Fuller Ends Long Absence From World of Outlaws Late Model Series Victory Lane In Thrilling Fashion At Merritt Speedway
New Yorker Nips Michiganders Spanger & Neiser At Finish Line Of NAPA Auto Parts Merritt 50 by Allstar Performance
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
LAKE CITY, MI – Aug. 17, 2013 – Tim Fuller’s long-awaited return to Victory Lane on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series finally occurred on Saturday night at Merritt Speedway.
Snapping a frustrating winless streak that stretched over three years and 133 races, Fuller charged forward from the 14th starting spot and beat upset-minded Michiganders Eric Spangler and Rich Neiser in a thrilling three-wide finish to capture the NAPA Auto Parts Merrit 50 Presented by Allstar Performance.
Fuller, 45, of Watertown, N.Y., flashed under the checkered flag just 0.101 of a second ahead of Lake City, Mich.’s Spangler and 0.234 of a second in front of Fruitport, Mich.’s Neiser to record his first WoO LMS triumph since June 17, 2010, at Merrittville Speedway in Thorold, Ont.
The $10,550 win was the 13th of Fuller’s career on the national tour but first since joining Kennedy Motorsports last summer as a teammate to Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga. He entered Saturday night’s event with just four top-five finishes in 35 WoO LMS A-Mains this season but confident that his breakthrough run was close at hand.
“It’s been a slow start (with Kennedy Motorsports) and I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to win,” said Fuller, who sits sixth in the WoO LMS points standings. “I have struggled so long, there’s so many people to thank. Everybody that stuck with me through thick and thin – (car owner) John Kennedy, Shane Clanton, (chief mechanic) Ross (Robinson), Donnie (crewman Eugene Mulhany), my wife Lori. I can’t thank them all enough.
“I’ve felt like we’ve been getting closer and closer, so I hope this is a sign of things to come.”
Spangler, 44, and Neiser, 43, fought Fuller down to the wire, both drivers threatening to join the short list of local stars to pull off a WoO LMS victory. They each settled for finishes that were by far their best-ever in World of Outlaws competition.
Defending WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished fourth, nearly three seconds behind the lead trio after carving his way through the pack from the 20th starting spot. Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., completed the top five, fading to fifth place after starting on the outside pole and leading the first 39 laps of the A-Main.
Fuller, whose two previous WoO LMS appearances at Merritt resulted in unspectacular finishes of 15th in 2011 and 12th last year, credited his success to his pre-race tire-compound selection.
“I picked the softest tire there was (under the event’s tire rule) and it worked,” Fuller said of the Hoosier LM 20-compound rubber he bolted on his Capital Race Car. “Shannon Rush (of Hoosier Tire), he kept saying, ‘I don’t know if it’ll work,’ but I had nothing to lose starting 14th.
“The bottom line is, we outfoxed ’em on tires. It happens in this deal. I’ve been outfoxed before.”
Fuller reached second place behind Smith on lap 32 and was beginning to challenge his good buddy when the race’s first caution flag flew on lap 35 when Scott Phillips of Marlette, Mich., slipped over the quarter-mile oval’s turn-four bank. After another caution flag flew on lap 36 for a turn-four spin by Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., Fuller surged around the outside of Smith to assume command on lap 40.
One more caution flag was needed, on lap 41 when Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., spun out of fifth place in turn four. Fuller then spent the remainder of the distance trying to fend off Neiser, who was coming hard on the inside of the track, and later Spangler, who started alongside Fuller in 13th and appeared in third place with a lap-42 pass of Clint Smith.
Neiser nosed his MasterSbilt car inside of Fuller off turn two on lap 48, prompting Fuller to switch to the inside lane racing through turns three and four. Fuller stayed on the bottom for the entire final lap – a strategic maneuver that dulled Neiser’s bid but in turn opened the top side for Spangler.
Rounding turns three and four for the final time Spangler drove to the outside of Fuller, but Fuller slid up just enough off turn four to force Spangler over the wall-less homestretch berm. Fuller beat Spangler to the finish line by less than a half car length as Neiser looked to sneak by both on the inside.
“I had to pass Cat (Smith) up on the top (for the lead) and I used up a little too much tire, but I thought I could stay straighter and smoother up there and keep my momentum up,” said Fuller. “I went back to the bottom because I saw (Neiser) nosing up inside of me.”
Fuller was surprised by the sudden appearance of Spangler as the checkered flag was displayed ahead of them.
“I just thought it was 87 (Neiser),” said Fuller. “As I drifted out toward the outside of the track (off turn four on the last lap) I seen a car right there (Spangler) and we touched a little bit. Good thing it wasn’t 51 laps. That 27 car (Spangler) was fast and my right-rear tire was dying.”
A three-time Merritt Speedway Late Model champion and winner of the track’s recent
‘Wood-Tic’ special event, Spangler was disappointed to fall just short of the biggest victory of his career.
