World of Outlaws Notebook
Notes: Robinson forging ahead on WoO tour
By Kevin KovacWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
Kent Robinson knew that his rookie season on the WoO wouldn't go by without some bumps in the road. He just wishes he didn't have to experience the rough patch that struck him last weekend.
In the span of 24 hours, Robinson exploded an engine on Saturday night at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway and rolled his car on Sunday evening at Eriez Speedway. The Hagerstown blowup came just as he had crossed the finish line to win a heat race, while the accident at Eriez — no fault of his own — occurred as he was battling for a transfer spot and forced him to start the feature (thanks to a provisional) in a local Crate Late Model. | Video
"This is definitely the hardest time I've ever been through in racing — blowing a motor one night, and then flipping over the next night," said Robinson, who escaped the Eriez crash without injury. "It's hard times, but that's part of it. You have the ups and the downs, and you just gotta work through it and hope it all pays off in the end.”
Robinson, 25, of Bloomington, Ind., was concerned that he might have to drop off the tour due to the "catastrophic" damage his car sustained at Eriez, but he was able to regroup this week while working out of fellow WoO regular Chub Frank's shop in Bear Lake, Pa. He plans to forge ahead when WoO invades Canada this weekend for races June 22 at Quebec's Autodrome Granby and June 24 at Cornwall (Ontario) Motor Speedway.
"It was a situation where all of a sudden I have to make a decision — if I couldn't find another car (his wrecked machine could not be immediately repaired), I might have had to just go home because I didn't want to go into Canada and do the rest of this swing with just one car," said Robinson, who recently matched his career-best WoO finish with a sixth-place run on May 26 at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va.
"But everything worked out. When we got up to Chub Frank's shop we started putting feelers out there trying to find another MasterSbilt car, and we came across the Loco-Motives team that (Winchester, Va.'s) Ronnie DeHaven drives for and they had a car with just a few races on it. We worked it out and ended up buying in, and they brought it up (to Frank's shop on Tuesday night).
"It's just a rolling chassis, but it's a pretty new car. We worked until 4 a.m. (Tuesday) night and been all day (Wednesday) getting it together for a backup, so I'm gonna have two cars and two motors for the rest of the trip.
"Hopefully we won't have to run the (newly-purchased) car in any of these upcoming races, and then we can get home and regroup for a few days before going out west” for WoO’s six-race Wild West Tour from July 6-14.
Ready to head north
Rick Eckert is a veteran Dirt Late Model racer from York, Pa., and has only been traveling to Canada for races since '07, but he's quickly developed some connections to the area's fans that make him look forward to the WoO excursion.
"The fans up there are incredible," said the defending WoO champion, who won the tour's feature at Autodrome Drummond in 2008. "They're neat people. I have Canadian fans who call me every week.
"They're really into racing up there. It's a little different because they only get to see Late Models but once a year."
Eckert has even been getting some Canadian crew help during his recent trips north. He's friendly with Luc Lalancette, who operates Total Race Supply in St Andrews, Ontario, and both Lalancette and his son have lent Eckert a mechanical hand.
Darrell Lanigan isn't just the hottest driver on the WoO, with four wins in his last six starts and a commanding lead in the points race. He's also the last driver to win a World of Outlaws race in Canada.
Lanigan, 42, of Union, Ky., was victorious the last time the tour crossed the border, on Aug. 23, 2010, at Drummond. It's his only career win in Canada, but that statistic could very well change this weekend considering his acumen on big tracks like Granby and his past performance at Cornwall, where he's improved his finishing position in each of his previous three starts (fourth in '08, third in '09 and second in '10).
Kennedy team regroups
Kennedy Motorsports teammates Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., and John Lobb of Frewsburg, N.Y., have been busy preparing for this weekend's action after both drivers ran into trouble during Sunday night's WoO event at Eriez Speedway.
Clanton broke an engine while leading early at Eriez, giving him some unwanted work to do under the hood while stationed this week at the Warren, Pa., shop of his future father-in-law, Ron Davies, a 2011 WoO regular who will rejoin the tour for this weekend's Canadian swing.
Lobb, meanwhile, was left with a car in need of major repairs after being swept up in Kent Robinson's accident at Eriez. That machine is already back in Georgia receiving frame repair at the Capital Race Cars shop so it will be ready for next weekend's Firecracker 100, leaving Lobb with one car available for duty.
Lobb started Eriez's feature (thanks to a points provisional) in the car driven earlier in the night by his brother Randy.
Stone rejoins tour
Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., is a stalwart of the WoO's Ontario and Quebec trips, entering all nine events the tour contested in the provinces from 2007-2010. He'll be back this weekend, hooking up with his buddy Rick Eckert to follow the swing.
Stone, 34, scored his best Canadian WoO finish in 2009, placing fifth at Ohsweken (Ontario) Speedway. His next best outing is a sixth, in 2010 at Cornwall.
The affable driver known as Big Brother has competed at Granby, but it wasn't a memorable visit. He entered the track's 2010 All Star Late Model Series event and rode out flipped wildly, though he fortunately escaped injury.
Odds and ends
WoO Rookie of the Year contenders Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., and Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark., will make their first-ever Dirt Late Model starts in Canada this weekend. ... Second-year WoO traveler Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., has never entered a race in Ontario or Quebec, but the 48-year-old driver won WISSOTA-sanctioned events at Red River Co-op Speedway in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Estevan (Saskatchewan) Motor Speedway. .... One of WoO regular Clint Smith's crew members, Duane Treadwell of Lagrange, Ga., will enter the Canadian events as a teammate to Smith. ... Ron Davies will put a familiar face in his second car for the Canadian swing: his 27-year-old son Dan, an open-wheel modified standout who will take his first shot at Dirt Late Model racing this weekend. ... A contingent of Canadians who compete regularly in the Dirt Late Model wars at Brighton (Ontario) Speedway plan to bolt open motors in their cars this weekend to test their skills against the Outlaws: Greg Belyea of Frankford, Charlie Sandercock of Belleville, Philip Potts of Frankford, Matt Vanderlinden of Trenton and Caley Weese of Belleville. Corey Earl of Picton, Ontario, has only the Cornwall show on his schedule. ... Weese, 25, finished 24th in the 2010 WoO race at Cornwall, making her one of four female drivers to start a WoO headliner.