Lucas Oil Speedway
Babb leads all 100 laps for Wheatland victory
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com chief writer
WHEATLAND, Mo. (May 11) — Shannon Babb's been in Missouri about 10 days now. The way things are going, he may never leave.
Grabbing his second victory in the Show-Me State over the past two weekends, Babb collected one of Dirt Late Model racing's richest victories by leading all 100 laps of the second annual Super Clean Diamond Nationals at the sparkling Lucas Oil Speedway. The Moweaqua, Ill., driver faced few challenges en route to his $40,000 victory on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. | Postrace notebook | Slideshow
Babb rolled to a full-straightaway advantage over the first five laps and seldom let early challengers Earl Pearson Jr. or Scott Bloomquist get very close, with the exception of a few moments in lapped traffic. Former teammate Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., tried to turn up the heat on Babb on lap-71 and lap-74 restarts, but moments later Babb blew Moyer away and stretched his margin to more than a straightaway in the race's closing stages.
Babb's first victory on the Lucas Oil Series in just over a year follows his May 3 World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory at I-44 Speedway in Lebanon, Mo. He was glad to lead every lap, but in victory lane he admitted "that gets a little nerve-racking."
Moyer, who started fourth and ran in the top five throughout the race, settled for a distant second ahead of Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who came back from a lap-71 flat tire. Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind., started 10th and ran steadily throughout the race in finishing fifth. Only 12 of 26 starters were running at the finish. Lanigan was listed a lap down on the scoreboard through the second half of the race, but a check of scoring revealed he was third.
Polesitter Scott Bloomquist ran among the top three through the first 71 laps but ran into a few problems on restarts. He jumped the turn-two cushion on a lap-27 restart, triggering a chain-reaction wreck as he got back up to speed on the backstretch. He was running second on lap 71 when he got too high exiting turn four heading for the green flag and dropped all the way back to eighth. Bloomquist, who failed to make the feature at least year's Diamond Nationals, pitted under the final caution but couldn't get back into contention.
Super Clean Diamond Nationals: (1) Shannon Babb, (2) Billy Moyer, (3) Darrell Lanigan, (4) Jimmy Owens, (5) Steve Casebolt, (6) Scott James, (7) Josh Richards, (8) Scott Bloomquist, (9) Dan Schlieper, (10) Rick Eckert, (11) Justin Rattliff, (12) Steve Francis, (13) John Blankenship, (14) Earl Pearson Jr., (15) Jimmy Mars, (16) Bart Hartman, (17) Will Vaught, (18) Terry Casey, (19) Michael England, (20) Wendell Wallace, (21) Chub Frank, (22) Jeremy Payne, (23) Terry Phillips, (24) Eric Turner, (25) Al Purkey, (26) David Turner.
A review of the race's live updates:
10:08 p.m. (lap 71): Owens has flat tire
Fourth-running Jimmy Owens slowed on the 71st lap with a flat tire. Shannon Babb, who has led all race long, will restart out front with Scott Bloomquist, Billy Moyer, Darrell Lanigan and Scott James in the top five. Some of the 11 cars on the track are a lap down. Bloomquist got a bad start and fell back to eighth. Three laps later, Scott James had a flat tire.
10:04 p.m. (lap 69): Pearson drops out running second
With Shannon Babb still dominating, second-running Earl Pearson Jr. slowed to a stop on the frontstretch to bring out a lap-69 caution. Babb is out front for the restart followed by polesitter Scott Bloomquist, Billy Moyer, Jimmy Owens and Scott James. No one's been able to keep up with Babb with the exception of a few moments in lapped traffic.
9:55 p.m. (lap 49): Babb dominating at halfway
Outside front-row starter Shannon Babb has a half-straightaway lead at the halfway point ahead of Earl Pearson Jr., polesitter Scott Bloomquist, Billy Moyer and Scott James. Babb is a half-lap ahead of seventh-running Jimmy Owens. A caution appeared during the 50th lap when John Blankenship rolled to a stop, reverting the scoring to lap 49. With several of cars pitting under cautions, there are only 11 of 26 starters on the track during the yellow. Going back to green, only 12 cars are restarting.
