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Bubba Raceway Park

Lanigan bags $12,000 for fifth WoO win at BRP

February 16, 2014, 12:54 pm
From series and staff reports
Darrell Lanigan (29) fights off Don O'Neal (5). (thesportswire.net)
Darrell Lanigan (29) fights off Don O'Neal (5). (thesportswire.net)

OCALA, Fla. (Feb. 16) — Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., ended the Bubba Army Dirt Late Model Winter Nationals on a high note, breaking through to capture Sunday night’s 60-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series Super Sunday Showdown at Bubba Raceway Park. | Photos

Finding the winning touch with his self-designed Club 29 car after top-five finishes in each of the first two events of the weekend, Lanigan passed Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., for the lead on lap seven and controlled the remainder of the distance. The two-time WoO champion turned back a late challenge from O'Neal while racing through lapped traffic to pocket the race’s $12,650 top prize.

O’Neal settled for second place, about one second behind Lanigan at the checkered flag. The driver of NASCAR star Clint Bowyer’s Barry Wright car once again fell short of his elusive first-ever WoO triumph.

Friday winner Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., finished close behind O’Neal in third place in his Rocket machine, sending him out the gates of the 3/8-mile oval with the WoO points lead. He scored a podium finish in all three events.

O’Neal’s Bowyer Racing teammate, Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., placed fourth in his Barry Wright car after getting shuffled back to eighth on a lap-22 restart. Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, finished fifth in Wayman McMillan’s Rocket machine — just his second career top-five finish on the series — after battling past Saturday-night winner Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., for the position on lap 48.

The 21-year-old Sheppard was in position to sweep a WoO program for the second consecutive night after setting fast time and winning a heat, but he settled for a sixth-place finish after starting eighth. He steered the Rocket Chassis house car as high as fourth midway through the A-Main but slipped backward in the closing circuits while unsuccessfully searching for traction on the outside of the track.

Lanigan, 43, also found the top side of the egg-shaped speedway difficult to grip late in the race. He tried using the outside line to overtake a pack of lapped cars with less than 10 laps remaining and it nearly cost him the race.

After racing virtually unchallenged for most of the distance, Lanigan suddenly found O’Neal on his back bumper on lap 53. With Lanigan’s pace hampered by two slower cars ahead of him, the door was open for O’Neal to duck to the inside and come within inches of grabbing the lead on lap 54.

But then Lanigan summarily dived to the inside in turn one, breaking O’Neal’s momentum and building just enough of an edge to carry him to his first WoO victory of 2014 and his fifth victory in 11 starts at BRP over the past five years.

“The lapped cars were tough,” said Lanigan, who sits atop the all-time WoO victories list. “We were definitely a lot faster than they was (lapped cars), but there just wasn’t no (outside) groove. I just lost too much ground up there so I had to get back to the bottom.”

O’Neal saw the golden opportunity to steal the race from Lanigan’s grasp, but his hopes were effectively snuffed out by Lanigan’s move to the inside. He had to be satisfied with matching his career-best WoO LMS finish.

“He got on the outside of that (lapped) traffic and the outside wasn’t the place to be,” O’Neal said of Lanigan. “Now, if he would’ve stayed out there just a little bit longer, we may have gotten him, but that’s part of racing.

“He just cut down real hard in front of me, but that’s part of it. I would’ve done the same thing if I was him. We made it exciting there at the end but just didn’t get the job done.”

One of the most accomplished veterans in Dirt Late Model racing, O’Neal remained winless in 31 career WoO starts over the past decade. He has 17 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes in his limited appearances on the tour.

Lanigan’s series record 54th career win was his first in World of Outlaws action since debuting the Club 29 chassis he partnered with noted crew chief Ronnie Stuckey to build and market. He needed a couple nights to get the machine tuned just right.

“It’s a little bit different from what we’ve been used to,” said Lanigan, who scored finishes of third and fifth in the first two legs of the Winter Nationals. “We’ve been close (in the previous events), but it needed a little bit more. We found some stuff tonight and it seemed to like it.”

Putting a WoO victory on his ledger so early in the season certainly gave Lanigan a boost.

