NEW RICHMOND, Wis. (Aug. 5) — Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., has a history of frustration at Cedar Lake Speedway, but his performance in Friday night’s qualifying program for the 29th annual USA Nationals would seem to indicate his fortunes have taken a dramatic turn.
The reigning World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series champion was the star of the evening. He pulled off a dramatic last-lap pass to win the fourth of sixth 12-lap heat races and scored a flag-to-flag triumph in the 6-lap dash for the preliminary victors, giving him the pole position for Saturday night’s 100-lap finale that boasts a $50,000 top prize.
“I’ve never won nothing here until the B-Main last night,” said Clanton, whose Cedar Lake struggles are made clear by the fact that his best finish in seven previous USA Nationals feature starts is ninth, in 2004 and ’05. “Now I won a B-Main, a heat race, a dash. I ain’t got nothing left but to win the feature now.”
Clanton, 40, demonstrated with his heat-race performance that he’s primed to make a serious bid for Cedar Lake’s crown jewel event. He spent most of the prelim’s 12-lap distance vainly trying to use the inside lane to overtake Chad Simpson of Mount Vernon, Iowa, for the lead until changing tactics and running the top side of the track to victory.
After Clanton’s initial attempt to charge by Simpson off the outside of turn two on lap 10 was stopped by contact with the pacesetter in the middle of the backstretch, Clanton tossed his Capital Race Car around the top of turns one and two on the final circuit and vaulted into the lead. Clinton beat Simpson to the finish line by 0.383 of a second.
“I kept looking in turn one and it was, like, brown, and I didn’t see a (tire) track up there,” said Clanton, who finished a quiet 13th in Thursday night’s 30-lap WoO A-Main. “Then I went up there (on lap 10) and it stuck, but we hit down the back straightaway. I don’t know if he knew I was there or not, but I thought I was far enough ahead that he could at least hear me or something.
“The next lap I said, ‘Piss on it, I’m going even harder.’ I just blew by him then (on the outside) and there was nothing he could do.”
Clanton came back later to control the Pole Dash, beating defending USA Nationals champion Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., by 0.859 of a second.
“Hopefully it’s not a bad omen, but to be on top an start on the pole tomorrow, it feels good,” Clanton said while manning a grill to whip up some post-race food. “I’m gonna be able to eat chicken and sleep good.
“We changed a bunch on our race car to make it steer better and have more traction. Everything worked — I can’t believe it, but it did. We’ll just see the way it falls and see what they do to the racetrack (on Saturday). Hopefully at the end of the 100 laps we’re on top.”
With the dash's finish aligning the first six starting positions of Saturday night's 100-lap feature, Clanton and Davenport — the 2015 champions of the WoO and Lucas Oil Series, respectively — will share the front row. Davenport, 32, won the fifth heat race to lock into the second starting spot.
“We got the motor running so the gremlins have finally left us,” said Davenport, who pulled out of Thursday night’s WoO A-Main during the pace laps due to a misfire in his K&L Rumley Longhorn Race Car. “We’ll just have to keep the fenders on it and see what we got about the midway point (of the 100).”
Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., who overtook five-time USA Nationals champion Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., to win the second heat, finished third in the Pole Dash to grab the feature’s inside second row starting spot. He’ll take the green flag alongside WoO points leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., the Thursday-night WoO feature winner who topped the sixth heat and advanced two positions in the Pole Dash to finish fourth.
Third-row starters in the USA Nationals will be Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., who finished fifth in the dash after setting fast time in qualifying and winning the third heat, and veteran Lance Matthees of Winona, Wis., who placed sixth in the dash after outrunning teenager Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., to win the first heat and crack the USA Nationals feature lineup for the 13th time in his career but first since 2006.
Saturday’s final night of USA Nationals action is scheduled to begin with hot laps at 6:15 p.m. Two B-Mains and a last-chance race will lead into the 100-lap headliner.
Preliminary results and notes:
Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., dominated the 12-lap FANSFund Dash, racing off the pole position to lead the entire distance without facing a single challenge.
Third-starter Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., grabbed second early in the race and stayed there to the finish, flashing under the checkered flag a distant 4.435 seconds behind the victor.
Feger earned $2,500 for winning the event, which was reserved for the drivers who accepted invitations to participate at Cedar Lake as part of the FANSFund. The racers earn their travel money from the FANSFund by competing in the dash.