9:45 p.m. (lap-37 restart): Bloomquist jumps cushion, triggers wreck
Scott Bloomquist jumped the cushion in turn two on the restart, triggering a wreck that involved Jimmy Mars and Will Vaught on the backstretch as the field bottled up on the outside groove. Bloomquist lost speed trying to gather up his car at the top of the backstretch and Mars made contact with Bloomquist and then the wall as Bloomquist continued on. Moments later, as Bloomquist drove past under caution, Mars mockingly clapped his hands in Bloomquist's general direction. Vaught also drove past Bloomquist as he pulled his damaged car off the track and gestured his disapproval to Bloomquist. Race-long leader Shannon Babb will lead the field back to green followed by Bloomquist, Earl Pearson Jr., Scott James and Billy Moyer. Jimmy Owens is sixth and Steve Casebolt seventh. The top seven cars running have generally pulled away from the rest of the field most of the race.
9:42 p.m. (lap 37): Rallying Francis slows to draw caution
Steve Francis, up to sixth from 20th, slowed to bring out a lap-37 caution. Shannon Babb still leads with Scott Bloomquist taking second from Earl Pearson Jr. on the lap-24 restart. The rundown: Babb, Bloomquist, Pearson, Scott James and Billy Moyer. Next is Jimmy Owens, Jimmy Mars, Steve Casebolt and provisional starter Bart Hartman as the reworked track is offering multigroove racing.
9:35: Babb-Pearson duel before caution
Eric Turner slowed on the 24th lap to draw a caution, spoiling a battle for the lead between Shannon Babb and Earl Pearson Jr. as the frontrunners battled through lapped traffic. Babb found himself stuck behind Chub Frank and Justin Rattliff, allowing Pearson to close up on the race-long leader. Babb leads Pearson, Scott Bloomquist, Scott James and Billy Moyer. The 20th-starting Steve Francis was up to sixth quickly after the restart.
9:28: p.m.: Caution for Lanigan's flat
Darrell Lanigan slowed with a flat left-rear tire on the 11th lap. So far, Shannon Babb is rolling and unchallenged out front, building comfortable leads on the start and each restart. Scott Bloomquist is second while Billy Moyer is back to fourth after nearly getting out of shape exiting turn two on the last restart. The running order: Babb, Bloomquist, Earl Pearson Jr., Moyer, Scott James, Jimmy Mars, Jimmy Owens, Steve Casebolt, Steve Francis and Dan Schlieper in the top 10. Francis has advanced from 20th. On the double-file restart, Bloomquist picked the inside line after going with the outside position on previous restarts.
9:14 p.m.: Caution for Turner-Lanigan tangle
The first caution flew after five laps with Shannon Babb already preparing to lap the field as he built a full-straightaway lead early. The caution appeared when David Turner and Darrell Lanigan got together in turn two. Babb leads Scott Bloomquist, Billy Moyer, Earl Pearson Jr., Jimmy Mars and Scott James. Another caution appeared shortly after the restart when Turner got out of shape at the end of the frontstretch.
9:12 p.m.: Green flag flies
After a four-wide salute to the fans and brief hot-lap session, front-row starters Scott Bloomquist and Shannon Babb took the green flag for the 100-lap feature. Babb took the early lead.
9:01 p.m.: In-car introductions under way
Going from back to front, driver introductions are under way. But with drivers in the car, fans aren't getting a look at their favorite drivers.
8:55 p.m.: Driver intros coming up
Drivers are rolling onto the track and they aren't wearing helmets, so it appears there'll be driver introductions. Or maybe not. Scott Bloomquist got out and took a gander at Billy Moyer's tires, but he was the only driver out of his car. He climbed back into his car.
