 $770
18. (13) Josh Richards/49 $750
19. (23) Joe Isabell/48 $730
20. (24) Sean Beardsley/48 $700
21. (18) Jared Miley/48 $700
22. (22) Brent Rhebergen/34 $700
23. (1) Rick Briggs/25 $700
24. (25) Russell King/14 $700
25. (20) Max Blair/11 $700
Time of Race: 17 Mins., 28.029 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 11.284 Secs.
Yellow Flags: None
Lap Leaders: Clanton (1-50)
Provisional Starters: Joe Isabell, Beardsley (WoO); King (track)
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Hess ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Mark Lloyd (Clanton)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Clanton (half-off tire warmers)
Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’: Clanton ($100)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 19.662
2. 22b-Darrell Bossard/Centerville, PA 19.871
3. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 19.880
4. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 19.881
5. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 19.894
6. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 19.900
7. 21L-Matt Lux/Franklin, PA 19.946
8. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 20.126
9. 99B-Rick Briggs/Bear Lake, PA 20.138
10. 44H-Dave Hess Jr./Waterford, PA 20.159
11. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 20.178
12. 9K-Mike Knight/Ripley, NY 20.220
13. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 20.254
14. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 20.306
15. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 20.307
16. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 20.337
17. 79-Doug Drown/Wooster, OH 20.349
18. won11-Robbie Blair/Titusville, PA 20.367
19. 111-Max Blair/Titusville, PA 20.393
20. H1-Jared Miley/South Park, PA 20.492
21. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 20.549
22. 40-Dutch Davies/Warren, PA 20.623
23. 5M-Ryan Markham/Ashland, OH 20.699
24. 04-Bob Close/Eldred, PA 20.699
25. 28B-Dick Barton/Ashville, NY 20.701
26. 8H-Sheetz McGarvey/Colport, PA 20.752
27. 07R-Brent Rhebergen/Clymer, NY 20.763
28. 6x-Jeff Isabell Jr./Pennellville, NY 20.824
29. 32R-Jim Rasey/Southington, OH 20.921
30. M1-Mickey Wright/Albion, PA 20.957
31. 2J-Mike Johnson/Imperial, PA 20.991
32. 53V-John Volpe/Lakeland, NY 21.056
33. 21*-Dave Tackett/Ripley, NY 21.177
34. 22G-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA 21.178
35. 17L-Dennis Lunger/Cherry Hill, PA 21.183
36. 18J-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 21.335
37. 10-Gary Lyle/Hyde Park, PA 21.347
38. 5B-Kirk Bradley/Great Valley, NY 21.400
39. 02-Tony Lombardi/Warren, OH 221.462
40. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 21.608
41. 90-Wally Fox/Cooperstown, PA 212.680
42. 53F-Chris Farrell/Clearfield, PA 21.940
43. R34-Rex Fronhapel/Cambridge, OH 22.472
44. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH N/T
45. 0K-Kari Gasser/Girard, OH N/T
46. SR1-Thomas Shaffer/Punxsatawny, PA N/T
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Francis, Briggs, Drown, Richards, Barton, Frank, Fuller, Lyle, Rasey, Tackett, Fox, Gasser
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Hess, R. Blair, Coffey, Stone, Davies, Bossard, McGarvey, Wright, Bradley, Farrell, Satterlee
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Lanigan, Babb, Lux, C. Smith, Rhebergen, Markham, M. Blair, M. Johnson, Lombardi, Lunger, Fronhapel
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, Eckert, McCreadie, Knight, Miley, King, Beardsley, Close, Volpe, Joe Isabell, Jeff Isabell Jr.
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Frank, Fuller, Barton, Davies, Wright, Bossard, Satterlee, McGarvey, Rasey, Lyle, Bradley, Tackett, Fox, Gasser, Farrell
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Miley, M. Blair, Rhebergen, King, Close, Markham, M. Johnson, Volpe, Joe Isabell, Beardsley, Lunger, Jeff Isabell Jr., Lombardi, Fronhapel
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Aug. 31 – 38 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-25-35-$119,717-5271 (-0)
2. Steve Francis 6-20-31-$168,100-5143 (-128)
3. Shane Clanton 3-19-29-$106,890-5075 (-196)
4. Josh Richards 4-16-25-$107,310-5057 (-214)
5. Chub Frank 1-10-25-$73,180-4997 (-274)
6. Rick Eckert 1-12-23-$76,280-4943 (-328)
7. Shannon Babb 2-15-24-$98,700-4935 (-336)
8. Clint Smith 1-11-22-$65,420-4921 (-350)
9. Tim Fuller 2-7-18-$66,750-4762 (-509)
10. Vic Coffey 0-1-8-$37,370-4061 (-1210)
11. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$34,680-4013 (-1258)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$17,140-3385 (-1886)
13. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$11,820-2889 (-2382)
14. Tim McCreadie 1-9-16-$58,000-2643 (-2628)
15. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$13,620-2187 (-3084)
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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, Qwikliner and Super Clean.