By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
HARTFORD, OH – July 26, 2008 – Donnie Moran caught the breaks he needed to win Saturday night’s 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main at Sharon Speedway.
On an evening that saw two rounds of rain delay the racing action for over four hours, Moran benefited from Billy Moyer’s misfortune and survived heavy track conditions that exacted a toll on his equipment en route to capturing the third leg of Alltel Ohio Speedweek.
Moran, 45, of Dresden, Ohio, inherited the lead on a lap-44 restart when Batesville, Ark.’s Moyer slowed with mechanical trouble. The driver known as the ‘Million Dollar Man’ went on to triumph by 0.814 of a second over Ricky Elliott of Seaford, Del., whose runner-up placing matched his career-best WoO LMS finish.
It was the first WoO LMS win of the 2008 season for Moran, who pumped his career victory total on the tour to four. He also continued his longtime penchant for success at Sharon, a Buckeye State track where Moran has shined on both its former half-mile configuration and current three-eighths-mile layout.
“This is like a second home to me,” said Moran, who earlier this year also topped an Independent Racing Series (IRS) event at Sharon. “Even before Dave (Blaney) was involved here (as a co-owner) and the track was real big, I always liked coming to Sharon. But since they changed it to a smaller oval, for some reason the configuration really fits my driving style.”
Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., settled for a second consecutive third-place finish on the tour after bidding for the lead midway through the race in the RSD Enterprises Rocket. Defending WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., finished tight to Clanton’s rear bumper in fourth after starting 11th in Dale Beiter’s Rocket, and polesitter Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., was fifth in a J.P. Drilling GRT car that ended the race with its suspension at less than 100 perfect functionality.
The top-five finishers became eligible for the ‘Alltel Ohio Speedweek All-Star’ honor. A $10,000 top prize will go to the driver who receives the most votes in on-line polling that begins at AlltelAllStar.com at 12 midnight ET following the final Alltel Ohio Speedweek event, on July 27 at Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa.
Moran acknowledged afterward that the sudden departure of Moyer, whose Victory Circle car tossed its fan belts after he had led laps 17-44, was ultimately the key to his win. The 50-year-old Moyer had advanced from the fourth starting spot to grab the lead from Moran on lap 17 and appeared primed to register his series-leading fifth victory of the season.
“On a couple late restarts (laps 36 and 44), Billy couldn’t open (distance) up on me like he could earlier,” said Moran, who drove his Donnie Moran Racing MasterSbilt car. “But if he didn’t have a problem (on the second of three lap-44 restarts), I’d say he probably would’ve won. We won, though, and that’s the story.”
Moran still had a major worry following the rough-and-tumble race’s ninth and final caution flag, on lap 44. His car’s left-rear suspension was left out of whack, likely as a result of the blazing-fast track conditions.
“The top four-link bolt came out there on the birdcage,” said Moran, who started third. “It never come out completely, though. It just ripped the threads out of the nut, which was real fortunate for us.
“It’s not surprising that something like this happened the way the track was tonight. There’s such severe loads on the cars anymore from trying to get as much traction as possible, and then when you get a racetrack with Mother Nature coming into play, it just creates that much more stress and fatigue on everything on the cars.
“When I first started racing these cars sat real flat and you had to baby the gas,” he added. “Now this is my 30th year of racing and I call these things ‘Traction Monsters.’ You just get in there, hike up, and go. You better be elbows up or you’re gonna get beat, and you better hope your stuff survives the conditions.”
Moran seized the lead for the first time on lap six from 2006 WoO LMS champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who paced laps 1-5 off the outside pole before fading and eventually retiring his overheating Sweeteners Plus machine on lap 17. Moran lost the top spot to Moyer in lapped traffic on lap 17 and watched Clanton overtake him for second on a lap-22 restart, but Clanton’s miscue on lap 31 allowed Moran to slip back into the runner-up slot and position himself for later glory.
Clanton, 32, appeared capable of threatening Moyer until his slap of the turn-two wall cost him two positions and left his car with too much damage to seriously challenge for the win.
“I just got above that cushion into the fluff and got sucked right into the wall,” said Clanton, who started sixth. “I hit it pretty hard. We’re just lucky it stayed together the rest of the race.”