8:51 p.m.: Drivers making way to grid
Drivers are starting to line up in the pits. Among those in the grid first: Jimmy Mars, Shannon Babb and Billy Moyer. A few of the pack vehicles are pulling off the track.
8:40 p.m.: Pack trucks on the surface
After work with the grader and sheep's foot, and a dose of watering, about 20 pack vehicles are on the surface. No cars are lining up, but it appears they could be within a half hour or so. Before workers hit the track, the surface was a typical daytime surface with mostly single-file racing. With the sun down and a reworked track, everyone's hopeful the surface will allow for multigroove racing.
7:23 p.m.: Reworking the track
The grader is on the track at Lucas Oil Speedway. Lucas Oil Series officials were told track officials were going to do some "watering and grading" of the track preceding the 100-lap feature.
7:01 p.m.: Check that: Phillips in, Anderson out
Terry Phillips appealed the decision to strip him of a provisional, going to the MLRA rulebook to point out that it's not clear if a driver is required to start a consolation race. He'll tag the tail of the feature field while John Anderson, last year's runner-up in the Diamond Nationals, will now load up. Jeremy Payne, a teammate to Phillips, is scheduled to start 13th in the 100-lapper.
6:52 p.m.: Anderson is in, Phillips is out
John Anderson will get the second MLRA provisional instead of Terry Phillips. Phillips didn't take a lap in the consolation race, a requirement under MLRA rules. Anderson will tag the tail of the field.
6:35 p.m.: Francis wins second consolation
Steve Francis edged past polesitter Ray Cook at the outset to take a lead he'd never give up in the second consolation race. Cook washed up high in turn one and allowed fourth-starting Wendell Wallace to slip past, giving Wallace the second and final transfer spot. Cook ended up third. Brantlee Gotschall ran fourth early before allowing John Anderson past. The race was slowed by early cautions for spins by Randy Zimmerman and Steve Rushin.
Finish: Steve Francis, Wendell Wallace, Ray Cook, John Anderson, Brantlee Gotschall, Andrew McKay, Rusty Dukes, John Mason, Jack Sullivan, Peyton Taylor, Denny Woodworth, Larry Jones, Jeremy Grady, Steve Hucovski, James Ward, Justin Fegers, Al Purkey, Bart Hartman, Steve Rushin, Randy Zimmerman, Jason Sivils. Scratched: Brad Neat, Tommy Elston, Shawn Harker, Denny Eckrich, Terry Phillips.
6:20 p.m.: Lanigan wins first consolation
Polesitter Darrell Lanigan survived a turn-four scrape with fellow front-row starter exiting turn four on the first lap and led smoothly the rest of the way. Frank finished a solid second for the second transfer spot. Two cautions appeared, the first on lap seven when Alan Vaughn came to a stop near the frontstretch and the second on lap 16 when Scott Drake and Mark Voigt got together between turns three and four. Last year's Diamond Nationals winner, Brian Birkhofer, elected to start on the tail of the consolation and pulled off after just a few laps.
Finish: Darrell Lanigan, Chub Frank, Clint Smith, Freddy Smith, Chad SImpson, Chris Simpson, Jesse Stovall, Brian Shirley, Larry Campbell, J.D. Hubert, Wayne Chinn, Larry Clawson Sr., Chad Frewaldt, Scott Drake, Mark Voigt, Alan Vaughn, Brian Birkhofer. Scratched: Shanon Buckingham, Brandon McCormick, Billy Drake, Dave Eckrich, Greg Larsen.
6:01 p.m.: Bloomquist on the pole
Scott Bloomquist drew the pole for the feature with Shannon Babb to the outside. Earl Pearson Jr. and Billy Moyer are in the second row with Will Vaught and Jimmy Mars in the third row.
