Clanton Takes Wild West Finale

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

ALBION, NE – July 21, 2008 – Nothing was going to stop Shane Clanton from finally breaking into Victory Lane on the 2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series in the ‘Wild West Tour’ finale at Boone County Raceway.

Not the series points leader. Not lapped traffic. And certainly not an overheating engine.

Clanton, 32, of Locust Grove, Ga., fought through all the obstacles to score a very satisfying win in Monday night’s 50-lap A-Main at the three-eighths-mile Nebraska oval.

“Finally!” Clanton exclaimed after becoming the last driver ranked among the top nine in the WoO LMS points standings to score a win this season. “We’ve been close so many times this year but just couldn’t get the job done, so it feels good to win again – real good.”

After crossing the finish line 1.249 seconds ahead of Muscatine, Iowa’s Brian Birkhofer, Clanton celebrated his first WoO LMS triumph since July 20, 2007, at Virginia Motor Speedway – a winless stretch of 42 races. It was his seventh career win on the tour.

Points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished third after leading laps 1-13, polesitter Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., placed fourth and eighth-starter Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., finished fifth. Lanigan, who started second, passed Francis for third on lap 48 after the trio of WoO LMS regulars – all driving Rocket cars – battled for position throughout the race’s late stages.

While Clanton swept the night (he also set fast time and won a heat race) and dominated the action after passing Darrell Lanigan for the lead on lap 14, he experienced plenty of anxious moments.

No problem was more worrisome to Clanton than the steaming engine he battled for the race’s final circuits.

“I thought our luck was gonna bite us again,” said Clanton, who started fifth in his RSD Enterprises Rocket car. “With 10 laps to go I started puking water again (out of the powerplant) like I did in the heat race. The water started covering me up, and I thought we were gonna have to pull in when I saw the temperature (gauge) get up to 220, 230 (degrees).

“The last two laps it got to 240, but it was two laps to go. What do you do at that point? You gotta go for it. If that motor didn’t break to pieces, I was gonna win it.

“It’s time for the motor to go back (to Custom) anyway,” he added, “so we’ll just put a new one and send this one back to get freshened.”

Clanton, who used the track’s outside line to sweep by Francis and Lanigan in a four-lap span, used the top side to preserve his winning run. When the slower cars driven by John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., and John Kaanta of Elk Mound, Wis., dulled Clanton’s momentum enough to let Birkhofer draw within striking distance with less than five laps remaining, the standout racer known as ‘Coconut’ tossed his No. 25 around the outside of turns one and two on lap 47 and disposed of both potential nuisances.

“I finally said, ‘I can’t ride behind these guys no more,’” remarked Clanton, who earned $10,150. “I thought they (his pursuers) were probably catching me because I was getting held up, and I was thinking, ‘If they slide me the last two laps and cost me this race, I’m gonna be mad.’

“So I just got back up on the wheel and drove by them in one and two. I drove it harder than I had all night and cleared them, and then I felt like I was in pretty good shape.”

Clanton’s hard charge effectively ended Birkhofer’s hopes of pulling off a dramatic victory.

“He was better running the top than me,” Birkhofer said of Clanton, “and when he got by those two lapped cars in one shot, that was it for me. My only shot was to get him in traffic.

“I’m just happy we got close to him,” added Birkhofer, who started third in his Mars/Birkhofer car but didn’t reach second place until lap 28. “After that caution (the race’s only slowdown, on lap 27 for the disabled car of Leicester, N.Y.’s Vic Coffey) it felt like my rear tires gave up. They just weren’t jiving with each other the rest of the race.”

The show simply belonged to Clanton, who took an immediate liking to Boone County Raceway.

“I love the racetrack,” said Clanton, whose chief mechanic, Mark ‘Head’ Lloyd, was named the Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race. “This is probably the closest I could get to Talladega (Short Track in Alabama), which is a place I always seem to go good at.

“I thought, ‘Talladega’ as soon as I pulled in and looked at this place. The size of the corners, the way the banking is – it reminds me of Talladega. Talladega has red clay and this place has black dirt, but if you have a good car, the surface don’t matter.”

Finishing in positions 6-10 were Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., who started 10th; John Anderson of Omaha, Neb., who earned the $500 ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a WoO LMS A-Main and isn’t ranked among the top 12 in the tour points standings; Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga.; Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who started 18th; and Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., who slipped by Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., for the 10th spot in the final laps.

Thirty-three cars were signed in for the first WoO LMS event in Nebraska since May 14, 2004, when the tour visited Eagle Raceway. A big crowd also filled the historic covered grandstand at the track, which was operating in conjunction with the Boone County Fair.

Clanton ripped around the oval in 15.062 seconds during qualifying to register his third fast-time honor of the season.

Heat winners were Clanton, Birkhofer, Anderson and Andrew McKay of Edina, Minn. The B-Mains were captured by Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, and Eckert.

Blankenship had his car’s motor expire during hot laps, forcing him to miss qualifying action while a spare powerplant was installed. The WoO LMs regular used a provisional spot to start the A-Main.

