World of Outlaws Late Model Series News & Notes: Previewing The ‘Pepsi Nationals’ On Saturday Night

jdearing

Administrator
Staff member
PEVELY, MO - Sept. 16, 2010 -

PIVOTAL RACE: Josh Richards and Darrell Lanigan know how much they have riding on the 28th annual Pepsi Nationals this Saturday night (Sept. 18) at I-55 Raceway.

With Richards leading the World of Outlaws Late Model Series standings by just two points over Lanigan entering the 55-lap, $10,000-to-win event at the action-packed track outside St. Louis, neither driver can afford the slightest misstep. A mere three races – all at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C. – will remain on the national tour’s 2010 schedule after Saturday’s program, ramping up the pressure to perform at I-55 for the friendly rivals chasing a $100,000 championship pot of gold.

The last two WoO LMS champions – Richards won his first title last year and Lanigan captured the crown in 2008 – head into this weekend’s competition with plenty of momentum. They are not only tied for winningest-driver status on this year’s series (both have won seven times) but are also the tour’s most recent victors – Richards scored his first-ever 100-lap triumph in the ‘Battle At Eastern Door’ on Sept. 1 at Mohawk International Raceway in Akwesasne, N.Y., and Lanigan topped the ‘Oil Region Labor Day Classic’ on Sept. 5 at Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pa.

Neither driver has won at I-55 Raceway, a high-banked, one-third-mile oval that is set to host the WoO LMS for the fourth time in its history. Both have competed in the three previous events – and it’s Richards who has improved his performance with each start.

Richards, 22, of Shinnston, W.Va., finished 14th in I-55 Raceway’s 2005 WoO LMS A-Main during his rookie season as a fulltime traveler. He improved to 13th in 2007 and placed third in 2008, when he was in contention to win late in the distance.

The 40-year-old Lanigan, meanwhile, was the runner-up to Billy Moyer in the inaugural WoO LMS at I-55 in 2005, falling less than one second short of victory. The resident of Union, Ky., finished 11th in the 2007 and 2008 events, but he’s confident that he can turn around his most recent fortunes at the track.

“Pevely is a place I like so I feel like we’ll be O.K. there,” said Lanigan, who has won six of the last 12 WoO LMS A-Mains. “But really, the way we’re running right now, I feel good about going anywhere.”

DROUGHT-BUSTER?: WoO LMS regular Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., has fond memories of I-55 Raceway thanks to his victory in the track’s 2007 tour event. That triumph harkens him back to his best season ever on the series, a campaign that saw him win four times and finish a career-high third in the points standings.

Alas, Smith, 45, has won just one WoO LMS A-Main since then, on June 17, 2008, at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway. He brings a frustrating 110-race winless streak into Saturday night’s program, but with the ‘Cat Daddy’ seemingly rejuvenated of late – he has three top-five finishes, including two runner-up outings, in his last four WoO LMS starts – perhaps a return to I-55 is the tonic he needs to break back into Victory Lane.

Can Smith pull off his second career triumph in the Pepsi Nationals? He sure believes so.

“I go to every race thinking, This is the one (that ends the win drought),” said the confident Smith. “But really, I’m just happy to be running good again and getting some top-fives. I know if that we keep running in the top five, one of these nights we’re gonna get the breaks and get a win. Hopefully it will come on Saturday night.”

MEETING HIS PUBLIC: Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., who finished second in the 2008 Pepsi Nationals, hopes a return to I-55 will help him snap his own 48-race stretch without a win on the WoO LMS. He is trying to avoid his first winless season on the tour.

The 48-year-old veteran, who also has finishes of 11th (2005) and fourth (2007) in WoO LMS action at I-55, will give fans a sneak preview of the distinctive green-and-black Rocket No. 1* he’ll run on Saturday night during a pre-race appearance on behalf of LaCrosse Footwear outside the nearby Dunn’s Sporting Goods store in Pevely, Mo. He’ll be available for photos and autographs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central Time.

Frank’s appearance at Dunn’s Sporting Goods, which is located at 8733 Commercial Blvd. in Pevely, Mo., will be accented by several activities sure to interest both diehard and casual race fans. The local country music station, J-98 The Boot, will do a live remote broadcast from the store; there will be free giveaways of tickets to Saturday night’s Pepsi Nationals as well as LaCrosse boots, t-shirts, hats and stickers; and the LaCrosse Extreme Tough Challenge fan competition will take place, giving customers a chance to test their strength and win prizes.

The Pepsi Nationals serves as the seventh leg of the WoO LMS LaCrosse Extreme Tough Challenge, a unique mini-series that awards points to the top-five fulltime WoO LMS and Sprint Car Series drivers in 16 selected events – eight Late Model and eight Sprint Car – and will earn the champion of the combined standings a $5,000 bonus from a $15,000 points fund split among the top-five drivers. WoO Sprint Car star Donny Schatz is the current points leader, but he has several full-fender Outlaws nipping as his heels.

PEACH STATE STAR: Shane Clanton of Senoia, Ga., won the last WoO LMS event at I-55 in 2008 and will be back to try to give Georgia drivers three straight Pepsi Nationals victories – and this time he’ll be behind the wheel of a car that showcases his home state.

The 35-year-old standout plans to race his distinctive ‘Georgia Bulldogs’ machine, which sports a red-and-black scheme featuring the University of Georgia’s logo that he debuted for last week’s DIRTcar UMP-sanctioned World 100 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Clanton and graphics designer Ron Slavic received the DirtonDirt.com Best Appearing Car Award for their sharp, unique look.

