By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
ALMA, OH – Aug. 23, 2008 – Rod Conley gave a simple answer when asked how he felt after scoring his first career World of Outlaws Late Model Series triumph on Saturday night at K-C Raceway.
While standing in front of his car in Victory Lane following the 50-lap A-Main, the veteran racer from Wheelersburg, Ohio, looked up at his cheering hometown crowd and exclaimed, “Wow!”
Conley, 46, was flawless en route to becoming the 19th different winner on the 2008 WoO LMS. He inherited the lead when Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., spun on lap 16 and then kept defending tour champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., and points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., at bay for the remainder of the distance.
Francis settled for second place, 0.644 of a second behind Conley. Lanigan was close behind in third at the finish, followed by Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., and Rick Eckert of York, Pa.
“That was very exciting,” said the emotional Conley, who was joined in the A-Main’s starting field by his father Delmas, 66, and brother R.J., 44. “This is the biggest win I’ve ever gotten.
“I’ve won the Hillbilly (100) at Pennsboro (W.Va.), but this is a World of Outlaws race. This is the best of the best.”
Conley, who drove a family-owned Rocket car powered by a Draime engine, understood the magnitude of what he accomplished.
“It’s really hard to beat any of these guys,” said Conley, who earned $10,650, including the $500 ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who had never won a WoO LMS event and wasn’t ranked among the top 12 in the tour’s points standings. “Everything’s gotta go your way to win one these shows – like qualifying good (fifth-fastest), which we usually don’t do, and drawing the number two to start up front (on the outside pole) in the feature.
“You need some good luck too, and we got it when Shannon got together with that lapped car.”
Babb, 34, led the race’s first 16 laps from the pole position, but his bid for a third WoO LMS win in 2008 unraveled after he got into the rearend of the slower car driven by Chris Combs of Isom, Ky., while crossing the start/finish line on the 16th circuit. Damage to the nosepiece of Babb’s Bowyer Dirt Motorsports Rocket caused him to spin out of the top spot between turns three and four later that same lap.
“Shannon went above those lapped cars up by the flagstand and they got him in the left front,” described Conley. “When he went in the turn I saw him turn the wheel and the plastic (bodywork) done caught, so I knew he was in trouble.
“When he went into turn three he started getting sideways, so I let off and turned right. I just knew he was gonna wreck.”
With his steering compromised, there was nothing Babb could do to get through the corners unscathed.
“I just ran into the back of (Combs) and hit the (front) t-bar into the left-front tire,” said Babb, who restarted at the rear of the field after his spin but finished a dismal 21st. “I made it through (turns) one and two, but I couldn’t counter-steer so when I tried to turn right to set up for turn three the car just kept sliding and sliding.
“It’s too bad, because I think we would’ve been able to stay up there (in the lead) with the car we had.”
Conley’s march to victory was slowed by just one more caution flag, on lap 17 when Doug Dodd of Cambridge, Ohio, slid over the berm in turn one after restarting in fourth place. He never let Francis draw closer than a couple car lengths during the long green-flag stretch that closed the race.
“I never heard anybody and didn’t know where anybody was at,” said Conley. “I was just focused on my marks. I was kind of babying the car around.
“I just kept thinking, Something’s gonna fall off the car. With the season I’ve had, with all the bad luck I’ve had, that’s all I could think. This is my first win this year.”
Conley’s machine stayed together – and Francis, who started third, couldn’t mount a serious challenge.
Francis, 40, struggled just to reach the finish after losing the power steering in his Dale Beitler-owned Reliable Painting/Valvoline Rocket car on lap two.
“I was actually glad this one was over,” said Francis. “My arms had had all they could stand (from wrestling the steering wheel).
“I was afraid to drive in there beside (Conley) hard, because I was worried the thing would lock and I’d take us both out. (The power steering problem) was locking the wheel in different directions and I never knew which way it was gonna go.
“I’m not making any excuses, though. Rod ran an excellent race. I don’t know whether we would’ve been able to pass him even if we had power steering.
