BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 20) — Nothing can stop Shane Clanton.
Dale McDowell provided Dirt Late Model racing’s hottest driver a stern test, but Clanton wasn’t to be denied a second consecutive World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory in Friday night’s 50-lap A-Main at Volusia Speedway Park.
After Clanton’s race-long — and often completely dominant — stint at the front of the pack came to an end on lap 31 when McDowell surged into the lead, a caution flag on lap 36 gave Clanton new life. The 39-year-old driver from Zebulon, Ga., cooled his tires and stormed back ahead, sailing around the outside of Chickamauga, Ga.’s McDowell on lap 38 and then pulling away to a $10,000 triumph that was his third in four DIRTcar Nationals starts and his fourth overall of an absolutely sizzling Georgia-Florida Speedweeks.
Clanton crossed the finish line 1.479 seconds ahead of McDowell, whose inside line couldn’t match the speed Clanton built up on the top of the half-mile oval in the closing circuits.
"God dog this feels good," said Clanton, who has tallied a perfect six top-five finishes in six WoO events this season to build a healthy 82-point edge in the national tour’s standings. "Hats off to (Capital car builder) Marshall Green and (car owner) Ron Davies and everyone that helps on this program. It's been a long road. Hopefully we can keep on this road because we're loving it."
Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., finished third, registering one of his best runs at Volusia in years. The 53-year-old WoO veteran climbed as high as second from the sixth starting spot, but after following McDowell past Clanton he also fell victim to the eventual winner’s post-caution rally.
Outside polesitter Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., finished fourth after slipping outside the top five through the race’s middle stages and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., advanced from the 10th starting spot to place fifth.
Friday's victory didn't come nearly as easy as Clanton's dominating flag-to-flag performance on Thursday night. Starting from the pole, Clanton cruised through the early portions of the 50-lap race — building an advantage of over 7 seconds while gliding through lapped traffic — before the first caution with 21 laps complete erased his massive lead.
The seventh-starting McDowell took advantage of the restart to grab second from Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and quickly moved to challenge Clanton for the lead. After chasing Clanton for 10 laps, McDowell completed the pass on lap 31 when Clanton jumped the turn-four cushion.
As McDowell pulled away, Clanton lost second to Frank and was in danger of dropping ever farther back before the second of the race's two cautions gave him a much-needed respite on lap 36.
The break in the action was just what Clanton needed to get his No. 25 machine back in gear. He quickly cleared Frank for second on the restart and, after a side-by-side battle with McDowell, completed a high-side pass to regain the lead on lap 38.
"Dale made me get up on the wheel," Clanton said of the battle with his fellow Peach State driver. "I was driving too hard and sealed the right-rear tire. Luckily that caution came out and let me cool it off and get the edges back cool so it would go again."
McDowell fell just short of claiming his first WoO LMS victory since 2005, but his runner-up effort continued a solid week at Volusia for the 48-year-old former series regular.
"The caution killed us," said McDowell, who enters Saturday's DIRTcar Nationals finale with a pair of runner-up finishes and a sixth-place result in the three events he's entered so far this week. "It kinda dirtied up his groove up top when we ran that long green. Under the caution, it packed it back down. I knew where he was going, but I was a little too tight to go up there.
"We're happy with a top-three a couple of times already. We'll work on it a little bit more for tomorrow night and see if we can go one spot better."
The third-place finish continues Frank's string of improved performances since switching to a Longhorn Chassis at the start of the season. Looking to end a more than five-year WoO winless streak, the series veteran is pleased with the performance of his new car.
"This car's been really good," Frank said. "We ran third over at Ocala and ran some top fives and stuff. We're real happy with the car and the way things are gelling. We just gotta keep it going."
Lanigan, the three-time and defending WoO champion, slid back to sixth at the finish after charging from his ninth starting spot all the way to second in just six laps. Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., logged his best WoO finish of the season with a seventh-place effort, while Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., advanced from 22nd to eighth. Former WoO champion Rick Eckert of York, Pa., finished ninth with three-time series titlist Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., placing a quiet 10th.
The race was slowed on just two occasions with the first yellow flag appearing when Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., slowed on lap 21. Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., caused the second caution when he slowed from the fourth position with damage to the right front of his race car after a bout with the cushion.
The DIRTcar Nationals conclude on Saturday with another $10,000-to-win World of Outlaws Late Model Series event.
