SARVER, Pa. (June 26) — It wasn’t the race Darrell Lanigan wants more than just about any other on his 2014 schedule, but he’ll take it.
Lanigan, 43, of Union, Ky., broke through for his long-awaited first-ever victory at Lernerville Speedway on Thursday night, capturing the 30-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main that kicked off the eighth annual Firecracker 100 weekend.
“Saturday is definitely the one we’re shooting for,” Lanigan said, pointing toward the $30,000-to-win Firecracker 100 finale that has been a thorn in his side throughout its existence. “But anytime you get a win it’s good — and I’m definitely glad to get the monkey off my back here. We know we’ve got a good piece now and we’ll take it on to the weekend.”
A runner-up in four of the last six Firecracker 100s, Lanigan started from the pole position in the first of two preliminary features leading into this year’s Saturday-night spectacular. He was outgunned for the top spot at the initial green flag by outside-polesitter Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., and lost second to Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., on a lap-nine restart, but the two-time WoO LMS champion stayed within striking distance of the pacesetters and came on strong after a lap-17 caution flag.
Bloomquist, 50, grabbed the lead from Davenport on lap 19 and brought Lanigan with him. Lanigan then charged underneath Bloomquist exiting turn four to assume command as lap 21 was scored and never looked back in his self-designed Club 29 car.
Lanigan drove away from the pack over the final nine circuits, beating Bloomquist to the finish line by 1.462 seconds for his second straight and sixth overall victory of the season on the WoO LMS. The $6,000 triumph pushed his already comfortable lead in the national tour’s standings to 152 points over Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who finished 10th, and assured him of a pole starting spot in a Firecracker 100 heat race on Saturday night.
Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., making his first appearance at the Firecracker 100 in five years, finished hot on Bloomquist’s rear bumper in third place. The reigning Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion came on late in the distance, overtaking Davenport for third on lap 27 and chasing Bloomquist to the checkered flag.
Davenport slipped to fourth at the finish after leading laps 1-18, while Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., moved forward from the seventh starting spot complete the top five.
Lanigan felt he earned every penny of his WoO LMS-best 59th career win, which put him over the $100,000 mark in 2014 earnings after just 15 starts. This was no ordinary win from the pole.
“We fell to second there on the (original) start and then Bloomer got that outside on the (lap-nine) restart and got by us,” Lanigan said. “I just never got a good start, but I felt like we had a good enough car to get back by those guys.
“That Davenport was good on top, which I knew he would be. But that top kind of died, so the track came to us. We just kind of got our groove going, found a good spot. We hit our marks pretty good and the car got great, and passed them both.
“Anytime you pass those guys,” he added, “you’ve definitely done some hard driving.”
Lanigan loaded up his machine after Thursday’s action feeling like maybe his day in the Firecracker 100 spotlight might be coming.
“We ran second here so many times, it seemed like we weren’t doing something right,” Lanigan said. “Everything came together tonight and we finally got a win — and we have awesome piece here, so I think we got a good chance for the weekend. I’m sure the track will be different — it’s a hundred laps, so by the end it should be black from top to bottom — but I think we’ll be ready.”
Bloomquist plans to be primed for Saturday night’s headliner as well. He conceded that he didn’t hit the setup of his Sweet-Bloomquist car on the money in the weekend’s opening leg, so he certainly has room for improvement.
“I was just so tight the entire night,” said Bloomquist, who started fourth. “I was actually surprised I even got in the lead. In (turns) one and two, I had to get the car loose on entrance and throttle up to try and keep it loose and I still couldn’t turn down the hill; it just made me drift up more. And if I kept the car straight and tried to do it, it wouldn’t turn at all.
“I just made some decisions before the feature and tightened up, and it was just way too tight. There’s probably a half-dozen things we changed for the feature that I would probably go back the other way on now, and then there’s a few things I’ve done in the past here that I’m gonna dig back out.”
