Tyler County Speedway
Notes: Past winners return to Tyler County
By Kevin KovacWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
Heading back to the site of triumphant victories, both Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., would like to relive old times this weekend at Tyler County Speedway.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series stalwarts both won the prestigious Hillbilly 100 when it was run at the Middlebourne, W.Va., racetrack – Frank in 2003, and Smith in 2005. Now they’re set to revisit Tyler County this weekend as the World of Outlaws tour invades the quarter-mile oval for the Black Diamond 125, an event with a unique format and an impressive $157,000 total purse.
Frank, 49, heads into this weekend's action riding a frustrating 76-race winless streak on the WoO tour. His most recent victory came on Aug. 22, 2009, at Ohio's K-C Raceway, but he's fifth in the current WoO standings and is coming off a victory in last Friday night's weekly DIRTcar UMP Late Model feature at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. He set fast time and finished 10th in the 2009 WoO event at Tyler County.
The 46-year-old Smith, who finished 20th when he last visited Tyler County for the ‘09 WoO event, also enters the Black Diamond 125 on a winning note. Last Saturday night he made a successful return to his hometown's New Senoia Speedway after a 25-year absence, driving Laddie Fulcher's No. 29 Limited Late Model to victory in the finale of the Senoia Summer Nationals II Weekend.
The two drivers will each have ample opportunities to reach victory lane this weekend thanks to the Black Diamond’s innovative format.
A tuneup event Friday night includes the 51-lap, $8,000-to-win West Virginia State Championship for the UFO Championship tour, before the WoO action hits the track Saturday.
The Black Diamond 125 field will be split into two groups following time trials and a full racing program: 15-lap heats, 15-lap consolation races and 24-car, 40-lap semifeatures paying $10,000 to the winner. The top-eight finishers in each semifeature will move on to the Sweet Sixteen finale, a 45-lap showdown that offers a $20,000 first-place prize.
Each 40-lap semifeature and the Sweet Sixteen finale boasts a full purse, including $1,000 payoffs for last place. Forty-eight drivers are guaranteed to earn at least $1,000.
Lanigan eyes win record
Darrell Lanigan's hopes of a 2011 WoO championship might be flickering (he's 120 points behind leader Rick Eckert in third place), but there's still one headline-grabbing feat well within the Union Ky., driver’s reach: the tour's single-season win record.
Both Lanigan and two-time defending WoO champ Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., are just two wins away from matching Scott Bloomquist's 2004 standard of nine WoO victories. The two close friends have scrawled their names all over the '11 season, combining to win 14 of the tour's 26 races to date, including seven of the last eight.
Lanigan's last start at Tyler County, in the '09 WoO event, resulted in a fifth-place finish.
Mind on the money
Rick Eckert of York, Pa., doesn't have to worry about protecting his points lead during the Black Diamond 125 festivities (all entrants will receive 60 show-up points), so he'll have just one thing on his mind: padding his bank account.
A big night at Tyler County could provide a welcome late-season boost for Eckert, who is chasing his first-ever WoO title with his own racing equipment. He's craving a return to victory lane – since his last series win, on May 12 at Delaware International Speedway, he's registered six runner-up finishes.
Eckert, 46, has visited Tyler County just once over the past seven years, finishing 14th in the '09 event.
Beitler’s winning car
Nineteen-year-old WoO standout Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., has never competed at Tyler County, but his car owner, Dale Beitler, knows what it feels like to reach Victory Lane at the Bullring.
In the track's 2009 WoO event, Beitler watched his familiar blue-and-white No. 19 flash under the checkered flag first with Steve Francis behind the wheel.
Coffey comes back for more
Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., is the only '11 WoO regular who entered last year's inaugural Black Diamond 125, which drew a 77-car field. He finished 18th in the second preliminary feature (50 laps in '10), missing the cut for the Sweet Sixteen finale that was run over the 25-lap distance.
The 2008 WoO Rookie of the Year also competed in the tour's '09 event at Tyler County, finishing 15th. He enters this weekend's action still seeking his first career series win after 105 A-Main starts.
Four WoO regulars will make their second career starts at Tyler County – Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. (2005 Hillbilly 100 his only previous appearance); Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. (seventh in '09 WoO event); Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga. (ninth in '09 WoO); and Rookie of the Year contender Ron Davies of Warren, Pa. (he remembers running there once about a decade ago). Travelers who will attack Tyler County for the first time are rookies Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., and John Lobb of Frewsburg, N.Y.
Last year’s winner returns
Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., made a mark on last year's Black Diamond 125, finishing third in the first preliminary feature and then charging forward from the 10th starting spot in the Sweet Sixteen shootout to capture the $10,000 top prize.
The 27-year-old is planning a return to Tyler County with the Barry Wright Race Cars house car team. He has four top-five finishes in nine WoO starts this season.
Morans make it a family affair
Dirt Late Model superstar Donnie Moran or Dresden, Ohio, and his teenage son Devin plan to enter the Black Diamond 125 for the second consecutive year.
Donnie, of course, would love to repeat his 2010 effort; he won the first of the 50-lap preliminary features for a $20,000 payday and finished fifth in the Sweet Sixteen finale. Devin, meanwhile, hopes to improve upon his 22nd-place finish in last year's second preliminary feature.
Home state hopefuls
Richards is just one of dozens of West Virginia drivers who will aim to keep the Black Diamond 125 money from leaving the state.
The group includes Steve Shaver of Vienna, who earlier this year won the WoO Commonwealth 100 at Virginia Motor Speedway; Paul Wilmoth Jr. of Clarksburg, who scored a WoO career-best finish of fourth in Tyler County's '09 tour event; Steve Wilmoth of Clarksburg, whose car will sport a special graphics scheme honoring the 29 coal miners killed in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster near Montcoal, W.Va.; brothers Jared and Jacob Hawkins, both of Fairmont; the father-son combo of Tim and Zack Dohm of Cross Lanes; Chuck Harper of Beverly; Butch McGill of West Union; Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes; Corey Conley of Wellsburg; Robbie Scott of Shinnston; and Mike Benedum of Bristol.
Keystone state invaders
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be well represented at Tyler County with expected appearances by Jason Covert of York Haven, a 10-time feature winner across the region this season; Devin Friese of Chambersburg, who was in contention for a Black Diamond preliminary feature win last year before tangling with Jimmy Mars; Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., who has a 2007 WoO victory at Pennsylvania's Tri-City Speedway under his belt; Gregg Satterlee of New Richmond; Alex Ferree of Saxonburg; Ron Delano Jr. of Stoystown; Keith Barbara of South Park; Jeremy Miller of Gettysburg; and Jared Miley of South Park.