MERIDIAN, Miss. (Nov. 16) — Finding a balance between a steady pace and an all-out charge was paramount to Ashton Winger’s success Saturday at Whynot Motorsports Park. The Hampton, Ga., driver found just the right blend in winning a career-high $15,000 in the 25th annual Coors Light Fall Classic.
Winger, who started sixth, took the lead from Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, on lap 60 and pulled away to lead the final 40 laps. He finished a comfortable 1.583 seconds ahead of Erb, while denying the young Texan his first ever victory in a 100-lap main event.
Polesitter Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., driving Randy Thompson’s No. K3, finished third, more than 2 seconds back of the race winner, while Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., improved one position to finish fourth. Michael Page of Douglasville, Ga., charged from 20th to complete the top five.
Winger, who was up to third by lap 17, cleared Lanigan for second following a lap-30 restart and doggedly pursued Erb over the next 30 circuits. Getting by Lanigan early gave Winger plenty to time to concentrate on Erb.
“I think it was huge,” said Winger of his pass on Lanigan. “The racetrack never cleaned up I felt like. It was really racy the whole time, but it got so slick that it was really hard to pass. I’m not sure, but it looked like Darrell pushed a little bit. I don’t know what happened there, if he just pushed or if him and Tyler got together a little bit. I was so focused on what I was doing.
“But it was huge because even whenever me and Tyler lined up next to each other (on two more restarts) I actually went down into (turn) one and did something a little bit different obviously trying to drive by him for the lead. It didn’t work out, but it actually showed me that there was another line there … what I wasn’t doing (correctly). So I think that was a really, really big part of it. Obviously the pass for the lead is the biggest one, but that one on Lanigan was really big too I think.”
Once in second, Winger continued to pace himself. Erb, who led laps 12 through 59 after taking the lead from Dalton Cook, was briefly held up behind a slower car, giving the trailing Winger a perfect opportunity to pounce.
“It was just one mistake behind a lapped car. I followed the 94 (Austin Rettig) too long,” said Erb. “I wasn’t gonna take the lead early, but I was just running the bottom there. I think I ran a really good race except for following (Rettig) for one lap too long on the bottom. I was following the 44 (Dalton Cook) and my lead went to nothing, so I got up the track and just barely got by him. Then I caught the 94 (Rettig).”
Winger rolled by to lead lap 60 and began to pull away. The race was slowed by caution — the fourth of the race — one more time after Winger took the point, but went caution-free over the final 34 laps, giving Winger a chance to exercise his pre-race strategy.
“I told everyone that I really wanted to get somewhere inside the top five and just sit there and ride for 40 or 50 (laps), but you just never know with the tires,” said Winger. “Like (Friday), we blistered three right rear tires. Yeah they’re all soft tires, but we blistered tree of them and I’ve never blistered a tire here in the five to six times I’ve raced here.
“I just wanted to get out there and run smooth and consistent for as long as I could and just pick one (position) off when I could. It all worked out and the cautions fell our way a little bit. Once I got out front, I had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do. It was really, really difficult early because it was patchy where there was some moisture on the racetrack.
“You know it’s kinda deceiving where you could run around that top and make up probably a couple of tenths, but the problem is you risk knocking the spoiler off. It was really harder earlier (to set a conservative pace) than it was later. I really felt like the longer we went and the more green flag laps we had the better I would be, so I was way more comfortable.”
The fourth-starting Erb, who has two top-five finishes in the last three Fall Classics, had a strategy of his own. And it almost came to fruition.
“I know I said I wasn’t gonna push it, but when I took the lead (from Cook) off of turn two, I was just running half throttle,” said Erb. “I was following those guys and they got out about a straightaway from me, but in about three laps they came right back to me. I was just running the middle there, searching around.
“When I passed them, I really thought a caution had come out. They kept saying over the Raceceiver to the lapped cars that you’re getting lapped, you’re getting lapped. When I went by them off of (turn) two, I was like, they must have thrown a caution. I was feeling really good and didn’t really think I was pushing it.”