THE INVADERS: Saturday’s field will include seven other WoO LMS travelers led by 2006 champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who is third in the points standings but needs a great run – as well as poor finishes from Richards and Lanigan – to keep his flickering title hopes alive.

McCreadie, whose only previous WoO LMS start at I-55 resulted in a 12th-place finish in 2005, trails Richards by 86 points in the standings.

Other WoO chauffeurs and their best series finishes at I-55 include 2007 champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky. (fifth in ’07), Rick Eckert of York, Pa. (fourth in ’05) and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. (eighth in ’08). Outlaw followers looking to make their first-ever series A-Mains at I-55 include Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio, 2010 Rookie of the Year Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., and rookie Jill George of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

GIRL POWER: Saturday’s program will have a definite female theme with George and April Farmer of Livingston, Tenn., in the field.

Farmer, who last year became the first woman to start a WoO LMS A-Main, plans to make her first career appearance at I-55. She is coming off a victory in last week’s World 100 Non-Qualifiers’ Race that made her the first female to capture a dirt Late Model event at the famed Eldora Speedway.

PERFECT AT PEVELY: Dirt Late Model legend Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., has tentatively announced plans to enter Saturday’s event – one week after he won Eldora Speedway’s prestigious World 100 for an unprecedented sixth time in his Hall of Fame career.

Moyer, 52, will attempt to duplicate Clanton’s 2008 feat of winning the World 100 and Pepsi Nationals in consecutive weeks. The three-time WoO LMS champion will also bid to remain undefeated at I-55 this season following victories on June 5 (Northern All-Stars Late Model Series), July 3 (DIRTcar Summer Nationals) and Aug. 28 (MARS DIRTcar Series) – a hat trick that has already earned him $20,000.

TOUGH COMPETITION: A talented group of drivers from across the Midwest will join Moyer in challenging the Outlaws – none more notable than former DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., the only racer with a top-five finish in all three previous WoO LMS events at I-55.

Babb has been flirting with a WoO LMS victory at I-55, finishing second in 2007 and fifth in both 2005 and 2008. He led the 2005 A-Main until Moyer passed him late in the distance and nearly pulled off a dramatic win in 2007.

Other drivers expected to enter Saturday’s action include reigning DIRTcar UMP Summer Nationals and national champion Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., who finished fourth in the 2008 Pepsi Nationals; former DIRTcar Summer Nationals and national titlist Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., who finished sixth in the 2008 event; Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill. (third in the 2005 WoO LMS A-Main); Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis.; Wendell Wallace of Batesville, Ark.; 2010 I-55 Raceway champion Mark Voigt of Marine, Ill.; ’10 I-55 runner-up Bryan Collins of Elsberry, Mo.; and Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill.

THANKS, MOTHER NATURE: Ray Marler, who co-owns I-55 Raceway with NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader, couldn’t help smiling on Wednesday when he looked at the weather forecast for Saturday in Pevely, Mo.

After two years of rain-induced headaches, it appears that Marler and Schrader will at long last strike it rich with a postcard-perfect day for one of their track’s marquee events. Clear skies with high temperatures in the mid 80s and lows in the 60s are expected.

“This is our 15th season (at I-55),” said Marler. “We’ve had 13 decent seasons, but the last two we’ve gotten killed by the weather. We lost 14 races last year, and this year we’ve lost 10 – three to flood-outs (thanks to the nearby creek overflowing and making the road to the track impassable) and seven to rainouts.

“With the weather looking good for Saturday, it’s a big relief. I think it’s gonna bring out a lot of people to see the great racing we’ve been having this year.”

KENNY’S CAR: While Ken Schrader hasn’t decided if he will enter his dirt Late Model in Saturday night’s Pepsi Nationals, early-arriving fans can check out the nationally-known racer’s DIRTcar UMP Modified by stopping at the nearby Pevely Flea Market. Schrader’s machine will be on display at the popular business from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

CONSOLATION PRIZE: Mike Larson of Chizmark Larson Insurance will attend Saturday’s Pepsi Nationals and help raise a disappointed driver’s feelings by presenting a Hard Luck Award worth $100.

Larson will be available in the pit area throughout the evening to discuss insurance options with interested race teams.

PEPSI NATIONALS INFO: Saturday’s program, which also includes racing for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, DIRTcar Extreme Sportsman Series and DIRTcar Pro 4 Stocks, is scheduled to kick off with practice at 6 p.m. WoO LMS time trials will begin at 6:30 p.m. and racing is set to get the green flag at 7 p.m.

Gates will open at 4 p.m.

Advance tickets to the Pepsi Nationals are still on sale for $28 (general admission) and $30 (reserved) and can be purchased by visiting www.WorldofOutlaws.com/tickets or by calling the track at 636-479-3219. Fans who buy their tickets in advance can also receive a FREE t-shirt from Pepsi while supplies last.

Another attractive offer available to attendees of the Pepsi Nationals is a FREE pit-pass upgrade to admission tickets for fans who recycle a Pepsi 20-ounce bottle on race day at the main gate.

Tickets on race day will be $30 (general) and $32 (reserved). Kids 12-and-under are admitted free to general admissions sections, and pit passes are $30 for DIRTcar members and $35 for non-members.

I-55 Raceway is located 30 minutes south of downtown St. Louis, off Pevely exits 180 and 178 of Interstate 55.

Additional info is available by logging on to www.i55raceway.com.

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 Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and Chizmark Larson Insurance; in addition to contingency sponsors Eibach Springs, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pink Carburetors, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance and Wrisco Aluminum.
 




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