By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
GILLETTE, WY – July 16, 2008 – Tim Fuller continued his summer resurgence on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series on Wednesday night – at the expense of Jimmy Mars.
Taking advantage of a late-race caution flag that gave him new life, Fuller grabbed the lead from Mars with one lap to go and held on to score a thrilling victory in the inaugural ‘Cowboy 50’ presented by the YES Foundation at Gillette Thunder Speedway.
The $10,250 triumph was Fuller’s second straight on the WoO LMS ‘Wild West Tour’ and kept Mars shut out of Victory Lane in Outlaws action. Fuller was victorious for the first time in 2008 on July 13 at Williston Basin Speedway in Williston, N.D.
“We’re on a roll – that’s all there is to it,” said Fuller, who donned a cowboy hat and hoisted a unique trophy after capturing the first-ever WoO LMS event held in Wyoming. “What it really comes down to is we made the right tire choices the last couple nights and we had some luck on our side.”
Fuller, 40, of Watertown, N.Y., led the race’s first 39 laps after starting from the outside pole in his Gypsum Express Rocket car, but he could only watch when Menomonie, Wis.’s Mars rode the inside hub to assume command on lap 40. Mars, 36, relinquished the top spot back to Fuller momentarily on lap 41, but he was back in front the following circuit and immediately drove away toward what appeared would be his first career WoO LMS win.
But when Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., pulled up lame with a flat right-rear tire on lap 46 and brought out a caution flag, Fuller was back in the game. His Hoosier tires came back to life during the caution period and he drove to the outside of Mars on the restart.
After two circuits of side-by-side racing, Fuller inched ahead of Mars to lead lap 49 and marched on to beat the Cheese State veteran by a mere 0.257 of a second.
Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., picked up two positions on the final restart to finish third. WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., ran his consecutive top-five streak to 15 races by advancing from the 13th starting spot to a fourth-place finish, and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., completed the top five after running as high as second.
“If it would’ve went green (to the finish), Mars had me covered bad,” conceded Fuller. “He was gonna win by a half-straightaway, but luckily that caution came out. I was smiling because I knew I was gonna get one more chance.
“That caution let me get down there on the bottom and cool the tires down. I had on a 1425 (compound), and it doesn’t want any heat. My tires would give out after about 10 or 12 laps, kind of right when I had to start racing with lapped traffic and throwing the car around. Once my tires cooled off, I said, ‘This is my only shot.’
“During the caution I packed that middle (lane) where everybody was throwing stuff out, so I knew I’d have a few laps to run up there. I came to find out that (Mars) had a 1350 (compound) and had to be right on that bottom, but I could roll that middle.”
Mars, who started third in his Deppe Enterprises Mars/Birkhofer chassis, knew he was in trouble when the caution flag interrupted his cruise to the checkered flag.
“My carburetor was stumbling when I ran the bottom, but it was O.K. once I had more patience,” said Mars. “It would cough all the way through the corners if you tried to drive it hard, so I started driving it in deeper and letting it coast through the corners.
“I was fine until the caution came out. (Fuller) was fast out there (on the outside) after the restart, so I had to go faster and that hurt me.”
Mars matched his career-best finish on the WoO LMS, but earning $5,600 – including the tour’s $500 Bonus Bucks prize 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 points standings – didn’t soothe his disappointment.
“I just can’t win one of these Outlaw races,” mourned Mars, whose previous runner-up finish came on April 17, 2007, at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. “I feel like the Minnesota Vikings – do good until you get to the Super Bowl, and then lose it.”
While Mars pondered his fate, Fuller celebrated his third career WoO LMS triumph. He won once in 2007 en route to the Rookie of the Year Award.
“This is a big one because we backed up our win,” said Fuller, who swept the evening’s program by also setting fast time and winning a heat race. “Last year we won and backed it up with a 16th (place finish) in the next race, so winning two in-a-row proves we’re not a one-hit wonder.
“It’s just too bad we haven’t put these kind of showings on up north where the local people are. Hopefully that will come.”
The 46-year-old Frank had an up-and-down race in his Lester Buildings Rocket car. He climbed as high as second, on a lap-24 restart, after starting eighth, then fell back to fifth before rallying after the final caution flag to snare third.
“Cautions were definitely my friend tonight,” said Frank. “My right-front tire would give up a little after a few laps and I’d pick up a push, but I was better after my tire cooled down under caution.”
Lanigan, 38, authored yet another steady, championship-worthy performance, coming back from an unspectacular qualifying effort to finish fourth in his GottaRace.com Rocket. He survived a near-spin in turn two on the 11th lap to reach the top five – and with Richards finishing 13th, Lanigan’s points lead swelled to 66 points after 23 events.
Babb, 34, appeared primed to bid for the win after hustling his Bowyer Dirt Motorsports Rocket from the ninth starting spot to second by lap 25, but he slid back to fifth.
“It’s the story of our season,” said Babb. “We just haven’t been good enough.”
Finishing in positions 6-10 were polesitter Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga.; fifth-starter Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., who ran second for laps 13-24 before fading because he couldn’t run his car in the bottom lane; Rick Eckert of York, Pa.; Al Purkey of Coffeyville, Kan., who drove Smith’s second car; and Rookie of the Race Vic Coffey of Leceister, N.Y.
Eckert salvaged his night by finishing seventh. He saw his run of bad luck on the ‘Wild West Tour’ continue earlier in the program when the motor in his GRT car expired as he ran fourth in the third heat, forcing him to pull out his Rayburn machine for the remainder of the night.
