By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
LEBANON, MO – May 3, 2008 – Shannon Babb gave his boss even more reason to smile on Saturday night.
On the same night that his famous car owner Clint Bowyer was triumphant in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition at Richmond International Raceway, Babb authored a flawless drive to victory in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘All-State Insurance 40’ at Lebanon I-44 Speedway.
Babb, 34, of Moweaqua, Ill., advanced from the fourth starting spot to pass Rick Eckert of York, Pa., for the lead on lap 12 and then never looked back. Driving a new Traiger Grills/Chevrolet Rocket car that had never before seen action, Babb repelled a late-race challenge from Eckert and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., to score his first WoO LMS win of the 2008 season.
Mere moments after hoisting an oversized novelty check commemorating his $10,000 victory in an event that was co-sanctioned by the O’Reilly MARS DIRTcar Series, Babb learned that his high-profile car owner had also scored a big Saturday-night short-track win.
“We got back here to the trailer just in time to watch Clint run the last lap and win at Richmond,” said Babb, who is in his first season as the hired-gun of Bowyer’s fledgling dirt Late Model team. “He’s gonna be tickled to death when he hears that we won him a Late Model race tonight too.”
Eckert, who started from the outside pole and led laps 1-11, settled for a $5,100 runner-up finish in Raye Vest’s GRT car, 1.423 seconds behind Babb.
Moyer finished third in his Victory Circle M1 chassis, followed by 11th-starter Wendell Wallace of Batesville, Ark., in the GRT house car and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., in the Cliburn Tank Lines GRT, who started eighth but had to gather himself after losing several spots in the race’s early laps.
With Babb’s Clements-powered car purring along to perfection once he gained command, the WoO LMS title contender correctly felt that the race was his to lose.
“Not very often do you get a car that feels that good,” said Babb, who registered his seventh career WoO LMS A-Main win. “Tommy (Grecco) and Jay (Hunt) did a great job putting it together and I had 100 percent confidence in it.”
Babb’s only anxious moment came following a lap-26 restart, when Eckert and Moyer stayed close for several circuits. Eckert came within inches of leading lap 28 before Babb gradually opened up some breathing room.
“During that (lap-26) caution those guys probably caught their breath a little and got up on the wheel to try to go for it one last time,” said Babb. “So I had to get back going again hard too.”
After Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, slowed on lap 36 with a flat tire while running fifth to bring out the race’s fifth and final caution flag, Babb wasn’t threatened when the green flag returned.
“That last restart, I wasn’t gonna let nobody by me,” smiled Babb, who registered his first career win at Lebanon I-44 Speedway after running well but experiencing bad luck in several previous appearances. “I just put it on the floor.”
Eckert, 42, was close enough to taste his first WoO LMS victory in nearly two years, but he fell short.
“I left my car just a little bit too free,” said Eckert, whose last WoO LMS win came 65 races ago, on July 8, 2006, at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio. “I tightened up some for the feature, but I still left myself just a little bit too free on exit. If I got in the corner hard and got back in the gas, I got loose.
“After that long (lap-26) caution the racetrack came back, and I got four good laps and was even able to get door-to-door with (Babb) for two laps. But then his (harder) tire got going again and I was done.
“I tried everything I could try to win,” he added, “but I just couldn’t get ‘er done.”
The 50-year-old Moyer, meanwhile, remained atop the WoO LMS points standings with a steady, solid run to third place. He sniffed the lead in the battle after the lap-26 restart, but he wasn’t quite good enough to win for the fifth time in eight events this season.
“Shannon was commited to the top and Eckert to the bottom more or less,” said Moyer, who started seventh. “I could run through the center of one and two real quick, but Eckert was swinging way out wide there so I had to let him in a couple times or we would’ve crashed.
“If I could’ve just got a little bit farther up, I might have been able to get by him. But really, we were just a little bit off.”
