SARVER, Pa. (Sept. 6) — Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., looked like his old dominating self Sunday at Selinsgrove Speedway.
Regaining his winning touch on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, Lanigan passed Morgan Bagley of Tyler, Texas, for the lead on lap 12 and drove away from Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., late in the distance to capture the 17th annual 40-lap Jeff’s Auto Body National Open.
Lanigan, 44, earned $8,200 for winning the half-mile oval’s National Open event for an unprecedented third consecutive year. It was his second WoO triumph of a frustrating 2015 season but his first driving his own Club 29 Race Car.
Clanton settled for runner-up honors, 0.772 of a second behind Lanigan after a lap-48 caution flag set up a green-white-checkered finish. Clanton’s Capital Race Cars teammate, Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., steadily marched forward from the seventh starting spot to finish third, while Bagley settled for fourth place after leading laps 1-11 and Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., placed fifth after starting on the pole position.
“It’s hard to believe it took this long to win a race with our own stuff,” said Lanigan, whose previous WoO victory this season, on July 18 at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn., came in Bagley’s backup Club 29 machine. “After winning so many the last few years (he set a WoO single-season win record of 17 in 2014), you kind of get used to it last year. Then you come out this year and it takes so long to win and you don’t know what’s going on.”
Lanigan, who decided to drop off the WoO circuit as a regular in mid-July and has entered only selected races since then, was certainly glad he opted to make the overnight haul to Selinsgrove after finishing a disappointing 25th in Saturday night’s Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. His convincing performance seemed to shake off the doldrums that have been plaguing him throughout the 2015 campaign.
“We’ve had a good car all year but just had some problems and stupid things happen that are out of our control,” said Lanigan, who recorded his 72nd career WoO win. “Last night (at Lernerville) I think we had the best car there too — we were actually just riding there (behind early leader Jared Miley of South Park, Pa.), but (on a lap-30 restart) we broke the input shaft on the tranny and that was it.
“Tonight everything finally worked out right and our results show it.”
Lanigan, who started fifth, hustled up to second place by lap four and proceeded to stalk Bagley’s lead machine. Finally, on lap 12, Lanigan ducked underneath Bagley off turn four and surged into the top spot for good.
“I was really just riding,” Lanigan said of the race’s early stages. “I didn’t want to abuse my tires and I wanted to just see where (Bagley) was running. He had a good car there, too, and really, we changed our line up a little to pass him.
“I told him afterward: ‘Sometimes it kind of sucks to be leading that early because the guy running behind you can change his line up and put a move on you.’ That’s kind of what I did.”
Bagley, 28, simply wasn’t fast enough to repel his chassis builder, leaving him short once again of his first-ever WoO checkered flag. He managed to dive-bomb to the inside of Lanigan on laps 16 and 17 but then proceeded to lose ground with each passing lap and finished in fifth place.
“It just seems like he was a little more maneuverable than me,” Bagley said of Lanigan. “He could kind of turn across the center and hit a little bit better lines on the racetrack. It got tougher for me as the race went on because I kind of needed the whole racetrack to turn the car.”
Clanton, 39, appeared to have the best shot at unseating Lanigan after breaking into second place with a lap-24 pass of Bagley. But the runaway WoO points leader never drew close enough to seriously threaten Lanigan.
According to Clanton, the caution flags on lap 23 (Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., slowed with a flat tire) and lap 48 (Jim Yoder of Selinsgrove, Pa., fell off the pace on the homestretch) only hurt him.
“I needed no cautions,” said Clanton, who registered his 32nd top-five finish in 38 WoO A-Main starts this season. “We was running good there until that lap-23 caution kind of sealed my left-rear tire up some. I didn’t stick as good after that.”
The 22-year-old Junghans also wasn’t at his best as the race wound down. He managed to sneak by Richards and Bagley to reach third place shortly after the lap-23 restart, but the rising WoO sophomore wasn’t able to threaten Lanigan nor Clanton.
“We were really good,” Junghans said. “I started getting tight towards the end and I spun the tires on the restart and those guys took off, but we’re happy with third.”
Notes: With just four A-Mains left on the WoO schedule — doubleheaders Sept. 18-19 at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich. (Keyser Manufacturing Down 'n Dirty 100 weekend) and Nov. 5-7 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C. (World Finals) — Clanton sits on the verge of clinching the tour's $100,000 championship. He needs to only average a 21st-place finish in the four features to assure himself of his first title. ... Greg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., started fourth but was never a factor after losing his car's brakes on the opening lap. He finished 13th. ... Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., finished sixth in the feature after changing his car's transmission following his heat race. ... Area standout Coleby Frye of Dover, Pa., had his high hopes for the event dashed when a cut right-rear tire caused him to hit the turn-two wall while running third halfway through the fourth heat. He headed pitside with a flat right-rear tire and body damage and tried to continue, but he pulled in after a couple circuits. He jumped into his car owner Larry Baer's machine for the B-Main but didn't qualify. ... Jordan Yaggy of Rochester, Minn., was in a transfer spot late in the fourth heat when he clipped the wall off turn four, dropping him to last on the track. The WoO rookie used a provisional to start the A-Main. ... Selinsgrove standout Jeff Rine of Danville, Pa., was involved in a turn-two tangle on the opening lap of the first heat, forcing him to restart at the rear of the field. He rallied to finish fifth but had to run a B-Main; he won the last-chance event and then marched from the 17th starting spot to a ninth-place finish. ... Saturday night's makeup of June's rained-out Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway cut Selinsgrove's Labor Day visit from WoO competitors to a single race. Promoter Charlie Paige agreed to relinquish the Saturday date to facilitate the Lernerville rescheduling after speaking with WoO officials. ... The Jeff's Auto Body & Recycling Late Model National Open is the Selinsgrove's richest Late Model event.