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Lanigan claims second WoO victory at Ocala

March 26, 2011, 5:10 am
By Kevin Kovac
World of Outlaws Late Model Series
Darrell Lanigan celebrates at Ocala. (rewingphotos.com)
Darrell Lanigan celebrates at Ocala. (rewingphotos.com)

OCALA, Fla. (March 25) – Darrell Lanigan has really taken a liking to Ocala Speedway.

The 40-year-old star from Union, Ky., emerged victorious for the second time in as many career starts at the egg-shaped track, capturing Friday night’s World of Outlaws Late Model Series Sunshine 50. | Slideshow | Video

“Our car runs pretty good here,” said the modest Lanigan, who won the national tour’s inaugural event at Ocala almost exactly one year ago. “We definitely like coming to this place.”

Continuing his torrid comeback in the wake of missing last month’s WoO season opener at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., due to a medical issue, Lanigan scored his second victory in a row to join Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., as the tour’s only winners in four 2011 events. Lanigan pocketed $10,675 just six days after earning over $20,000 for winning the Cash Cow 100 at Columbus (Miss.) Speedway.

Lanigan, who started fifth, steered his self-owned Rocket Race Car into third place by the second lap. The 2008 series champion drove underneath Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., for second on lap 13 and made the same move to overtake race-long leader Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., for the lead on lap 18.

The remainder of the distance belonged to Lanigan, who kept Richards at arm’s length and survived a lap-49 caution flag that forced a green-white-checkered conclusion.

Richards, who started third, settled for a season-best finish of second in his Rocket mount. He nearly passed Davenport for the lead on lap 12 but skirted high in turns one and two the following circuit, losing the runner-up spot to Lanigan.

Davenport, who started from the pole position, relinquished second to Richards on a lap-18 restart but held on to finish third in the Barry Wright Race Cars house car. Reigning DIRTcar Summernationals champion Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., ran among the top five for the entire distance and finished fourth, while series veteran Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., was fifth for his first top-five run of the season.

“The track was a little one-lane tonight, but it was still racy at the beginning and you had to get there (to the front) – and we had the best car to get there,” said Lanigan, who recorded his 21st career WoO victory. “I knew I didn’t have too long to get to the front. We got to third quick, and then those two guys (Richards and Davenport) slipped up a little and we were able to get by ‘em.”

Lanigan maintained a half- to full-second edge over Richards throughout the green-flag run stretching from lap 18 to 49. He had just taken the white flag when the race’s third and final caution flag flew after Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., spun out of eighth place in a chain-reaction scramble caused by the slowing car of Seaford, Del.’s Austin Hubbard, who was struck by a flat right-rear tire while holding fifth place.

Richards, 23, was unable to offer a challenge on the ensuing two-lap sprint to the finish. He acknowledged that he had effectively allowed his opportunity to reach victory lane for the first time in 2011 slip through his fingers when his bid to unseat Davenport fell short early in the distance.

“When I was up beside of Davenport (on lap 12) he did what he had to do – he got wide and tried to run me out a little,” said Richards, who has won the last two series championships. “When we slipped up (in turns one and two), Darrell got by. That was our shot right there. I knew from then on that there wouldn’t be much passing and Darrell was good, so it would be tough to get back by him.

“I took a chance. I probably should’ve waited because Davenport was softer on tires, but you never know. I knew the bottom was getting rubbered up and I knew we had tire at the beginning, so I figured if we were gonna make a move I probably should try it. It didn’t work out this time, but we still had a good car and it was a good night for us.”

Richards vaulted from fifth to second in the series standings with his performance, closing within two points of Moyer, who remained the leader despite tumbling to 20th in the finish. Lanigan, meanwhile, cracked the top 10 for the first time this season, reaching ninth place, 56 points back of Moyer.

Both of the race’s early cautions involved Chip Brindle of Chatsworth, Ga., a Crate Late Model standout making his first-ever series start. He spun in turn four on lap five as part of a tangle that included Jill George of Cedar Falls, Iowa, who ran a backup car after a consolation race accident forced her to use a provisional to start the headliner, and 2011 Rookie of the Year contender Brian Reese of Sharpsburg, Ga., and the upstart spun again on the backstretch on lap 18.

Rick Eckert of York, Pa., finished sixth and Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., placed seventh despite racing the final two laps with a virtually flat right-rear tire. Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., made his home track fans proud by advancing from the 17th starting spot to finish eighth, while Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., and Tim McCreadie, whose night went downhill after he fell from second to fifth with two laps remaining in his heat race because he clipped the inside tractor tire in turn two, rounded out the top 10 finishers.

Hubbard established a new track record in time trials, blazing around the track in 14.873 seconds. He was one of six drivers in the 28-car field to surpass the former one-lap standard of 15.041 seconds set by Richards on Feb. 13, 2011.

The World of Outlaws continues its Southeastern tripleheader Saturday night at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga., and Sunday night at Needmore Speedway in Norman Park, Ga.

Sunshine 50: (1) Darrell Lanigan, (2) Josh Richards, (3) Jonathan Davenport, (4) Jason Feger, (5) Chub Frank, (6) Rick Eckert, (7) Shane Clanton, (8) Ivedent Lloyd Jr., (9) Steve Francis, (10) Tim McCreadie, (11) Vic Coffey, (12) Brent Robinson, (13) Pat Doar, (14) Ron Davies, (15) Tim Fuller, (16) Clint Smith, (17) John Lobb, (18) Brian Reese, (19) Austin Hubbard, (20) Billy Moyer, (21) Jill George, (22) Tyler Ivey, (23) Chip Brindle, (24) David Breazeale. Fast qualifier (among 28 cars): Hubbard, 14.873 seconds. Heat race winners: Hubbard, Lanigan, Davenport. Consolation race winner: Robinson.

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