A field of 36 cars was signed in for the event at the one-third-mile oval, which is operated by the Gillette Racing Club. Ed Kirchoff, whose 25-year-old son Eddie won a heat race and finished 15th in the A-Main, leads the group’s promotional efforts.
The largest crowd in the five-year history of the track jammed the hillside seating areas for the night’s action.
Fuller was fastest in time trials for the third time this season, turning a lap of 13.989 seconds. He was the only driver to crack the 13-second bracket.
Heat winners were Fuller, Clanton, John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., and Clint Smith. The B-Mains were captured by Kelly Boen of Henderson, Colo., and John Bey of Deadwood, S.D.
The stars of the WoO LMS will have a travel day on Thursday before the ‘Wild West Tour’ resumes on Friday night (July 18) at Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen, SD. The swing concludes 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 ‘Cowboy 50’ (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (2) Tim Fuller/50 $10,250
2. (3) Jimmy Mars/50 $5,600
3. (8) Chub Frank/50 $3,000
4. (13) Darrell Lanigan/50 $2,500
5. (9) Shannon Babb/50 $2,000
6. (1) Clint Smith/50 $1,700
7. (5) Shane Clanton/50 $1,400
8. (20) Rick Eckert/50 $1,300
9. (16) Al Purkey/50 $1,200
10. (12) Vic Coffey/50 $1,350
11. (11) Steve Francis/50 $1,050
12. (17) Kelly Boen/50 $1,000
13. (7) Josh Richards/50 $950
14. (4) John Blankenship/50 $900
15. (6) Eddie Kirchoff/50 $850
16. (22) Joe Isabell/49 $800
17. (19) Ricky Weiss/49 $770
18. (21) Mike Stadel/49 $750
19. (10) Eric Mass/49 $730
20. (15) Sean Beardsley/48 $700
21. (23) Dustin Hapka/47 $700
22. (24) Jeff Isabell Jr./47 $700
23. (18) John Bey/41 $700
24. (14) Darryn Waldo/35 $700
Time of Race: 22 mins., 35.856 secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.257 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 3 (Laps 13, 24, 46)
Lap Leaders: Fuller (1-39); Mars (40); Fuller (41); Mars (42-48); Fuller (49-50)
Provisional Starters: Hapka, Jeff Isabell Jr.
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Mars ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Chris Mars (Jimmy Mars)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: (half-off tire warmers)
Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’: Fuller ($100)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 13.989
2. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 14.054
3. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 14.060
4. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 14.244
5. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 14.251
6. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 14.304
7. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 14.307
8. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 14.408
9. 28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 14.445
10. 44M-Eric Mass/Rapid City, SD 14.447
11. E5K-Eddie Kirchoff/Gillette, WY 14.520
12. 41-Al Purkey/Coffeyville, KS 14.520
13. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 14.613
14. 7s-Mike Stadel/Rapid City, SD 14.614
15. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 14.652
16. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 14.653
17. 07-Kelly Boen/Henderson, CO 14.654
18. 27J-Jeff Isabell Jr./Pennellville, NY 14.755
19. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 14.769
20. 82-John Bey/Deadwood, SD 14.799
21. 7-Ricky Weiss/Winnipeg, MAN 14.805
22. 2W-Darryn Waldo/Billings, MT 14.862
23. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 14.870
24. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 14.894
25. 17J-John Winge/Rossville, GA 14.956
26. 97-Dan Henrikson/Rapid City, SD 15.213
27. 13-Wes McKenney/Gillette, WY 15.262
28. 36-Kelly Hample/Billings, MT 15.672
29. 21R-John Robertson/Gillette, WY 15.722
30. 1M-Matt Sheesley/Rapid City, SD 15.783
31. 62-Kim Horn/Gillette, WY 15.785
32. 71-Morris Oberle/Lead, SD 15.801
33. 23d-Dylan Schmer/Lingle, WY 15.870
34. 00-Bryan Renken/Gillette, WY 16.025
35. 61-James Botts/Broomfield, CO 17.015
36. 16-Buddy Rosorelli/Denver, CO N/T
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Fuller, Mars, Babb, Lanigan, Boen, Weiss, Winge, Schmer, Robertson
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, Frank, Mass, Waldo, Stadel, Henrikson, Sheesley, Renken, Jeff Isabell Jr.
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Blankenship, Kirchoff, Francis, Beardsley, Joe Isabell, McKenney, Horn, Eckert, Botts
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): C. Smith, Richards, Coffey, Purkey, Bey, Hapka, Hample, Oberle, Rosorelli
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top Transfer): Boen, Weiss, Stadel, Winge, Jeff Isabell Jr., Henrikson, Sheesley, Renken, Robertson, Schmer
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top Transfer): Bey, Eckert, Joe Isabell, Hapka, McKenney, Horn, Oberle, Botts, Hample, Rosorelli
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 16 – 23 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-15-21-$67,350-3167 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-12-18-$83,610-3101 (-66)
3. Chub Frank 1-8-16-$48,730-3047 (-120)
4. Rick Eckert 1-9-17-$55,050-3037 (-130)
5. Steve Francis 1-9-17-$93,900-3021 (-146)
6. Clint Smith 1-8-13-$44,260-2997 (-170)
7. Shannon Babb 1-9-16-$63,400-2993 (-174)
8. Shane Clanton 0-10-16-$44,430-2991 (-176)
9. Tim Fuller 2-5-9-$44,370-2883 (-284)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$25,720-2773 (-394)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-4-$19,470-2282 (-885)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$10,790-1977 (-1190)
13. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$11,200-1724 (-1443)
14. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$6,220-1522 (-1645)
15. Tim McCreadie 1-6-9-$38,200-1463 (-1704)
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, Qwikliner and Super Clean.