“I got good momentum into three and four (on the last lap) and got alongside (Fuller),” said Spangler, who drove a MasterSbilt car. “But he pushed up – and he’s the leader, so you gotta him some room and we put it off the frontstretch so we didn’t hit.
“It was almost three-abreast on the last lap. I’m sure it was a great show for all the fans.”
Neiser, meanwhile, wore a large smile despite coming so close to becoming the second Michigan driver to win a WoO LMS.
“Two local guys and one of the World of Outlaw guys? That was definitely a spectacular finish,” said Neiser.
Neiser, who started seventh, used the inside groove to work his way to second place by lap 20. He challenged Smith several times midway through the race and did the same to Fuller during the final circuits before Fuller’s lane change stemmed his charge.
“He was up a little higher and I was catching him more and more,” Neiser said of Fuller. “The yellows kind of hurt me a little bit, and when he seen me there he come down (on the last lap) – which anybody would’ve. Then man, by time I went to the top, there was Spangler. I didn’t know he was there, but I figured he would be because he’s fast here.
“When I seen him, I figured, ‘Wow, this is gonna be a race to the end now.’ It was a good time – an amazing time. I was thrilled just to be racing for a win in a World of Outlaws race. That’s probably why I bumped the (inside) tires a couple times here and there. I was getting a little too excited and was missing my marks just thinking, I can’t believe where I’m at right now.”
WoO LMS points leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., started and finished sixth, hampered in his efforts to contend for the win by a tire-compound choice that was too hard for the conditions. Chris Brindley of West Branch, Mich., who started from the pole positions, finished seventh in the first WoO LMS A-Main start of his career. Eighth place was claimed by Clanton, ninth went to Merritt veteran David Hilliker of Midland, Mich., and Rick Eckert of York, Pa., rounded out the top 10.
Thirty-five cars were signed in for the event, which was contested in front of a capacity crowd on a gorgeous summer day.
Ohlins Shocks Time Trials were split into ‘A’ and ‘B’ groups, with the first half competing for starting positions in heats 1-3 and the second half racing against the clock to align heats 4-6.
WoO LMS rookie Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, registered the overall fastest circuit of the night with a lap of 13.623 seconds in Group ‘A.’ It was his first-ever fast-time honor on the WoO LMS.
Heat winners were Clint Smith, Brady Smith, Neiser (first career WoO LMS prelim victory) and Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill. The B-Mains were captured by Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., and McCreadie.
The next action for the WoO LMS comes on Thurs., Aug. 22, at Little Valley (N.Y.) Speedway and Sat., Aug. 24, at Winchester (Va.) Speedway.
Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series NAPA Auto Parts Merritt 50 Presented by Allstar Performance at Merritt Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (14) Tim Fuller/50 $10,550
2. (13) Eric Spangler/50 $5,550
3. (7) Rich Neiser/50 $3,050
4. (20) Darrell Lanigan/50 $3,150
5. (2) Clint Smith/50 $2,550
6. (6) Josh Richards/50 $2,350
7. (1) Chris Brindley/50 $1,500
8. (12) Shane Clanton/50 $1,850
9. (10) David Hilliker/50 $1,250
10. (11) Rick Eckert/50 $1,800
11. (18) Tim McCreadie/50 $1,700
12. (3) Bub McCool/50 $1,550
13. (23) Jeep VanWormer/50 $950
14. (15) Chub Frank/50 $1,500
15. (17) Eric Wells/50 $1,650
16. (5) Andrew Reaume/50 $800
17. (16) Mike Spatola/50 $770
18. (9) Morgan Bagley/50 $1,300
19. (22) Scott Phillips/50 $730
20. (21) Tom Sprague Jr./50 $700
21. (8) Jason Feger/44 $700
22. (4) Brady Smith/41 $700
23. (19) Mike Kresnak/35 $700
24. (24) Sammy Epling/29 $725
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 21 Mins., 11.812 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.101 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 3 (laps 35, 36, 41)
Lap Leaders: C. Smith (1-39); Fuller (40-50)
Provisional Starters: VanWormer, Epling
Rookie of the Race: Wells ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Spangler ($500)
Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 14M-Morgan Bagley/Longview, TX 13.623
2. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 13.689
3. 57J-Bub McCool/Vicksburg, MS 13.744
4. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 13.834
5. 27-Eric Spangler/Lake City, MI 13.856
6. 25b-Chris Brindley/W. Branch, MI 13.891
7. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 13.92
8. 0K-Mike Kresnak/Elwell, MI 13.935
9. 18H-Merv Hudson/Alger, MI 13.965
10. 21H-David Hilliker/Midland, MI 14.231
11. 3-Jeremy Tulick/Cadillac, MI 14.299
12. 13-Andy Galgoci/Mt. Pleasant, MI 14.308
13. 18W-Eric Wells/Hazard, KY 14.312
14. 21s-Tom Sprague Jr./Muskegon, MI 14.458
15. 87-Josh Knoll/Lake, MI 14.476
16. 28e-Sammy Epling/Bancroft, MI 14.482
17. 21-Bob Hammar/Boon, MI 14.765
18. 45-Brad Burkirk/Alma, MI N/T
1. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 13.763
2. 89-Mike Spatola/Manhattan, IL 13.916
3. 87-Rich Neiser/Fruitport, MI 13.961
4. 25-Jason Feger/Bloomington, IL 13.966
5. 88-Andrew Reaume/Blenheim, ONT 13.979
6. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 13.987
