Lanigan Continues Record-Setting Season With Hard-Fought Victory In Dirt Late Model Magazine 50 At Independence Motor Speedway
Sizzling Star Sets World of Outlaws Late Model Series Consecutive-Win Record, Ties Richards For Most Triumphs Since ’04
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
INDEPENDENCE, IA – Aug. 6, 2012 – Darrell Lanigan’s assault on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series rolled on Monday night at Independence Motor Speedway.
Continuing the most amazing season in the history of the national tour, the 42-year-old star from Union, Ky., set or matched three different series records with a hard-fought victory over Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., in the three-eighths-mile oval’s Dirt Late Model Magazine 50.
Lanigan drew the pole position in the pre-race redraw and led all but one circuit of the A-Main, but his drive to the checkered flag behind the wheel of his Cornett-powered Rocket was anything but easy. He had to survive a relentless late-race challenge from Smith, who nosed ahead to lead lap 42 but lost ground and fell behind for the remainder of the distance when the leaders rubbed together in turn two moments after Lanigan was scored the leader of lap 43.
Smith, 47, settled for a disappointing runner-up finish in his J.P. Drilling Rocket, crossing the finish line 0.330 of a second behind Lanigan. It was Smith’s second bridesmaid run to Lanigan in the last four races.
“I definitely had to work for this one,” said Lanigan, who passed Smith on the final lap to win a WoO LMS A-Main on July 13 at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D. “Cat (Smith) had the best car at the end. He had the right rubber on and we were hanging on.”
Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., finished third in Larry Moring’s MasterSbilt car after nearly swiping second place from Smith on lap 44. Defending WoO LMS champion Rick Eckert of York, Pa., battled to a fourth-place finish in his Team Zero by Bloomquist mount and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., completed the top five in his Victory Circle machine after starting 13th.
Lanigan’s $10,650 victory was his fifth in a row, 12th of the season and 38th of his career on the WoO LMS – all significant numbers in the history of the renowned full-fender circuit.
Already the holder of the WoO LMS’s modern-era (2004-present) single-season win record after registering his 10th checkered flag on July 14 at North Central Speedway in Brainerd, Minn., Lanigan tied the tour’s alltime single-season win standard set by Moyer in 1989 during the initial two-year run of the series under late WoO Sprint Car Series founder Ted Johnson.
Lanigan also set a new modern-era record for consecutive wins – surpassing the four-race streaks authored by Eckert in 2006 and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., in 2009 – and tied Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., for the top spot on the tour’s win list since 2004. In addition, he is now tied with Richards and Moyer for the most alltime WoO LMS victories, including the 1988-89 seasons.
The milestone win almost slipped through Lanigan’s grasp. Smith, who started seventh, reached second by passing Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, just before a lap-18 caution flag and proceeded to track down Lanigan like few drivers have been able to this season.
After caution periods on laps 29 and 36 stalled his charge, Smith stepped up the pressure. He moved to the outside of Lanigan and nipped the WoO LMS points leader at the start/finish line to lead lap 42, but Lanigan went back ahead by inches the following circuit and effectively gained control for good seconds later.
Just as it appeared that Smith was in position to surge completely ahead of Lanigan off the outside of turn two, Lanigan’s car slipped up the track and into Smith. Smith hopped over the cushion and lost his momentum, allowing Lanigan to power away with the lead.
Smith made a gallant attempt to rally for his first win of the season, but he couldn’t get closer than a car length over the remaining laps.
The veteran driver known as ‘Cat Daddy’ wasn’t happy happy after the checkered flag. Feeling that Lanigan crowded him up the track on the 43rd lap and cost him a victory, Smith had little to say when WoO LMS announcer Rick Eshelman attempted to interview him during the post-race ceremonies.
When Eshelman asked Smith to describe the last 10 laps, he muttered, “Uh….” and then threw up his hands and walked away. The Independence gave him a big cheer – and moments later, after Smith climbed back into his car, Lanigan temporarily stopped his Victory Lane picture-taking to lean into Smith’s cockpit and discuss what had transpired.
Lanigan was admittedly a bit upset with the turn of events that clinched his latest victory. He has been close with Smith this season, caravanning with Smith down the highways from race-to-race and collaborating on setups.
“I was getting a little loose,” Lanigan said of the race’s final laps. “We went with a little softer tire, and Cat got on the outside of me. I had the bottom groove and I went in there (through turns one and two) and got loose a little bit and got into him, but nothing intentionally. We were just racing hard. I knew he don’t want to let him win, so I’m gonna race him hard for the win.
