CONCORD, NC – Nov. 4, 2013 –
READY FOR BATTLE : Shane Clanton knows that it will take a nearly miraculous turn of events for him to emerge as the 2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion upon the conclusion of the season-ending World Finals this weekend (Nov. 7-9) at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
But for Clanton to match his career-best finish of second in the points standings? Well, that’s something much more within his control.
Clanton, 38, of Zebulon, Ga., currently sits third in the WoO LMS standings, 110 points behind presumptive champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va. – who can clinch his third career title with a pair of 26th-place finishes in the twin 50-lap World Finals A-Mains – but just four markers behind reigning champ Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. The razor-close margin separating Clanton and Lanigan pretty much means neither driver can go the conservative route in pursuit of the $60,000 points-fund payoff for second place.
“We’re going to Charlotte planning on winning both races,” said Clanton, who stands to increase his points-fund take by $20,000 if he can hop past Lanigan this weekend. “I guess you gotta be conscious of your surroundings – I mean, I got knocked out of about 50 points in one race (Sept. 14 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.) because I got wrecked on the first lap in a deal that I don’t think was my fault but I think I could have prevented a little bit – but for the most we’re going in there with no different mindset than I’ve had all year long. I’ve tried to run as best as I can and let the points fall where they may and that’s what we’re gonna keep doing.
“The best I can do is win both races, so that’s what we’re looking for. I feel like we’ve built a lot of momentum over the past two months so we’re pretty confident about our chances of doing that.”
Clanton will enter the World Finals just a couple weeks removed from a $15,000 triumph in the unsanctioned Fall Classic at Whynot Motorsports Park in Meridian, Miss. He’s also enjoying his strongest season on the WoO LMS since he joined the tour fulltime in 2005, equaling his career high in victories (four) and posting personal bests in top-five finishes (23) and top-10s (39, tied with Richards for the most through 44 A-Mains). While he is experiencing a victory drought with his last win on the circuit coming on June 1 at Stateline Speedway in Busti, N.Y., he’s registered four of his five runner-up finishes in 2013 since then, including second-place outings in two of his last three starts.
“We’ve definitely had more consistency than we’ve ever had before,” said Clanton, who is completing his second season driving for Kennedy Motorsports. “We’ve had a lot of top 10s and top fives, but we just haven’t capitalized enough to get more wins. Especially here lately, things just haven’t fallen the way they need to fall for me to win races.
“We’ve been right with Josh and Lanigan for most of the season, but the bottom line is we need more wins to compete with them for the championship. Lanigan’s got 11 wins and Josh has nine – and if you can’t match that, it’s gonna be hard to win a title.
“I’m real proud of our season,” he added. “We have two new (crew) guys again this year and we’re still basically a new team that doesn’t have a thick (setup) notebook yet, so to have the success that we’ve had definitely has us excited about our future.”
Clanton would like to continue marching into that future with a memorable weekend at Charlotte, a four-tenths-mile oval that has proven to be a thorn in his side throughout his career.
“Charlotte’s just one of them deals,” said Clanton. “You either like it or hate. I like Charlotte, but I’ve never had any real luck there. I’m hoping it finally turns around this year.”
Clanton’s performance record in the World Finals is littered with misery. Since the blockbuster event began in 2007, he has just two top-10 finishes in 12 A-Main starts: a ninth and a 10th, both in ’07.
Consider the heartache that has befallen Clanton during the World Finals:
* 2007: After a quiet 10th-place finish in the first A-Main, he led laps 29-36 in the second 50-lapper before being passed by eventual winner Donnie Moran of Dresden, Ohio, and fading to ninth at the finish following contact with Lanigan.
* 2008: He finished 25th in the first A-Main after dropping out with distributor problems while running fifth; he placed 18 th in the finale after spinning in turn four on lap 37 while attempting to pass Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., for third. Third in the points standings entering the weekend, he fell to fourth due to the poor finishes.
* 2009: Despite a pole starting spot in the first feature he failed to lead a lap and fell from fourth to 11th on the final lap due to a broken axle. He wasn’t a factor in the second event, finishing 16th.
* 2010: He used a provisional to start the first A-Main and dropped out early due to a broken rearend, finishing 26th. He wasn’t a contender in Saturday night’s headliner, placing 11th.
* 2011: After finishing one lap down in 16th in the first A-main, he was battling for a top-10 spot in the second event when he was swept up in a multi-car tangle on lap 37 and was left with a 22nd-place finish. The troubles caused him to fall from sixth to seventh in the points standings.
* 2012: He struggled in the first A-Main, finishing one lap down in 20th place. Saturday night’s event was even worse: forced to use a provisional spot after his time-trial lap was short-circuited by a slap of the outside wall, he ended up slamming the turn-three wall on lap 38 and finishing 23rd. “Me and (Brandon) Sheppard got together and it broke the panhard bar halfway down the back straightaway,” Clanton recalled of last year’s accident. “I just went right into the outside wall head-on after that. That was probably the hardest wreck I’ve ever been in. I was O.K., but I hit hard.”
Indeed, if anyone is due for a World Finals breakout, it’s Clanton.
CAN DARRELL DO IT?: Lanigan’s hopes of a second consecutive WoO LMS points crown are nearly extinguished, but he has plenty to race for in the World Finals. Not only will he battle Clanton for second in the points standings, but he also will chase his long-awaited first-ever victory at The Dirt Track.
The 43-year-old Lanigan has authored numerous strong runs at Charlotte – including a pair of third-place finishes in last year’s World Finals A-Mains – but he’s never won in 20 career starts there.
CARRYING MOMENTUM: WoO LMS regulars Rick Eckert of York, Pa., and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., will go to the post this weekend hot off a sweep of the top-two finishing positions in Sunday night’s unsanctioned National 100 at East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City.