“It relieves a lot of pressure,” said Lanigan. “I had a lot of pressure on myself to do good with this piece. We put a lot into it to do well.”

Finishing in positions 7-10 was 17th-starter Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., who enjoyed a career-best WoO LMS outing; Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who quietly moved forward from the 13th starting spot; Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., who used a provisional to start 23 rd after breaking a driveshaft in his car during heat action; and Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark., who rose as high as sixth before a worn right-front tire slowed his pace.

Four caution flags slowed the race, all for slowed or stopped cars: Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn. (lap 17), Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan. (lap 22), Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. (lap 28) and Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa. (lap 39).

WoO competitors return to action with three consecutive nights of action (Feb. 20-22) during the 43rd DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. The traditional race meet at the Volusia half-mile also includes three evenings of DIRTcar-sanctioned Late Model competition from Feb. 17-19 that will see many WoO regulars in action. DirtonDirt.com will offer live pay-per-view video coverage of each DIRTcar Nationals event. Click here for more broadcast information or follow this link to purchase a pay-per-view package.

Bubba Army Winter Nationals: (1) Darrell Lanigan, (2) Don O’Neal, (3) Brady Smith, (4) Steve Francis, (5) Morgan Bagley, (6) Brandon Sheppard, (7) Mark Whitener, (8) Tim McCreadie, (9) Shane Clanton, (10) Jack Sullivan, (11) Rick Eckert, (12) Frank Heckenast Jr., (13) Chub Frank, (14) Brandon Overton, (15) Tim Fuller, (16) Ivedent Lloyd Jr., (17) Eric Wells, (18), Chase Junghans, (19) Raymond Merrill, (20) Clint Smith, (21) Boom Briggs, (22) Scott Bloomquist, (23) Dan Stone, (24) Gregg Satterlee. Fast qualifier (among 32 cars): Sheppard, 14.626 seconds. Heat race winners: Sheppard, B. Smith, Francis, O’Neal. Consolation winners: Whitener, Merrill. Provisional starters: Clanton, Frank.

Preliminary results:

Provisionals

Shane Clanton and Chub Frank will receive provisionals based on the 2013 World of Outlaws standings and start in the 23rd and 24th starting positions.

Second consolation

Low-running Raymond Merrill started on the pole and led every lap of the second consolation race. Eric Wells and Gregg Satterlee followed Merrill across the finish line to claim the final two transfer spots. The first two attempts to start the race were unsuccessful, Gregg Satterlee charged for jumping the first start and a multi-car pileup ensuing in turn two on the second attempt after Merrill got crossed up in front of the field. All cars were able to continue on a complete restart.

Finish: Raymond Merrill, Eric Wells, Gregg Satterlee, David Gibson Jr., John Winge, Michael Lake, Jim Manka. Scratched: Brian Reese.

First consolation

Mark Whitener paced the opening consolation race flag-to-flag to score an uncontested victory. Rick Eckert started and finished second while Clint Smith claimed the final transfer spot. Shane Clanton and Mike Marlar each got too high exiting turn four, tagged the wall and retired on back-to-back laps during the race's middle stages. Casey Roberts got crossed up on the race's initial start and spun atop turn two. Roberts went to the tail and rallied to finish fourth, but fell one spot short of transferring to the main event. 

Finish: Mark Whitener, Rick Eckert, Clint Smith, Casey Roberts, Chub Frank, Mike Marlar, Shane Clanton. Scratched: Austin Kirkpatrick.

Intermission

The program is under a brief intermission for track prep before the two World of Outlaws consolation races. Track co-owner Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem is piloting one of several machines that are freshening the racing surface.

Consolation race lineups  

(12 laps; top three transfer)

First consolation
Row 1: Casey Roberts, Rick Eckert
Row 2: Mark Whitener, Chub Frank
Row 3: Clint Smith, Shane Clanton
Row 4: Mike Marlar, Austin Kirkpatrick
Second consolation
Row 1: Raymond Merrill, Gregg Satterlee
Row 2: Eric Wells, David Gibson Jr.
Row 3: John Winge, Jim Manka
Row 4: Brian Reese, Michael Lake 

Redraw

Friday's winner Brady Smith redrew the pole position and will lead the 24-car field to the green flag with fourth heat winner Don O'Neal starting alongside. Darrell Lanigan and Morgan Bagley will roll off from the second row, with Steve Francis and Dan Stone receiving third-row starting spots. Track regular Ivedent Lloyd Jr. pulled the seventh spot and will share the fourth row with Saturday's winner Brandon Sheppard.