FANSFund Dash finish (12 laps): 1. Jason Feger ($2,500), 2. Brian Shirley ($2,300), 3. Tyler Bruening ($2,200), 4. Jake O'Neil ($2,100), 5. Jon Henry ($2,000), 6. Tim McCreadie ($1,900), 7. Steve Francis ($1,800), 8. Jonathan Davenport ($1,750), 9. Gordy Gundaker ($1,725), 10. Cody Mahoney ($1,700), 11. Joey Moriarty ($1,675), 12. Ray Moore ($1,650), 13. Tyler Erb ($1,625).
NASCAR Late Model feature
Jason Krohn of Slayton, Minn., turned back race-long challenges from Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., to capture the caution-free 30-lap NASCAR Late Model feature.
Krohn, who registered a pair of top-five finishes in June's UMP DIRTcar Summernationals doubleheader at Cedar Lake, did not enter the Super Late Model portion of this year's USA Nationals because he did not have his primary open-competition motor ready for action. But he made up for his absence from the headline event with a $1,200 triumph in the first of two NASCAR Late Model features on the weekend's undercard.
NASCAR Late Model feature finish: 1. Jason Krohn, 2. Jimmy Mars, 3. Darrell Nelson, 4. Jake Redetzke, 5. A.J. Diemel, 6. Nick Anvelink, 7. Steve Laursen, 8. Mike Nutzmann, 9. Travis Budisalovich, 10. John Kaanta, 11. Jesse Glenz, 12. Greg Nippoldt, 13. Pat Doar, 14. Scott Gilberts, 15. Mike Prochnow, 16. T.J. Adams, 17. Justin Hirt, 18. Tim Isenberg, 19. Buddy Hanestad, 20. Zach Wohlers, 21. Chad Mahder, 22. Chad Williamson, 23. Dave Esse, 24. Rick Hanestad.
FANSFund Dash lineup
Row 1: Jason Feger, Tyler Bruening
Row 2: Brian Shirley, Jake O’Neil
Row 3: Tim McCreadie, Jon Henry
Row 4: Gordy Gundaker, Steve Francis
Row 5: Cody Mahoney, Ray Moore
Row 6: Joey Moriarty, Jonathan Davenport
Row 7: Tyler Erb
NASCAR Late Model feature lineup
Row 1: Jimmy Mars, Jason Krohn
Row 2: Jake Redetzke, Darrell Nelson
Row 3: Steve Laursen, Travis Budisalovich
Row 4: Mike Nutzmann, A.J. Diemel
Row 5: John Kaanta, T.J. Adams
Row 6: Scott Gilberts, Nick Anvelink
Row 7: Pat Doar, Greg Nippoldt
Row 8: Mike Prochnow, Jesse Glenz
Row 9: Chad Mahder, Buddy Hanestad
Row 10: Tim Isenberg, Rick Hanestad
Row 11: Zach Wohlers, Justin Hirt
Row 12: Chad Williamson, Dave Esse
Heat winners dash results
Shane Clanton continued his turnaround night at a track where he's struggled in the past, scoring a flag-to-flag win in the 6-lap dash for heat winners.
No one challenged Clanton, who roared off the pole position to best Jonathan Davenport to the finish line by 0.859 of a second.
With the dash's finish aligning the first six starting positions of Saturday night's 100-lap feature, Clanton and Davenport — the 2015 champions of the WoO and Lucas Oil Series, respectively — will share the front row.
Heat winners dash finish (6 laps): Shane Clanton, Jonathan Davenport, Mason Zeigler, Josh Richards, Eric Wells, Lance Matthees.
Heat winners dash lineup
(6 laps; finish lines up feature)
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Mason Zeigler
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Lance Matthees
Row 3: Eric Wells, Josh Richards
Josh Richards wrestled the lead from polesitter Brandon Overton on lap two and dominated the remainder of the distance, beating Jimmy Mars to the finish line by 1.236 seconds. Overton settled for a third-place finish, inherited the spot when Earl Pearson Jr., who had overtaken Overton for third on lap seven, hit the wall at the end of the homestretch and had to be towed off. The first caution flag of the heat races flew on lap two when Chub Frank slowed with a flat right-rear tire.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Josh Richards, Jimmy Mars, Brandon Overton, Gordy Gundaker, R.C. Whitwell, Chub Frank, Nick Anvelink, Earl Pearson Jr.
Defending USA Nationals champion appeared to get rolling in the fifth prelim, leading wire-to-wire and taking the checkered flag 1.624 seconds in front of Rick Eckert. Brian Shirley crossed the finish line alone in third while Jason Rauen slipped by Boom Briggs off turn four on the final lap to place fourth.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Rick Eckert, Brian Shirley, Jason Rauen, Boom Briggs, Chris Simpson, Ray Moore, Matt Furman.