Two caution flags slowed the event. Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., fell off the pace with a broken driveshaft on lap nine and Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., who debuted a new Leo Milus-owned car, stopped on the backstretch on lap 17.
First consolation (top two transfer): Jared Miley, Tim McCreadie, Eric Wells, John Garvin, Russ King, Dan Angellicchio, Chris Casner, Eric Jacobsen, Tony Mussolino, Chris Casner, Gary Lyle, Davey Johnson, Casey Roberts.
Second consolation (top two transfer): Dave Hess Jr., Chub Frank, Gregg Satterlee, Mike Benedum, Frank Heckenast Jr., Clint Smith, Todd Bachman, Mike Pegher Jr., John Flinner Jr., Chuck Sarver, Mike Altobelli, Colton Flinner.
Third consolation (two two transfer): Dale McDowell, Boom Briggs, Jimmy Mars, Garrett Krummert, Michael Norris, Ken Schaltenbrand, Matt Cochran, Justin Kann, Chase Junghans, Herman Bertolini, Vic Coffey, Bo Lockwood.
(12 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: John Garvin, Jared Miley
Row 2: Tim McCreadie, Eric Wells
Row 3: Chris Casner, Dan Angellicchio
Row 4: Gary Lyle, Russ King
Row 5: Tony Mussolino, Casey Roberts
Row 6: Davey Johnson, Brian Tavenner
Row 7: Eric Jacobsen
Row 1: Dave Hess Jr., Gregg Satterlee
Row 2: Frank Heckenast Jr., Chub Frank
Row 3: Todd Bachman, Mike Benedum
Row 4: Clint Smith, Mike Pegher Jr.
Row 5: John Flinner Jr., Mike Altobelli
Row 6: Colton Flinner, Chuck Sarver
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Justin Kann
Row 2: Jimmy Mars, Boom Briggs
Row 3: Garrett Krummert, Vic Coffey
Row 4: Ken Schaltenbrand, Michael Norris
Row 5: Matt Cochran, Bo Lockwood
Row 6: Chase Junghans, Herman Bertolini
Heat race finishes
First heat (top three transfer): Jimmy Owens, Mike Marlar, Mike Knight, John Garvi, Tim McCreadie, Chris Casner, Gary Lyle, Tony Mussolino, Davey Johnson, Eric Jacobsen.
Second heat (top three transfer): Scott Bloomquist, Tim Fuller, Kent Robinson, Jared Miley, Eric Wells, Dan Angellicchio, Russ King, Casey Roberts, Brian Tavenner.
Third heat (top three transfer): Doug Drown, Morgan Bagley, Alex Ferree, Dave Hess Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Todd Bachman, Clint Smith, John Flinner Jr., Colton Flinner.
Fourth heat (top three transfer): Jonathan Davenport, John Blankenship, Max Blair, Gregg Satterlee, Chub Frank, Mike Benedum, Mike Pegher Jr., Mike Altobelli, Chuck Sarver.
Fifth heat (top three transfer): Darrell Lanigan, Mason Zeigler, Dan Stone, Dale McDowell, Jimmy Mars, Garrett Krummert, Ken Schaltenbrand, Matt Cochran, Chase Junghans.
Sixth heat (top three transfer): Austin Hubbard, Rick Eckert, Shane Clanton, Justin Kann, Boom Briggs, Vic Coffey, Michael Norris, Bo Lockwood, Herman Bertolini.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: John Garvin, Tony Mussolino
Row 3: Davey Johnson, Tim McCreadie
Row 4: Eric Jacobsen, Mike Knight
Row 5: Chris Casner, Gary Lyle
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Kent Robinson
Row 2: Tim Fuller, Jared Miley
Row 3: Eric Wells, Russ King
Row 4: Casey Roberts, Dan Angelicchio
Row 5: Brian Tavenner
Row 1: Doug Drown, Morgan Bagley
Row 2: Alex Ferree, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 3: Dave Hess Jr., Todd Bachman
Row 4: Clint Smith, John Flinner Jr.