Fourth heat

Don O'Neal dominated the final heat race, pulling away from the field at the drop of the green flag and leading every lap. Second-starting Morgan Bagley fell back as far as fourth in the race's opening laps, but rallied back to claim the second spot and will join O'Neal in the redraw. Bagley rebounded from a poor start by winning a side-by-side battle with Boom Briggs for third in the early laps and later took second from Tim Fuller on a lap-6 restart after Michael Lake spun to draw the heat race's lone caution. Fuller chased Bagley over the final laps, but settled for third, while Boom Briggs grabbed the final fourth and final transfer spot ahead of Gregg Satterlee.

Finish: Don O'Neal, Morgan Bagley, Tim Fuller, Boom Briggs, Gregg Satterlee, David Gibson Jr., Jim Manka, Michael Lake.

Third heat

Third-starting Steve Francis slipped under early leader Dan Stone down the backstretch on the fourth lap and went on unchallenged to claim the third heat. Stone held to finish in second, while polesitter Frank Heckenast Jr. - who was penalized a row for jumping the race's intial start - rounded out the podium. Scott Bloomquist secured the fourth and final transfer spot in the caution-free 10-lap affair. Raymond Merrill finished fifth and will start on the pole of a consolation race.

Finish: Steve Francis, Dan Stone, Frank Heckenast Jr., Scott Bloomquist, Raymond Merrill, Eric Wells, John Winge. Scratched: Brian Reese.

Second heat

Polesitter Brady Smith inherited the lead from fellow front-row starter Shane Clanton on the first lap and paced the final six laps en route to victory. Clanton got the jump on Smith in the first turn and led the first four laps, but dropped a driveshaft while leading and retired. Ivedent Lloyd Jr. finished two car-lengths back of Smith in second and will also go to the redraw, while Chase Junghans won a racelong battle with Jack Sullivan for the final two transfer spots. Chub Frank slowed atop turn four on the fifth lap to draw the race's only other caution.

Finish: Brady Smith, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Chase Junghans, Jack Sullivan, Rick Eckert, Chub Frank, Shane Clanton. Scratched: Austin Kirkpatrick.

First heat

Brandon Sheppard shot to lead in the opening corner and powered away from the field to victory in the opening heat. Darrell Lanigan won an early three-wide battle with second-starting Tim McCreadie and Brandon Overton to earn the second spot and will join Sheppard in the feature redraw. Overton settled in to finish third while McCreadie fell back to the fourth and final transfer spot. The race's initial start was called back after Mark Whitener spun atop turns one and two. Whitener came from the tail to finish sixth and will run a consolation race.

Finish: Brandon Sheppard, Darrell Lanigan, Brandon Overton, Tim McCreadie, Casey Roberts, Mark Whitener, Clint Smith, Mike Marlar.

Qualifying

Saturday's Bubba Army Winter Nationals winner Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., topped all qualifiers for the third consecutive day with a 14.626-second lap and will start on the pole of the first heat. Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., who won Friday's World of Outlaws opener at Ocala, was second fastest in Group A with a 14.785-second lap and earned the pole for the second heat.

Dan Stone (14.937 seconds) of Thompson, Pa., and Don O'Neal (14.941 seconds) of Martinsville, Ind., headed the Group B speed charts while making their first apperances of the weekend at the 3/8th-mile and will start on the pole of heats three and four.

Among drivers experiencing troubles in time trials were Brian Reese of Sharpsburg, Ga., Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., and Jim Manka of Savannah, Ga. Reese slapped the wall on his first qualifying lap, while Marlar and Manka each spun in turns three and four. Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., was penalized for arriving late to the lineup and only received one lap.

