Eastern Kentuckians ready for WoO home run
By Chris TilleyWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
A pair of eastern Kentucky drivers, Eric Wells and Brandon Kinzer, will get a rare chance to host national touring competitors Friday when the World of Outlaws Late Model Series makes its debut at 201 Speedway in Sitka, Ky.
The race is the first of a busy weekend tripleheader in Kentucky and Tennessee as the Jarrod Breeding-owned oval hosts a $10,000-to-win showdown. The 3/8-mile 201 Speedway is in its 31st season of competition and its second full season under the reigns of Breeding and company.
Wells, a WoO regular who lives just an hour away from the track in Hazard, Ky., is looking forward to his shortest series trip of the season.
“It’s always fun to race locally,” said the 25-year-old Wells, whose lone career WoO victory came at Duck River Raceway Park in Wheel, Tenn. (where the series will visit Sunday). “Most of our fans, including family, is from this area and it’s nice when they can come out and support this type of event.”
Wells typically travels hundreds of miles to WoO races, but he’ll make a short trip to a track where he’s comfortable.
”I’ve ran over 100 races at this place since I started racing and this is where I cut my teeth,” said Wells, last year’s WoO Rookie of the Year.
Wells competed in the Old Man’s Garage Spring Nationals race 201 Speedway hosted in mid-April and got a read on the track’s slick surface during that event.
“It was the slickest I have seen the track. It was different that it usually is,” Wells recalled. “If it’s different when we roll in there this Friday then we’ll go back and look at our notes from before.”
Wells’s crew chief Tommy Hicks, a veteran who spent many years turning the wrenches for Hall of Fame driver Scott Bloomquist, has been a major help in his race program.
”We get along really well,“ Wells said. ”Him and my dad (team owner David Wells) are really good friends and we’ve all spent a lot of time together. We’re still searching for one more crew member to help but we feel once we get that we’ll be at a point to do some big things.”
After somewhat struggling early in 2014, Wells and team hope to get things turned around soon.
”It’s not been what we wanted,“ said Wells about his early season summary. ”We’ve had some decent runs at a few tracks too. We’re hopeful in bringing out a new Rocket (Chassis) this weekend to run at 201. We’ve had a lot of success in Rockets in the past. They’ve stepped up their game and I’m excited about running them, it seems to suit my driving style more.”
The World of Outlaws have made five previous appearances in the Bluegrass State, but this is the first in the eastern half of the state.
Kinzer, of Allen, Ky., is looking forward to it. He hasn’t entered a WoO event since April 30, 2011 at Bluegrass Speedway but says the WoO event at 201 Speedway is bringing excitement to the region.
“We’re excited about the event and for Jarrod (Breeding) at 201 who has brought the opportunity of some bigger races to the track,“ said the 36-year-old Kinzer, who drives an MB Customs entry sponsored by Kinzer Drilling Company.
Kinzer captured the track’s Spring Nationals event April 17 to provide him momentum heading into Friday’s race.
“We’ve ran second so many times with (Spring Nationals promoter) Ray (Cook), it was a very special race to win,“ Kinzer said of his victory in a race honoring long-time track prep guru Johnny Salyer. “It was just a very important win to us.”
Red hot Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. leads the WoO standings by 82 points heading into the tripleheader weekend with Rick Eckert of York, Pa., second. Third through fifth in series points are Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. and Morgan Bagley of Tyler, Texas.
Besides those and other series regulars, drivers expected to compete include home-state drivers Jackie Boggs of Grayson, Victor Lee of Danville, Michael Chilton of Salvisa, Shannon Thornsberry of Martin, Stephen Breeding and Chris Combs both of Isom and Dustin Linville of Bryantsville. Others expected include West Virginia’s father-and-son duo of Tim and Zack Dohm from Cross Lanes and the Wheelersburg, Ohio, trio of R.J., Rod and J.T. Conley.