Lanigan, making just his second career Coors Light Fall Nationals start, was never able to challenge for the lead after watching fellow front-row starter Cook, of Smiths Station, Ala., grab the lead on the opening lap. He stayed in second until Winger went by on lap 32. With 10 laps remaining, he managed to get close enough to Erb to look under his left quarterpanel, but was unable to make the pass.
“Definitely being in the lead makes a big difference, but I don’t know … we were a little free there at the end,” said Lanigan. “We needed a little bit. But all in all, we had a good weekend for (car owner) Randy (Thompson). I got under (Tyler Erb) there once, but that top had a little bit of momentum going and it was hard to clear him there. If I had a few more laps I might have been (able to pass Tyler Erb), but it was just hard to pass there at the end.”
Notes: There hasn’t been a repeat winner in the last 11 Fall Classics. … The win was Winger’s eighth of the season and third at Whynot. He won a Mississippi State Championship Challenge race there on April 20 — his first win of the season — and captured a Durrence Layne Chevrolet Series feature at the 1/4-mile oval on May 26. … The three victories give Winger $20,500 in first-place winnings at Whynot this season. … It was Winger’s second five-figure payday of 2019 following a $10,025 Schaeffer’s Fall Nationals win at Senoia (Ga.) Raceway on Sept. 29. … Last year’s winner, Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, ran in the top five for much of the race before settling for sixth. … Fourteen cars finished the race with nine completing all 100 laps. … David Breazeale’s bid for a third Fall Classic triumph ended with a ninth-place finish. … After leading the first 11 laps, second-starting Dalton Cook finished 14th, three laps off the pace.
Preliminary notes and results
Row 1: Darrell Lanigan, Dalton Cook
Row 2: Devin Moran, Tyler Erb
Row 3: Dennis Erb Jr., Ashton Winger
Row 4: Spencer Hughes, Eric Cooley
Row 5: Dane Dacus, Rick Rickman
Row 6: Neil Baggett, David Breazeale
Row 7: Justin McRee, Jeremy Broadus
Row 8: Michael Arnold, Robbie Starnes
Row 9: Scott Dedwylder, Billy Franklin
Row 10: Brian Rickman, Michael Page
Row 11: Manny Falcon, Morgan Bagley
Row 12: Casey Roberts, Austin Rettig
The first call for Super Late Model drivers to line up (unbuckled and no helmets) was made at 6:36 p.m. ... After a chilly Friday night with temperatures dipping into the upper 30s, Saturday’s action began with a bit milder weather treating drivers and fans. With temp peaking near 60 degrees on Saturday, hot laps got underway at 4:30 p.m. as track officials hoped to beat the dropping mercury. … This year’s Fall Classic drew six fewer entries than the ’18 version, yet there were 19 drivers who attended last season who were not in attendance this year. … After finishing second in the last two Fall Classics, Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., is among those not in attendance this season. … The Fall Classic has been held at three different venues: Whynot (1995-98; 2006-present), Queen City Speedway on the west side of Meridian (1999-’04) and Jackson (Miss.) Motor Speedway (’05). … For the second year in a row, there are just two former winners in the starting lineup and David Breazeale of Four Corners, Miss., is again one of the two, joining last year’s winner Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio. … Breazeale has a chance at a third Fall Classic victory. Of the event’s five two-time winners — Breazeale, Brian Birkhofer, Don O’Neal, Jim McDuffie and Mike Boland — only Breazeale, who won at Jackson (’05) and Whynot (’16), entered this year’s event. … Half of the 16 drivers who qualified through Friday’s heats were in the starting lineup last year also. … Las Cruces, N.M. driver Garrett Alberson’s night ended when he was caught up in a crash on the opening lap of the second consolation race. … Overall fast qualifier Jason Taylor of Amite, La., failed to transfer to the main event. Taylor pulled off the track while running last in the first consy. … No driver improved from qualifying to the end of the heats more than Justin McRee. The Woodstock, Ala., native qualified 15th in his group and started eighth in his heat before rallying to make he main event.
