SPRING VALLEY, Minn. – July 18, 2015 – Darrell Lanigan is back.
Returning to the World of Outlaws Late Model Series after a one-race hiatus, Lanigan, the three-time and defending series champion from Union, Ky., led the final 13 laps of Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50 at Deer Creek Speedway to score his first WoO LMS victory of the season.
Driving a second Wayman McMillan-owned Black Diamond by Club 29 Race Car as a teammate to Morgan Bagley, the second-starting Lanigan overtook polesitter Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., on lap 38 and led the remaining distance to earn $11,900 for the 71st WoO LMS victory of his career and his third consecutive Gopher 50 triumph.
“This is definitely special to come back up here in Morgan’s car and get the win,” said Lanigan, who after struggling through the first half of the WoO LMS season pulled his own race team off the national tour following July 9’s event at Hibbing (Minn.) Raceway to refocus the team and his Club 29 Race Cars business. “It just shows what kind of equipment we’ve got. We’ve did a lot of testing this year for everybody else and it’s kind of got us behind a little bit. We’re gonna go back and build us a new car like Bagley’s here and go from there.”
Earning his first victory since winning a single-season record 17 WoO LMS events in 2014, Lanigan, 45, took the checkereds 0.872 seconds ahead of sixth-starting Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. WoO LMS points leader Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., advanced from his seventh starting spot to finish third, while Briggs slid back to fourth at the finish. Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., survived power-steering issues to finish fifth after charging to second and challenging Briggs for the lead early in the race.
The return to victory lane came in Lanigan’s second night behind the wheel of Bagley’s backup machine. The first night at Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway on July 14 saw Lanigan win his heat race to earn a front-row starting spot before thunderstorms washed out the night’s A-Main.
Lanigan was again on the front row for Saturday’s feature, but it wasn’t until the second half of the race that he became a factor. After fading to fourth early, Lanigan moved back up third by the time the second of the race’s two cautions waved on lap 33.
After quickly taking second from Heckenast on the restart, Lanigan began to challenge Briggs for the lead. Lanigan used a hard dive into turn three on lap 34 to briefly race ahead of Briggs, but Briggs crossed Lanigan over and pulled back out front by the time the two leaders reached the flag stand.
Lanigan used a more conservative approach on his second attempt at passing Briggs, constantly working the leader over before completing the winning move exiting turn four on lap 38.
“That caution was what I needed,” Lanigan said. “Frankie gave me the outside (for the double-file restart) and I knew that was a mistake. We had a little harder tire on than I think they did, but once they gave me that outside and that black, I was good.”
After restarting fifth following the lap-33 caution, Frank followed Lanigan forward to grab third on lap 34. He took second from his teammate Briggs shortly after Lanigan went by for the lead and began to close the gap. But Frank’s bid to end a nearly six-year WoO LMS winless streak came up just short.
“We were a little hard on tire,” said Frank, who drove his Sorbera Family Chiropractic-sponsored Longhorn Chassis to his ninth top-five finish of the season. “Once the track totally went slick I could get around the bottom pretty good and go through the middle pretty good. That restart, I really stuck good and got by those guys.
“I was catching Darrell, but passing him would’ve been tough. It was hard to pass, but you could race all over. That’s what’s awesome about this track.”
After running just outside the top five for most race, Clanton also charged forward on the lap-33 restart to cross the finish line third in his Weldbank Energy Capital Race Cars house car. His 10th straight top-five finish stretched his advantage in the WoO LMS standings to 194 points over Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who finished eighth.
“We went a little softer on tires than the guys in front of us,” Clanton said. “That caution helped, but we just needed two or three where it would kill the edges on their tires and maybe they wouldn’t come back. But overall we had a good night.”
Looking for his first career WoO LMS victory, Briggs controlled the early portions of the race and was maintaining a comfortable margin through traffic before the lap-33 caution erased his advantage.
The sophomore WoO LMS competitor battled valiantly to keep Lanigan behind him following the restart, but his Briggs Transport-sponsored Longhorn faded in the closing stages. But even after just missing out on a breakthrough WoO LMS victory, Briggs remained upbeat.
“Maybe I sealed my tires up or maybe I didn’t keep enough heat in them,” Briggs said while hypothesizing the cause of his late-race struggle. “But you gotta be realistic: it was Darrell and Chub and Clanton that got by me. Those guys know what they’re doing and know where to go on the racetrack. I really wanted to run third and be on that front straightaway (for victory lane interviews), but fourth to me is just awesome.”
Rick Eckert of York, Pa., advanced from 11th to finish sixth with 10th-starting Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., taking seventh. Richards faded to eighth at the finish after running as high as second during the opening laps. He was followed by Bagley of Longview, Texas, in ninth, while Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., finished 10th after an apparent tangle on the back straightway caused him to spin from the fifth spot on lap three.
The first of the race’s two cautions appeared for Mars’ spin from the fifth spot on lap three. The lap-33 yellow appeared for the slowing machine of Farley, Iowa, driver Jason Rauen.
The NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50 wrapped up the WoO LMS Wild West Tour. The annual trek west was scheduled to include five events in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wyoming and South Dakota. Clanton claimed the Wild West Tour opener at Hibbing on July 9, while Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., won on July 10 at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D. Events at Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway on July 14 and Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D., on July 15 were rained out.
