By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
ABERDEEN, SD – July 18, 2008 – Something about Brown County Speedway made Shannon Babb feel right at home.
The result was a drought-busting victory for the Moweaqua, Ill., star in Friday night’s 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Wild West Tour’ A-Main.
“A bunch of us were talking and I said, ‘This place looks like a (UMP DIRTcar) Summer Nationals racetrack to me,’” commented Babb, a two-time champion and prolific winner on the grueling Midwest tour before becoming a WoO LMS regular. “It’s just a big bullring, and it was super-fast tonight.
“For some reason tracks like this just fit my style I guess. I can usually run these types of places with my eyes closed.”
Babb, 34, had his Bowyer Dirt Motorsports/Traeger Grills Rocket car hooked up on the outside of the three-eighths-mile oval, powering forward from the fifth starting spot to grab the lead on lap 19 from Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga. He never looked back en route to his second WoO LMS victory of the season, but first since May 3 at Missouri’s Lebanon I-44 Speedway.
Clanton settled for second place after leading laps 1-18, keeping him winless on the tour in 2008. Defending WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., advanced from the seventh starting spot to finish third, Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., placed fourth and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., was fifth.
“I felt like we’d have to win one of these things again some day,” Babb said after his Victory Lane celebration was cut short by a thunderstorm that struck the track immediately following the race’s checkered flag. “We’ve been close a few times (since the Lebanon score), but for the past week we haven’t really been hitting on anything. It feels good to get back on track.”
Babb made his big move following a lap-16 restart, passing Smith and Clanton in a three-lap span to seize command. The caution flag turned the race in Babb’s favor.
“Clanton was gone and really checked out, and I thought, ‘Man, if we don’t get a caution, we’re gonna be lucky to run second,’” said Babb, who reached third place on lap 10. “I knew I could probably get around Clint, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to catch Clanton.
“That caution helped me out a ton. It gained ground on those guys for me.”
Clanton, 32, ran into trouble at about the same time Babb overtook him.
“I hit a rut and bent the drag plate and it wouldn’t come left no more,” Clanton said of his RSD Enterprises Rocket. “When I got in the corner it wouldn’t turn. I kept trying to turn, turn, turn, and finally I just had to stop turning left.
“I had to change my whole line. I couldn’t drive it the way I wanted to anymore.”
Clanton held to finish in the runner-up spot, but he was unable to seriously challenge Babb even after a lap-48 caution flag handed him a final opportunity. He ran several car lengths behind Babb to the finish.
“I thought I had him covered,” the polesitting Clanton said of Babb. “When Clint was still second on the restart (on lap 16), I thought I was good to go. I know I was just as good as (Babb) the way I was, but then I bent the drag plate and I was just holding on.”
While Clanton pondered what he needs to do to finally crack Victory Lane this season on the WoO LMS, Babb hurriedly helped load up his trailer in the pouring rain and then sat back to savor his triumph.
“We don’t ever get too far down, but this pumps us up,” said Babb, who recorded his eighth career WoO LMS victory.
Adding some extra luster to his night, Babb was victorious on the 34th birthday of his chief mechanic Jay Hunt, who received the $50 Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race Award.
Francis, meanwhile, was coming on strong at the end of the race in Dale Beitler’s Reliable Painting/Valvoline Rocket No. 19. He slipped by Smith for third in lapped traffic on lap 38 and was preparing to mount a challenge on Clanton when the race’s third and final caution flag flew on lap 48.
“I didn’t need that caution,” said Francis, 40. “I think we were a little harder on our left-rear and right-front tire than (Babb and Clanton) and it took us a couple laps to get going. I got under Shane, but then the caution come out.
“I don’t know if we would’ve had anything for Babb if we could’ve gotten by Shane, but with the trip we’ve had so far we’ll be happy with a third.”
Smith, 43, felt his J.P. Drilling GRT car was a solid third-place machine, but he said lapped cars that “were racing us like it was for the lead” cost him the show position.
The 36-year-old Mars was steady from start-to-finish, finishing fifth after starting from the sixth spot in his Mars/Birkhofer mount. It was his second straight top five on the ‘Wild West Tour’ and earned him the $500 ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who has never won a WoO LMS A-Main and isn’t ranked among the top 12 in the points standings.
Finishing in positions 6-10 were Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who started ninth; Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., who nipped points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., for seventh by inches at the finish line; Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., who was the last driver on the lead lap; and Rookie of the Race Vic Coffey of Leicester, N.Y.
Lanigan saw his streak of 15 consecutive top-five finishes come to an end, but an eighth-place finish was a relief to him considering the way his A-Main began. He was involved in a turn-two tangle with Al Purkey of Coffeyville, Kan., on lap two and had to restart at the rear of the field, but he moved steadily forward to salvage another top 10.
Fuller, meanwhile, had his two-race win streak snapped. A busted oil-pump belt on the first lap of the fourth heat sidelined his primary car for the night and forced him to use a provisional to start the A-Main in his backup mount, but he charged forward to seventh before bringing out a caution on the 48th lap with a flat right-rear tire. He pitted and returned to finish ninth.
A field of 33 cars was entered in the event, which brought the WoO LMS to the Mount Rushmore State for the first time since a 2005 visit to Dakota State Fair Speedway in Huron.
Francis whipped around the tacky oval in 13.563 seconds to register his second fast time honor of the season.
