Eckert Romps To Third Victory Of Season In Twice-Postponed World of Outlaws Late Model Series 50 At Eriez Speedway
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
HAMMETT, PA – Sept. 1, 2009 – Rick Eckert didn’t mind making three trips to Eriez Speedway this season.
Not after he won the one-third-mile oval’s twice-postponed World of Outlaws Late Model Series event on a clear, cool Tuesday night.
Eckert, 43, of York, Pa., dominated the 50-lap A-Main at Bob and Kathy Rohrer’s track, blasting off the outside pole to lead the entire distance for his third victory of the season on the national tour.
“This makes coming here three times worth it,” Eckert said after pocketing $10,600 for capturing a race that was postponed by rain on July 26 (near the end of time trials) and Aug. 23 (after heat races). “This is great for (car owner) Raye (Vest), great for the team and great for me. It’s been awhile since we won one of these races.”
Indeed, Eckert’s last WoO LMS triumph came on June 22 at Can-Am Motorsports Park in Lafargeville, N.Y. What’s more, with his earlier 2009 victories worth $7,000 apiece, he collected a five-figure first-place prize for the first time in over 14 months.
Eckert’s only threat at Eriez came from Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who made a bid for the lead as Eckert worked lapped traffic with his Team Zero by Bloomquist car midway through the A-Main. But Eckert pulled away once he got into open track, leaving the fourth-starting Francis to settle for his seventh runner-up finish in the last 11 WoO LMS events behind the wheel of the Beitler Motorsports Rocket.
Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., started and finished third in the Gypsum Express Rocket, but he had to battle hard to outduel Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., for the show position. Richards, who started from the pole position, finished fourth in the Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket to maintain his points lead by 14 markers over Francis, and Eriez regular Chad Valone of Warren, Pa., scored a career-best WoO LMS finish of fifth in a Rocket machine.
Eckert’s winning move proved to be his opening-lap slide by Richards to assume command. He went on to record his 19th career WoO LMS victory, which ironically tied him with Richards for second on the tour’s win list since 2004.
“I knew the start was gonna be pretty close,” said Eckert, who sits fifth in the series points standings. “(Richards) was in the traction down on the bottom, but when we were out there riding around (on the pace laps) I saw that there was some moisture at the top so I just stayed wide and kept my right-side tires in it.
“We fired at the same time, but I probably had a little better lane through (turns) one and two. I could run down in there and carry some speed – and usually with these cars, if you can be beside a guy on corner entry on a start, you’re gonna beat him off of two.”
After three caution flags and one red flag (for a homestretch rollover on lap five that left Scott Gurdak of Spring Creek, Pa., shaken but otherwise uninjured) during the race’s first five circuits, Eckert controlled the remaining 45 laps that ran caution-free.
“One time in (lapped) traffic I got behind guys who were side-by-side and I seen Steve (Francis) get under me, so I was like, ‘I gotta get going here,’” said Eckert. “I couldn’t find my crew guys through the fence, so I just ran as hard as I could because I thought they were right on me. I had no idea I was pulling away.”
Francis, 41, could only mutter “second again” after falling just short of his sixth victory of ’09. The 2008 WoO LMS winner at Eriez crossed the finish line 4.066 seconds behind Eckert.
“I thought I was gonna get (Eckert),” said Francis, who showed his car’s nose to Eckert on lap 24. “Then, all of a sudden, my car just died. I don’t know if I overheated the tires or what, but all I could do (the second half of the A-Main) was drive around and try not to make any dumb mistakes.”
Fuller, 41, was rapidly closing on Francis during the race’s final laps but ran out of time. He fell back to fifth early in the race and spent nearly 30 laps attempting to power around the outside of Richards for third before finally completing the pass on lap 38.
“I needed to get by Josh 20 laps earlier to have a shot at Francis,” said Francis, who had won five of the last seven WoO LMS events. “It was just hard to make a clean pass – and (Richards is) in a points battle, so I didn’t want to rough him up or do something that might take him out.”
The 21-year-old Richards did all he could to hold off Fuller but conceded that he had a fourth-place car.
“We were off a little bit,” said Richards, who won the 2007 WoO LMS A-Main at Eriez. “The car was a little bit too tight. I couldn’t drive it in as aggressively as I wanted to.”
Valone, 37, started sixth and hung tough for a milestone top-five finish. He earned the $500 ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a WoO LMS A-Main and wasn’t ranked among the top 12 in the tour points standings.
Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., who has turned his season around over the past two weeks since borrowing a 2005 Rocket car from Valone, finished a fast-closing sixth. Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., advanced from 14th to seventh, ahead of Franklinville, N.Y.’s Greg Oakes, who scored a career-best WoO LMS finish of eighth; defending WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who stared 23rd after using a provisional; and Rookie of the Year points leader Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio.
Ohlins Shocks Time Trials and four heat races were completed on Aug. 23, so two B-Mains kicked off Tuesday night’s program. Clanton and Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., were victorious in the last-chance events.