With the ‘Wild West Tour’ complete, the WoO LMS travelers have two days to travel nearly 1,000 miles east to Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio, for the start of Alltel Ohio Speedweek on Thursday night (July 24). The swing also includes stops on Fri., July 25, at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio; Sat., July 26, at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio; and Sun., July 27, at Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa.

The Outlaws’ busy month of July will conclude on Tues., July 29, with the rescheduled $40,000-to-win Firecracker 100 presented by at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.

Results of WoO Late Model Series at Boone County Raceway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (5) Shane Clanton/50 $10,150
2. (3) Brian Birkhofer/50 $5,100
3. (2) Darrell Lanigan/50 $3,100
4. (1) Steve Francis/50 $2,500
5. (8) Shannon Babb/50 $2,000
6. (10) Tim Fuller/50 $1,700
7. (6) John Anderson/50 $1,900
8. (12) Clint Smith/50 $1,300
9. (18) Rick Eckert/50 $1,200
10. (11) Chub Frank/50 $1,100
11. (9) Josh Richards/50 $1,050
12. (4) Andrew McKay/50 $1,000
13. (15) Jeremy Grady/50 $950
14. (23) John Blankenship/49 $900
15. (7) John Kaanta/49 $850
16. (20) Frank Heckenast Jr./49 $800
17. (16) Sean Beardsley/48 $770
18. (19) Danny Johnson/48 $1,000
19. (13) Vic Coffey/26 $730
20. (24) Dustin Hapka/26 $700
21. (14) Joe Isabell/15 $700
22. (17) Chris Simpson/8 $700
23. (21) Kyle Berck/4 $700
24. (22) Dave Eckrich/3 $700

Time of Race: 18 Mins., 3.943 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.249 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 1 (Lap 27)
Lap Leaders: Lanigan (1-13); Clanton (14-50)
Provisional Starters: Blankenship, Hapka
Rookie of the Race: Danny Johnson ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Anderson ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Mark Lloyd (Clanton)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Lanigan (half-off tire warmers)
Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’: Lanigan ($100)

Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):

1. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 15.062
2. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 15.124
3. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 15.129
4. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 15.189
5. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 15.283
6. 32-Chris Simpson/Oxford, IA 15.360
7. 2-John Anderson/Omaha, NE 15.368
8. 71-Andrew McKay/Edina, MN 15.418
9. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 15.436
10. 85-John Kaanta/Elk Mound, WI 15.460
11. 43-Jeremy Grady/Story City, IA 15.472
12. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 15.585
13. 27J-Danny Johnson/Phelps, NY 15.605
14. 14-Kyle Berck/Marquette, NE 15.758
15. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 15.765
16. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 15.780
17. 3-Mike Collins/Carter Lake, IA 15.853
18. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 15.863
19. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 15.931
20. 58-Dave Eckrich/Oxford, IA 15.976
21. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 16.044
22. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 16.173
23. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr./Orland Park, IL 16.234
24. 53-Joe Kosiski/Omaha, NE 16.257
25. 10-Junior Coover/Norfolk, NE 16.275
26. 41-Jay Cardy/West Perth, Australia 16.406
27. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 16.456
28. 98-Ben Schaller/Norfolk, NE 16.538
29. 35-Robert Osborne/Norfolk, NE 16.634
30. 36-Jim Johnson/Plainview, NE 16.779
31. 15W-Mike Wiarda/Aurora, NE 16.888
32. M0-Mollee Collins/Council Bluffs, IA 17.629
33. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV N/T

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, Babb, Richards, Coffey, D. Johnson, Mike Collins, Osborne, Coover (DNS) Blankenship

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Birkhofer, Kaanta, Fuller, Isabell, Simpson, Berck, J. Johnson

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Anderson, Francis, Frank, Grady, Eckert, Heckenast, Hapka, Cardy, Wiarda

Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): McKay, Lanigan, C. Smith, Beardsley, Eckrich, Schaller, Kosiski, Mollee Collins

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Simpson, D. Johnson, Berck, Mike Collins, J. Johnson, Osborne, Cardy, Coover (DNS) Blankenship

B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Eckert, Heckenast, Eckrich, Kosiski, Wiarda, Schaller, Hapka, Mollee Collins

2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 21 – 26 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):

1. Darrell Lanigan 2-17-24-$74,750-3589 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-12-19-$87,310-3487 (-102)
3. Chub Frank 1-9-19-$56,330-3459 (-130)
4. Steve Francis 1-11-20-$100,800-3443 (-146)
5. Shane Clanton 1-12-19-$61,380-3425 (-164)
6. Shannon Babb 2-12-19-$77,650-3423 (-166)
7. Rick Eckert 1-9-19-$58,180-3413 (-176)
8. Clint Smith 1-9-16-$49,360-3407 (-182)
9. Tim Fuller 2-5-11-$48,020-3267 (-322)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$28,720-3151 (-438)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-6-$22,900-2654 (-935)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$13,490-2337 (-1252)
13. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$13,150-1962 (-1627)
14. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$8,590-1868 (-1721)
15. Tim McCreadie 1-6-9-$38,200-1463 (-2126)

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 through the DIRT Radio Network.

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