7. 50-Scott Phillips/Marlette, MI 14.003
8. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 14.142
9. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 14.156
10. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 14.162
11. 23v-Ryan VanderVeen/Six Lakes, MI 14.221
12. 24-Joseph Pomeray/Cass City, MI 14.245
13. 5-Brook Brasington/Evart, MI 14.251
14. 25-Shane Clanton/Zebulon, GA 14.274
15. 28-John McDonald/Muskegon, MI 14.507
16. 8-Josh Guerme/Bear Lake, MI 15.459
17. 55-Jeep VanWormer/Pinconning, MI 20.665
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): C. Smith, McCool, Bagley, Spangler, Wells, Tulick, Hudson, Knoll, Hammar
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): B. Smith, Brindley, Hilliker, Fuller, Kresnak, Sprague, Epling, Galgoci, Burkirk
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Neiser, Reaume, Eckert, Frank, VanWormer, Phillips, VanderVeen, Brasington, McDonald
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Feger, Richards, Clanton, Spatola, McCreadie, Lanigan, Guerne, Pomeroy
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Wells, Kresnak, Sprague, Tulick, Epling, Knoll, Galgoci, Hammar, Hudson
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): McCreadie, Lanigan, Phillips, VanWormer, Brasington, Pomeroy, McDonald, VanderVeen, Guerne
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners (awards presented to noted finisher/qualifier or next highest displaying decal:
Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash to fast qualifier): Rick Eckert
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner): Eric Wells/Tim McCreadie
VP Race Fuels ‘Nice Jugs’ Award: (One VP 5-gallon container to fastest qualifier who misses A-Main): Merv Hudson
Wrisco Aluminum (3 sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner only): Tim Fuller
Armor All (One case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main): Eric Spangler
Comp Cams ($50 certificate to A-Main winner): Tim Fuller
QuarterMaster ($100 certificate to A-Main winner): Tim Fuller
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner): Tim Fuller
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Spangler
XS Power ($50 cash to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main): Rich Neiser
Roush Yates ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main): Darrell Lanigan
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 5th-place finisher in A-Main): Clint Smith
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main): Chris Brindley
American Race Wheels ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main): Chris Brindley
VP Race Fuels ($50 cash to 8th-place finisher in A-Main): Shane Clanton
Edelbrock Manifolds ($50 cash to 9th-finisher in A-Main): David Hilliker
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main): Rick Eckert
XS Power ($60 product certificate to 11th-place finisher in A-Main): Bub McCool
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main): Bub McCool
JRI Shocks ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
Super Flow Dynos ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
QuarterMaster ($25 certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Wells
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 16th-place finisher in A-Main, redeemable w/next purchase of set): Andrew Reaume
Klotz Lubricants ($50 cash to 17th-place finisher in A-Main): Morgan Bagley
Roush Yates ($50 gift card to 18th-place finisher in A-Main): Tom Sprague Jr.
QuarterMaster ($50 certificate to 19th-place finisher in A-Main): Tom Sprague Jr.
Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 certificate to 20th-place finisher in A-Main): Tom Sprague Jr.
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher in A-Main, redeemable w/next purchase of set): Jason Feger
Roush Yates ($50 gift card to 22nd-place finisher in A-Main): Mike Kresnak
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main): Sammy Epling
XS Power ‘Power Move of the Race’ ($60 product certificate): Tim Fuller
Roush Yates ($25 gift card to driver who leads most laps in the A-Main): Clint Smith
Reliable Painting Award (one free tire): Clint Smith
2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Aug. 17 – 36 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
1. Josh Richards 4978
2. Shane Clanton 4916 (-62)
3. Darrell Lanigan 4910 (-68)
4. Rick Eckert 4820 (-158)
5. Tim McCreadie 4630 (-348)
6. Tim Fuller 4588 (-390)
7. Eric Wells 4556 (-422)
8. Chub Frank 4492 (-486)
9. Bub McCool 4456 (-522)
10. Morgan Bagley 4416 (-562)
11. Clint Smith 4230 (-748)
12. Brady Smith 2072 (-2906)
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: American Racing Custom Wheels (Official Custom Wheel), Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), KMC (Official Custom Truck Wheel), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award); in addition to contingency sponsors: Butlerbuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Dominator Race Products, Edelbrock, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, QuarterMaster, Roush Yates Performance Parts, Superflow Dynos, Wrisco Aluminum and XS Power Racing Batteries; along with manufacturer sponsors Capital Race Cars, Integra Shocks, GRT Chassis, Jake’s Carts, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis, TNT Rescue, and Warrior Chassis.