Lanigan grabs sixth WoO victory north of border
By Kevin KovacWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
DRUMMONDVILLE, Quebec (Aug. 23) — Darrell Lanigan’s spectacular 2010 World of Outlaws Late Model Series campaign rolled on Monday night with a conquest north of the border.
The 40-year-old star from Union, Ky., stormed to victory in the tour’s rescheduled 50-lapper at Autodrome Drummond, thrilling the French-Canadian fans with an impeccable performance that saw him master both the top and bottom grooves of the 4/10-mile oval.
And on the strength of his second straight and sixth overall WoO triumph of the season, Lanigan tied Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., as the tour’s winningest driver in 2010 and pulled within 12 points of the defending series champion in the chase for the $100,000 Outlaw title. Richards, who has held the points lead for 25 consecutive races, finished fourth.
Lanigan, who started fourth, used the inside lane to outduel Richards for third place on lap six and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., for second on lap eight, then switched to the outside line to overtake race-long pacesetter Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., for the lead on lap 35. The 2008 WoO champion survived two caution flags over the remaining distance to register his 18th career win on the series and first-ever on Canadian soil.
“The track was excellent tonight,” said Lanigan, who earned $10,600 for winning an event that was postponed by rain June 19. “I want to congratulate (the track crew) on the job they did. I figured it was gonna rubber up and be one lane right in the middle, but man, you could race all over that thing.”
Smith, who started from the pole position, crossed the finish line 1.868 seconds behind Lanigan in the runner-up spot, nipping the late-charging Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., for the position by the length of a nosepiece. Richards settled for fourth after surviving homestretch contact with McCreadie on lap 47 and ninth-starter Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who won the inaugural WoO event at Drummond in 2007, placed fifth.
Fuller, who blasted off the outside pole to lead the race’s first 34 laps, slowed with a cut right-rear tire on lap 40 after tumbling from second to fourth immediately following a lap-38 restart. He returned after a pit stop and rallied to salvage an eighth-place finish.
Lanigan was able to run down Fuller and grab the lead before the former DIRTcar big-block Modified regular was hampered by the leaking tire. Lanigan faked a move to the inside and then put his GottaRace.com Rocket car against the outside berm to sweep in front.
“I got to Fuller and showed him my nose on the bottom,” said Lanigan, who also won on Thursday night at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, N.Y. “I knew he was gonna drop down and block me, so I just went around the top.
“You couldn’t ask for a better car,” the WoO stalwart added after his fifth win in the last nine tour events. “Everything’s just going right for us right now. It’s unbelievable.”
Smith, 45, took advantage of Fuller’s late-race misfortune to reach second place and then held the spot to the checkered flag. The runner-up matched the struggling racer’s best previous finish this season, on March 27 at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas.
“I felt like I let one get away because I felt we had a good enough (Rocket) car to win,” said Smith, who is winless in his last 107 WoO starts dating back to his last score, on June 17, 2008, at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway. “We just missed a little bit on setup. We should’ve put more gear back in it. I was struggling a little off the corner.”
The 36-year-old McCreadie, meanwhile, wasn’t very talkative after his last-lap bid to pass Smith fell short, leaving him with a solid but disappointing third-place finish. He started sixth but fell back to ninth by lap two, forcing him to come from behind.
“We were just a touch harder than everybody on tires,” said McCreadie, explaining his slow start. “It just took a little while to get going. That’s just about it I guess.”
McCreadie’s lap-47 pass of Richards to snare third gained him two points on the championship leader, but the third-place driver in the standings still faces a 48-point deficit to Richards with nine races remaining on the 2010 schedule.
Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who won Drummond’s 2008 WoO event and finished second in 2007, placed sixth. Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., started and finished seventh, while Fuller was eighth, Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., improved one spot to finish ninth and eighth-starter Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., rounded out the top 10.
Modified standout Dale Planck of Homer, N.Y., made his dirt Late Model debut as a teammate to Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., and finished on the lead lap in 12th place.
The race’s only caution flags flew on lap 38 for 358 modified driver Carey Terrance of Hogansburg, N.Y., who spun Chub Frank’s backup car in turn one after coming together with Smith as he was being lapped, and on lap 40 for Fuller’s flat tire.
The WoO completes its late-summer Northeast swing on Tuesday at Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway.
World of Outlaws @ Drummondville: (1) Darrell Lanigan, (2) Clint Smith, (3) Tim McCreadie, (4) Josh Richards, (5) Steve Francis, (6) Rick Eckert, (7) Shane Clanton, (8) Tim Fuller, (9) Chub Frank, (10) Austin Hubbard, (11) Russ King, (12) Dale Planck, (13) Larry Wight, (14) Jill George, (15) Philip Potts, (16) Michael Trapp, (17) Dan Stone, (18) Carey Terrance, (19) Peter Mantha Jr., (20) Boom Briggs, (21) Jay Cardy, (22) Brant Hardin, (23) Zach Frields, (24) Derik Reese. Fast qualifier (among 24 cars): Richards, 17.188 seconds. Heat race winners: Richards, Smith, Eckert.