Eckert claimed the race’s $20,000 first-place prize for the third time in his career over McCreadie, who led much of the distance before Eckert pulled off an outside move exiting turn four to take the top spot heading to the white flag.
CORONATION: Barring a disastrous pair of back-of-the-field finishes – and two perfect nights for either Lanigan or Clanton – Richards, 25, will honored following Saturday night’s action for becoming the first driver to win three WoO LMS points titles in the tour’s World Racing Group era (2004-present).
Richards is also the lone WoO LMS regular with a World Finals A-Main victory to their credit. He won the ’08 finale.
Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., is the alltime winningest driver at the World Finals with five victories, including an unprecedented sweep of last year’s A-Mains. He has won the Saturday-night finale in each of the past four years.
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., has three career World Finals triumphs (Friday-night opener in 2007, ’08 and ’09); Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., won the first half of doubleheader in both 2010 and ’11; and Moran captured the finale in ’07.
MORE DOLLARS: Drivers will compete for increased purses during this year’s World Finals, with first-place prizes for each A-Main upped to $12,000 (from $10,000). Start money has also been padded to $1,000 (from $700).
CARS, CARS, CARS: The World Finals typically draws a huge field – average car count over its six-year history: 75.67 – and this year is expected to be no different.
The World Finals will once again serve as a grand season-ending showdown between the country’s best drivers. Among the stars expected to compete:
* WoO LMS regulars Richards, Lanigan, Clanton, Eckert and McCreadie plus Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., and rookies Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., and Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas.
* DIRTcar UMP standouts Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., and 16-year-old Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill.
* Eight of the top 10 drivers in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points standings: champion Owens, Bloomquist and Pearson plus Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., and Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark.
* Southern stalwarts such as Davenport, Dennis ‘Rambo’ Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., Randy Weaver of Crossville, Tenn., and Chris Ferguson of Mt. Airy, N.C.
* Northern talents Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa. (a two-time WoO LMS winner this season), Steve Shaver of Vienna, W.Va., Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., Ricky Elliott of Seaford, Del., Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., Dale Hollidge of Mechanicsville, Md., Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., and Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y.
* Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., who is planning to compete in the full World Finals program for the first time. In 2009 he entered the WoO LMS Topless Showdown that preceded the World Finals but headed home after the event.
HUGE WEEKEND: The World of Outlaws World Finals begin on Thurs., Nov. 7, with the big Qualifying Night featuring two rounds of WoO Late Model and Sprint Car time trials and two sets of Super DIRTcar Series big-block Modified heats. Each division’s first round of qualifying will apply to Friday’s program and the second round to Saturday’s racing card.
The Late Models and Sprint Cars will compete in full programs (heats, Last Chance Races, A-Mains) on both Fri., Nov. 8, and Sat., Nov. 9, while the big-block Modifieds will contest Last Chance Races and 40-lap features each evening.
Action is scheduled to get the green flag at 6:05 p.m. on Thurs., Nov. 7, and 5 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 8, and Sat., Nov. 9.
Tickets for the World Finals Presented can be obtained by logging on to www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or calling 1-800-455-FANS. Three-day packages are available for the bargain price of $79 and $34 for children 13-and-under.
PRE-RACE ENTERTAINMENT: In an effort to provide even more fun for what is expected to be a record World Finals crowd, The Dirt Track at Charlotte has expanded the fan zone and pre-race entertainment lineup. Nearly 50 interactive displays and souvenir rigs will fill an 80,000-square-foot fan zone located near the main entrance of The Dirt Track. The expanded fan zone is nearly 20 percent larger than years past.
In addition, there will be a separate entertainment stage outside the gates featuring live music by Southern Edge with performances on each event day before the on-track action gets underway.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT PARTY: Dirt racing fans are invited to kick off World Finals weekend by attending ‘PRN’s At The Track’ live show on Wed., Nov. 6, at Carolina Ale House at Concord, which is located just down the road from the speedway near Concord Mills Mall.
The ‘Live with the World of Outlaws’ party is free to attend and will last from 7-9 p.m. The evening will include door prizes and live interviews with guests, including WoO LMS points leader Josh Richards, two-time World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion and Kasey Kahne Racing driver Jason Meyers, Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series point leader Brett Hearn and more. Fans can also get an up-close view of a World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series show car.
‘PRN’s At The Track’ is a weekly show produced by the Performance Racing Network. The show features the Southeast’s dirt track and short track news and newsmakers along with insights and behind-the-scenes information on the wide variety of events at these tracks and at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Fans can get the latest industry news on Twitter by following @PRNAtTheTrack.
WATCH AT HOME: Fans who can’t make the trip to The Dirt Track can still watch all the racing live on-line by visiting www.DIRTVision.com and purchasing a broadcast subscription. All three nights of the World Finals will be broadcast live, with viewers enjoying lap-by-lap coverage plus interviews with the event’s newsmakers.
The World Finals will also be taped for later broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. Friday night’s program will be broadcast on Sun., Dec. 15, from 9 p.m. to midnight ET and Saturday night’s action will be shown on Sun., Dec. 22, from 9 p.m.to midnight ET.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: American Racing Custom Wheels (Official Custom Wheel), Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), KMC (Official Custom Truck Wheel), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award); in addition to contingency sponsors: Butlerbuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Dominator Race Products, Edelbrock, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, QuarterMaster, Roush Yates Performance Parts, Superflow Dynos, Wrisco Aluminum and XS Power Racing Batteries; along with manufacturer sponsors Capital Race Cars, Integra Shocks, GRT Chassis, Jake’s Carts, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis, TNT Rescue, and Warrior Chassis.