Can Shane Clanton be stopped? It sure looks like everything is going his way after he drew the A-Main pole position for the second consecutive night. He will share the front row with Scott Bloomquist, who asserted that he's back to his triumphant Wednesday-night form after struggling on Thursday because he was testing new ideas that didn't work. ... Dale McDowell will have to make some moves to get the front after picking the seventh starting spot. ... Provisionals went to Tim McCreadie (2014 WoO points), Frank Heckenast Jr. ('15 WoO points), Chase Junghans (WoO emergency) and Boom Briggs (WoO emergency). ... The DIRTcar big-block modified feature began shortly after 9 o'clock and the Late Model main will follow.
First B-Main finish (10 laps; top 4 transfer): Don O'Neal, Rick Eckert, Morgan Bagley, Earl Pearson Jr., Chase Junghans, Jordan Yaggy, Tyler Bruening, Kyle Bronson, Steve Francis, Donny Schatz, Dan Stone, Mark Dotson, Mark Whitener, Chad Hollenbeck, Dennis Franklin, Dennis Erb Jr.
Second B-Main finish (10 laps; top 4 transfer): Brandon Overton, Kent Robinson, Brandon Sheppard, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Stormy Scott, Boom Briggs, Tim McCreadie, Gregg Satterlee, Frank Heckenast Jr., Michael Norris, Billy Ogle Jr., James Rice, Austin Smith, Tyler Clem, Mike Altobelli Jr.
Back on track after a subpar Thursday-night performance, Scott Bloomquist led all the way to capture the final qualifier. Ricky Weiss finished 1.739 seconds behind in second, with Mason Zeigler and Casey Roberts taking the final transfer spots.
Finish (top 4 transfer): Scott Bloomquist, Ricky Weiss, Mason Zeigler, Casey Roberts, Brandon Overton, Kent Robinson, Boom Briggs, Tim McCreadie, Tyler Clem, Michael Norris, James Rice.
Dale McDowell cruised to victory, but behind him there was a scramble for position the race's only caution flag flew on lap nine when Billy Ogle Jr. spun between turns three and four. Chub Frank maintained second place in the one-lap shootout, but Josh Richards shot from fifth to third, leaving Kenny Pettyjohn fourth and knocking Stormy Scott out of a transfer spot. Frank Heckenast Jr. was an early retiree.
Finish (top 4 transfer): Dale McDowell, Chub Frank, Josh Richards, Kenny Pettyjohn, Stormy Scott, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Brandon Sheppard, Austin Smith, Gregg Satterlee, Billy Ogle Jr., Mike Altobelli Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr.
Eric Wells charged underneath Walker Arthur for the lead on lap five and marched on to defeat the Virginian by over three seconds. Arthur turned back a last-lap challenge from Billy Moyer to finish second and move to the redraw. Moyer settled for third and Jared Landers placed fourth.
Finish (top 4 transfer): Eric Wells, Walker Arthur, Billy Moyer, Jared Landers, Rick Eckert, Morgan Bagley, Chase Junghans, Tyler Bruening, Steve Francis, Dan Stone, Kyle Bronson, Mark Whitener.
The Shane Clanton juggernaut continued as the Georgian dominated the prelim, winning by 3.427 seconds over Jonathan Davenport, who slipped by Darrell Lanigan for second on the opening lap. Lanigan settled for third and Jimmy Owens claimed the final transfer spot. Among those headed to the B-Main: Thursday top-five finishers Earl Pearson Jr. and Don O'Neal. Dennis Erb Jr. was an early retiree, pulling off the track late in the distance as he was lapped by Clanton.
Finish (top 4 transfer): Shane Clanton, Jonathan Davenport, Darrell Lanigan, Jimmy Owens, Don O'Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Jordan Yaggy, Mark Dotson, Donny Schatz, Chad Hollenbeck, Dennis Erb Jr., Dennis Franklin.
Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., continued to shine on the DIRTcar Nationals stage, backing up his WoO victory on Thursday night by registering the overall fastest lap of the split-group time-trial session. His clocking of 15.717 seconds gave him the pole position for the evening's first heat.
Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., was fastest in the second group with a lap of 15.745 seconds. He will start the third heat from the pole.
Others polesitters are Walker Arthur of Forrest, Va., and Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn.
The DIRTcar Nationals continue Friday with the second of three consecutive nights of racing sanctioned by the World of Outlaws Late Model Series — all shows topped by 50-lap A-Mains paying $10,000 to the victor.
Friday night’s program features the usual WoO format: split-group qualifying, heat races, B-Mains and a 50-lap headliner.