The WoO LMS continues a busy summer-ending stretch on Wednesday night (Sept. 2) at Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway and Saturday and Sunday nights (Sept. 5-6) at Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pa. All three evenings feature 50-lap, $10,000-to-win A-Mains, including both halves of Tri-City’s Armstrong Cable Oil Region Labor Day Classic.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Eriez Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (2) Rick Eckert/50 $10,600
2. (4) Steve Francis/50 $5,600
3. (3) Tim Fuller/50 $3,500
4. (1) Josh Richards/50 $3,050
5. (6) Chad Valone/50 $2,500
6. (9) Chub Frank/50 $2,200
7. (14) Clint Smith/50 $1,900
8. (13) Greg Oakes/50 $1,300
9. (23) Darrell Lanigan/50 $1,800
10. (10) Russell King/50 $1,950
11. (5) Mike Knight/50 $1,050
12. (7) Tony Knowles/50 $1,000
13. (17) Shane Clanton/50 $1,450
14. (18) Austin Hubbard/50 $900
15. (16) John Lobb/50 $850
16. (24) Brady Smith/49 $1,300
17. (11) Ron Davies/49 $770
18. (22) Dennis Lunger/49 $750
19. (15) Bump Hedman/49 $730
20. (21) Dick Barton/41 $700
21. (20) Brent Rhebergen/30 $700
22. (19) Chris Hackett/10 $700
23. (8) Robbie Blair/5 $700
24. (12) Scott Johnson/5 $700
25. (25) Doug Eck/5 $700
26. (26) Scott Gurdak/5 $700
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 31 Mins., 19.529 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 4.066 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 3 (laps 2, 5, 5); 1 red flag (lap 5)
Lap Leaders: Eckert (1-50)
Provisional Starters: Lanigan, B. Smith (WoO); Eck, Gurdak (track)
Rookie of the Race: King ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Valone ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Zach Frields (Eckert)
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Shane Clanton, 2. Chris Hackett, 3. Dick Barton, 4. Scott Gurdak, 5. Bruce Hordusky, 6. Mike Coyle, 7. Jordan Bland, 8. Brady Smith, 9. Doug Eck, 10. Brent Robinson, 11. Nathan Short, 12. Jason Morell
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Austin Hubbard, 2. Brent Rhebergen, 3. Dennis Lunger, 4. Merle Terry, 5. Dave Hess Jr., 6. Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs, 7. David Lyon, 8. Rich Gardner, 9. Tyler Reddick, 10. Andy Kania, 11. Dustin Hapka, 12. Darrell Lanigan, 13. Randy Lobb
Drivers who entered the event on July 26 and/or Aug. 23 but did not return on Tuesday: Ryan Scott, Jared Miley, Matt Urban, Andy Boozel, Chad Ruhlman, Matt Lux, Tim McCreadie, Dutch Davies, Vic Coffey, David Scott, John Volpe, George LaBarbera, Doug Ricotta
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:
* Arizona Sport Shirts ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in B-Mains): Bruce Hordusky, Dave Hess Jr.
* Champ Pans ($50 product certificate to ‘Bonus Bucks’ winner w/decal): Chad Valone
* Crane Cams ($100 cash award to A-Main winner w/decal): Rick Eckert
* Crane Cams ($100 cash award to 10th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Russell King
* Crane Cams ($100 product certificate to Heat 3 winner w/decal): Mike Knight
* Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner w/decal): Shane Clanton, Austin Hubbard
* Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash award to fast qualifier w/decal): Josh Richards
* Quarter-Master ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner w/decal): Rick Eckert
* Quarter-Master ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Chad Valone
* Quarter-Master ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): John Lobb
* Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’ (one case of product): Rick Eckert
* VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (two free VP five-gallon containers to fastest qualifier who does not make the A-Main if decal is displayed): Rich Gardner
* Wrisco Aluminum (three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner w/decal): Rick Eckert
2009 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Sept. 1 – 34 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
1. Josh Richards 4657 (-0)
2. Steve Francis 4643 (-14)
3. Darrell Lanigan 4565 (-92)
4. Tim Fuller 4487 (-170)
5. Rick Eckert 4485 (-172)
6. Shane Clanton 4423 (-234)
7. Chub Frank 4395 (-262)
8. Brady Smith 4290 (-367)
9. Clint Smith 4209 (-448)
10. Russell King 3745 (-912)
11. Jordan Bland 3641 (-1016)
12. Brent Robinson 3425 (-1232)
13. Dustin Hapka 3160 (-1497)
14. Tyler Reddick 2984 (-1673)
15. Vic Coffey 2682 (-1975)
16. Austin Hubbard 2564 (-2093)
17. Matt Lux 1605 (-3052)
18. Shannon Babb 1470 (-3187)
19. Gregg Satterlee 1460 (-3197)
20. Dan Stone 1213 (-3444)
FOLLOW THE ACTION ON TWITTER: Fans can now keep up-to-date with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series online and through text messages on cell phones via the Twitter, the internet’s fast-growing social-networking and micro-blogging website. Updates are provided to Twitter ‘followers’ of the WoO LMS throughout each race night, and fans also receive breaking news and interesting notes from the tour.
To sign-up as a WoO LMS ‘follower’ on Twitter to receive updates anywhere at anytime, visit http://twitter.com/WoOLateModels.
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 many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Crane Cams (Official Valvetrain), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Fusion Energy Boost (Official Energy Boost), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser) and VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors Champ Pans, Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tires, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Ohlins Shocks, Racing Electronics, Quarter Master and Wrisco Aluminum; Crane Cams Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Cornett Racing Engines, Custom Race Engines and Pro Power Racing Engines; and Chassis Builder Challenge participants Rocket Chassis and Team Zero by Bloomquist.