Non-qualifiers race lineup
Row 1: Dean Carpenter, Clay Fisher
Row 2: Nick Thrash, Mark Dodson
Row 3: David Gentry, Jamie Elam
Row 4: Mason Jordan, Mike Myers
Row 5: Jason Taylor, Mike Palasini Jr.
Row 6: Colton Horner, Garrett Alberson
Row 7: Jason Milam
Non-qualifier finish: Mark Dodson, Clay Fisher, Nick Thrash, Mason Jordan, Jamie Elam, Dean Carpenter, Jason Taylor, David Gentry, Mike Myers, Garrett Alberson, Mike Palasini Jr., Jason Milam.
First consolation (top four transfer): Scott Dedwylder, Brian Rickman, Manny Falcon, Casey Roberts, Dean Carpenter, Nick Thrash, David Gentry, Mason Jordan, Jason Taylor. Scratched: Colton Horner, Jason Milam.
Second consolation (top four transfer): Billy Franklin, Michael Page, Morgan Bagley, Austin Rettig, Clay Fisher, Mark Dodson, Jamie Elam, Mike Myers, Mike Palasini Jr., Garrett Alberson.
Saturday's consolation lineups
(Top four transfer)
Row 1: Dwight Falcon, Scott Dedwylder
Row 2: Jason Taylor, Brian Rickman
Row 3: Nick Thrash, Casey Roberts
Row 4: Colton Horner, Dean Carpenter
Row 5: David Gentry, Jason Milam
Row 6: Mason Jordan
Row 1: Morgan Bagley, Billy Franklin
Row 2: Clay Fisher, Michael Page
Row 3: Austin Rettig, Mark Dodson
Row 4: Jamie Elam, Garrett Alberson
Row 5: Mike Myers, Mike Palasini Jr.
Driving Randy Thompson’s iconic No. K3 machine, World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series regular Darrell Lanigan will start from the pole of Saturday’s 25th annual Coors Light Fall Classic. Lanigan, of Union, Ky., steered the Club 29 Race Car to a victory in Friday’s first heat race, topping fellow World of Outlaws regular Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., and Dane Dacus of Lakeland, Tenn.
Lanigan, whose lone Coors Light Fall Nationals start was a 24th-place finish in 2014, was among four heat race winners, joining Dalton Cook of Smiths Station, Ala.; Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series regular Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, the 2018 Fall Classic winner who is again piloting the No. 22 of Alabama’s Tommy Pope; and 2019 Lucas Oil Series rookie of the year Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, who led 31 laps of the main event last year.
Sixteen cars are locked into Saturday’s 100-lap feature, with a pair of consolation races on tap to set the remainder of the 24-car field. In an effort to get ahead of expected cold weather, Saturday’s drivers’ meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., with hot laps to follow at 4 p.m.
Heat race results
First heat (top four transfer): Darrell Lanigan, Dennis Erb Jr., Dane Dacus, Justin McRee, Dwight Falcon, Jason Taylor, Nick Thrash, Colton Horner.
Second heat (top four transfer): Dalton Cook, Ashton Winger, Rick Rickman, Jeremy Broadus, Morgan Bagley, Clay Fisher, Austin Rettig, Jamie Elam, David Gentry, Mike Palasini Jr., Mason Jordan.
Third heat (top four transfer): Devin Moran, Spencer Hughes, Neil Baggett, Michael Arnold, Scott Dedwylder, Brian Rickman, Casey Roberts, Dean Carpenter, Mike Myers.
Fourth heat (top four transfer): Tyler Erb, Eric Cooley, David Breazeale, Robbie Starnes, Billy Franklin, Michael Page, Mark Dodson, Garrett Alberson, Jason Milam.
Heat race lineups
(Eight laps, top four transfer)
Row 1: Jason Taylor, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Dane Dacus, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 3: Colton Horner, Davis Gentry
Row 4: Dwight Falcon, Justin McRee
Row 5: Nick Thrash
Row 1: Rick Rickman, Dalton Cook
Row 2: Clay Fisher, Jeremy Broadus
Row 3: Aston Winger, Morgan Bagley
Row 4: Austin Rettig, Mason Jordan
Row 5: Jamie Elam, Mike Palasini Jr.