Shane Clanton has a history of struggles at Cedar Lake but he looked strong pulling off a last-lap pass of race-long pacesetter Chad Simpson to emerge victorious. Clanton tried the outside throughout the distance until finally swinging to the top through turns one and two on lap 10; after contact between the leaders on the backstretch that circuit, Clanton surged around the outside of Simpson the following lap and won by 0.383 of a second. Steve Casebolt was a solid third-place finisher.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Shane Clanton, Chad Simpson, Steve Casebolt, Tyler Erb, Steve Francis, Allen Murray, Cody Mahoney, Brent Larson.
Eric Wells cruised to a flag-to-flag victory, dominating the action to defeat Dennis Erb Jr. by 2.954 seconds. Jason Feger was a distant third while A.J. Diemel made a late charge to finish fourth.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Eric Wells, Dennis Erb Jr., Jason Feger, A.J. Diemel, Jordan Yaggy, Chase Junghans, Joey Moriarty, Taylor Scheffler.
Mason Zeigler drove by Billy Moyer for the lead on lap two and marched on to victory, defeating Moyer by 2.560 seconds. Frank Heckenast Jr. turned back a mid-race challenge from Shannon Babb to claim the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Mason Zeigler, Billy Moyer, Frank Heckenast Jr., Shannon Babb, Jon Henry, Morgan Bagley, Jake O’Neil, Chad Williamson.
Veteran Lance Matthees outgunned Bobby Pierce for the lead at the initial green and never looked back en route to a 12-lap triumph. Pierce attempted to mount a late charge but fell short by 0.559 of a second. Billy Moyer Jr. was a solid third, beating Tim McCreadie by over two seconds.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Lance Matthees, Bobby Pierce, Billy Moyer Jr., Tim McCreadie, Tyler Burning, Joey Coulter, Spencer Diercks, Mitch McGrath, Mike Mullen.
Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., ripped around the 3/8-mile oval in 14.744 seconds in the first of two qualifying groups, giving him fast-time honors for the first time in WoO competition this season and the third time in his career.
Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., was quickest in the second group with a lap of 15.043 seconds.
Two drivers failed to record a qualifying lap: cousins Taylor Scheffler and Mitch McGrath, both of Waukesha, Wis. Scheffler suffered the rougher fate, hitting the outside wall between turns three and four.
A 49-car field is signed in for competition; the only Thursday-night entrant not back to compete is Nick Herrick, who will run the companion card for Cedar Lake's NASCAR Late Model class. … There will be six 12-lap heat races (top three transfer from each) and the winners will compete in a night-ending dash that will determine the first three rows in Saturday night’s 100-lapper. … After seeing his Thursday action end quickly due to a slap of the wall between turns one and two on the opening lap of the fourth heat, Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., has his MB Customs machine patched back together. He will pull double-duty by entering the companion NASCAR Late Model program as well. … Other drivers running both Late Model divisions include A.J. Diemel, Nick Anvelink and Chad Williamson. ... Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., is hopeful that work his crew did on their Longhorn Race Car to correct the misfire that forced him out of Thursday’s feature before the initial green flag will get him back on track toward defending his 2015 USA Nationals crown. “We’ve changed everything,” he said. “We won’t know if it’s fixed until we get on the track. It doesn’t show up until it’s under a full (racing) load.” … Steve Francis of Bowling Green, Ky., is back behind the wheel of the David Peterson-owned car he started Thursday’s action in. The machine was sidelined during heat competition due to a broken yoke on the back of the transmission; he ran the B-Main in a backup car but replaced the transmission and rearend in his primary mount for Friday’s program. … Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio, was just trying to feel out the Cedar Lake oval and “get some laps on hard tires” at the rear of a Thursday B-Main when he couldn’t avoid a car that spun in front of him. His machine’s right-rear axle tube exploded from the impact, leaving him in need of a new rearend to continue his weekend of racing. A link-up with open-wheel modified racer Paul Wrazidlo put him in contact with veteran Dirt Late Model owner J.R. Haley of Baldwin, Wis., who had a rearend available at his nearby shop; Wrazidlo drove Henry to Haley’s place in his RV to pick up the rearend and keep Henry racing. … Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., was an early retiree from Thursday night’s feature because he wasn’t pleased with his performance. … Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., won a Thursday heat race but ended up having to fix the right side of his car after being swept up in a multi-car tangle in turn four on lap 19 of the feature. When Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., spun after a scrape with A.J. Diemel of Elk Mound, Wis., Junghans saw Wells bounce over his car’s front end. “He did a ‘smoky’ across my nose,” said Junghans, whose car still sports a telltale tire mark from Wells on its nosepiece.
