Kentucky Star's Fourth Straight World of Outlaws Late Model Series Win Comes In Crown-Jewel Event
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
NEW RICHMOND, WI – Aug. 4, 2012 – Darrell Lanigan added a coveted crown-jewel victory to his spectacular 2012 campaign with a flawless performance in Saturday night's 25th annual USA Nationals presented by U.S. Steel at Cedar Lake Speedway.
Dominating the richest World of Outlaws Late Model Series event of the season, the 42-year-old star from Union, Ky., rocketed off the outside pole to grab the lead at the initial green flag of the 100-lap A-Main and never looked back. He survived a mid-race challenge from Don O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., and a final-lap mechanical scare to pocket the prestigious race's $50,000 top prize.
The triumph was Lanigan's first in five career USA Nationals starts and gave him 11 WoO LMS checkered flags in 2012, pushing his modern-era (2004-present) single-season win record even higher. It was also his fourth consecutive victory on the national tour, matching the record shared by Rick Eckert of York, Pa. (2006) and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. (2009).
"It's definitely awesome to pick up one of the bigger (race) wins of the year," said Lanigan, whose resume also sports crown-jewel victories in the $100,000 Dream at Ohio's Eldora Speedway and the Dirt Track World Championship at Kentucky's Bluegrass Speedway (both in 2003). "I think this is one of the top five races in the country, so winning it makes a great season even better."
Lanigan drove his familiar Cornett-powered Rocket car under the checkered flag 0.554 of a second ahead of Newport, Tenn.'s Jimmy Owens, who outdueled Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., for the $20,000 runner-up check behind the wheel of the Reece Monuments Team Zero by Bloomquist machine. Marlar passed Owens for second on lap 73 but ceded the position back on the 79th circuit and had to settle for a third-place finish in the Bryson Motorsports Rocket.
DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., advanced from the ninth starting spot to place a USA Nationals career-best fourth in his Pierce car and polesitter Frankie Heckenast Jr. of Orland Park, Ill., steered his Rocket mount to a fifth-place finish that marked his best run ever in a crown-jewel event.
Lanigan ran without a threat for a majority of the distance in a car he called "unbelievable," but O'Neal provided some drama for the crowd that packed the three-eighths-mile oval. O'Neal, who started fourth in Larry Moring's MasterSbilt car, fell nearly a straightaway behind Lanigan early in the event before noticeably closing in as the 100 neared its halfway point.
But just when O'Neal caught Lanigan and appeared primed to make a bid for the lead, he clipped the outside wall in turn one with the right-rear of his car, momentarily slowing his momentum in a shower of sparks. O'Neal gathered himself and was moving in on Lanigan again when contact with the lapped car driven by Scott James of Bright, Ind., sent him spinning between turns one and two on lap 60, bringing out the race's first caution and forcing O'Neal to restart at the rear of the field.
O'Neal pitted during a lap-61 caution period and returned, but his hopes of a rally ended on lap 76 when he smashed the turn-one wall hard with his car's right-rear while running ninth. A red flag was put out when O'Neal gingerly climbed out of his heavily damaged machine, but he declined medical attention and rode back to the pit area on a four-wheeler.
"Darrell was fast, but I think we had a pretty good car," said O'Neal, whose 13th-place finish was still his best in four career starts in the USA Nationals 100. "We ran him down once but then I lost ground when I got into the wall (on lap 54), and then we were running him down again when a lapped car got into me and spun me. I don't know what that was about, but it didn't have to happen.
"The crash (on lap 76) was all my fault," he added. "I was just running hard trying to get back up there and I got high on the front straightaway and just drove into the wall with the rearend. That was a real hard hit – it knocked the breath out of me – but I'm O.K."
Lanigan, of course, never realized that O'Neal pulled within striking distance.
"I didn't really know it because I think once he got close we were running (lapped) traffic so bad right that I didn't even have a chance to look at signals (from crewmen)," said Lanigan. "I didn't know anybody was on me."
Lanigan's only real worry came on the race's final lap – a mechanical malfunction that could have proved disastrous.
"You can tell God's with you out there because we crossed the finish line and broke the (rear) lift bar," said Lanigan, whose 2012 earnings on the WoO LMS reached $248,100 ---- more than double the total of the next highest driver on the money-won list – after just 28 events. "Sometimes it's just meant to be. If it had happened earlier, I wouldn't have made another lap.
"To break at the finish line – it's unbelievable. When your luck's behind you, it's behind you."
Owens, 40, would have been close enough to take advantage of Lanigan's problem. He had drawn within a couple car lengths of Lanigan in the final circuits.
"We had a good car," said Owens, whose best previous finish in three previous USA Nationals A-Main starts was seventh, in 2007. "Darrell was probably just a little bit better than we were, but there toward the end Mikey Marlar showed us a little run on the bottom and I went (to the inside) and was able to reel (Lanigan) in a little bit.
"I should've been down there the last 20 or 30 laps and maybe we would've had something for him."
Five-time USA Nationals winner Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., finished sixth after starting 16th and pitting on lap 76 to change tires. WoO LMS regular Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., placed seventh despite racing much of the distance with his engine on seven cylinders; Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., was the top-finishing home-state driver in eighth; teenager Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., took ninth to score his second top-10 finish this season in a 100-lap WoO LMS event; and Eckert rounded out the top 10 after relinquishing fifth place to make a pit stop on lap 76.
Just two caution flags slowed the event, including one on lap 61 for Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., who stopped in turn one.
Saturday's program kicked off with three 12-lap B-Mains won by Bloomquist, Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., and Ross Camponovo of Clarksdale, Miss. Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., captured the 15-lap Last Chance Race that also transferred Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., and Nick Anvelink of Navarino, Wis., to the USA Nationals.
