FAIRBURY, Ill. – Tim McCreadie had high praise for Fairbury American Legion Speedway after emerging victorious in Saturday night’s epic 25 th annual Prairie Dirt Classic.
“They said they do it right here and they’re right – they did it right tonight,” raved McCreadie, who earned $25,650 for capturing a thrilling 100-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series event that featured eight lead changes among four drivers and countless twists and turns. “This is an awesome racetrack, and that race was a lot of fun.”
Charging forward from the 17th starting spot, McCreadie, 40, of Watertown, N.Y., overtook defending PDC champion Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., for the lead on lap 76 but was far from home free. He swapped the top spot four times with the 40-year-old Babb before gaining command for good on lap 95.
Of course, on an unforgettable night at a quarter-mile oval dubbed ‘America’s Dirt Track,’ the final lead change didn’t mean the race was over. McCreadie gave himself an undeniably anxious moment on lap 98 when brushed the outside wall in turn two, allowing Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who had just passed Babb for second on a lap-96 restart, to mount a last-ditch bid for victory.
Owens, 42, surged to the outside of McCreadie entering turn three, nearly nosed ahead to lead lap 99 with a crossover move off turn four and appeared primed to slide by McCreadie through turns one and two, but the former WoO LMS champion wasn’t going to be denied. McCreadie absolutely rocketed off the outside off turn two – squeezing the scant space between Owens and the wall – vaulted ahead down the backstretch and beat Owens back to the finish line by 0.691 of a second.
Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., finished third after overtaking both WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and Babb following the lap-96 caution flag. The 21-year-old driver started from the pole position and led laps 1-29 but had to rally after losing his rhythm and falling as far back as eighth place midway through the 100-lapper.
Babb, who started second and led four times for a race-high 44 laps, slipped to fourth at the finish. Lanigan, who started third and led lap laps 41-54, completed the top five.
McCreadie’s second WoO LMS triumph of 2014 and the 27th of his career gave his up-and-down season a major boost.
“We had to go to work because we haven’t been where we wanted to be,” said McCreadie, who passed ninth-place finisher Rick Eckert of York, Pa., for second in the WoO LMS points standings. “We’re starting to hit on all cylinders now, so I’m excited for this Sweeteners Plus team.
“It’s a team effort, man,” he continued, noting that he started his current swing of WoO LMS action two weeks ago with only his truck driver, Dave ‘Frog’ Griepsma, as a crewman. “I’m out here with just me and Frog, so I’ve had guys from Brady Smith’s come and help, Mark Richards’s (Rocket Chassis) crew – everybody’s been banding together to help us. It’s a beautiful sight.”
Everything fell in place Saturday night for McCreadie, who made a steady march to the front of the talent-laden pack from his starting spot deep in the field.
“I couldn’t get where I wanted to be on the (early) restarts,” McCreadie said. “(Billy) Moyer (who started 22nd) was getting all the good spots. He’d split guys early, and I was like, ‘This Moyer is gonna go right up through here.’ Then I got three or four (restarts) in a row where I wanted to be. … and I don’t know, it was like we didn’t really fade, but those guys just kind of died and we stayed strong.”
McCreadie grabbed the lead for the first time on lap 77 with an inside move past Babb, who had replaced Lanigan in the catbird’s seat on lap 55 with a powerful outside thrust. Babb returned the favor to pop back ahead of McCreadie on lap 78, McCreadie regained command on lap 80 as the pacesetters dealt with lapped traffic and Babb stole the lead again as lap 85 was scored.
When Babb shot in front on lap 85, even McCreadie was surprised. A daring slider entering turn one put Babb into the top spot.
“He scared the hell out of me when he did the one down there,” McCreadie said of Babb’s move. “I didn’t even know he was coming. I was like, ‘Holy cow!’
“I figured he knew one was coming back if I get close.”
That moment came on lap 95 when McCreadie pulled a slider underneath Babb rounding turns three and four. He immediately put several car lengths on Babb, but the race’s ninth and final caution flag, which came on lap 96 after Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., slapped the homestretch wall and stopped with front-end damage, set up a final sprint.
McCreadie appeared to be in great shape when he pulled away on the restart because Babb’s attempt to run the inside groove through turns one and two caused him to cede second place to Owens, who bumped-and-ran away from Babb off turn four heading to lap 97. But disaster nearly struck McCreadie when he got too high in the second turn and bounced through the cushion of dirt built up against the outside wall.
“That’s the story of my life – a bunch of brain fades in between some good laps,” McCreadie said. “I had a big one off of two. I didn’t think I was gonna get off the wall.”
Owens certainly saw an opportunity to swipe the big money from McCreadie’s grasp.
“Shannon went in there (on the restart) and jumped to the bottom and slid across and I was able to get around him, but I lost a little ground to McCreadie,” said Owens, who made his first-ever Dirt Late Model appearance at Fairbury. “Then (McCreadie) went in there (on lap 98) and jumped the cushion, and I thought, Aw man, I need to be just a little bit closer.
“I got under him there (through turns one and two on the final lap) and thought about putting a slider on him, but I thought best of it.”
Indeed, Owens didn’t let his car drift directly in front of McCreadie off turn two, and as a result McCreadie was able to step on the gas and beat Owens off the corner.
“Jimmy gave me a lot of room off of two,” McCreadie said. “He could’ve knocked me straight into the catch fence, but he’s a true professional.
Babb, meanwhile, was left to hang on for a fourth-place finish after running the final three circuits with a left-front that was cut when he and Owens made contact after the restart. He could only wonder if there was something he could have done different to score a second straight PDC triumph.
“The way it happened, I knew Timmy was gonna come back at me at some point,” Babb said. “When I had the lead I just kind of laid low for a minute. I didn’t run a hundred percent on the cushion – I guess I should’ve just kept going hard, but I didn’t want to make a mistake, jump the cushion and crash myself. It’s a fine line.
“Then we (McCreadie) did get by me (on lap 95), the biggest mistake I made was on that (lap-96) restart when I went to the bottom in one and killed my momentum. I lost a little momentum, and (Owens) pounded. They rolled me, and I ended up getting a flat left-front when Owens went across my nose there in four.”
Zeigler quietly snuck back to third at the finish, giving him a career-best WoO LMS outing. He knew his performance could have been better, though.
“That’s experience I guess,” Zeigler said. “I just got out-wheeled tonight, straight up. The middle (lane) just sort of went away halfway through the race when I was leading and I was just too stubborn to get out of it.
“Once I got back to the bottom we were OK, but it took me the rest of the race to get back up there (in contention).”
Among the contenders to fall by the wayside during the 100 was Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., who moved up from the 10th starting spot to battle Lanigan and Babb for the lead before bowing out with engine trouble on lap 42.
Saturday night’s program began with a pair of 20-lap B-Mains won by Wendell Wallace of Batesville, Ark., and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis.
Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., pocketed $1,500 for winning the 30-lap Prairie Dirt Shootout for PDC non-qualifiers that closed the evening’s action.
At the conclusion of the night, FALS and WoO LMS officials announced that the Prairie Dirt Classic will be run on July 24-25, 2015, and once again pay $25,000 to win.
The WoO LMS heads next to Wisconsin for four nights of competition. Shawano Speedway hosts a $10,000-to-win event on Tues., July 29, followed by the three-day USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond highlighted by a $6,000-to-win preliminary program on Thurs., July 31, and the weekend’s headline 100-lap event offering a $50,000 top prize on Aug. 1-2.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Fans can also follow the WoO LMS on Twitter at Twitter.com/WoOLateModels and Facebook at Facebook.com/WorldofOutlaws .
Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series 25th annual Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (17) Tim McCreadie/100 $25,650
2. (11) Jimmy Owens/100 $10,000
3. (1) Mason Zeigler/100 $6,500
4. (2) Shannon Babb/100 $5,000
5. (3) Darrell Lanigan/100 $4,700
6. (22) Billy Moyer/100 $3,050
7. (6) Jason Feger/100 $2,850
8. (18) Morgan Bagley/100 $3,050
9. (21) Rick Eckert/100 $2,950
10. (8) Eric Wells/100 $2,650
11. (12) Dennis Erb Jr./100 $1,950
12. (27) Chase Junghans/100 $1,100
13. (9) Chris Simpson/100 $1,700
14. (7) Shane Clanton/100 $2,200
15. (20) Jimmy Mars/100 $1,600
16. (24) Frank Heckenast Jr./99 $2,080
17. (16) Brian Birkhofer/99 $1,560
18. (23) Chub Frank/99 $2,090
19. (26) Joe Harlan/99 $1,520
20. (4) Gregg Satterlee/96 $1,500
21. (5) Brian Shirley/88 $1,500
22. (19) Wendell Wallace/65 $1,500
23. (13) Randy Korte/50 $1,500
24. (15) Scott Bull/46 $1,500
25. (10) Jonathan Davenport/42 $1,500
26. (25) Daren Friedman/31 $1,525
27. (14) Tim Fuller/9 $1,500
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 50 Mins., 53.929 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.691 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 9 (lap 9, 17, 26, 27, 42, 46, 50, 61, 96)
Lap Leaders: Zeigler (1-29); Babb (30-40); Lanigan (41-54); Babb (55-75); McCreadie (76-77); Babb (78-79); McCreadie (80-84); Babb (85-94); McCreadie (95-100)
Provisional Starters: Frank, Heckenast (WoO points); Junghans (WoO emergency); Friedman, Harlan (track)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Zeigler ($500)
B-Main No. 1 (20 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Wendell Wallace, 2. Rick Eckert, 3. Chub Frank, 4. Jay Morris, 5. Scott Schmitt, 6. Rich Bell, 7. Chase Junghans, 8. Steve Thorston, 9. Jay Sparks, 10. Glen Thompson, 11. Snooky Dehm, 12. Billy Hough, 13. Eric Vaughan, 14. Shane Allen, 15. Kyle Hammer, 16. Mike Spatola, 17. Mike Mullvain, 18. Torin Mettille, 19. Daren Friedman, 20. Brandon Sheppard
B-Main No. 2 (20 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Jimmy Mars, 2. Billy Moyer, 3. Kevin Weaver, 4. Derek Chandler, 5. Frank Heckenast Jr., 6. Eric Smith, 7. Ryan Unzicker, 8. Daniel Flessner, 9. Joe Harlan, 10. McKay Wenger, 11. John Gardner Jr., 12. Donny Walden, 13. Steve Lance Jr., 14. Boom Briggs, 15. Bob Gardner, 16. Bobby Pierce, 17. Kent Robinson, 18. Don Hammer, 19. Clint Smith
Prairie Dirt Shootout Non-Qualifiers’ Race: 1. Ryan Unzicker ($1,500); 2. Derek Chandler ($1,000); 3. Eric Smith ($800); 4. McKay Wenger ($700); 5. Rich Bell ($600); 6. Jay Sparks ($500); 7. Scott Schmitt ($475); 8. Donny Walden ($450); 9. Steve Lance Jr. ($425); 10. Steve Thorston ($400); 11. Jay Morris ($375); 12. Daniel Flessner ($350); 13. Eric Vaughan ($325); 14. John Gardner Jr. ($300); 15. Shane Allen ($300); 16. Snooky Dehm ($300); 17. Glen Thompson ($300); 18. Billy Hough ($300); 19. Kevin Weaver ($300); 20. Boom Briggs ($300)
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): Torin Mettille
Comp Cams ($50 certificate to A-Main winner): Tim McCreadie
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner): Tim McCreadie
Quartermaster ($100 certificate to A-Main winner): Tim McCreadie
Wrisco (three sheets of aluminum/certificate to A-Main winner): Tim McCreadie
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main): Darrell Lanigan
Penske Racing Shocks ($50 to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main): Billy Moyer
Roush-Yates ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main): Jason Feger
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 5th-place finisher in A-Main): Darrell Lanigan
Lincoln Welders ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main): Billy Moyer
American Racing Wheels ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main): Jason Feger
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to 8th-place finisher in A-Main): Dennis Erb Jr.
Edelbrock ($50 cash to 9th-place finisher in A-Main): Rick Eckert
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Wells
Cometic ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main): Chase Junghans
JRI Shocks ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
Superflow Dynos ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main): Shane Clanton
Quartermaster ($25 certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main): Jimmy Mars
JE Pistons (one set of rings certificate to 16th-place finisher in A-Main): Frank Heckenast Jr.
Roush-Yates ($50 certificate to 18th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
Quartermaster ($50 certificate to 19th-place finisher in A-Main): Joe Harlan
Arizona Sports Shirts ($100 certificate to 20th-place finisher in A-Main): Gregg Satterlee
Mobil 1 (20% off gift certificate to 20th-place finisher in A-Main): Gregg Satterlee
JE Pistons (one set of rings certificate to 21st-place finisher in A-Main): Wendell Wallace
Roush-Yates ($50 certificate to 22nd-place finisher in A-Main): Jason Feger
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main): Daren Friedman
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO driver): Billy Moyer
Reliable Painting award (one free tire): Frank Heckenast Jr.
2014 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 26 – A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 3,310
2. Tim McCreadie 3,092 (-218)
3. Rick Eckert 3,090 (-220)
4. Morgan Bagley 3,006 (-304)
5. Chub Frank 2,958 (-352)
6. Eric Wells 2,916 (-394)
7. Shane Clanton 2,904 (-406)
8. Frank Heckenast Jr. 2,844 (-466)
9. Clint Smith 2,736 (-574)
10. Chase Junghans 2,702 (-608)
11. Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs 2,594 (-716)
12. Tim Fuller 1,756 (-1,554)
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: American Racing Custom Wheels (Official Custom Wheel), Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), KMC (Official Custom Truck Wheel), Lincoln Welder (Official Welder), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award); in addition to contingency sponsors: Butlerbuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Edelbrock, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, MSD, Ohlins Shocks, QuarterMaster, Roush Yates Performance Parts, Superflow Dynos and Wrisco Aluminum; along with manufacturer sponsors Capital Race Cars, Integra Shocks, GRT Chassis, Jake’s Carts, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis and TNT Rescue.