After a bone-chilling evening of racing on Thursday night, conditions have improved slightly for Friday’s WoO program. The wind has calmed down significantly and temperatures have inched up into the lower 50s and aren’t expected to drop to the freezing point tonight; skies also remain brilliantly sunny. … A field of 47 cars is signed in for action. … Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., was pumped about his chances to win Thursday night’s WoO feature — until his heat race ended. Making his first start of the week, Owens drove into the lead at the start of his 8-lap prelim and was thrilled with his Rowland Racing car’s performance during the early laps. “That was probably the best I’ve ever felt here,” he later pronounced. But while he won the heat, smoke that trailed from his car in the closing circuits signaled big problems; he ended up having to park the sweet-running mount due to engine woes and start at the back of the 50-lap feature in his backup car. Owens managed to work his way forward to a respectable ninth-place finish; he’s installed another engine in his primary car for Friday’s action. … Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., experienced his first major setback of 2015 on Thursday when an oil line apparently broke on his Longhorn car after he took his time-trial laps. He was unable to unload his backup Rocket car in time to run a heat and used a provisional to start the feature, which he finished in the 22nd position. He’s dropped a backup engine in his Longhorn machine for Friday’s competition. … Rodney Sanders of Happy, Texas, loaded up and headed home before Thursday night’s program was over after flipping once during the first B-Main, capping a rough Speedweeks Dirt Late Model debut for the 25-year-old. It was his second rollover of the Speedweeks — his other car was sidelined when he went over on Feb. 6 at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. — and he also was down to his last engine after experiencing problems on Wednesday night. Sanders, by the way, drove directly to chassis builder Ronnie Stuckey’s shop in Shreveport, La., and was there late this afternoon dropping off his damaged Black Diamond-Club 29 cars for repair. … Michael Norris of Sarver, Pa., has switched to his backup car after his primary machine was sidelined by engine trouble on Thursday night. … Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., got a boost of confidence from his 20th-to-fourth run in Thursday night’s feature. “We went softer on tires so we pretty much used ‘em up getting to fourth,” he said. “But it was a great night for us. Nobody had anything for Clanton, but I feel like we were about the same as (runner-up Don) O’Neal and (third-place Jonathan) Davenport.”
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top 4 transfer)
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Mark Dotson
Row 3: Jimmy Owens, Jordan Yaggy
Row 4: Earl Pearson Jr., Don O’Neal
Row 5: Donny Schatz, Dennis Franklin
Row 6: Chad Hollenbeck, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 1: Walker Arthur, Billy Moyer
Row 2: Eric Wells, Tyler Bruening
Row 3: Rick Eckert, Dan Stone
Row 4: Jared Landers, Morgan Bagley
Row 5: Kyle Bronson, Chase Junghans
Row 6: Steve Francis, Mark Whitener
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Chub Frank
Row 2: Kenny Pettyjohn, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 3: Stormy Scott, Brandon Sheppard
Row 4: Gregg Satterlee, Josh Richards
Row 5: Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Billy Ogle Jr.
Row 6: Mike Altobelli Jr., Austin Smith
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Ricky Weiss
Row 2: Casey Roberts, Mason Zeigler
Row 3: Kent Robinson, James Rice
Row 4: Brandon Overton, Boom Briggs
Row 5: Tim McCreadie, Tyler Clem
Row 6: Mike Norris
Time trials order
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.717
Walker Arthur (87), Forrest, Va., 15.834
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 15.854
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.882
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 15.922
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 15.923
Mark Dotson (85d), Cameron, Mo., 15.949
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 15.966
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.984
Jordan Yaggy (77), Rochester, Minn., 16.316
Rick Eckert (7V), York, Pa., 16.316
Dan Stone (21d), Thompson, Pa., 16.33
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.377
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 16.433
Don O'Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.435
Morgan Bagley (14M), Tyler, Texas, 16.477
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 16.538
Kyle Bronson (40b), Brandon, Fla., 16.808
Dennis Franklin (2), Gaffney, S.C., 16.869
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 16.956
Chad Hollenbeck (4ds), Kingsley, Pa., 16.962
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 17.055
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 17.074
Mark Whitener (58), Middleburg, Fla., 18.542
Dale McDowell (17M), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.745
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.747
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.828
Ricky Weiss (7), Headingly, Manitoba, 15.862
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 15.909
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 15.947
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99Jr), Orland Park, Ill., 15.955
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.98
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.992
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 16.068
Brandon Sheppard (b5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.091
James Rice (11), Verona, Ky., 16.131
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.141
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 16.222
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 16.224
Boom Briggs (99b), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.264
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21), Ocala, Fla., 16.271
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.399
Billy Ogle Jr. (201), Knoxville, Tenn., 16.404
Tyler Clem (14), St. Petersburg, Fla., 16.518
Mike Altobelli (79), Saxton, Pa., 16.665
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 16.749
Austin Smith (11), Cedartown, Ga., 16.873