Almost exactly 12 months after missing the 2011 World of Outlaws Late Model Series season opener due to a medical issue, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., kicked off the national tour’s 2012 schedule with a convincing victory in Saturday night’s inaugural 60-lap ‘Winter Freeze’ event at Screven Motor Speedway.
Lanigan, 40, grabbed the lead from Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C., on lap 13 and paced all but one circuit over the remaining distance to secure a lucrative triumph worth $20,700. It was the richest race in the history of promoter Redd Griffen’s three-eighths-mile oval and Lanigan’s third $20,000-plus WoO LMS checkered flag in the last four years.
“I’m glad to come back and race the first race and not give up points this year,” said Lanigan, who was forced to sit out the ’11 lidlifter at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., while seeking treatment for back pain that doctors ultimately found to be caused by a fractured tailbone. “I just couldn’t ask for a better car tonight. It was just flawless…unbelievable.”
Cook, 40, settled for second place, matching his career-best finish in WoO LMS competition. He was able to nose ahead of Lanigan in lapped traffic to lead lap 45, but Lanigan slid back in front the following circuit and marched on win by 2.181 seconds.
Defending WoO LMS champion Rick Eckert of York, Pa., advanced from the 12th starting spot to finish third. Two-time tour titlist Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., placed fourth and polesitter Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., slipped to fifth at the finish.
On a night that saw fans and competitors chilled by frigid conditions (below-freezing temperatures and wind-chill factors in the teens), Lanigan, who started fourth, survived a late-race scare from Cook to register his 27th career victory on the WoO LMS. He is just one triumph from tying Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., for second on the tour’s win list since 2004.
“We just kind of gave up the bottom there trying to get around a lapped car,” said Lanigan, whose brand-new Rocket machine lost traction momentarily exiting turn four on lap 45 as he attempted to lap Brent Dixon of Elberton, Ga. “(Cook) got on the inside of me, but our car was good enough and I drove back by him. I wasn’t gonna give up the lead that easy.”
Cook, who started second, was a gracious bridesmaid.
“He got back by me the same way I got by him – lapped traffic,” said Cook, who debuted a new MasterSbilt car. “After I got ahead of him, all I did was catch the same group that messed him up to start with.
“But he had a better car than I did. There was no doubt about that. He could leave the center of the corner harder than I could. When he’d get under lapped traffic, he could about spin out and still take off.”
Eckert, 46, was one of the race’s hardest chargers. He drove his Team Zero by Bloomquist car into third place on lap 33 and quickly pulled within striking distance of Lanigan and Cook, but he was unable to climb higher.
“I really wanted one more double-file restart,” said Eckert. “I think I could’ve got by Ray on the outside. The track got one-lane pretty good late (in the distance) when it started cleaning up, but there was a little bit on top on restarts so I would’ve liked one more shot.”
Unfortunately for Eckert, after six caution flags flew during the race’s first 28 laps, only one was needed for the remainder of the distance. That slowdown came on lap 54 when Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., stopped in turn four – and with less than 10 laps left, the race was restarted in single-file fashion.
Richards, 23, ran inside the top five for virtually the entire distance, but he couldn’t steer his new Rocket Chassis house car higher than fourth.
“Our car was really good, but I kept getting myself in the wrong place on the restarts,” said Richards, who started sixth. “We definitely had a car that could’ve run second to Darrell, but we didn’t take advantage of the restarts like we needed to.”
Clanton, 36, struggled in the A-Main after driving to an impressive heat-race win on Friday night.
“It was just driver error,” said Clanton, who drove a new Capital Race Car in his first WoO LMS start for the Kennedy Motorsports team. “We just went the wrong way. I needed to go back to the way I was last night.
“Sitting behind that seat, I thought I needed to change something to get faster. I did – and I slowed down even more. I thought I was O.K. until Lanigan pulled up alongside me and he could charge the corner harder than I could.”
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., finished a steady sixth in his first WoO LMS appearance in a Warrior Chassis machine. WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contender Jared Hawkins of Fairmont, W.Va., advanced from the 15th starting spot to place a solid seventh, followed by Steve Shaver of Vienna, W.Va., Ron Davies of Warren, Pa., and Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga.
Several contenders had strong runs ended by problems in turn four. Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., started the trend when he spun on lap three while bidding for third place. Later, Scott James of Bright, Ind., spun on lap eight after coming together with Shaver and Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., who hopes to follow the WoO LMS for the first time in 2012, lost fourth place on lap 27 when he spun on the inside of the track.
Saturday’s program began with three 10-lap B-Mains won by James, Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., and Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa. Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark., captured the 10-lap Last Chance Qualifier that also transferred runner-up Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., to the A-Main.