The race’s five caution flags were all for minor problems, including a turn-two spin by Jeremy Payne of Springfield, Mo., on lap seven; right-rear flat tires on the cars of Chatham, Ill.’s Brian Shirley (as he ran fifth on lap 12) and Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga. (lap 25); Rookie of the Year contender Vic Coffey of Leicester, N.Y. (left-front suspension woes on lap 26); and Birkhofer.
Finishing in positions 6-10 was defending WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who slipped backward after starting from the pole position; Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who recorded his sixth top-10 finish of the season; MARS standout Will Vaught of Crane, Mo.; Lebanon I-44 dominator Brad Looney of Republic, Mo.; and Payne, who recovered from his early spin.
Thirty-nine cars entered the event, which was run on a cool spring evening.
Clint Smith established a new track record during time trials, rounding the three-eighths-mile oval in 13.626 seconds for his first WoO LMS fast-time of the season.
Heat winners were Smith, Babb, Francis and Eckert. Five-time MARS champion Bill Frye of Greenbrier, Ark., and Clanton captured the B-Mains.
Clanton scrambled to get on the track for the A-Main, however, after his car’s engine developed a broken rocker arm on the final lap of the B-Main. His crew hastily pulled out the team’s backup car and got it fired up for competition as the feature field was taking its pace laps.
Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who entered the event ranked second in the WoO LMS points standings, had to use his first provisional since 2006 to start the A-Main after slapping the homestretch wall during the first heat. His crew worked up until the start of the A-Main pace laps to repair the car.
The WoO LMS weekend in Missouri continues on Sunday night (May 4) at Monett Speedway, which hosts the tour for the first time ever.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘All-State Insurance 40’ (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (4) Shannon Babb/40 $10,150
2. (2) Rick Eckert/40 $5,100
3. (7) Billy Moyer/40 $3,000
4. (11) Wendell Wallace/40 $3,000
5. (8) Clint Smith/40 $2,000
6. (1) Steve Francis/40 $1,700
7. (10) Darrell Lanigan/40 $1,400
8. (16) Will Vaught/40 $1,300
9. (19) Brad Looney/40 $1,200
10. (13) Jeremy Payne/40 $1,100
11. (3) Chub Frank/40 $1,050
12. (18) Shane Clanton/40 $1,000
13. (23) Josh Richards/40 $950
14. (6) Brian Shirley/40 $900
15. (20) Tim Fuller/40 $850
16. (9) John Blankenship/40 $800
17. (14) Jack Sullivan/38 $770
18. (5) Brian Birkhofer/36 $750
19. (22) Terry Phillips/30 $730
20. (15) Vic Coffey/26 $950
21. (21) Denny Woodworth/25 $700
22. (24) Brandon McCormick/21 $700
23. (26) Steve Rushin/19 $700
24. (17) Bill Frye/18 $700
25. (12) Al Purkey/12 $700
26. (25) Jimmy Mars/2 $700
Time of Race: 24 Mins., 17.456 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.423 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 5 (Laps 7, 12, 25, 26, 36)
Lap Leaders: Eckert (1-11); Babb (12-40)
Provisional Starters: Richards, Mars (WoO); McCormick, Rushin (MARS)
Rookie of the Race: Vic Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Wendell Wallace ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Jay Hunt (Shannon Babb)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Eckert (half-off tire warmers)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 13.626 (NTR)
2. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 13.686
3. 21-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR 13.692
4. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 13.769
5. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 13.812
6. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 13.832
7. 88-Wendell Wallace/Batesville, AR 13.907
8. 3s-Brian Shirley/Chatham, IL 13.967
9. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 14.007