The 29th annual USA Nationals weekend continues on Friday night at Cedar Lake Speedway with a World of Outlaws Late Model Series qualifying program. Time trials and 12-lap heat races (with three-car inversions from qualifying) will be contested to set a portion of the field for Saturday night’s $50,000-to-win 100-lapper.
Two Late Model dashes will also be part of Friday’s card. One will pit the heat winners in a battle for starting spots in Saturday night’s 100-lapper, and the other will feature the drivers who came to Cedar Lake as part of the traditional FANSFund program.
Eleven drivers accepted invitations to participate at Cedar Lake as part of the FANSFund, which annually raises money through fan and sponsor donations in an effort to attract additional entrants to the crown-jewel event. The group of drivers will line up by voting order in Friday night’s 12-lap FANSFund Dash, which pays a minimum of $2,500 to win and $1,500 to start and allows the competitors to race for their portion of the fund’s travel money.
Drivers who are set to compete in the FANSFund Dash include Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., Tyler Bruening of Decorah, Iowa, Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., Jake O’Neil of Tucson, Ariz., Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio, Gordy Gundaker of St. Charles, Mo., Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., Cody Mahoney of Madison, Ind., Ray Moore of Haughton, La., Joey Moriarty of Phoenix, Ariz., Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., and Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas.
Friday’s program, which also includes a full show for Cedar Lake’s NASCAR Late Model division, is scheduled to begin with hot laps at 6:15 p.m. CT. Time trials and racing will immediately follow.
Heat race lineups
(12 laps; top 3 transfer)
Row 1: Bobby Pierce, Lance Matthees
Row 2: Tim McCreadie, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 3: Spencer Directs, Tyler Bruening
Row 4: Mike Mullen, Joey Coulter
Row 5: Mitch McGrath
Row 1: Billy Moyer, Mason Zeigler
Row 2: Frank Heckenast Jr., Shannon Babb
Row 3: Jon Henry, Morgan Bagley
Row 4: Jake O’Neil, Chad Williamson
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Jordan Yaggy
Row 2: Eric Wells, Chase Junghans
Row 3: A.J. Diemel, Jason Feger
Row 4: Joey Moriarty, Taylor Scheffler
Row 1: Steve Casebolt, Chad Simpson
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Steve Francis
Row 3: Tyler Erb, Cody Mahoney
Row 4: Brent Larson, Allen Murray
Row 1: Rick Eckert, Jonathan Davenport
Row 2: Brian Shirley, Boom Briggs
Row 3: Chris Simpson, Ray Moore
Row 4: Matt Furman, Jason Rauen
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Josh Richards
Row 2: Jimmy Mars, Nick Anvelink
Row 3: Earl Pearson Jr., Chub Frank
Row 4: Gordy Gundaker, R.C. Whitwell
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 14.744
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99Jr), Frankfort, Ill., 14.805
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 14.969
Jordan Yaggy (77), Rochester, Minn., 15.016
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.058
Lance Matthees (90), Winona, Wis., 15.059
Dennis Erb Jr. (28e), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.064
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.078
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.109
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.198
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 15.284
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 15.329
Spencer Diercks (29), Davenport, Iowa, 15.397
Jon Henry (15H), Ada, Ohio, 15.403
A.J. Diemel (58), Elk Mound, Wis., 15.403
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 15.405
Morgan Bagley (14M), Tyler, Texas, 15.415
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 15.42
Mike Mullen (99), Suamico, Wis., 15.444
Jake O'Neil (0), Tucson, Ariz., 15.527
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz., 15.545
Joey Coulter (2c), Charlotte, N.C., 15.634
Chad Williamson (57), Watertown, S.D., 15.763
Taylor Scheffler (10s), Waukesha, Wis., no time
Mitch McGrath (74), Waukesha, Wis., no time
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 15.043
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 15.058
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.081
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.102
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 15.145
Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 15.172
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 15.194
Rick Eckert (7), York, Pa., 15.203
Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 15.222
Steve Francis (15), Bowling Green, Ky., 15.274
Boom Briggs (99b), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.289
Nick Anvelink (15), Bonduel, Wis., 15.293
Tyler Erb (91), Magnolia, Texas, 15.326
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 15.383
Earl Pearson Jr. (1P), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.415
Cody Mahoney (4), Hanover, Ind., 15.477
Ray Moore (93), Haughton, La., 15.513
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.516
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 15.559
Matt Furman (51), Portland, Ore., 15.584
Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 15.644
Allen Murray (2), San Antonio, Texas, 15.684
Jason Rauen (98), Farley, Iowa, 15.692
R.C. Whitwell (96T), Tucson, Ariz., 15.958