Familiar Grandview gives Fuller another WoO win
By Kevin KovacWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
BECHTELSVILLE, Pa. (Aug. 13) — Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., continued his red-hot summer on Thursday, rolling to a flag-to-flag victory in the 40-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series event at Grandview Speedway.
It was the second consecutive dominant win on the national tour for Fuller, who picked up right where he had left off in the last WoO event nearly three weeks earlier. He scored his first series triumph of 2009 on July 25 at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio.
“We were fast on that whole Northern Tour (in June) but just had some problems that kept us from getting a win,” said Fuller, who earned $7,750 for his fifth career WoO victory. “Now we’re getting some breaks and it’s just taking off. Everything is going good and we’re having fun.”
Adding to his enjoyment, Fuller moved to fifth in the WoO standings and emerged victorious for the first time in front of his car owners John and Laura Wight, who were on hand to watch three of their Gypsum Express team cars in action. Fuller’s teammates, Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y., and Larry Wight of Baldwinsville, N.Y. (John and Laura’s 16-year-old son), also entered the event.
Fuller, 41, was never seriously challenged during the first-ever series program at the high-banked, third-mile oval. Taking advantage of his outside-pole starting spot, the 2007 series Rookie of the Year outgunned polesitter D.J. Myers of Greencastle, Pa., for the lead at the initial green flag and never looked back.
Two caution flags (on laps 16 and 19) and some late-race lapped traffic didn’t hamper Fuller, who smoothly guided his Gypsum Express Rocket car to a 2.683-second margin of victory — nearly a full straightaway — over Ashland, Ky.’s Steve Francis in the Beitler Motorsports Rocket.
Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., registered a season-best finish of third in his J.P. Drilling GRT car, and Myers held on for a series-best fourth in Greg Gunter’s PPM chassis machine, earning a $500 bonus as the top non-series regular.
Seventeen-year-old Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., meanwhile, started and finished fifth in his family’s Seaside Builders Rocket to record his third top-five finish of the season. He slipped by Myers for fourth on lap 14 but lost the spot on a restart two circuits later.
Racing at a 358 modified track where he won a Super DIRTcar Series big-block modified feature in 2005, Fuller seemed to have a better handle on the tricky speedway than his rivals.
“Me and Billy (Decker, another former Super DIRTcar Series winner at Grandview who was in Thursday’s field) were more familiar with this place from running the modified here,” said Fuller, the only WoO regular who had previously competed at Grandview. “But is that why we won? I don’t think so.
“It might’ve helped me in time trials (he was sixth-fastest), but once (the surface) turned black-slick it was just another track. I didn’t have any advantage because these (WoO) guys adapt fast.”
Francis, 41, slipped by Smith for second on a restart that followed the lap-16 caution flag for a turn-two tangle involving Scott Haus of Hamburg, Pa., and WoO Rookie of the Year contender Russ King of Bristolville, Ohio. But the 2007 tour champion, who started third, never threatened the fleet Fuller and settled for his fourth runner-up finish in the last five races.
“We weren’t as good as Fuller was,” said Francis, who grabbed the WoO points lead with his performance. “When we got to lapped cars he could move around better than I could, so obviously his car was just better than mine. He was just rolling around there.”
The 44-year-old Smith ran second behind Fuller from lap six — when he overtook Myers — until Francis used the outside lane to gain control of the position. Smith later blamed himself for giving Francis the opportunity to seize second, but he didn’t complain about his first podium finish of 2009.
“I actually thought we were coming to Fuller before the caution came out (on lap 16),” said Smith, who started fourth. “Then on the restart I chose the bottom (groove) because I thought it was better, and it wasn’t. The next restart (on lap 19 following a turn-three spin by Danny Snyder of Green Lane, Pa.) Francis chose the top again, so he had me.
“We had the third-best car — and that’s better than we have been. I think the new stuff we got going is working pretty well, but we’ll see tomorrow night (Aug. 14 at Pennsylvania’s Bedford Speedway). We’ve gotta back up a good run with another good run to prove we’re getting somewhere.”
Finishing in positions 6-10 was Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who couldn’t move forward from his sixth starting spot and lost the WoO LMS points lead to Francis; Rick Eckert of York, Pa.; Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who fell 12 points behind Francis; Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis.; and Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y.
The WoO LMS continues a three-race Midwest swing Friday at Bedford (Pa.) Speedway and Saturday at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway.
Traffic Jam 40: (1) Tim Fuller, (2) Steve Francis, (3) Clint Smith, (4) D.J. Myers, (5) Austin Hubbard, (6) Josh Richards, (7) Rick Eckert, (8) Darrell Lanigan, (9) Brady Smith, (10) Vic Coffey, (11) Shane Clanton, (12) Chub Frank, (13) Jim Bernheisel, (14) Jordan Bland, (15) Billy Decker, (16) Chuck Schutz, (17) Boom Briggs, (18) Dan Stone, (19) Russ King, (20) Brent Robinson, (21) Scott Haus, (22) Tyler Reddick, (23) Dustin Hapka, (24) Danny Snyder. Fast qualifier (among 41 cars): Richards, 15.117 seconds. Heat race winners: Richards, Fuller, Francis, Coffey. Consolation winners: Clanton, Briggs. Provisional starters: King, Hapka.