Row 5: Colton Flinner
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Mike Benedum
Row 2: Gregg Satterlee, John Blankenship
Row 3: Max Blair, Chub Frank
Row 4: Chuck Sarver, Mike Pegher
Row 5: Mike Altobelli
Row 1: Darrell Lanigan, Dan Stone
Row 2: Mason Zeigler, Garrett Krummert
Row 3: Dale McDowell, Chase Junghans
Row 4: Jimmy Mars, Matt Cochran
Row 5: Ken Schaltenbrand
Row 1: Austin Hubbard, Justin Kann
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Vic Coffey
Row 3: Rick Eckert, Michael Norris
Row 4: Boom Briggs, Herman Bertolini
Row 5: Bo Lockwood
Time trial results (unofficial)
Mike Marlar (157), Pittsburgh, Pa., 16.221
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.425
Doug Drown (20d), Wooster, Ohio, 16.631
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.75
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 16.792
Morgan Bagley (14M), Longview, Texas, 16.805
John Garvin (J4), Sarver, Pa., 16.858
Tim Fuller (19), Watertown, N.Y., 16.883
Alex Ferree (10), Saxonburg, Pa., 16.961
Tony Mussolino II (21), Waterford, Pa., 16.987
Jared Miley (H1), South Park, Pa., 16.994
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99Jr), Frankfurt, Ill., 17.04
Davey Johnson (1J), Latrobe, Pa., 17.177
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 17.181
Dave Hess Jr. (44H), Waterford, Pa., 17.19
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 17.199
Russ King (56), Bristolville, Ohio, 17.251
Todd Bachman (66), Natrona Heights, Pa., 17.338
Eric Jacobsen (5), Sea Cliff Beach, Calif., 17.388
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 17.474
Clint Smith (44), Senoia, Ga., 17.48
Mike Knight (9K), Ripley, N.Y., 17.512
Dan Angelicchio (14), Mt. Pleasant, Pa., 17.53
John Flinner Jr. (48), Zelionpole, Pa., 17.542
Chris Casner (c33), Mifflintown, Pa., 17.575
Brain Tavenner (37), Winchester, Va., 17.773
Colton Flinner (75), Allison Park, Pa., 17.803
Gary Lyle (10L), Leechburg, Pa., 17.935
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 16.543
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 16.845
Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 16.921
Mike Benedum (25b), Salem, W.Va., 17.014
Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 17.02
Justin Kann (66), Hesston, Pa., 17.027
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 17.101
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 17.117
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 17.12
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 17.169
Garret Krummert (29K), Butler, Pa., 17.199
Vic Coffey (32c), Caledonia, N.Y., 17.22
Max Blair (111), Titusville, Pa., 17.237
Dale McDowell (17M), Chickamauga, Ga., 17.251
Rick Eckert (1), York, Pa., 17.326
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 17.495
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 17.606
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 17.608
Chuck Sarver (88), W. Sunbury, Pa., 17.649
Jimmy Mars (28M), Menomonie, Wis., 17.656
Boom Briggs (99b), Bear Lake, Pa., 17.683
Mike Pegher Jr. (1c), Wexford, Pa., 17.691
Matt Cochran (16), Williamsport, Pa., 18.01
Herman Bertolini (7x), Creighton, Pa., 18.04
Mike Altobelli (79), Saxton, Pa., 18.132
Ken Schaltenbrand (29s), Sarver, Pa., 18.157
Bo Lockwood (57), Brookville, Pa., 18.391
Schedule of events
6:50 p.m.: WoO hot laps
7:15 p.m.: WoO time trials (two groups; three cars at a time; two laps)
8 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
· WoO heats (six races; 10 laps; top three transfer)
· WoO feature redraw
· WoO consolations (three races; 12 laps; top two transfer)
· Driver intros
· WoO feature (30 laps)
· Post-race entertainment