Sarver, PA - World of Outlaws Late Model Series points leader Shane Clanton kept his hot streak rolling Thursday evening with a victory on the opening night of Lernerville Speedway's ninth annual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com.
Establishing himself as a heavy favorite to claim Saturday's $30,000-to-win Firecracker 100 finale, Clanton, 39, of Zebulon, Ga., turned back an early challenge from Jared Miley of Pittsburgh, Pa., and was far enough ahead in the closing laps to survive a valiant late charge by 12th-starting Rick Eckert of York, Pa.
The $6,500 victory - Clanton's WoO LMS-leading seventh of the season and his third in the national tour's past four races - came on the first of two Firecracker 100 preliminary nights at Lernerville's 4/10-mile oval. The 2010 Firecracker 100 winner will look to keep his momentum going in another preliminary program on Friday and in Saturday's 100-lap finale.
"This car was just phenomenal again tonight," Clanton said of his Weldbank Energy Capital Race Cars house car. "If we can just keep qualifying and heat racing like we are and get a good starting spot, then we're pretty confident about our chances in 100 laps around here come Saturday. We've got the dominant car right now; hopefully we can keep it going."
Eckert settled for the runner-up finish after charging from fifth to second in the final 10 laps of the 30-lap race. The 2006 WoO LMS champion made up considerable ground on Clanton in the closing laps but came up 1.361 seconds short at the finish. After pressuring Clanton for most of the race's first half, Miley held on to third to record his career-best WoO LMS result.
Defending Firecracker 100 winner Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished fourth and in doing so overtook 17th-finishing Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., for second in the WoO LMS points chase. Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., finished fifth in Thursday's A-Main, which ran green to the finish after finally getting rolling on the third attempt to start the race.
Clanton's road to victory was made slightly less difficult when he was moved from his initial third starting spot to the pole after Miley, who drew the pole in a redraw among heat race winners and runners-up, was penalized a row for firing too early on the first attempt to start the race.
After a brief opening-lap battle, Clanton pulled ahead of second-starting Mason Zeigler, who was the beneficiary of original outside polesitter Greg Johnson's jumped start on the second attempt to start the race.
Miley followed Clanton by Zeigler into the second spot and remained within striking distance until the leaders reached lapped traffic just before the halfway point. Clanton was able to negotiate the slower cars much quicker than Miley, allowing his No. 25 machine to pull away to a comfortable lead.
"I just took my opportunities to get by cars when I could," Clanton said of his run through traffic. "I was just riding my line at the top just trying to save tires and be easy on our car. But when I had to get by (lapped cars), I could drive just about anywhere to do it. I can't ask for much more than that out of our race car."
Eckert, 49, was able to keep his Viper Motorsports MasterSbilt machine glued to the track's bottom groove while others struggled. That allowed him to make his late charge and nearly catch Clanton.
"It surprised me that guys kept missing the bottom," said Eckert, who recorded his fourth top five of the 2015 WoO LMS campaign. "That bottom was really nice and most of those guys just weren't patient enough to hit it and get the kind of run off of it like I was."
Miley appeared capable of challenging for an upset victory while keeping pace with Clanton early in the race, but he faded through the second half. Still, the 29-year-old former Lernerville track champion was encouraged by his solid performance in his Colussy Chevrolet Rocket Chassis.
"It feels real good to do this on the first night," Miley said. "Sometimes it's hard to get in and go with these guys because they're just so fast and on top of their game.
"I think we could run with Clanton in open track. But I guess I kind of lack the experience getting through traffic like that and just being comfortable running the front of a World of Outlaws race. But now we got some experience with that and it's definitely a confidence booster."
Johnson of Imperial, Pa., faded to sixth at the finish with 13th-starting Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., finishing seventh. Zeigler, the Chalk Hill, Pa., driver who set fast time during Thursday's qualifying, ended up eighth in the feature. Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., advanced from his 21st starting spot to finish ninth, while Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., rounded out the race's top 10 finishers.
Leading WoO LMS rookie Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., missed Thursdays event after his MasterSbilt Race Car suffered heavy damage in a wreck during the previous WoO LMS race on June 23 and a new car couldnt be prepared in time. Overton plans to compete at Lernerville on Friday. He was awarded 60 hardship points for Thursday race.
The Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com continues on Friday with another preliminary night featuring a complete WoO LMS program of time trials, heat races, Last-Chance Showdowns and a 30-lap, $6,000-to-win A-Main. Finishes in Thursday's and Friday's preliminary events will determine drivers' starting spots in heat races for Saturday's 100-lap, $30,000-to-win Firecracker 100 finale.
For more information on the Firecracker 100 and Lernerville Speedway, visit http://www.lernerville.com/firecracker-100-presented-by-gottaracecom. Tickets for the event can be purchased now at https://dirtcar.ticketforce.com.
Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com Preliminary Night at Lernerville Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (3) Shane Clanton/30 $6,500
2. (12) Rick Eckert/30 $3,600
3. (1) Jared Miley/30 $2,500
4. (8) Darrell Lanigan/30 $2,350
5. (9) Eric Wells/30 $2,000
6. (2) Davey Johnson/30 $1,400
7. (13) Austin Hubbard/30 $1,300
8. (4) Mason Zeigler/30 $1,200
9. (21) Chase Junghans/30 $1,600
10. (7) Chub Frank/30 $1,500
11. (19) Morgan Bagley/30 $1,400
12. (6) Gregg Satterlee/30 $850
13. (5) Frank Heckenast Jr./30 $1,300
14. (14) Dan Angellicchio/30 $775
15. (20) Tim McCreadie/30 $1,350
16. (17) Alex Ferree/29 $700
17. (18) Josh Richards/29 $1,260
18. (11) Boom Briggs/29 $1,140
19. (15) Ross Robinson/29 $620
20. (10) Paul Wilmoth/29 $600
21. (24) Kenny Pettyjohn/29 $600
22. (23) Jordan Yaggy/29 $850
23. (22) Mike Norris/24 $600
24. (16) Ken Schaltenbrand Jr./16 $600
Time of Race: 10 Mins., 33 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.361 Secs.