Making his first appearance in New Yorker Joe Beyea’s Rocket No. 121 since last month’s WoO LMS Great Northern Tour, the 42-year-old Elliott also slipped by Clanton on lap 31. But he couldn’t summon enough speed to pass Moran for a first-ever tour win.
“He had on a little bit softer tires than us and just fired better (on the final restart),” said Elliott, who used American Racer rubber as opposed to Moran’s Hoosier tires. “The longer we went, the better we were, but Moran was good and deserved to win.
“I’m real happy with a second. I think it shows that this (Beyea) deal we have here is working out pretty well. This was only the fourth Late Model race for Randy (Kisacky, a noted DIRTcar big-block Modified crew chief who is wrenching the Beyea car), and you can see how well he’s working together with my regular (Late Model) crew chief Wayne Benson to get this car going right.”
WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., padded his advantage with a sixth-place finish – an outing that had “championship material” written all over it. He fell behind at the start of the night when a flat left-rear tire during his time-trial run forced him to start scratch in his heat, but he rallied to qualify and then quietly marched forward from the 15th starting spot in the A-Main.
Finishing in positions 7-10 were Matt Miller of Waterville, Ohio; Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., who came from the rear of the field after pitting on lap three to change a flat left-rear tire; Rick Eckert of York, Pa.; and Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., who pitted for servicing on lap 17.
Eckert’s ninth-place run came after he played musical cars during the night. He time-trialed his Rayburn; fell in at the back of the pack for his heat after switching to his GRT mount; won a B-Main with the GRT but developed engine woes; and went back to the Rayburn for the A-Main.
Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who sits second in the WoO LMS points standings, took a bit hit in his pursuit of Lanigan for the title. He was racing for sixth place on the final lap with Lanigan, Matt Miller and Babb when a scrape with Miller sent the 20-year-old sensation spinning in turn two.
The last-lap incident, which also collected Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., left Richards with a 16th-place finish.
Thirty-nine cars were entered in the night’s competition, which was taped for later broadcast on the SPEED cable network.
Jeremy Miller of Gettysburg, Pa., recorded the quickest lap of the time-trial session, rounding the oval in 16.116 seconds. It was his second career fast-time honor on the WoO LMS.
Miller, who led last year’s WoO LMS event at Sharon until the final laps, saw his fortunes go south in the A-Main. He was running sixth on lap 44 when a broken connecting rod bolt in his car’s engine caused him to stop on the homestretch in a cloud of smoke.
Heat winners were Moyer, Matt Miller, Elliott and McCreadie. The B-Mains were captured by Frank and Eckert.
Rain hit the struck minutes after the heat races were completed, delaying the action. The strongest storms initially missed Sharon Speedway, but a heavy downpour did come around 10 p.m. to further delay the program.
With a large crowd and the SPEED television cameras on hand, officials waited out the weather and got the track surface ready for the resumption of competition shortly after midnight. The A-Main was completed an hour-and-a-half later.
Alltel Ohio Speedweek concludes on Sunday night (July 27) at Eriez Speedway.
