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Attica Raceway Park

Eckert's stunning rally pays $10,000 at Attica

July 31, 2010, 6:39 am
By Kevin Kovac
World of Outlaws Late Model Series
Rick Eckert celebrates in victory lane. (Jim DenHamer)
Rick Eckert celebrates in victory lane. (Jim DenHamer)

ATTICA, Ohio (July 30) — Rick Eckert went from rags to riches in the course of one memorable evening at Attica Raceway Park.

Just hours after a blown engine during time trials left him contemplating his immediate future on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, Eckert drove his backup car to a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the national tour’s 50-lap Ohio-Pennsylvania Speedweek event Friday night at the third-mile oval. | Radiator swap key to victory | Slideshow | Video

Eckert, 44, of York, Pa., overcame a host of obstacles to post his second WoO triumph of 2010, including a starting spot deep in the pack (18th); a massive mid-race crash that involved more than half the field; a hasty in-race radiator replacement; and, finally, two former series champions who stood between him and an improbable win.

The veteran driver’s stirring rally reached its zenith on lap 47 when he surged ahead of Shinnston, W.Va.’s Josh Richards to take the lead, clinching a $10,575 score that prompted Attica’s big crowd to give Eckert a standing ovation upon his arrival in victory lane.

Richards settled for second place after leading laps 12-46, good enough to slightly pad his points lead as he chases a second consecutive WoO title. Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished third to end the night second in the points standings, while 12th-starting Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., placed fourth and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., took fifth to register his third top-five finish of 2010.

“Bad luck, good luck — we experienced it all tonight,” said Eckert, whose 21st career WoO victory was his first since March 26 at Battleground Speedway in Highlands, Texas. “I was ready to go home after we blew the motor (moments after clicking off what would stand as the night’s fourth-fastest qualifying lap). I was about to call it off. I said, ‘We should just load up.’ But we decided to stick it out and now I’m sure glad we did.”

Eckert, one of only two drivers to start every WoO feature contested since 2004, fell one spot short of transferring to the headline event through a heat race before punching his ticket with a victory in the second consolation race. He made his presence known in the feature by moving up to eighth place by lap 23, but then his night took another unexpected turn.

After Eckert somehow escaped a lap-23 restart accident that sent Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., into a barrel-roll and left more than a dozen cars scattered across the homestretch, his apparent change in fortune was quickly tempered by a broken radiator.

But the red-flag gave his team time to swap the radiator, and Eckert rallied back to sixth by a lap-35 caution for Russ King of Bristolville, Ohio, who was the race’s early story while leading laps 1-11. Two laps after the restart Eckert was third, and, after finally disposing of Lanigan to grab second on lap 42, he quickly ran down Richards.

Staying on the inside hub, Eckert slid ahead of Richards exiting turn two on lap 46 and officially assumed command for good as lap 47 was scored.

Early in the race, however, it appeared that the 21-year-old King had the car to beat. He powered around the track as the leader for the first 11 laps — and then his night went from bad to worse.

First, King spun in turn two on lap 11 to avoid the slowing Mike Knight of Ripley, N.Y. Though King remained in the lead for the ensuing restart because officials ruled that Knight was the reason for the caution, King’s steering was damaged and he ceded the top spot to Richards. He held on to second until sliding high in turn two on lap 22, and one lap later a scrape with Matt Miller of Waterville, Ohio, sent both drivers sliding off the backstretch and triggered another caution period.

King took the lap-23 restart at the rear of the field and was then marginally involved in the race’s biggest incident. Miller, who restarted third, made contact with Richards exiting turn four and ended up turned around in front of the field, setting off a tangle that saw Frank flip after overrunning Miller’s machine.

There were no injuries in the accident, but Frank and Miller joined Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., who was fourth at the time, Brent Robinson of Smithfield, Va., and Devin Shiels of Britton, Mich., as casualties of the wreck.

Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., finished sixth — a disappointing result because he was up to second and ready to pressure Richards for the lead on lap 32 when he slid over the track’s bank between turns three and four, causing him to fall to eighth before he recovered. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., started third but was involved in the lap-23 accident and fell to seventh in the final rundown, ahead of rookie Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., who also got a piece of the crash.

Notes: Eckert’s Bloomquist Race Car is sponsored by J&K Salvage, York Excavating and Ritchey Sandblasting. ... Steve Francis lowered the track record in time trials with a lap of 14.303 seconds, bettering the existing standard of 14.345 seconds held since 2004 by Matt Miller. .... Russ King registered his first-ever victory in a WoO heat race. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature: reigning track champ Ryan Missler, Ron Davies, Larry Kingseed, Casey Noonan, Wayne Maffett Jr., Jeff Babcock, Curtis Deisenroth, Doug Drown and Jeff Babcock. ... Ohio-Pennsylvania Speedweek rolls on for two more nights, visiting Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio, on Saturday and Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa., on Sunday.

WoO @ Attica: (1) Rick Eckert, (2) Josh Richards, (3) Darrell Lanigan, (4) Shane Clanton, (5) Clint Smith, (6) Steve Francis, (7) Tim McCreadie, (8) Austin Hubbard, (9) Tim Fuller, (10) Boom Briggs, (11) Donnie Moran, (12) Robbie Blair, (13) Russ King, (14) John Mason, (15) Bump Hedman, (16) Doug Drown, (17) Jill George, (18) Jon Henry, (19) Matt Miller, (20) Gregg Satterlee, (21) Chub Frank, (22) Brent Robinson, (23) Devin Shiels, (24) Mike Knight. Fast qualifier (among 45 cars): Francis, 14.303 seconds. Heat race winners: Francis, Miller, Lanigan, King. Consolation winners: Hedman, Eckert. Provisional starters: Fuller, George.

World of Outlaws points

(Through July 30)
1. Josh Richards - 4,162
2. Darrell Lanigan - 4,130 (-32)
3. Tim McCreadie - 4,128 (-34)
4. Steve Francis - 4,032 (-130)
5. Shane Clanton - 3,928 (-234)
6. Austin Hubbard - 3,912 (-250)
7. Rick Eckert - 3,890 (-272)
8. Tim Fuller - 3,854 (-308)
9. Chub Frank - 3,776 (-386)
10. Clint Smith - 3,704 (-458)
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