Row 1: Devin Moran, Spencer Hughes
Row 2: Michael Arnold, Niel Baggett
Row 3: Scott Dedwylder, Brian Rickman
Row 4: Casey Roberts, Dean Carpenter
Row 5: Mike Myers
Row 1: Tyler Erb, David Breazeale
Row 2: Robbie Starnes, Eric Cooley
Row 3: Mark Dodson, Billy Franklin
Row 4: Michael Page, Garrett Alberson
Row 5: Jason Milam
With the track getting faster throughout time trials, Jason Taylor of Amite, La., turned the overall quick lap among the 37 entries for Saturday’s 25th annual Coors Light Fall Classic. Taylor was the fifth driver in Group B to take the clock. His second lap of 14.121 seconds was easily quicker than Devin Moran’s time of 14.361 seconds. Moran, the 2018 Fall Classic winner, was the last driver to take the track, but still managed to turn the second quickest time overall. Taylor earned the pole position for the night’s first heat race, while Moran starts from the pole of the third heat.
Earning the pole for the second heat, Rick Rickman of Columbus, Miss., toured the 1/4-mile oval in 14.466 seconds, while Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, stopped the clock at 14.577 seconds to claim the pole position for the fourth heat.
The track was a long way from last season’s record-setting speeds — Dane Dacus of Lakeland, Tenn., set the Whynot Motorsports Park track record at 11.928 seconds during qualifying for last year’s Fall Classic — but 24 of the 37 qualifiers did manage to dip into the 14-second bracket. Nineteen of the drivers clocked their fastest time on their second lap, including 11 in Group B.
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Rick Rickman (86), Columbus, Miss., 14.466
Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 14.577
Dalton Cook (44D), Smiths Station, Ala., 14.662
David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 14.688
Clay Fisher (99), Dewitt, Ark., 14.691
Robbie Starnes (25), Baytown, Texas, 14.829
Jeremy Broadus (88), Saucier, Miss., 14.877
Eric Cooley (33), Fulton, Miss., 14.917
Ashton Winger (12), Hampton, Ga., 14.947
Mark Dodson (32), Columbus, Miss., 14.989
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 15.025
Billy Franklin (17), Calera, Ala., 15.028
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo., 15.035
Michael Page (18), Douglasville, Ga., 15.144
Mason Jordan (23), Central, La. 15.181
Garrett Alberson (1), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.184
Jamie Elam (12), Senatobia, Miss., 15.194
Jason Milam (82b), Guntown, Miss., 15.222
Mike Palasini Jr. (D8), Greenville, Miss., 15.282
Jason Taylor (48), Amite, La., 14.121
Devin Moran (22), Dresden, Ohio, 14.361
Darrell Lanigan (K3), Union, Ky., 14.435
Spencer Hughes (11), Meridian, Miss., 14.635
Dane Dacus (54), Lakeland, Tenn., 14.731
Michael Arnold (4), Hattiesburg, Miss., 14.739
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.750
Neil Baggett (86xxx), Columbus, Miss., 14.752
Colton Horner (56jr), Katy, Texas, 14.787
Scott Dedwylder (33), Vossburg, Miss., 14.817
Davis Gentry (56), Murfreesboro, Tenn., 14.872
Brian Rickman (90), Columbus, Miss., 14.901
Manny Falcon (995), Pine Grove, La., 14.920
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 14.996
Justin McRee (61), Woodstock, Ala., 15.000
Dean Carpenter (51), Coldwater, Miss., 15.076
Nick Thrash (31), Meridian, Miss., 15.452
Mike Myers (48M), Ruleville, Miss., 16.967
2 p.m.: Pit gates open
5 p.m.: Grandstands open
6:30 p.m.: Drivers Meeting
7 p.m.: Hot laps/Time trials/Racing
- Super Late Model
- Crate Late Model
- Street stocks
- Factory stock
- 602 Late Models
11 a.m.: Pit and grandstand gates open
3:30 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
4 p.m.: Hot laps/consolations/features
- 24th annual Coors Light Fall Classic
- Crate Late Models
- Street stocks
- Factory stock
- 602 Late Models