The Outlaws’ busy month of July will draw to an end on Tues., July 29, with the rescheduled $40,000-to-win Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Sharon Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (3) Donnie Moran/50 $10,150
2. (8) Ricky Elliott/50 $5,600
3. (6) Shane Clanton/50 $3,000
4. (14) Steve Francis/50 $2,500
5. (1) Clint Smith/50 $2,000
6. (15) Darrell Lanigan/50 $1,700
7. (7) Matt Miller/50 $1,400
8. (10) Shannon Babb/50 $1,300
9. (18) Rick Eckert/50 $1,200
10. (17) Chub Frank/50 $1,100
11. (19) Brent Rhebergen/50 $1,050
12. (12) David Scott/50 $1,000
13. (22) Gregg Satterlee/50 $950
14. (24) Vic Coffey/50 $1,150
15. (23) John Blankenship/50 $850
16. (13) Josh Richards/49 $800
17. (11) Tim Fuller/49 $770
18. (4) Billy Moyer/44 $750
19. (9) Jeremy Miller/44 $730
20. (16) Dutch Davies/37 $700
21. (25) Russell King/28 $700
22. (2) Tim McCreadie/17 $800
23. (20) Dan Stone/17 $700
24. (5) Brian Birkhofer/16 $700
25. (21) Mickey Wright/16 $700
Time of Race: 37 Mins., 29.752 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.814 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 9 (Lap 3, 17, 17, 22, 31, 36, 44, 44, 44)
Lap Leaders: McCreadie (1-5); Moran (6-16); Moyer (17-44); Moran (45-50)
Provisional Starters: Blankenship, Coffey (WoO); King (Alltel Fan’s Choice)
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Elliott ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Randy Kisacky (Elliott)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: McCreadie (half-off tire warmers)
Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’: McCreadie ($100)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 24-Jeremy Miller/Gettysburg, PA 16.116
2. 7M-Matt Miller/Waterville, OH 16.193
3. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 16.434
4. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 16.446
5. 21-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR 16.448
6. 43A-Jason Covert/York Haven, PA 16.540
7. 121-Ricky Elliott/Seaford, DE 16.542
8. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 16.544
9. 99-Donnie Moran/Dresden, OH 16.544
10. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 16.547
11. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 16.656
12. 40-Dutch Davies/Warren, PA 16.722
13. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 16.724
14. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 16.731
15. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 16.732
16. 3-David Scott/Garland, PA 16.736
17. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 16.747
18. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 16.785
19. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 16.823
20. 46-Doug Horton/Bruceton Mills, WV 16.860
21. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 16.901
22. 8-Jason Morell/Northeast, PA 16.977
23. 9k-Mike Knight/Ripley, NY 16.996
24. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 17.004
25. 4-Alex Ferree/Saxonburg, PA 17.081
26. 17L-Dennis Lunger/Cherry Hill, PA 17.088
27. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 17.114
28. 99B-Rick Briggs/Bear Lake, PA 17.130
29. 07R-Brent Rhebergen/Clymer, NY 17.199
30. M1-Mickey Wright/Albion, PA 17.202
31. 22-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA 17.205
32. 17-Keith Barbara/South Park, PA 17.236
33. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 17.307
34. 0s-Ryan Scott/Garland, PA 17.582
35. 7JR-Jeff Isabell Jr./Pennellville, NY 17.897
36. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 17.968
37. 16b-Ben Porter/Ashtabula, OH 18.675
38. 67-Charles Supplee/Rock Creek, OH 22.021
39. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY N/T
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Moyer, Moran, J. Miller, Richards, Frank, Rhebergen, King, Ferree, Porter, Joe Isabell
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): M. Miller, Clanton, Babb, Francis, Covert, Wright, Lunger, Morell, R. Scott, Supplee
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Elliott, C. Smith, Fuller, Lanigan, Eckert, Blankenship, Satterlee, Jeff Isabell Jr., Coffey, Knight
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): McCreadie, Birkhofer, D. Scott, Davies, Stone, Briggs, Barbara, Beardsley, Horton
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Frank, Rhebergen, Wright, Joe Isabell, King, Lunger, Morell, Supplee, Ferree, Porter, Covert (DNS) R. Scott
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Eckert, Stone, Satterlee, Blankenship, Horton, Knight, Beardsley, Coffey, Barbara, Briggs, Jeff Isabell Jr.
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 25 – 28 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-18-27-$79,450-4003 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-13-20-$91,360-3871 (-132)
3. Steve Francis 2-13-22-$111,200-3849 (-154)
4. Shane Clanton 1-14-21-$68,090-3833 (-170)
5. Chub Frank 1-9-20-$59,030-3819 (-184)
6. Shannon Babb 2-12-20-$80,750-3809 (-194)
7. Clint Smith 1-10-18-$53,090-3791 (-212)
8. Rick Eckert 1-9-20-$60,930-3783 (-220)
9. Tim Fuller 2-6-12-$53,190-3647 (-356)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$30,370-3501 (-502)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-6-$25,020-2961 (-1042)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$14,310-2595 (-1408)
13. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$13,620-2112 (-1891)
14. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$8,920-2093 (-1910)
15. Tim McCreadie 1-6-10-$40,700-1707 (-2296)
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.