5:52 p.m.: Evaluating the heat transfers
As might be expected in daytime conditions, the low groove is the place to be. That meant polesitters were in pretty good shape, and five of six of them won their prelims. Billy Moyer was the only driver to break that mold as he stayed as low as he could in squeezing past Steve Casebolt in the fourth heat. Rallies were few and far between, too. Only two drivers who transferred came from outside the first two rows, Terry Casey and David Turner. Turner had the benefit of having a few drivers drop out ahead of him before a lap was completed.
5:37 p.m.: Two consolations coming up
Officials have decided on two 20-lap consolation races. The top two finishers will transfer:
First consolation lineup
Row 1: Darrell Lanigan, Chub Frank
Row 2: Clint Smith, Chad Simpson
Row 3: Freddy Smith, Chris Simpson
Row 4: Larry Campbell, Brian Shirley
Row 5: Brian Birkhofer, Jesse Stovall
Row 6: Shanon Buckingham, Dave Eckrich
Row 7: J.D. Hubert, Scott Drake
Row 8: Billy Drake, Mark Voigt
Row 9: Alan Vaughn, Brandon McCormick
Row 10: Larry Clawson Sr., Wayne Chinn
Row 11: Greg Larsen, Chad Frewaldt
Second consolation lineup
Row 1: Ray Cook, Steve Francis
Row 2: Brantlee Gotschall, Wendell Wallace
Row 3: John Anderson, Al Purkey
Row 4: Rusty Dukes, Bart Hartman
Row 5: Terry Phillips, Denny Eckrich
Row 6: James Ward, Andrew McKay
Row 7: Jack Sullivan, Justin Rattliff
Row 8: Denny Woodworth, John Mason
Row 9: Larry Jones, Steve Rushin
Row 10: Justin Fegers, Jeremy Grady
Row 11: Randy Zimmerman, Steve Hucovski
Row 12: Peyton Taylor, Shawn Harker
Row 13: Jason Sivils, Tommy Elston
Row 14: Brad Neat
5:35 p.m.: Mars wins sixth heat
Jimmy Mars got a good jump on front-row starter Eric Turner and raced to a relatively easy victory. Eric Turner ran smoothly the whole way in the second spot ahead of unrelated David Turner, who was scheduled to start ninth but actually started fifth after other drivers were unable to go. Brantlee Gotschall never challenged in finishing fourth and Al Purkey was fifth. Terry Phillips ran with a damaged spoiler and was a distant sixth. Brad Neat, starting outside the second row, crashed in turn one on the first lap after his car dug into the surface. Tommy Elston was also eliminated in the wreck, putting both second-row starters out along with Shawn Harker. Two bad starts also slowed the race's beginning, one of them when Steve Rushin spun in turn one.
Finish: Jimmy Mars, Eric Turner, David Turner, Brantlee Gotschall, Al Purkey, Terry Phillips, Andrew McKay, Denny Woodworth, Steve Rushin, Randy ZImmerman, Tommy Elston, Brad Neat, Shawn Harker.
5:23 p.m.: Pearson wins fifth heat
Polesitter Earl Pearson Jr. pulled away to win what most considered the toughest heat race as he dominated the 12-car field. Pearson had nearly a straightaway lead at halfway and went on to win by nearly a quarter-lap margin. Front-row starter Rick Eckert held off Josh Richards for the second spot while Steve Francis missed a transfer spot in finishing fourth. John Anderson was further back in fifth. The race got off to a rough start for Richards, who started inside the second row. His car ended up sideways entering turn one and collected Francis and Anderson, causing a scramble as the rest of the field tried to get past. The red flag was thrown during the cleanup but everyone was able to restart.
Finish: Earl Pearson Jr., Rick Eckert, Josh Richards, Steve Francis, John Anderson, Bart Hartman, James Ward, Justin Rattliff, Larry Jones, Jeremy Grady, Peyton Taylor, Jason Sivils. Scratched: Darren Miller, Bryant Goldsmith.