Yellow Flags: None
Lap Leaders: Clanton (1-30)
Provisional Starters: Yaggy, Pettyjohn
WoO LMS 'Bonus Bucks' Winner: Jared Miley ($500)
WoO LMS 'Rookie of the Race' Winner: Jordan Yaggy ($250)
Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 25z-Mason Zeigler, Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.336
2. 18c-Chase Junghans, Manhattan, Kan., 15.336
3. 38-Kenny Pettyjohn, Millsboro, Del., 15.389
4. 1*-Chub Frank, Bear Lake, Pa., 15.509
5. 99jr-Frank Heckenast Jr., Frankfort, Ill., 15.513
6. 10-Alex Ferree, Valencia, Pa., 15.525
7. 18-Eric Wells, Hazard, Ky., 15.566
8. 22-Gregg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, Pa., 15.663
9. 77-Jordan Yaggy, Rochester, Minn., 15.742
10. 14-Dan Angelicchio, Mount Pleasant, Pa., 15.754
11. 14m-Morgan Bagley, Longview, Texas, 15.771
12. 11-Jason Schmidt, Lewiston, Pa., 15.817
13. 11H-Austin Hubbard, Seaford, Del., 15.895
14. 41-Derrick Casner, Mifflintown, Pa., 15.905
15. 56-Russ King, Bristolville, Ohio, 15.931
16. B1-Paul Wilmoth, Clarksburg, W.Va., 16.045
17. B22-Bump Hedmon, Sugar Grove, Pa., 16.098
18. 73-Devin Lewis, Weedville, Pa., 16.191
19. 75-Colton Flinner, Allison Park, Pa., 16.230
20. C33-Chris Casner, Mifflintown, Pa., 16.296
21. 10L-Gary Lyle, Hyde Park, Pa., 16.807
22. 7x-Herman Bertolini, Creighton, Pa., 16.996
23. 76-Brandon Overton, Evans, Ga., no time
1. 25-Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga., 15.496
2. 29-Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky., 15.528
3. 99B-Boom Briggs, Bear Lake, Pa., 15.627
4. 7v-Rick Eckert, York, Pa., 15.708
5. 1J-Davey Johnson, Imperial, Pa., 15.714
6. 72-Michael Norris, Sarver, Pa., 15.737
7. 7R-Ross Robinson, Georgetown, Del., 15.794
8. H1-Jared Miley, Pittsburgh, Pa., 15.802
9. 39-Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y., 15.828
10. 1C-Mike Pehger, Cranberry Township, Pa., 15.839
11. 4J-John Mollick, Toronto, Ohio, 15.894
12. 3-Dan Swartzlander, Freeport, Pa., 15.929
13. 91-Tommy Beck, Delmont, Pa., 15.985
14. 1-Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va., 16.007
15. 27-Michael Lake, Uniontown, Pa., 16.239
16. 29S-Ken Schaltenbrand Jr., Sarver, Pa., 16.240
17. 311-Scott Groves, Canton, Ga., 16.257
18. 66-Justin Kann, Huntingdon, Pa., 16.305
19. 66-Todd Bachman, Natrona Heights, Pa., 16.323
20. 44-Derek Stefanick, Oakdale, Pa., 16.728
21. 32-Trevor Herr, Freeport, Pa., 18.465
22. 0-Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn., no time
Heat No. 1 (10 laps - Top 4 Transfer): Zeigler, Heckenast, Wells, Hubbard, Bagley, Yaggy, King, Pettyjohn, Hedman, Flinner, Lyle.
Heat No. 2 (10 laps - Top 4 Transfer): Frank, Satterlee, Wilmoth, Angellicchio, Ferree, Junghans, D.Casner, Schmidt, Bertolini, Lewis. C.Casner.
Heat No. 3 (10 laps - Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, Johnson, Briggs, Robinson, McCreadie, Lake, Groves, Mollick, Beck, Bachman, Herr.
Heat No. 4 (10 laps - Top 4 Transfer): Lanigan, Miley, Eckert, Schaltenbrand, Richards, Norris, Pegher, Kann, Stefanik, Swartzlander.
Last-Chance Showdown No. 1 (10 laps - Top 3 Transfer): Ferree, Bagley, Junghans, Yaggy, King, Pettyjohn, Hedman, D.Casner, Flinner, Schmidt, Bertolini, C.Casner, Lewis. DNS: Lyle, Overton.
Last-Chance Showdown No. 2 (10 laps - Top 3 Transfer): Richards, McCreadie, Norris, Pegher, Lake, Bachman, Groves, Kann, Herr, Mollick, Swartzlander, Stefanick, Beck. DNS: Bloomquist.
2015 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of June 25 - 20 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
1. Shane Clanton 2858
2. Darrell Lanigan 2704 (-154)
3. Josh Richards 2696 (-162
4. Chub Frank 2636 (-222)
5. Tim McCreadie 2578 (-280)
6. Morgan Bagley 2568 (-290)
7. Rick Eckert 2334 (-324)
8. Eric Wells 2528 (-330)
9. Frank Heckenast Jr. 2504 (-354)
10. Chase Junghans 2468 (-390)
11. Brandon Overton 2362 (-496)*
12. Boom Briggs 2250 (-608)
13. Jordan Yaggy 2112 (-746)*
*Rookie of the Year contender
Story: WoO DLM PR - Photo: Paul Arch