“Rod deserves this as much as anybody,” added Francis, who often raced with Conley in STARS/Renegade Series events earlier this decade. “I don’t think he’s got anybody here with him except his wife and his little boy. That’s the way he’s been racing.
“If I couldn’t win, I’m just as happy to see Rod win as anybody.”
Conley’s wife, Jackie, won the night’s Integra Shocks ‘Crew Chief of the Race’ award, earning $50 for becoming the first female recipient of the honor. His five-year-old son, Chase, was also part of the winning team.
“Jackie has been my only crewman pretty much all year and my little boy has been going to the races with us,” said Conley. “We’ve doing it like this all year, going racing together. It’s been real fun.”
Lanigan, 38, spent the final 32 laps of the A-Main virtually glued to Francis’s rear bumper, but he couldn’t find a way by his closest pursuer in the points standings.
“Our car was pretty good, but it was tough to pass,” said Lanigan, who started seventh in his GottaRace.com Rocket car. “If we could’ve gotten into the lead, I think we would have been fine.”
The 20-year-old Richards, meanwhile, was done in by the race’s only caution flags, which came back-to-back on laps 16 and 17. He moved forward from the eighth starting spot to sit third after Babb’s spin, but he lost the position to Lanigan on the lap-17 restart and ran fourth for the remainder of the event.
“Me and Babb were both on 40 (Hoosier compound) right-side sides and we were both real good early,” said Richards, who drove his father Mark’s Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket. “But that caution just killed us. I was rolling the tires during the caution and I could feel them starting to grease up, so I was like, ‘Oh, no.’
“I guess the tires just sealed up or something. My car got so loose that it was hard to drive. I was pretty much holding on.”
Eckert, 42, was pleased with his fifth-place finish in Raye Vest’s GRT car. It was his first top-five finish on the WoO LMS since a fifth on June 25 at Big Diamond Raceway in Minersville, Pa. – a span of 16 races.
“The way we’ve been running, a fifth is like a win for us,” said Eckert, who started 10th. “If I could’ve passed Babb for second in the heat to get in the redraw, then maybe we could’ve gotten a little better starting spot and finished higher.”
Finishing in positions 6-10 were Josh McGuire of Grayson, Ky.; Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., who slipped backward from the fifth starting spot; Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., who started 18th after a broken driveshaft on his first time-trial lap forced him to play catch-up all night; Ben Adkins of West Portsmouth, Ohio, who clinched the 2008 K-C Raceway dirt Late Model championship by starting the WoO LMS A-Main; and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga.
A field numbering 35 cars was entered in the evening’s action, which was run in warm, clear summer weather.
Smith whipped around the oval in 14.313 seconds during qualifying to register his third fast time honor of the 2008 season.
Heat winners were Rod Conley, Richards, Lanigan and Fuller. The B-Mains were captured by Smith and Clanton.
