SARVER, Pa. (Sept. 4) — Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., returned to his winning ways on Friday night, scoring a convincing victory in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Working Man 50 at Lernerville Speedway.
Taking advantage of his position starting spot, Clanton jumped into the lead at the initial green flag and never looked back in his Ron Davies-owned Capital Race Car. He brushed off a mid-race threat from the Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., en route to beating the red-hot Rocket Chassis house car driver by 0.932 of a second.
The $10,550 victory was the 10th of the 2015 WoO campaign for the 39-year-old Clanton, who simultaneously snapped Richards’s three-race win streak on the national tour and broke a tie with his young rival for top-winner status this season. It also ended Clanton’s personal eight-race winless stretch in WoO competition and pushed his career win total to 30.
“Josh was just a little more maneuverable in traffic lately so we just had to work on our race car in race conditions,” said Clanton, who was the runner-up in three of Richards’s five WoO A-Main wins over the six races leading into Friday’s action. “We’ve had speed the past month, but he’s started in front of me most nights and could get through better than I could — and he was just better than I was at Eriez (Speedway in Hammett, Pa., on Aug. 23).
“But tonight I was better than him. I could be aggressive in the race and pass cars whenever I wanted to, and when you got that much confidence in your car it’s fun to drive.”
Clanton demonstrated just how strong his car was with his expert negotiation of lapped traffic. On at least two occasions he split two slower machines with aggressive moves to put distance between himself and the pursuing Richards.
“They weren’t in my groove,” Clanton said. “They were in there own groove — and when you got three grooves in the racetrack, you can go wherever you want to.”
Clanton’s performance, which extended his already massive WoO points lead to 158 markers over Richards with just six races remaining on the 2015 schedule, was his second of 2015 at Lernerville and provided him a boost of confidence entering Saturday night’s rescheduled $30,000-to-win Firecracker 100.
“Right now everything’s clicking and jelling,” said Clanton, who won the first or two preliminary features for the Firecracker 100 in late June before the big event was postponed by rain. “Our car’s just phenomenal — it showed tonight how good we are on a pretty slick racetrack. If it’s like this (for the 100), we feel good tomorrow night. We got a good starting spot in a heat tomorrow, so if we have Lady Luck on our side maybe we can win another one.
“I definitely have a 100-lap car,” added the 2010 Firecracker 100 winner. “I just got to bide my time in the beginning of the race and not hurt nothing.”
Richards, 27, hustled forward from the sixth starting to run second behind Clanton by lap six and briefly drew close to the leader after the halfway point. But the three-time WoO champion lost ground to Clanton in the race’s late stages and wasn’t able to mount a serious challenge after caution flags on laps 42 and 48.
“I think we gambled on tires a little compared to the rest of the guys up front,” said Richards, who used softer-compound rubber. “We were just biding our time early and we were gaining on Shane that first two-thirds of the race, but I think once the track cleaned up on that really long green flag run he could maneuver a little bit better with his right-rear tire.
“And then my right-front tire is actually going flat right now,” he added while standing in victory lane after the race. “I don’t know how long it’s been doing that — I got really tight going into the corners, so it was good to come home second. I think if we tweak on it for tomorrow we’ll have a good car.”
Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., finished third, advancing from the eighth starting spot to record his career-best run at Lernerville. He reached third place on lap 10 and raced closed to Richards during the A-Main final circuits.
“Josh went a little bit softer on the right-rear and we were a car (length) away from him with like seven or eight (laps) to go so I thought we had a shot at second,” said Heckenast. “I pushed my right-front (tire) off with 20 to go and it was getting really hard to steer, but I haven’t been on this (post-race) stage before so I’m excited.”
Veteran Davey Johnson of Latrobe, Pa., marched forward from the 12th starting spot to place fourth and Rick Eckert of York, Pa., finish fifth after starting in the position but slipping as far back as ninth midway through the race.
Finishing in positions 6-10 were Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.; 16th-starter Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga.; Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa.; Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., who a Firecracker 100 preliminary feature in June; and Paul Wilmoth Jr. of Clarksburg, W.Va., who ran as high as sixth during the race’s first half.
Five caution flags slowed the event.
The first two cautions were for stopped cars — on lap five for Kenny Pettyjohn of Millsboro, Del., and lap seven for Matt Lux of Franklin, Pa. A tangle involving Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., and Michael Lake of Uniontown, Pa., slowed the race on lap eight, and the final two cautions were for drivers who ran into trouble while running fourth — first Alex Ferree of Saxonburg, Pa., who went over the turn-three bank with a flat tire on lap 42, and then Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who clipped the homestretch wall on lap 48 and had to ride a wrecker back to the pit area.
The WoO’s two-day visit to Lernerville concludes on Saturday night with the running of the ninth annual Firecracker 100. The program includes heat races (lineups determined by drivers’ results in June’s preliminary programs), B-Mains, the Uncle Sam 30 Non-Qualifiers’ Race and the 100-lap feature.