The event offered only show-up points toward the WoO LMS championship because it did follow the tour's normal format.
The WoO LMS will remain in the Upper Midwest for two more events, visiting Independence (Iowa) Motor Speedway on Mon., Aug. 6, and returning to Shawano (Wis.) Speedway on Tues., Aug. 7, to run a race that postponed by rain on Wednesday evening.
1. (2) Darrell Lanigan/100 $50,050
2. (5) Jimmy Owens/100 $20,000
3. (6) Mike Marlar/100 $10,000
4. (9) Brian Shirley/100 $6,000
5. (1) Frankie Heckenast Jr./100 $5,000
6. (16) Scott Bloomquist/100 $4,650
7. (12) Clint Smith/100 $4,300
8. (7) Brady Smith/100 $4,000
9. (21) Bobby Pierce/100 $3,800
10. (3) Rick Eckert/100 $3,650
11. (25) Scott James/100 $3,250
12. (15) Chad Simpson/100 $3,000
13. (4) Don O'Neal/76 $2,800
14. (11) Jason Feger/61 $2,900
15. (8) Billy Moyer/61 $2,500
16. (13) Tyler Reddick/55 $2,400
17. (14) Brian Birkhofer/52 $2,300
18. (20) Chub Frank/52 $2,250
19. (23) Kent Robinson/37 $2,200
20. (18) Shannon Babb/36 $2,075
21. (17) Shane Clanton/29 $2,100
22. (18) Ross Camponovo/24 $2,025
23. (22) Pat Doar/23 $2,060
24. (27) Bub McCool/16 $2,050
25. (24) Nick Anvelink/12 $2,000
26. (26) Tim McCreadie/7 $2,050
27. (19) Dennis Erb Jr./2 $2,000
* Earnings include cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 38 Mins., 25.471 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.554 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 2 (laps 60, 61); One Red Flag (lap 76)
Lap Leaders: Lanigan (1-100)
Provisional Starters: McCreadie, McCool (WoO); James (Thursday night winner)
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Scott Bloomquist, 2. Dennis Erb Jr., 3. Pat Doar, 4. Jake Redetzke, 5. Bub McCool, 6. Billy Moyer Jr., 7. Lance Matthees, 8. Tim Isenberg, 9. Walker Arthur, 10. Duane Treadwell, 11. Charlie McKenna, 12. Chad Williamson
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Shane Clanton, 2. Chub Frank, 3. Nick Anvelink, 4. Chris Simpson, 5. Brandon Sheppard, 6. Jack Sullivan, 7. Jason Rauen, 8. Tim McCreadie, 9. Mark Burgtorf, 10. Pete Parker, 11. Mike Spatola, 12. Scott James
B-Main No. 3 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Ross Camponovo, 2. Bobby Pierce, 3. Kent Robinson, 4. Morgan Bagley, 5. Jimmy Mars, 6. Vic Coffey, 7. Tim Fuller, 8. Mike Fryer, 9. Dustin Hapka, 10. Bryan Wennen, 11. Jill George
Last Chance Race (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Pat Doar; 2. Kent Robinson ; 3. Nick Anvelink 4. Chris Simpson ($1,000); 5. Brandon Sheppard ($800); 6. Jimmy Mars ($600); 7. Jake Redetzke ($500); 8. Morgan Bagley ($475); 9. Jack Sullivan ($450); 10. Lance Matthees ($425); 11. Tim Fuller ($410); 12. Billy Moyer Jr. ($400); 13. Vic Coffey ($400); 14. Jason Rauen ($400); 15. Bub McCool (provisional)
Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 product certificate to 23rd-place finisher I n A-Main or next highest w/decal): Ross Camponovo
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Mike Marlar
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jason Feger
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Comp Cams ($50 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Scott Bloomquist
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jason Feger
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Pat Doar/Ross Camponovo/Bobby Piercer
Gravely ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jason Feger
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 16th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Kent Robinson
JE Pistons (one compete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 11th-place finisher or next highest w/decal - $285 value): Scott James
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher or next highest w/decal - $285 value): Pat Doar
Klotz Synthetic Lubricants ($50 cash to 17th-place finisher or next highest finisher): Kent Robinson
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash to fast qualifier or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Frankie Heckenast Jr.
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Clint Smith
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Billy Moyer
Roush-Yates Performance Products ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Scott Bloomquist
Roush-Yates Performance Products (carburetor repair kit to 18th-place finish in A-Main or next highest w/decal - $100 value): Chub Frank
Roush-Yates Lap Leader Award (one pair of Wiley X Sunglasses to driver who leads most laps in A-Main): Darrell Lanigan
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Scott Bloomquist
SuperFlow ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jason Feger
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to 9th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bobby Pierce
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): Jimmy Mars
WIX Filters ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jason Feger
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): Scott Bloomquist
XS Power ($60 product certificate to 8th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Jason Feger
XS 'Power Move of the Race' ($60 product certificate): Jimmy Owens
1. Darrell Lanigan 3898
2. Rick Eckert 3746 (-152)
3. Tim McCreadie 3676 (-222)
4. Shane Clanton 3616 (-282)
5. Chub Frank 3608 (-290)
6. Bub McCool 3462 (-436)
7. Clint Smith 3438 (-460)
8. Vic Coffey 3356 (-542)
9. Pat Doar 3274 (-624)
10. Tim Fuller 3230 (-668)
11. Kent Robinson 3148 (-750)
12. Jack Sullivan 3050 (-848)
13. John Lobb 2300 (-1598)
14. Mike Marlar 1966 (-1932)
15. Jill George 1922 (-1976)