Cedar Lake Speedway
T-Mac opens USA Nat'ls weekend with a victory
By Kevin KovacWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
NEW RICHMOND, Wis. (Aug. 5) — Tim McCreadie put $5,000 in his pocket on Thursday night at Cedar Lake Speedway. Now he’d like to grab a check with one more zero.
A hard-fought victory in Thursday’s 40-lap DIRTcar UMP Late Model feature was a solid first step toward the $50,000 top prize up for grabs in the 3/8-mile track’s 23rd annual USA Nationals presented by U.S. Steel, which takes center stage with time trials, heat races and a dash on Friday night and the consolation races and 100-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series event on Saturday. | Complete USA Nationals coverage | Video | Slideshow
McCreadie, 36, of Watertown, N.Y., assured himself a starting spot in Saturday night’s USA Nationals headliner with his midweek triumph. The highest finisher in Thursday’s DIRTcar UMP feature who doesn’t qualify for the 100 receives a provisional to start last in the 26-car field.
“I wish we could carry it all over to tomorrow, but you can only race what’s in front of you,” said McCreadie, who is currently third in the WoO points standings as he aims to repeat his 2006 title on the national tour. “At least we know we definitely have a car that’s competitive. We just gotta do some tricks to hopefully make it good for qualifying tomorrow night and in the 100-lapper on Saturday.”
McCreadie started from the pole position and led the entire distance in the Sweeteners Plus Rocket, but he had to hold off challenges from his fellow WoO LMS regulars Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., and Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., to secure the checkered flag. Richards came from the sixth starting spot to bid for the lead after the halfway point, but the defending WoO LMS champion settled for a second place finish after his hopes were hampered by the race’s lone caution flag on lap 28.
Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished third, nipping Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., by inches at the finish line. Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who started 10th, picked up two spots after the lap-28 caution period for the stopped car driven by Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., and completed the top five.
McCreadie was an excited winner after defeating Richards by 0.488 of a second in a race that at one point had the top-five cars running under a virtual blanket around the fast, high-banked track.
“Man, this place is aggressive,” said McCreadie, winded after whipping off 40 intense laps in just over 12 minutes. “It got pretty wild out there. I saw Austin almost by me (with an inside move in turns three and four on lap 17) and I saw Josh beside me (rounding turns one and two on lap 26), but I just stayed on the gas up on the cushion and was lucky enough to hold them off.
“I was so good up there in (turns) one and two I didn’t dare to get off it. I did that once to get under Scott (Bloomquist) when I was trying to lap him and it didn’t work, so I didn’t want to do it again and cost us a win.”
The caution flag certainly benefited McCreadie, who kept Richards at bay during the final 12-lap sprint to the finish. Richards, 22, knew his best shot at unseating McCreadie was lost when the yellow lights blinked on.
“I thought we had a chance because we were reeling (McCreadie) in pretty good (after reaching second with a lap-21 pass of Hubbard),” said Richards, the current WoO LMS points leader. “But once the caution came out he got some clean air and was able to get out there and keep his momentum up.
“We were trying hard — that was one heck of a race,” he added, sweat dripping from his face during the post-race ceremonies. “I had a lot of fun racing with Darrell, Timmy, Mars and Austin. If the fans didn’t like that, they should go somewhere else. That’s about as good as it gets I think.”
A winner for the first time since capturing the WoO Gopher 50 on July 7 at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn., McCreadie heads into Friday’s USA Nationals qualifying program confident about his chances for a five-figure triumph. He has a solid performance record in the 100-lap event; he was third last year, fourth in 2005 and 2007 and was leading the race with just 20 laps to go in 2008 when a broken wheel left him with a heartbreaking 20th-place finish.
“We’ve had a good car almost every time we’ve been here and that’s a good feeling,” said McCreadie. “I know there’s places we go that we struggle, so it’s nice that a big-time paying race is at a track where I actually feel comfortable.”
Hubbard, who started from the outside pole in his first-ever start at Cedar Lake, slipped to sixth at the finish. Fifth-starter Rick Eckert of York, Pa., placed seventh, five-time USA Nationals winner Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., advanced from the 12th starting spot to eighth, 18th-starter Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., was ninth and Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., rounded out the top 10.
Clint Smith was scheduled to start 13th, but engine trouble in his own No. 44 forced him to take the green flag from the rear of the field in Shane Clanton’s backup car
Moyer was fastest in the 53-car qualifying session with a lap of 13.257 seconds. He started third in the sixth heat, however, because the top-18 qualifiers were inverted.
Among the drivers who ran into trouble and didn’t turn a time-trial lap were WoO LMS veteran Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., and Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga. Both racers experienced engine trouble and scratched from the remainder of the night’s competition.
Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., and Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill. — the reigning and former DIRTcar Summernationals and DIRTcar UMP national champions, respectively — failed to qualify for the A-Main. Feger missed transferring by one spot in the first B-Main and Erb finished sixth in the third last-chance event.
The USA Nationals weekend continues at Cedar Lake Speedway on Friday and Saturday. The World of Outlaws Late Model Series will sanction the headline event, which features time trials, heat races and a dash on Friday night and last-chance races and the $50,000-to-win 100-lapper on Saturday evening.
UMP @ Cedar Lake: (1) Tim McCreadie, (2) Josh Richards, (3) Darrell Lanigan, (4) Jimmy Mars, (5) Steve Francis, (6) Austin Hubbard, (7) Rick Eckert, (8) Billy Moyer, (9) Shane Clanton, (10) Brian Shirley, (11) Brady Smith, (12) Daren Freidman, (13) Chad Simpson, (14) Scott Bloomquist, (15) Bub McCool, (16) Brian Birkhofer, (17) Earl Pearson Jr., (18) Shannon Babb, (19) Matt Miller, (20) Russ King, (21) Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, (22) Matt Lux, (23) Pat Doar, (24) Clint Smith.
First heat: McCreadie, Pearson, C. Smith, Birkhofer, Hensel, Schlieper, Z. Johnson, Fegers, Frank (scratched).
Second heat: Hubbard, B. Smith, Hollingsworth, Feger, Foss, Lux, Harris, Sather. Scratched: Davenport
Third heat: Lanigan, Shirley, Babb, Chris Simpson, King, O’Neal, McGuire, Hapka, Wennen.
Fourth heat: Mars, Francis, Friedman, Doar, Vaught, Diemel, Hansen, T. Anvelink. Scratched: N. Anvelink.
Fifth heat: Eckert, McCool, Clanton, Miller, Bloomquist, Mathees, Hubert, Hill, Rihn.
Sixth heat: Richards, Moyer, Chad Simpson, Fuller, Erb, Pember, McKay, Parker.
First consolation: Birkhofer, Lux, Feger, Z. Johnson, Schlieper, Hensel, Fegers, Harris, Foss. Scratched: Sather, Frank, Davenport.
Second consolation: King, Doar, O’Neal, Chris Simpson, Hansen, McGuire, Hapka, Diemel, Vaught. T. Anvelink. Scratched: Wenne, N. Anvelink
Third consolation: Miller, Bloomquist, Fuller, Mathees, Pember, Erb, McKay, Hubert, Parker, Rihn, Hill.
Correction: Fixes author