Notes: Clanton was victorious on the WoO circuit for the first time since July 28 at Shawano (Wis.) Speedway. He also moved out of tie with Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., to assume sole possession of fifth place on the alltime WoO win list. … WoO regular Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., escaped injury when he flipped his car onto its roof during the third heat. Briggs, who also rolled his car during last year’s Working Man 50 at Lernerville, returned later with his backup, used a provisional to start the A-Main and finished 15th. … The night’s overall fast-timer, Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., was knocked out of the third heat after a tangle with Mike Norris of Sarver, Pa. Hubbard rallied from the rear of the second B-Main to grab the final transfer spot to the feature. ... Eckert passed Ferree on the final lap to win the fourth heat. ... Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., relinquished a top-10 spot in the feature during a lap-five caution period due to a flat tire and completed only two more circuits before retiring. He was in the pit area tuning up for Saturday's rescheduled Firecracker 100; he wasn't on hand for the two preliminary programs when the 100-lapper was rained out in June so he will start tail in a Saturday heat race. … Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., didn’t log a qualifying lap due to fuel-pump issues. He came back to qualify through a consolation and advanced from the 19th starting spot to finish eighth in the feature. … Due to short bursts of rain that surprisingly fell on Lernerville, the scheduled 6:50 p.m. start of hot laps was pushed back to allow for additional track prep. The first group of hot laps went green at 7:55 p.m. and the feature ended at 11:35 p.m.
Preliminary lineups and results:
First B-Main (top 3 transfer): Eric Wells, Gregg Satterlee, Michael Lake, Pancho Lawler, Gary Lyle, Colton Flinner, Herman Bertolini, Tim McCreadie, Dan Angelicchio, Ken Schaltenbrand Jr., Jordan Yaggy, Dan Swartzlander, Mason Zeigler.
Second B-Main (top 3 transfer): Bump Hedman, Matt Lux, Austin Hubbard, Todd Bachman, Chuck Sarver, Ross Robinson, Bill Davis, Derek Stefanick, John Mollick, Devin Lewis, Boom Briggs, Tony Burke.
First heat (top 4 transfer): Chub Frank, Shane Clanton, Chase Junghans, Morgan Bagley, Dan Angelicchio, Gregg Satterlee, Pancho Lawler, Herman Bertolini, Colton Flinner, Mason Zeigler, Tim McCreadie.
Second heat (top 4 transfer): Darrell Lanigan, Josh Richards, Billy Moyer, Paul Wilmoth Jr., Eric Wells, Michael Lake, Ken Schaltenbrand, Jordan Yaggy, Gary Lyle, Dan Swartzlander.
Third heat (top 4 transfer): Frank Heckenast Jr., Kenny Pettyjohn, Jared Miley, Mike Norris, Chuck Sarver, John Mollick, Bill Davis, Boom Briggs, Ross Robinson, Austin Hubbard (DNS) Chris Casner.
Fourth heat (top 4 transfer): Rick Eckert, Alex Ferree, Davey Johnson, Brandon Overton, Bump Hedman, Matt Lux, Todd Bachman, Devin Lewis, Derek Stefanick, Tony Burke.
(10 laps; top 4 transfer)
Row 1: Chase Junghans, Mason Zeigler
Row 2: Chub Frank, Tim McCreadie
Row 3: Shane Clanton, Morgan Bagley
Row 4: Dan Angelicchio, Pancho Lawler
Row 5: Colton Flinner, Herman Bertolini
Row 6: Gregg Satterlee
Row 1: Darrell Lanigan, Josh Richards
Row 2: Billy Moyer, Michael Lake
Row 3: Paul Wilmoth Jr., Eric Wells
Row 4: Dan Swartzlander, Ken Schaltenbrand Jr.
Row 5: Gary Lyle, Jordan Yaggy
Row 1: Austin Hubbard, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Kenny Pettyjohn, Mike Norris
Row 3: Boom Briggs, Jared Miley
Row 4: John Mollick, Chuck Sarver
Row 5: Bill Davis, Ross Robinson
Row 6: Chris Casner
Row 1: Alex Ferree, Rick Eckert
Row 2: Brandon Overton, Matt Lux
Row 3: Davey Johnson, Bump Hedman
Row 4: Todd Bachman, Devin Lewis
Row 5: Derek Stefanick, Tony Burke
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 15.933
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 15.972
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.976
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 16.035
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.101
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 16.112
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.126
Michael Lake (27), Uniontown, Pa., 16.211
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.24
Paul Wilmoth Jr. (B1), Clarksburg, W.Va., 16.307
Morgan Bagley (14M), Tyler, Texas, 16.386
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 16.458
Dan Angelicchio (14), Greensburg, Pa., 16.56
Dan Swartzlander (3), Freeport, Pa., 16.572
Pancho Lawler (93), Hanover, Pa., 16.701
Ken Schaltenbrand (29s), Sarver, Pa., 16.701
Colton Flinner (75), Allison Park, Pa., 16.825
Gary Lyle (10L), Hyde Park, Pa., 16.981
Herman Bertolini (7x), Creighton, Pa., 17.437
Jordan Yaggy (77), Rochester, Minn., 21.689
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., N/T
Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 15.797
Alex Ferree (10), Saxonburg, Pa., 15.912
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99Jr), Frankfort, Ill., 15.933
Rick Eckert (7V), York, Pa., 15.994
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 16.072
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 16.087
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 16.126
Matt Lux (111), Franklin, Pa., 16.2
Boom Briggs (99b), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.305
Davey Johnson (1J), Latrobe, Pa., 16.403
Jared Miley (H1), South Park, Pa., 16.431
Bump Hedman (B22), Sugar Grove, Pa., 16.656
John Mollick (4J), Toronto, Ohio, 16.718
Todd Bachman (66), Natrona Heights, Pa., 16.762
Chuck Sarver (88), West Sunbury, Pa., 16.875
Devin Lewis (73), St. Mary's, Pa., 17.198
Bill Davis (3d), DuBois, Pa., 17.583
Derek Stefanick (44G), Oakdale, Pa., 17.737
Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., 18.203
Tony Burke (23T), Sarver, Pa., 18.739
Chris Casner (c33), Mifflintown, Pa., 99.99