Rains postpone WoO's Eriez stop until Sept. 1
By Kevin KovacWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
HAMMETT, Pa. — Hopefully the third try will be the charm for the 2009 World of Outlaws Late Model Series visit to Eriez Speedway. Rain struck the third-mile oval in northwest Pennsylvania after qualifying heats were completed on Sunday night, forcing officials to postpone the tour’s stop at Bobby and Kathy Rohrer’s track for the second time this season.
WoO competitors will return to Eriez Speedway to complete two B-Mains and the 50-lap feature Sept. 1, the night before the tour is scheduled to visit Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway for the first time. The rescheduled program, which will also include held-over features for the track’s weekly modified and Limited Late Model divisions, will begin at 7 p.m.
Sunday night’s rescheduled event was necessary because showers ruined the original July 26 date with Ohlins Shocks Time Trials nearly completed. A new session of time trials and heat races were spun off on Sunday before rain red-flagged the proceedings.
Rain that rolled in off Lake Erie doused the speedway shortly after heat-race action ended. The precipitation stopped within a half-hour and the track crew soon began reworking the surface, but another pop-up shower shortly after 9 p.m. soaked the surface and stopped any thought of further competition.
“We were close to having the track ready to go when the rain hit again,” said Eriez Speedway promoter Bobby Rohrer. “We had a great crowd on hand to see the Outlaws, but we just can’t catch a break with the weather. Hopefully we’ll have clear skies when we try again on Sept. 1.”
Rohrer said all rain checks and pit bands from Sunday’s program will be accepted on Sept. 1. Newcoming fans will pay $15 on Sept. 1.
A field of 46 cars was signed in for the show, including four drivers who weren’t in attendance on the original event date last month. Eight drivers who entered the scheduled Ohio Late Model Speedweek finale on July 26 did not return on Sunday night.
WoO points leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., tallied his third fast time honor of 2009 with a lap of 16.231 seconds during Ohlins Shocks time trials.
Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who sits second in the WoO points standings, was the lone tour regular to win one of the evening’s four 10-lap heat races. His victory in the fourth prelim followed triumphs by Robbie Blair of Titusville, Pa., Valone and Mike Knight of Ripley, N.Y.
The top two finishers in each heat race will redraw on Sept. 1 for the first eight starting spots in the 50-lap A-Main.
The heats proved problematic for WoO regulars Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis. Lanigan, the defending series champion, retired from the first heat on lap one after his car’s nose was crunched in a chain-reaction jam-up, while Smith failed to qualify in the second heat after an opening-lap tangle left his car with a battered right-front corner.
Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., a former Eriez regular who brought a two-race WoO win streak into Sunday’s action, finished third in the first heat. He is scheduled to start ninth in the A-Main on Sept. 1.
WoO drivers head south for Aug. 28-29 events at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. Both events feature 50-lappers paying $10,000 to win.
Heat race results (top four transfer)
First heat: Rob Blair, Josh Richards, Chub Frank, Greg Oakes, Doug Eck, Chris Hackett, Vic Coffey, Bruce Hordusky, Mike Coyle, David Scott, Dutch Davies, Scott Gurdak.
Second heat: Chad Valone, Tony Knowles, Russ King, Clint Smith, Shane Clanton, Jordan Bland, Dick Barton, Brady Smith, Nathan Short, John Volpe, George LaBarbera, Jason Morell.
Third heat: Mike Knight, Rick Eckert, Ron Davies, Bump Hedman, Austin Hubbard, Dennis Lunger, Merle Terry, Dave Hess Jr., Dave Lyon, Dustin Hapka, Darrell Lanigan.
Fourth heat: Steve Francis, Tim Fuller, Scott Johnson, John Lobb, Brent Rhebergen, Randy Lobb, Andy Kania, Doug Ricotta, Boom Briggs, Rich Gardner, Tyler Reddick.