The WoO LMS will spend the Labor Day weekend in Pennsylvania. Bedford Speedway hosts the tour on Fri., Aug. 29, and Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pa., will hold a pair of $10,000-to-win programs on Aug. 30-31 as part of the annual Oil Region Labor Day Classic.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at K-C Raceway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (2) Rod Conley/50 $10,650
2. (3) Steve Francis/50 $5,100
3. (7) Darrell Lanigan/50 $3,000
4. (8) Josh Richards/50 $2,500
5. (10) Rick Eckert/50 $2,000
6. (12) Josh McGuire/50 $1,700
7. (5) Tim Fuller/50 $1,400
8. (18) Shane Clanton/50 $1,300
9. (6) Ben Adkins/50 $1,200
10. (17) Clint Smith/50 $1,100
11. (9) Keith Berner/50 $1,050
12. (16) Matt Miller/50 $1,000
13. (15) Chub Frank/50 $950
14. (23) John Blankenship/50 $900
15. (13) Doug Drown/50 $850
16. (21) Matt Lux/50 $800
17. (20) Robbie Blair/50 $770
18. (11) Donnie Moran/50 $750
19. (22) Chris Combs/50 $730
20. (14) Delmas Conley/50 $700
21. (1) Shannon Babb/50 $800
22. (24) Vic Coffey/49 $950
23. (19) R.J. Conley/26 $700
24. (4) Doug Dodd/16 $700
Time of Race: 21 Mins., 17.200 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.644 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 2 (Laps 16, 17)
Lap Leaders: Babb (1-16); Rod Conley (17-50)
Provisional Starters: Blankenship, Coffey
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Rod Conley ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Jackie Conley (Rod Conley)
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. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 14.313
2. 28-Eddie Carrier Jr./Salt Rock, WV 14.487
3. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 14.493
4. B7-Ben Adkins/West Portsmouth, OH 14.544
5. 71R-Rod Conley/Wheelersburg, OH 14.560
6. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 14.565
7. 98-Shon Flannary/Mt. Carmel, TN 14.591
8. w11-Robbie Blair/Titusville, PA 14.634
9. 12-Doug Dodd/Cambridge, OH 14.680
10. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 14.706
11. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 14.739
12. 7-Matt Miller/Waterville, OH 14.747
13. 71c-R.J. Conley/Wheelersburg, OH 14.751
14. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 14.758
15. 99-Donnie Moran/Dresden, OH 14.777
16. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 14.826
17. 96F-Keith Berner/Millersburg, OH 14.844
18. 71-Delmas Conley/Wheelersburg, OH 14.882
19. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 14.883
20. 41-Josh McGuire/Grayson, KY 14.898
21. E1-Mike Balzano/Parkersburg, WV 14.954
22. 21L-Matt Lux/Franklin, PA 14.967
23. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 15.022
24. 47-Chris Combs/Isom, KY 15.031
25. 17-Davey Johnson/Latrobe, PA 15.044
26. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 15.051
27. 18J-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 15.052
28. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 15.058
29. 79-Doug Drown/Wooster, OH 15.117
30. 21M-Jason Montgomery/Jackson, OH 15.144
31. 44H-Dave Hess Jr./Waterford, PA 15.222
32. 07-Mike Wilson/Circleville, OH 15.318
33. 7Jr.-Jeff Isabell Jr./Pennellville, NY 15.853
34. 38-Donnie Stewart/Waverly, OH 15.893
35. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 16.297
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Rod Conley, Dodd, Berner, Drown, Davey Johnson, C. Smith, R.J. Conley, Balzano, Jeff Isabell Jr.
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Richards, Babb, Eckert, Delmas Conley, Lux, Carrier, Blankenship, Montgomery, Stewart
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Lanigan, Francis, Moran, Frank, Hess, Clanton, Beardsley, Joe Isabell, Flannary
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Fuller, Adkins, McGuire, M. Miller, Blair, Combs, Coffey, Wilson
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): C. Smith, R.J. Conley, Lux, Balzano, Carrier, Blankenship, Montgomery, Stewart, Davey Johnson, Jeff Isabell Jr.
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Clanton, Blair, Combs, Hess, Coffey, Joe Isabell, Wilson, Beardsley (DNS) Flannary
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Aug. 23 – 35 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-22-32-$110,617-4845 (-0)
2. Steve Francis 4-17-28-$145,200-4701 (-144)
3. Josh Richards 4-16-23-$103,560-4671 (-174)
4. Shane Clanton 2-17-26-$89,840-4641 (-204)
5. Chub Frank 1-10-22-$69,480-4599 (-246)
6. Shannon Babb 2-14-23-$94,650-4561 (-284)
7. Rick Eckert 1-10-21-$69,130-4527 (-318)
8. Clint Smith 1-10-19-$59,620-4505 (-340)
9. Tim Fuller 2-7-16-$63,300-4372 (-473)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$34,680-4013 (-832)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-7-$32,800-3677 (-1168)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$15,450-3078 (-1767)
13. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$10,110-2582 (-2263)
14. Tim McCreadie 1-8-14-$53,100-2263 (-2582)
15. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$13,620-2187 (-2658)
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@example.com.
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.