10. 18s-Jack Sullivan/Greenbrier, AR 14.025
11. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 14.073
12. 1V-Will Vaught/Crane, MO 14.092
13. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 14.109
14. 2-John Anderson/Omaha, NE 14.112
15. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 14.136
16. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 14.147
17. 74-Jeremy Payne/Springfield, MO 14.175
18. 66F-Bill Frye/Greenbrier, AR 14.180
19. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 14.234
20. 66W-Justin Wells/Aurora, MO 14.234
21. 42-Brandon McCormick/Lebanon, MO 14.241
22. 14L-Brad Looney/Republic, MO 14.246
23. 8k-Rusty Dukes/Fairgrove, MO 14.260
24. 33-Al Purkey/Coffeyville, KS 14.317
25. 01-Chris Jones/Neelyville, MO 14.318
26. 45DW-Denny Woodworth/Mendon, IL 14.350
27. 28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 14.368
28. 15T-David Turner/Adrian, MO 14.383
29. 00s-Chris Smyser/Lancaster, MO 14.394
30. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 14.396
31. 14M-Reid Millard/Jefferson City, MO 14.412
32. 75-Terry Phillips/Springfield, MO 14.426
33. 14Jr.-Steve Rushin/Poplar Bluff, MO 14.730
34. 21H-Brian Harris/Davenport, IA 14.745
35. 7W-Trace Westling/Fulton, MO 15.090
36. 56-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA 15.123
37. 16-Dusty Johnston/Flippan, AR 15.592
38. 99-Larry Jones/Eldorado Springs, MO 15.729
39. 3c-Michael Collins/Carter Lake, IA 45.519
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): C. Smith, Frank, Blankenship, Payne, Smyser, McCormick, Rushin, C. Jones, Johnston, Richards
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Babb, Birkhofer, Lanigan, Sullivan, Frye, Anderson, Looney, Woodworth, Harris, L. Jones
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Francis, Moyer, Wallace, Coffey, Clanton, Dukes, Millard, Westling, Mars, Collins
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Eckert, Shirley, Purkey, Vaught, Fuller, Phillips, Turner, George, Wells
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Frye, Looney, Woodworth, Smyser, McCormick, Anderson, Johnston, L. Jones, C. Jones, Rushin (DNS) Harris, Richards
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Clanton, Fuller, Phillips, Turner, Collins, Millard, Wells, George, Westling, Dukes (DNS) Mars
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of May 3 – 8 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Billy Moyer 4-6-6-$69,820-1079 (-0)
2. Steve Francis 1-5-7-$70,700-1043 (-36)
3. Rick Eckert 0-3-6-$23,150-1041 (-38)
4. Josh Richards 1-4-6 -$33,150-1033 (-46)
5. Darrell Lanigan 0-0-6-$15,250-1015 (-64)
6. (tie) Shannon Babb 1-4-5-$35,800-1007 (-72)
6. (tie) Chub Frank 0-2-4-$17,680-1007 (-72)
8. Clint Smith 0-3-3-$13,660-983 (-96)
9. Shane Clanton 0-3-3-$15,750-965 (-114)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-2-$11,560-911 (-168)
11. Tim Fuller 0-0-1-$8,190-909 (-170)
12. Brian Shirley 0-0-2-$8,370-899 (-180)
13. Vic Coffey 0-0-1-$7,470-709 (-370)
14. (tie) Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$2,260-589 (-490)
14. (tie) Danny Johnson 0-0-0-$2,650-589 (-490)
16. Jeep VanWormer 0-0-1-$6,270-479 (-600)
17. (tie) Eddie Carrier Jr. 0-0-3-$8,500-471 (-608)
17. (tie) Tim McCreadie 0-1-2-$11,550-471 (-608)
17. (tie) Billy Decker 0-0-0-$3,020-438 (-641)
20. Darren Miller 0-0-3-$5,700-404 (-675)
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.
To listen to the free audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo.
Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. For technical support or questions, e-mail [email protected]
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including Advance Auto Parts – the official auto parts store of the WoO LMS – and contingency sponsors Wrisco Industries, Chicken Hawk Racing, Crane Cams, Ohlins Shocks, Quarter-Master, Eibach Springs, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts and Qwikliner.