BARBERVILLE, Fla. - Shane Clanton's 2014 struggles are no more than a distant memory.
Continuing his 180-degree transformation from a season ago, Clanton, 39, of Zebulon, Ga., outdueled Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., late in Friday's DIRTcar Nationals main event at Volusia Speedway Park to earn his third World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory of the season. Clanton's triumph marked his third of the week at Volusia's 44th annual DIRTcar Nationals as he stretched his lead in the WoO LMS standings to 82 points.
"God dog this feels good," said Clanton, who has a perfect six top-five finishes in six WoO LMS events this season. "Hats off to (car builder) Marshall Green and (car owner) Ron Davies and everyone that helps on this program. It's been a long road. Hopefully we can keep on this road because we're loving it."
Clanton earned $10,100 in steering his Weldbank Energy-sponsored Capital Race Car to victory lane for the second straight night at Volusia's half-mile oval. He took the checkereds 1.479 seconds ahead of McDowell's Team Dillon Racing Warrior. Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., continued his resurgence with a third-place finish, while former WoO LMS champions Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., rounded out the top five.
Friday's victory didn't come nearly as easy as Clanton's dominating performance on Thursday night. Starting from pole, Clanton cruised through the early portions of the 50-lap race before the first caution with 21 laps complete erased his massive half-track lead.
The seventh-starting McDowell took advantage of the restart to grab second from Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and quickly moved to challenge Clanton for the lead. After chasing Clanton for 10 laps, McDowell completed the pass on lap 31 when Clanton jumped the turn-four cushion.
As McDowell pulled away, Clanton lost second to Frank and was in danger of dropping ever farther back before the second of the race's two cautions gave him a much-needed respite on lap 36.
The break in the action was just what Clanton needed to get his No. 25 machine back in gear. He quickly cleared Frank for second on the restart and after a side-by-side battle with McDowell, completed a high-side pass to regain the lead on lap 38.
"Dale made me get up on the wheel," Clanton said of the battle with his fellow Peach State driver. "I was driving too hard and sealed the right-rear tire. Luckily that caution came out and let me cool it off and get the edges back cool so it would go again."
McDowell fell just short of claiming his first WoO LMS victory since 2005, but his runner-up effort continued a solid week at Volusia for the 48-year-old former series regular.
"The caution killed us," said McDowell, who enters Saturday's DIRTcar Nationals finale with a pair of runner-up finishes and a sixth-place result in the three events he's entered so far this week. "It kinda dirtied up his groove up top when we ran that long green. Under the caution, it packed it back down. I knew where he was going, but I was a little too tight to go up there.
"We're happy with a top three a couple of times already. We'll work on it a little bit more for tomorrow night and see if we can go one spot better."
The third-place finish continues Frank's string of improved performances since switching to a Longhorn Chassis at the start of the season. Looking to end a more than five-year WoO LMS winless streak, the 52-year-old series veteran is pleased with the performance of his new car.
"This car's been really good," Frank said. "We ran third over at Ocala and ran some top fives and stuff. We're real happy with the car and the way things are gelling. We just gotta keep it going."
Lanigan, the three-time and defending WoO LMS champion, slid back to sixth at the finish after charging from his ninth starting spot all the way to second in just six laps. Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., logged his best WoO LMS finish of the season with a seventh-place effort, while Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., advanced from 22nd to eighth. Former WoO LMS champion Rick Eckert of York, Pa., finished ninth with three-time series titlist Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., taking 10th.
The race was slowed on just two occasions with the first yellow flag appearing when Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., slowed on lap 21. Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., caused the second caution when he slowed from the fourth position with damage to the right front of his race car.
The DIRTcar Nationals conclude on Saturday with another $10,000-to-win World of Outlaws Late Model Series event. Saturday's slate features a complete program of time trials, heat races, Last-Chance Showdowns and the 50-lap main event. The Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds will also contest a complete program. More information is available at www.DIRTcarNationals.com.
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/WorldofOutlawsLateModelSeries.
-WoO Late Model Series Press Release. Photo Credit: WoO Late Model Series
Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (1) Shane Clanton/50 $10,100
2. (7) Dale McDowell/50 $5,000
3. (6) Chub Frank/50 $3,050
4. (2) Scott Bloomquist/50 $2,600
5. (10) Billy Moyer/50 $2,150
6. (9) Darrell Lanigan/50 $1,850
7. (4) Eric Wells/50 $1,450
8. (22) Brandon Sheppard/50 $1,300
9. (19) Rick Eckert/50 $1,450
10. (11) Josh Richards/50 $1,250
11. (21) Morgan Bagley/50 $1,100
12. (3) Ricky Weiss/50 $1,550
13. (13) Jimmy Owens/50 $950
14. (26) Tim McCreadie/50 $1,150
15. (24) Ivedent Lloyd Jr./49 $900
16. (12) Mason Zeigler/48 $1,050
17. (27) Chase Junghans/48 $160
18. (25) Frank Heckenast Jr./48 $800
19. (26) Boom Briggs/47 $160
20. (18) Brandon Overton/45 $700
21. (5) Jonathan Davenport/36 $700
22. (23) Earl Pearson Jr./34 $700
23. (17) Don O'Neal/20 $700
24. (15) Kenny Pettyjohn/20 $700
25. (16) Casey Roberts/14 $725
26. (14) Jared Landers/13 $700
27. (8) Walker Arthur/13 $700
28. (20) Kent Robinson/11 $700