A busy month of February for the WoO LMS will continue after the Winter Freeze. The tour will head farther south for the inaugural ‘Bubba Army Late Model Winter Nationals’ on Feb. 16-18 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., and two dates (Feb. 23 and 25) during the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Winter Freeze’ at Screven Motor Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (4) Darrell Lanigan/60 $20,700
2. (2) Ray Cook/60 $10,500
3. (12) Rick Eckert/60 $6,650
4. (6) Josh Richards/60 $5,650
5. (1) Shane Clanton/60 $4,550
6. (7) Tim McCreadie/60 $3,650
7. (15) Jared Hawkins/60 $2,800
8. (9) Steve Shaver/60 $2,500
9. (10) Ron Davies/60 $2,900
10. (11) Casey Roberts/60 $2,100
11. (17) Bub McCool/60 $1,950
12. (26) Vic Coffey/60 $850
13. (22) Jack Sullivan/60 $1,700
14. (8) John Garvin/60 $1,700
15. (14) Kent Robinson/60 $1,650
16. (19) Hunter Peacock/60 $1,630
17. (24) Chub Frank/60 $2,110
18. (27) Tim Fuller/60 $590
19. (25) Clint Smith/60 $2,070
20. (29) John Lobb/60 $0
21. (20) Brent Dixon/59 $1,500
22. (28) Pat Doar/59 $550
23. (23) Brandon Sheppard/59 $1,525
24. (21) Austin Hubbard/52 $1,500
25. (3) Mike Marlar/27 $1,500
26. (13) Greg Johnson/27 $1,500
27. (18) Gregg Satterlee/26 $1,500
28. (16) Scott James/18 $1,500
29. (5) Shannon Babb/4 $1,500
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses
Margin of Victory: 2.181 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 7 (Laps 3, 8, 8, 27, 28, 28, 54)
Lap Leaders: Cook (1-12); Lanigan (13-44); Cook (45); Lanigan (46-60)
Provisional Starters: Frank, C. Smith (WoO); Coffey, Fuller, Doar, Lobb (WoO emergency)
Rookie of the Race: Hawkins
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Cook ($500)
B-Main No. 1 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Scott James, 2. Hunter Peacock, 3. Brandon Sheppard, 4. Chesley Dixon, 5. Clint Smith, 6. Pat Doar, 7. Tim Fuller, 8. Vic Coffey, 9. Jill George, 10. Chub Frank
B-Main No. 2 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Bub McCool, 2. Brent Dixon, 3. Jack Sullivan, 4. Dillan White, 5. Billy Moyer Jr., 6. John Henderson, 7. Chad Hollenbeck, 8. John Lobb, 9. Scott Phillips, 10. Brian Nuttall Jr.
B-Main No. 3 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Gregg Satterlee, 2. Austin Hubbard, 3. Dan Stone, 4. Scott Shirey, 5. Josh McGuire, 6. Philip Pittman, 7. Dennis Franklin, 8. Casey Barrow, 9. Mike Collins
Last Chance Qualifier (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Jack Sullivan, 2. Brandon Sheppard, 3. Dillan White, 4. Scott Shirey, 5. Dan Stone, 6. Chesley Dixon, 7. John Henderson, 8. Pat Doar, 9. Tim Fuller, 10. Philip Pittman, 11. Billy Moyer Jr. (DNS) Clint Smith
Drivers not returning for Saturday night program: Billy Moyer, Johnny Pursley Jr., Jason McBride, Brandon Overton, Jordy Nipper, Brian Reese, Sean Meeks, Benji Cole, Jeff Fortner, Todd Frank, Royce Bray, Garrett Schurling
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:
Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 product certificate to 23rd-place finisher I n A-Main or next highest w/decal): Austin Hubbard
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Ray Cook
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Vic Coffey
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
Comp Cams ($50 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim McCreadie
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Hunter Peacock/Bub McCool/Dan Stone
Gravely ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jared Hawkins
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 16th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Hunter Peacock
JE Pistons (one compete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 11th-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Bub McCool
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Austin Hubbard
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Brandon Sheppard
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash to fast qualifier or next highest w/decal): Ron Davies
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Shane Clanton
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Kent Robinson
Roush-Yates Performance Products ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Josh Richards
Roush-Yates Performance Products (carburetor repair kit to 18th-place finish in A-Main or next highest w/decal – $100 value): Brandons Sheppard
Roush-Yates Lap Leader Award (one pair of Wiley X Sunglasses to driver who leads most laps in A-Main):
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
SuperFlow ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Kent Robinson
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to 9th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Ron Davies
VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (one VP 5-gallon container to fastest qualifier who misses A-Main or next highest with decal – $30 value): Dennis Franklin
WIX Filters ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): John Garvin
Wrisco Aluminum (three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner if decal displayed – $200 value): Darrell Lanigan
XS Power ($50 cash to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
XS Power ($60 product certificate to 8th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Steve Shaver
XS ‘Power Move of the Race’ ($60 product certificate): Darrell Lanigan
LISTEN ONLINE: If fans can’t get to a track to see the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, they can experience the excitement of the nation’s premier tour live on DIRTvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network.
To listen to the free audio broadcasts, log on to http://www.dirtvision.com/welcome.php and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo.
BLOGGING: WoO LMS fans can now read interesting stories from the road by checking out two blogs –‘Life As An Outlaw’ by series announcer Rick Eshelman and ‘The Scoop With Scoop’ by tour P.R. director Kevin Kovac. Both blogs can be accessed by clicking on the preceding links or the specific ‘Blog’ buttons on the right-hand side of http://www.woolms.com/.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award), McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award), Chizmark Larson Insurance, Factory Value Parts and RacingJunk.com; in addition to contingency sponsors Comp Cams, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filters and Wrisco Aluminum.