5:09 p.m.: Moyer wins fourth heat
Billy Moyer won a tight battle with polesitter Steve Casebolt on the first lap, then edged away to win by a few lengths as the first non-polesitter to win a heat. Michael English finished a distant third as he held off Ray Cook in the caution-free prelim.
Finish: Billy Moyer, Steve Casebolt, Michael England, Ray Cook, Wendell Wallace, Rusty Dukes, Denny Eckrich, Jack Sullivan, John Mason, Justin Fegers, Steve Hucovski.
5:03 p.m.: Babb wins third heat
Front-row starters Shannon Babb and Jimmy Owens pulled far away from the field in a caution-free heat. Babb won by more than a half-straightaway while a tense battle for third raged far behind the leader.
Finish: Shannon Babb, Jimmy Owens, Terry Casey, Clint Smith, Chris Simpson, Brian Birkhofer, Dave Eckrich, Billy Drake, Brandon McCormick. Scratched: Mark Burgtorf, Ryan Dauber, Aaron Seabaugh, David Thomas.
4:58 p.m.: Vaught wins second heat
Polesitter Will Vaught cruised without a challenge in winning the second heat while fourth-starting John Blankenship looked strong early in taking the second spot from Dan Schlieper on the third lap, then stayed within three lengths of Vaught after cautions in the second half of the race. Schlieper ended up third ahead of Chub Frank and Freddy Smith. Infield tire barriers were knocked onto the track to bring out cautions on lap six and seven, the second time when Scott Drake nearly lost control in turn one.
Finish: Will Vaught, John Blankenship, Dan Schlieper, Chub Frank, Freddy Smith, Brian Shirley, Scott Drake, Shanon Buckingham, Alan Vaughn, Wayne Chinn, Chad Frewaldt.
4:49 p.m.: Bloomquist wins first heat
Polesitter Scott Bloomquist pulled away from the outset and went on to beat fellow front-row starter Scott James by nearly a half-straightaway. Jeremy Payne was a distant third as he held off Darrell Lanigan, who tried an outside pass in the closing laps. The low groove was the way to go as sixth-starting Jesse Stovall tried the outside groove but lost positions.
Finish: Scott Bloomquist, Scott James, Jeremy Payne, Darrell Lanigan, Chad Simpson, Larry Campbell, Jesse Stovall, J.D. Hubert, Mark Voigt, Larry Clawson Sr., Greg Larsen. Scratched: Rickey Frankel, P.J. Haskins. Scratched: Billy Peden, Stacy Taylor, Larry Clawson Jr.
4:39: First Late Model heat ready to roll
The first Late Model heat is staged and ready to come on the track. Modified hot laps are over.
4:30 p.m.: Modified hot laps beginning
Modified hot laps are beginning. Drivers took a few slow laps to help the completion of packing the track. Following hot laps, Late Model heat races are scheduled to begin.
4:23 p.m.: Modifieds lining up
Modifieds are lining up for hot laps but pack vehicles are still on the track after the surface was watered. Scott Bloomquist is on the track now with a 4-wheeler checking out the conditions. Also, officials still aren't certain if they'll have two consolations or four consolations; it depends on how many cars make it through heat races and are able to continue racing.
3:58 p.m.: Driver updates, format details
Following the drivers' meeting, tonight's entries and scratches are updated below; it appears about a dozen of 80 original entrants didn't return. Officials have decided to go with two 20-lap consolation races with two drivers apiece transferring. The heat races are 10 laps. About 30 of the 83 modifieds didn't return. Modified hot laps are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., but they haven't started lining up yet.
3:38 p.m.: 26 cars will start feature
The feature race will be made up 26 cars. Three cars from each of six heat races will make up the first nine rows of the features. The next four starters will come from consolations (either winners of each of four consolations or two apiece from two consolations). Both series (Lucas Oil and O'Reilly MLRA) will get two provisional starters apiece.