WoO LMS competitors return to action on Thurs., July 23 at Quincy (Ill.) Raceways. Quincy’s first-ever WoO LMS event serves as a lead-in to the 26th annual Prairie Dirt Classic presented by Bank of Pontiac July 24-25 at Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway. The popular Midwestern event pays $26,000 to the winner.
Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50 at Deer Creek Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (2) Darrell Lanigan/50 $11,900
2. (6) Chub Frank/50 $5,550
3. (7) Shane Clanton/50 $3,550
4. (1) Boom Briggs/50 $3,050
5. (3) Frank Heckenast Jr./50 $2,650
6. (11) Rick Eckert/50 $2,350
7. (10) Eric Wells/50 $1,950
8. (4) Josh Richards/50 $2,050
9. (14) Morgan Bagley/50 $1,750
10. (5) Jimmy Mars/50 $1,250
11. (9) Tim McCreadie/50 $1,700
12. (16) Chase Junghans/50 $1,550
13. (8) Brandon Overton/50 $1,750
14. (19) Tyler Bruening/49 $1,500
15. (17) Lance Matthees/49 $850
16. (20) Mike Prochnow/49 $800
17. (15) Jordan Yaggy/49 $770
18. (13) Justin Hirt/49 $750
19. (21) John Winge/47 $730
20. (18) Nick Herrick/47 $700
21. (12) Jason Rauen/32 $700
22. (22) David Fieber/32 $725
Time of Race: 19 Mins., 25 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.872 Secs.
Yellow Flags: Two (laps 2 & 33)
Lap Leaders: Briggs (1-37), Lanigan (38-50)
Provisional Starters: None
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Tyler Bruening ($500)
WoO LMS ‘Rookie of the Race’ Winner: Brandon Overton ($250)
Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 1-Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va., 14.541
2. 1*-Chub Frank, Bear Lake, Pa., 14.636
3. 98-Jason Rauen, Farley, Iowa, 14.730
4. 14x-Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky., 14.730
5. 99jr-Frank Heckenast Jr., Frankfort, Ill., 14.734
6. 99B-Boom Briggs, Bear Lake, Pa., 14.817
7. 18-Eric Wells, Hazard, Ky., 14.826
8. 7v-Rick Eckert, York, Pa., 14.853
9. 28m-Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, Wis., 14.923
10. 27-Justin Hirt, Tigerton, Wis., 14.938
11. 76-Brandon Overton, Evans, Ga., 14.950
12. 77-Jordan Yaggy, Rochester, Minn., 14.986
13. 25-Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga., 15.004
14. 90-Lance Matthees, Winona, Minn., 15.084
15. 39-Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y., 15.090
16. 18c-Chase Junghans, Manhattan, Kan., 15.110
17. 68-Mike Prochnow, Menomonie, Wis., 15.157
18. 6-Nick Herrick, West Concord, Minn., 15.199
19. 16-Tyler Bruening, Decorah, Iowa, 15.263
20. 14m-Morgan Bagley, Longview, Texas, 15.293
21. 17J-John Wingle, Sioux Falls, S.D., 16.049
22. 1F-Dave Fieber, Chippewa Falls, Wis., no time
Heat No. 1 (10 laps): Richards, Lanigan, Clanton, Wells, Hirt, Junghans, Bruening. DNS: Fieber.
Heat No. 2 (10 laps): Heckenast, Frank, Overton, Eckert, Bagley, Matthees, Prochnow.
Heat No. 3 (10 laps): Mars, Briggs, McCreadie, Rauen, Yaggy, Herrick, Winge.
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners (awards presented to noted finisher/qualifier or next highest displaying decal):
Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash to fast qualifier): Richards
Comp Cams ($50 certificate to A-Main winner): Lanigan
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner): Lanigan
Quartermaster ($100 certificate to A-Main winner): Frank
Wrisco (three sheets of aluminum/certificate to A-Main winner): Lanigan
Mobil 1 ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main): Briggs
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 5th-place finisher in A-Main): Heckenast
Lincoln Welders ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main): Eckert
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to 8th-place finisher in A-Main): Mars
Edelbrock ($50 cash to 9th-place finisher in A-Main): Bagley
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main): McCreadie
Cometic ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main): Junghans
JRI Shocks ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main): Bruening
Superflow Dynos ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main): Bruening
Quartermaster ($25 certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main): Matthees
JE Pistons (one set of rings certificate to 16th-place finisher in A-Main): Prochnow
Quartermaster ($50 certificate to 19th-place finisher in A-Main): Winge
Mobil 1 (20 percent certificate to 20th-place finisher in A-Main): Herrickl
JE Pistons (one set of rings certificate to 21st-place finisher in A-Main): Fieber
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main): Fieber
QA1 ($50 to driver with fastest lap of the night): Frank
Arizona Sports Shirts ($100 certificate to highest-finishing non-WoO driver): Bruening
2015 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 18 – 24 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
1. Shane Clanton 3496
2. Josh Richards 3302 (-194)
3. Chub Frank 3256 (-240)
4. Tim McCreadie 3162 (-334)
5. Morgan Bagley 3158 (-338)
6. Darrell Lanigan 3150 (-346)
7. Rick Eckert 3122 (-374)
8. Eric Wells 3112 (-384)
9. Frank Heckenast Jr. 3092 (-404)
10. Chase Junghans 3066 (-430)
11. Brandon Overton 2922 (-574)*
12. Boom Briggs 2812 (-684)
13. Jordan Yaggy 2622 (-874)*
*Rookie of the Year contender
Story & Photo: WoO DLM PR