Record-Setting Star Begins Title Defense During This Weekend’s ‘Winter Freeze’ At Screven Motor Speedway
Kevin Kovac: CONCORD, NC – Feb. 7, 2013 – Darrell Lanigan will be hard pressed to match the records he set during his 2012 World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship season, but one thing is certain: he’s the consensus favorite to win this year’s $100,000 title.
The 42-year-old star from Union, Ky., was voted the driver most likely to capture the national tour’s 2013 points crown in the sixth annual WoO LMS Pre-Season Media Poll. He topped the voting for the first time, snapping Josh Richards’s four-year streak as the press contingent’s number one pick.
Lanigan will begin his chase of a second straight and third career WoO LMS championship this weekend (Feb. 8-9) during the ‘Winter Freeze’ doubleheader at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. The circuit’s season-opening swing also includes a pair of tripleheaders: the Bubba Army Late Model Winter Nationals on Feb. 15-17 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., and the 42nd DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment on Feb. 21-23 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
Nearly four dozen writers, photographers and broadcasters who cover the WoO LMS participated in the poll, which asked the press members to predict the top-five finishers in the tour’s 2013 points standings. Points were distributed to each driver named on the ballots using a 5-4-3-2-1 system.
Lanigan dominated the voting, rolling up 195 points to easily outdistance Richards’s 127-point total. Lanigan earned a poll-best 27 first-place votes and he was the only driver whose name appeared on all 44 ballots, with 42 of those selections listing him for a top-three finish in the points standings.
The support Lanigan received was no surprise considering his spectacular ’12 season. He established numerous WoO LMS records (15 wins, six consecutive victories, three 100-lap triumphs, 228-point championship margin, points leader from start-to-finish) and earned an amazing $426,700 en route to his first title since 2008.
A WoO LMS regular every season since the tour was reincarnated in 2004 under the World Racing Group banner, Lanigan returns to the trail with his championship combination completely intact. He will campaign Cornett-powered Rocket Chassis machines wrenched for a second straight year by crew chief Jason Jameson and mechanic Adam Logan.
Lanigan also enters the 2013 season as the alltime winningest WoO LMS driver, with 41 career victories.
Richards, 24, of Shinnston, W.Va., finished a distant second in the Media Poll, but that significant gap was largely the product of the uncertainty still shrouding his WoO LMS championship candidacy. While he’s announced that he is returning as a regular after leaving the tour early last season to move south and pursue a career on the NASCAR Nationwide Series, he said he would depart again if a quality NASCAR ride presented itself.
With several poll respondents alluding to the possibility that Richards might be pulled from the WoO LMS by a NASCAR opportunity, the two-time series champion was left off 13 of the 44 ballots. But his support was still extensive enough – nine first-place, 15 second-place and six third-place votes – that he emerged as the runner-up in the voting.
Shane Clanton, 38, of Fayetteville, Ga., was the only other driver to crack the 100-point plateau, finishing third with 108 points. A popular choice to contend for the title in his second year with Kennedy Motorsports, he appeared on 40 ballots, receiving three first-place, five second-place and 13 third-place votes.
Rick Eckert, 47, of York, Pa., finished fourth in the poll for the second consecutive season, accumulating 96 points. The 2011 WoO LMS champion and runner-up in last year’s standings was listed on 40 media ballots, tallying a modest two first-place and five second-place votes.
Tim McCreadie, 38, of Watertown, N.Y., completed the top five in the poll with 81 points. The 2006 WoO LMS titlist appeared on 33 ballots, picking up a single first-place and six second-place votes.
The expected resurgence of Watertown, N.Y.’s Tim Fuller, who appears reborn as he heads into his first full season driving for the high-profile Kennedy Motorsports team, was evidenced by the 45-year-old’s sixth-place finish in the poll. He was listed on 19 ballots and tallied 41 points, including two first-place votes.
Rounding out the drivers earning points in the poll were 2012 Rookie of the Year Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., who tied for seventh with four points apiece (both received one fourth-place and two fifth-place votes); Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., whose three fifth-place nods earned him three points; and 21-year-old Dillon Wood of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., who was given a single fifth-place vote for one point to stand as the only 2013 Rookie of the Year contender appearing on a ballot.
Expected WoO LMS regulars who did not receive a top-five vote included Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., and 2013 rookie candidates Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, and Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky.
As part of the poll, media members were also asked to predict who will win the most WoO LMS A-Mains in 2013 as well as the victors of three major events – the $20,000-to-win ‘Super Sunday Showdown’ 75-lapper on Feb. 17 at Bubba Raceway Park; the seventh annual Firecracker 100 ($30,000 to win) on June 27-29 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.; and the 26th annual USA Nationals ($50,000 to win) on Aug. 1-3 at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis.
Lanigan was the leader in the top-winner voting, receiving 20 votes. Richards finished a close second with 16 votes, with Clanton (four) and Fuller (two) the only other drivers receiving recognition in the category.
Media members predicted that the season’s most prolific winner will lead the tour with as many as 14 victories and as few as six.
Richards emerged as the favorite among the media to win BRP’s inaugural Super Sunday Showdown, earning 16 selections. Drivers earning multiple votes as potential winners of Speedweeks’ richest race were Lanigan (nine), Clanton (five), Eckert (three), Fuller (three), Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind. (three) and McCreadie (two). Receiving single votes were Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn.
In the Firecracker 100 category, Lanigan was the runaway choice with 19 selections. He has never won the event but owns a runner-up finish in four of the last five editions.
Two-time Firecracker 100 winner Bloomquist finished second in the event’s poll with seven votes, followed by Richards (six), Frank (three), McCreadie (three), Clanton (two) and single vote-getters Bagley, Eckert, Fuller and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis.
Owens topped the USA Nationals voting, receiving eight selections to nip Richards by a single vote. Lanigan, who won last year’s USA Nationals 100, and Clanton tied for third with six votes each. Also earning multiple votes for USA Nationals glory were Mars (three), Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark. (three), Bloomquist (two), Eckert (two) and Fuller (two), while single votes went to Clint Smith and Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Pre-Season Media Poll (Driver/first pl. votes/2nd pl/3rd pl/4th pl/5th pl/total points on 5-4-3-2-1 tabulation system):
1. Darrell Lanigan 27-12-3-1-1 = 195
2. Josh Richards 9-15-6-2-0 = 127
3. Shane Clanton 3-5-13-14-6 = 108
4. Rick Eckert 2-5-9-15-9 = 96
5. Tim McCreadie 1-6-9-7-11 = 81
6. Tim Fuller 2-1-4-3-9 = 41
7. (tie) Bub McCool 0-0-0-1-2 = 4
7. (tie) Clint Smith 0-0-0-1-2 = 4
9. Chub Frank 0-0-0-0-3 = 3
10. Dillon Wood 0-0-0-0-1 = 1
Expected WoO LMS regulars not receiving top-five votes: Pat Doar, Kent Robinson, Morgan Bagley, Eric Wells