3:29 p.m.: Drivers in unfamiliar cars
A couple of drivers in action Sunday are driving unfamiliar cars. Alan Vaughn of Belton, Mo., is in the No. 6 normally driven by 37-year-old Donnie Timmerman of Eldorado Springs, Kan., who is out of action after April back surgery. Modified driver Larry Campbell of Van Buren, Ark., has arranged with Clint Smith to drive his backup car at selected 2008 events. The 27-year-old drove a Dale McDowell car at the 2006 Topless 100, but that's his only Late Model experience. He's a former modified champion at Crawford County Speedway in Van Buren and has about 60 career modified feature victories.
3:12 p.m.: Several teams don't return
Some drivers might arrive late, but within an hour of the drivers' meeting, it appears about a dozen teams hadn't returned for Sunday's action. Heat race lineups noted with apparent scratches (updated with late arrivals and corrections, including the recent unloading of Brantlee Gotschall; also entering are Larry Clawson Sr., late-arriving Rusty Dukes and Jason Sivils; Bryant Goldsmith has scratched):
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Scott James
Row 2: Jeremy Payne, Chad Simpson
Row 3: Darrell Lanigan, Jesse Stovall
Row 4: Larry Campbell, Rickey Frankel
Row 5: Mark Voigt, J.D. Hubert
Row 6: Greg Larsen, Larry Clawson
Row 7: P.J. Haskins
Apparent scratches: Rickey Frankel, P.J. Haskins
Row 1: Will Vaught, Dan Schlieper
Row 2: Chub Frank, John Blankenship
Row 3: Brian Shirley, Freddy Smith
Row 4: Shanon Buckingham, Scott Drake
Row 5: Wayne Chinn, Alan Vaughn
Row 6: Billy Peden, Stacy Taylor
Row 7: Chad Frewaldt, Larry Clawson Jr.
Apparent scratches: Billy Peden, Stacy Taylor, Larry Clawson Jr.
Row 1: Shannon Babb, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Clint Smith, Dave Eckrich
Row 3: Chris Simpson, Terry Casey
Row 4: Mark Burgtorf, Billy Drake
Row 5: Brian Birkhofer, Brandon McCormick
Row 6: Ryan Dauber, Aaron Seabaugh
Row 7: David Thomas
Apparent scratches: Mark Burgtorf, Ryan Dauber, Aaron Seabaugh, David Thomas
Row 1: Steve Casebolt, Billy Moyer
Row 2: Michael England, Ray Cook
Row 3: Wendell Wallace, Justin Fegers
Row 4: Rusty Dukes, Don O'Neal
Row 5: Denny Eckrich, John Mason
Row 6: Steve Hucovski, Brady Smith
Row 7: Jack Sullivan
Apparent scratches: Don O'Neal, Brady Smith
Row 1: Earl Pearson Jr., Rick Eckert
Row 2: Josh Richards, John Anderson
Row 3: Steve Francis, Bart Hartman
Row 4: Peyton Taylor, Justin Rattliff
Row 5: James Ward, Darren Miller
Row 6: Jeremy Grady, Larry Jones
Row 7: Bryant Goldsmith, Jason Sivils
Apparent scratches: Darren Miller, Bryant Goldsmith.
Row 1: Jimmy Mars, Eric Turner
Row 2: Tommy Elston, Brad Neat
Row 3: Denny Woodworth, Terry Phillips
Row 4: Steve Rushin, Brantlee Gotschall
Row 5: David Turner, Al Purkey
Row 6: Andrew McKay, Randy Zimmerman
Row 7: Shawn Harker
Apparent scratches: None
3 p.m.: Winds drying out track
A grader and a tractor pulling a sheep's foot are still on the track as preparations continue for Sunday's action. With wind gusts of more than 30 mph, the track has dried considerably following Saturday's rainstorms. A review of teams in the pits reveals perhaps 18 teams among the 80 on hand for qualifying haven't returned.