Heat winners were Babb, Frank, Rick Eckert of York, Pa., and Clanton. The B-Mains were captured by Curt Gelling of Aberdeen, S.D., and Dustin Hapka of Grand Forks, N.D.
Eckert’s miserable stretch of racing on the ‘Wild West Tour’ continued at Brown County. His luck appeared to be turning when he picked the second starting spot for the A-Main, but he stopped on lap 16 while running fifth because his car’s lift bar broke and in turn shattered the driveshaft.
The stars of the WoO LMS will use Saturday (July 19) as a travel day and then close out the ‘Wild West Tour’ with events on Sunday night (July 20) at the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks and Monday night (July 21) at Boone County Speedway in Albion, Neb.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Brown County Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (5) Shannon Babb/50 $10,250
2. (1) Shane Clanton/50 $5,100
3. (7) Steve Francis/50 $3,000
4. (3) Clint Smith/50 $2,500
5. (6) Jimmy Mars/50 $2,500
6. (9) Josh Richards/50 $1,700
7. (8) Chub Frank/50 $1,400
8. (13) Darrell Lanigan/50 $1,300
9. (23) Tim Fuller/50 $1,200
10. (11) Vic Coffey/49 $1,350
11. (10) John Blankenship/49 $1,050
12. (4) Joe Isabell/49 $1,000
13. (14) Kent Arment/48 $950
14. (20) Sean Beardsley/48 $900
15. (17) Curt Gelling/48 $850
16. (18) Dustin Hapka/27 $800
17. (24) Jeff Isabell Jr./22 $770
18. (12) Chad Becker/21 $750
19. (2) Rick Eckert/16 $730
20. (22) Pat Weisgram/13 $700
21. (21) Brady Johanneck/11 $700
22. (19) Jason Fritzsche/7 $700
23. (16) Shawn Malsam/4 $700
24. (15) Al Purkey/2 $700
Yellow Flags: 3 (Laps 2, 16, 48)
Lap Leaders: Clanton (1-18); Babb (19-50)
Provisional Starters: Fuller, Jeff Isabell Jr.
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Mars ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Jay Hunt (Babb)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Clanton (half-off tire warmers)
Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’: Babb ($100)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 13.563
2. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 13.641
3. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 13.772
4. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 13.782
5. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 13.782
6. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 13.785
7. 28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 13.814
8. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 13.881
9. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 14.038
10. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 14.044
11. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 14.051
12. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 14.063
13. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 14.284
14. 17J-John Winge/Rossville, GA 14.313
15. 41-Al Purkey/Coffeyville, KS 14.370
16. 12-Chad Becker/Aberdeen, SD 14.612
17. 86M-Gary McNeil/Stratford, SD 14.612
18. 54-Brady Johanneck/Speer, MN 14.650
19. 11M-Paul Mueller/Bismark, ND 14.747
20. 27J-Jeff Isabell Jr./Pennellville, NY 14.801
21. 18x-Curt Gelling/Aberdeen, SD 14.807
22. 9-Kent Arment/Aberdeen, SD 14.903
23. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 14.918
24. 8-Shawn Malsam/Aberdeen, SD 14.925
25. 5-Stan Halverson/Kennebec, SD 15.032
26. 7-Chad Chenoweth/Huron, SD 15.195
27. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 15.227
28. 32-Pat Weisgram/Aberdeen, SD 15.481
29. 10x-Robert Bitz/Aberdeen, SD 15.900
30. 20F-Jason Fritzsche/Tea, SD 15.932
31. 52x-David McDonald/Huron, SD 15.938
32. 42-Chaun Peterson/Mina, SD 16.064
33. 57-Chad Williamson/Watertown, SD 16.064
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Babb, Francis, Richards, Lanigan, McNeil, Gelling, Bitz (DNS) Halverson, Williamson
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Frank, C. Smith, Blankenship, Arment, Fritzsche, Winge, Johanneck, Chenoweth
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Eckert, Mars, Coffey, Purkey, Hapka, McDonald, Beardsley, Mueller
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, Joe Isabell, Becker, Malsam, Weisgram, Peterson, Jeff Isabell Jr., Fuller
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Gelling, Fritzsche, Johanneck, Williamson, Halverson, McNeil, Winge (DNS) Bitz, Chenoweth
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Hapka, Beardsley, Weisgram, McDonald, Peterson, Mueller (DNS) Jeff Isabell Jr., Fuller
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 18 – 24 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-15-22-$68,650-3301 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-12-19-$85,310-3239 (-62)
3. Chub Frank 1-8-17-$50,130-3183 (-118)
4. Steve Francis 1-10-18-$96,900-3165 (-136)
5. Rick Eckert 1-9-17-$55,780-3149 (-152)
6. Shannon Babb 2-10-17-$73,650-3143 (-158)
7. Clint Smith 1-9-14-$46,760-3139 (-162)
8. Shane Clanton 0-11-17-$49,530-3137 (-164)
9. Tim Fuller 2-5-10-$45,570-3015 (-286)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$26,770-2901 (-400)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-5-$20,820-2412 (-889)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$11,790-2103 (-1198)
13. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$11,200-1724 (-1577)
14. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$7,120-1644 (-1657)
15. Tim McCreadie 1-6-9-$38,200-1463 (-1838)
LISTEN ONLINE: If fans can’t get to a track to see the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, they can experience the excitement of the nation’s premier tour live on DIRTvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network.