“I know he’s mad at me, but I wasn’t trying to get into him. I just lost the air and I was loose, and I got into him.
“He definitely had a good car,” added Lanigan, who broke the $250,000 mark in earnings with his victory. “We’ve been working together good, and I know he’s wanting to win as bad as I do. He’s got the wins coming.”
After taking some time to cool off, Smith spoke eloquently about the situation at his trailer following the race.
“He kind of made a defensive move to the bottom to give me the top, and the top was better,” said Smith, whose WoO LMS winless streak reached 52 races since his last victory, on May 8, 2011, at Needmore Speedway in Norman Park, Ga. “When I got up there on the outside of him he just…it’s just a deal, I guess. I think he went in there hot and knocked me up out of the way to get the lead back. He knocked me up so hard it put me in the loose stuff and he got back by me.
“He drove in that corner hard and came across those holes and hit me, and I’m sure when he got in those holes and got to bouncing and slid into me, he kind of said, ‘Uh oh.'”
Smith let Lanigan know his wasn’t pleased, but he also made it clear he wasn’t going to hold the scrape against his pal.
“It’s hard to race your buddy sometimes, you know what I mean?” said Smith. “The way I kind of got to look at the deal is, I wouldn’t have been running second and trying to pass him without his help, so it’s a Catch 22. My car was good, but he’s helped me make it good.
“Me and (Lanigan) are buddies. We travel up-and-down the road together. We’ll travel with him tonight, and we’ll go on tomorrow night (at Wisconsin’s Shawano Speedway) and see if we get it on.”
Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, finished sixth after climbed as high as fifth from the 10th starting spot. Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, advanced from the 16th starting position to place seventh; Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., was eighth after using a provisional to start 23rd; Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., rose as high as fourth before fading to ninth at the finish; and Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., rounded out the top 10.
Five caution flags slowed the event, including a multi-car tangle in turn two on lap nine that was set off by contact between Duane Treadwell of LaGrange, Ga., and Jason Rauen of Farley, Iowa.
The race’s other noteworthy incident came on lap 36 when Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., stopped on the backstretch with front-end damage from an apparent scrape with Frank. Coffey bumped Frank’s car into an infield tire when Frank attempted to pass by under caution and the two drivers exchanged pleasantries through the windows of their cars.
Thirty-three cars were signed in for the event, which was promoted by Rick Hartzell. The resident of Cedar Falls, Iowa, fields the dirt Late Models that his wife, Jill George, drives in WoO LMS events.
O’Neal was quickest in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, turning a lap of 14.337 seconds to earn his third career fast-time honor on the WoO LMS. Both of his previous fast times came during the 2010 season.
Heat winners were O’Neal, Lanigan, Eckert and Chris Simpson. Fuller and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., captured the pair of 12-lap B-Mains.
The WoO LMS will conclude its swing through the Upper Midwest on Tuesday night (Aug. 7), returning to Shawano (Wis.) Speedway for an event that was postponed by rain last Wednesday evening.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Dirt Late Model Magazine 50’ at Independence Motor Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (1) Darrell Lanigan/50 $10,650
2. (7) Clint Smith/50 $5,550
3. (3) Don O’Neal/50 $3,550
4. (5) Rick Eckert/50 $3,150
5. (13) Billy Moyer/50 $2,100
6. (10) Brian Birkhofer/50 $1,700
7. (16) Chad Simpson/50 $1,400
8. (23) Chub Frank/50 $1,900
9. (8) Shane Clanton/50 $1,750
10. (12) Jason Feger/50 $1,200
11. (20) Pat Doar/50 $1,600
12. (2) Chris Simpson/50 $1,000
13. (17) Tim Fuller/50 $1,550
14. (22) Matt Furman/50 $900
15. (15) Bub McCool/50 $1,650
16. (14) Mike Spatola/50 $850
17. (6) Dennis Erb Jr./50 $820
18. (19) Kent Robinson/50 $1,300
19. (18) Tim McCreadie/50 $1,380
20. (24) Jack Sullivan/50 $1,250
21. (21) Jerry Lierly/50 $700
22. (25) Curt Martin/49 $700
23. (11) Jason Rauen/36 $700
24. (4) Vic Coffey/35 $1,250
25. (9) Duane Treadwell/34 $700
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses