Williamsburg, OH - Shane Clanton made his mark Friday night as the first World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series to win a series race at Moler Raceway Park in Williamsburg, Ohio. This is Clantons fourth win of the season.
"Im glad we started up front and got this win," said Clanton, who walked away with a $10,000 purse.
Clantons No. 25 Weldbank Energy/ Coopers Meat Packers Capital machine beat runner-up Josh Richards in the 50-lapper, while Eddie Carrier Jr. rounded out the podium. Richards' Valvoline/ Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket car and Carriers Engines Inc. of Ohio / Grover Motorsports Rocket car separated the Top 3 from the rest of the 24-car field.
This win not only bettered Clantons standing in the 2016 statistical columns, but also in series history. With career win No. 34, Clanton is one win shy from tying Rick Eckert for third all-time the same driver who challenged him most of the night.
Clanton, who also won his heat race, led the pack to begin the race with Eckert and Richards behind him in rows two and four respectively. It did not take long for Eckerts No. 7 Monumental Paving & Excavating/ P-J Contracting Co. Longhorn car to challenge Clanton for the lead-spot within the first lap. Richards lingered a few spots back, battling local favorite Carrier.
This is my first time here, and Ive seen video so I knew whereabouts to be on the racetrack, said Clanton, who mainly used the bottom groove early in the race. But this track is so wide.
Within the first lap Eckert moved into second position, passing Frank Heckenast Jr. who dropped -back to fifth position. Richards moved up to third with Carrier full-steam ahead behind him. Clanton was able to separate himself by nearly a three-second differential from Eckert by this time, while Richards and Carrier traded paint throughout the first half of the race.
By lap 16, Clanton began to weave through lapped traffic, choosing the top shelf of the track as his passageway through; a few other drivers later followed suit, including Brian Shirley, who placed sixth on the night. The lapped traffic created a back-and-forward with Richards and Carrier, who swapped positions twice sifting through the lapped cars.
I just knew they had to be really good to pass me up-top, Clanton said. And before that I just kept the bottom line and held my own.
It was not until lap 40 when the Top 5 drivers began to use the top groove of the track. Richards switched his line to build-up enough speed to challenge Eckert and Clanton. However, a tough break for Eckert a broken rear-end on that lap took one more car out of the equation for Richards.
Within the next two laps, three cautions recollected the field and diminished Clantons lead. The field restarted single-file for those cautions, giving Clanton enough leeway to rebuild his lead. As for Richards and Carrier, they were still battling.
Well, it seemed like I was right there with him, said Carrier, who competed in his first Outlaws race in 2016. Im just happy to get a Top 3, competing against some of the best competition in the sport.
Richards may have got the better of Carrier, but not Clanton. But for the duo, it is similar to last year. At this point in 2015, Clanton had more than a 100-point buffer over Richards for in the series championship; its vice-versa in 2016.
Shane did a great job running a nice, wide arch, Richards said. I finally went to the top and got a little momentum, but we just couldnt maintain it in laps three and four. I think we were a little better than him at the end, but he was doing what he needed to do.
Clanton said with this win, he is hopeful to make-up some points on Richards, who had a 142-point buffer leading into the race. It is Richards consistent finishes that are hard to beat, he said. Richards has now placed within the Top 10 in all 13 series races.
Hes so consistent right now, and were just trying to get to where we were last year and be consistent, Clanton said. Wins will come
The World of Outlaws will now test their luck at Tyler County Speedway for a two-night showing of the Jackpot 100 on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29.
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CLICK HERE TO SEE FULL RESULTS FROM THE WORLD OF OUTLAWS CRAFTSMAN LATE MODEL SERIES AT MOLER RACEWAY PARK ON MAY 27, 2016
Story By: WoO LM PR
Photo Credit: Matt Prieur