Pre-race notes

A healthy crowd has gathered as beautiful weather conditions prevail with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. … The drivers’ meeting was originally scheduled for 2:30 p.m. with hot laps to follow at 3 p.m, but the program has been pushed back an hour. … Sunday's $12,000-to-win program is the richest Late Model event on the 2014 Speedweeks slate. ... Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., and Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., split victories in Ocala's first two rounds and currently sit tied atop the World of Outlaws point standings. … Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., and Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., are among drivers who have made the 110-mile journey north to Ocala after competing Monday-Saturday at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla. … Bloomquist is entering his Sweet Bloomquist Race Car for the first time, part of his collaboration with steering specialist Randy Sweet. ... York, Pa., driver Rick Eckert became a grandfather last evening, with his daughter Courtney giving birth to a seven-pound, seven-ounce baby girl, Lona. ... Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., has unloaded his backup car for this afternoon’s program. … Hometown driver Austin Kirkpatrick of Ocala, Fla, scratched for the evening after his team discovered engine problems following hot laps; his team hopes to make repairs and compete in Volusia's DIRTcar Nationals by the middle of the week. ... Following this weekend's events at Bubba Raceway Park, WoO competitors move to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., for three more events apart of the 43rd annual DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment. DirtonDirt.com will offer live pay-per-view video coverage of each DIRTcar Nationals event. Click here for more broadcast information or follow this link to purchase a pay-per-view package.

Heat race lineups

(10 laps; top four transfer; top two redraw)
First heat
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Tim McCreadie
Row 2: Darrell Lanigan, Brandon Overton
Row 3: Casey Roberts, Mark Whitener
Row 4: Clint Smith, Mike Marlar
Second heat
Row 1: Brady Smith, Shane Clanton
Row 2: Chase Junghans, Jack Sullivan
Row 3: Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Rick Eckert
Row 4: Chub Frank, Austin Kirkpatrick
Third heat
Row 1: Dan Stone, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Steve Francis, Raymond Merrill
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Brian Reese
Row 4: Eric Wells, John Winge
Fourth heat
Row 1: Don O'Neal, Morgan Bagley
Row 2: Tim Fuller, Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Boom Briggs, Michael Lake
Row 4: David Gibson Jr., Jim Manka

Time trials (unofficial)

(driver; car no.; hometown; time)
Group A
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 14.626
Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 14.785
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 14.846
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 14.879
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 15.051
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 15.091
Brandon Overton (76), Appling, Ga., 15.114
Jack Sullivan (18), Greenbrier, Ark., 15.153
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 15.173
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21), Ocala, Fla., 15.189
Mark Whitener (58), Middleburg, Fla., 15.190
Rick Eckert (24), York, Pa., 15.220
Clint Smith (44), Senoia, Ga., 15.242
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.640
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 16.482
Austin Kirkpatrick (11), Ocala, Fla., no time
Group B
Dan Stone (21), Thompson, Pa., 14.937
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 14.941
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99), Orland Park, Ill., 14.996
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 15.123
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 15.135
Tim Fuller (19), Watertown, N.Y., 15.318
Raymond Merrill (12m), Sallisaw, Okla., 15.359
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 15.385
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.424
Boom Briggs (99), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.476
Brian Reese (33), Sharpsburg, Ga., 15.521
Michael Lake (1G), Uniontown, Pa., 15.912
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 16.010
David Gibson Jr. (32), Charleston W.Va., 16.177
John Winge (17j), Sioux Falls, S.D., 16.717
Jim Manka (60), Savannah, Ga., 17.842 

WoO points

(Through Feb. 16)
1. Brady Smith - 440
2. (tie) Brandon Sheppard - 434 (-6)
(tie) Darrell Lanigan - 434 (-6)
4. (tie) Rick Eckert - 404 (-36)
(tie) Tim McCreadie - 404 (-36)
6. Tim Fuller - 402 (-38)
7. Ivedent Lloyd Jr. - 396 (-44)
8. Shane Clanton - 392 (-48)
9. (tie) Frank Heckenast Jr. - 388 (-52)
(tie) Morgan Bagley - 388 (-52)
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