||Convincing Victory At Rolling Wheels Pads Eckert's World of Outlaws Late Model Series Points Lead
Photo by Bobby Armbruster
ELBRIDGE, NY – Rick Eckert knows that the best way to maintain his lead in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series points standings is to win races.
So that's what the veteran driver from York, Pa., did on Thursday night, snapping a nearly five-month checkered flag drought with a powerful triumph in the national tour's 50-lap A-Main at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park.
Racing at a five-eighths-mile track where he had finished second in his only two previous WoO LMS starts, Eckert passed race-long pacesetter Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., for the lead on lap 34 and never looked back. He dominated the remainder of the distance, pulling away after the event's lone caution flag flew on lap 37 to cross the finish line 3.483 seconds ahead of Thompson, Pa.'s Dan Stone.
The $11,325 score was Eckert's third of the 2011 WoO LMS season and extended his points lead to 22 points over two-time defending champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who finished third after surviving a white-flag scrape on the homestretch with Fuller. Teenager Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., placed fourth after slipping by Fuller, who led laps 1-33 but settled for a fifth-place finish because he slowed on the final due to a flat left-rear tire sustained in the incident with Richards.
Eckert, who recorded his 24th career series win and first since May 12 at Delaware International Speedway, was ecstatic after parlaying his affinity for Rolling Wheels into a crucial victory. He had seen his edge on Richards in the WoO LMS standings shrink from 60 to 16 points over the previous five events.
"I love this place," Eckert said of Rolling Wheels, where he previously registered runner-up finishes in WoO LMS A-Mains during the 2010 and 2005 seasons. "I guess there's something about this track that just suits me."
Eckert, 45, started fourth in a mid-week affair that was run as part of Super DIRT Week XL, the annual showcase of DIRTcar Modified racing encompassing action at the one-mile New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, N.Y., and other nearby short tracks like the Wheels. He overtook Stone for second on lap 22 and then steadily chased down Fuller, who had raced off the outside pole to build a half-straightaway advantage.
"I couldn't run with (Fuller) and Dan (Stone) out in the open," said Eckert, whose self-owned Team Zero by Bloomquist car was powered by a freshened Jay Dickens engine. "I think they had their cars freed up enough to where they could run out there. I was a little tighter, but my car came to me and they got a little bit looser in traffic."
Eckert, who is seeking his first career WoO LMS championship in his eighth full season following the circuit, dedicated the triumph to his ailing mother.
"She's fighting cancer and she had a really bad week," said Eckert, whose parents are big supporters of his racing career. "Hopefully this will cheer her up some."
Stone, 34, earned his second consecutive runner-up finish in WoO LMS competition, matching his run on Sept. 3 in the finale of the 'Black Diamond 125' at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va. He drove Leo Milus's Super Deuce Rocket on Thursday night after running his family's car at Tyler County.
The Super Deuce machine that Stone steers in selected special events is maintained by noted DIRTcar Big-Block Modified crew chief Randy Kisacky of Johnson City, N.Y., who is well-versed in the vagaries of racing at Rolling Wheels thanks to his decades of experience running there with the Northeast's popular open-wheel class.
"He really has a good grasp of what the track's doing," Stone said of Kisacky, who arrived at Rolling Wheels shortly before the start of hot laps after spending the afternoon working with DIRTcar Big-Block Modified driver Jimmy Phelps of Baldwinsville, N.Y., at the Syracuse Mile. "I probably would've over-tightened the car – and really, as it was, we were already a little too tight."
Stone passed Fuller for second place on lap 38 but never got close enough to threaten Eckert.
"The car was solid and it's fun to run good in these big races," said Stone, who won a WoO LMS A-Main in 2007 at Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pa. "But man, when you're that close (to a victory), it's frustrating too."
Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., finished sixth after slipping by Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., following the race's lone restart on lap 37. Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. – behind the wheel of brand-new Rocket car – also passed Coffey late in the distance to finish seventh, leaving Coffey to settle for eighth. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., rallied after bringing out the caution flag on lap 37 (he slowed and pitted because he thought he had a flat tire) to finish ninth and DIRTcar Modified standout Dale Planck of Homer, N.Y., rounded out the top 10.
Planck, who made his first WoO LMS start of the season in a dirt Late Model fielded by the same team for which he drives DIRTcar Big-Block and 358-Modifieds, earned the $500 'Bonus Bucks' cash for being the highest-finishing driver who has never won a WoO A-Main and isn't ranked among the top 12 in the series points standings.
Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who won last year's WoO LMS A-Main at Rolling Wheels, was running fifth on lap 12 when he dropped out due to an apparent burnt piston in his car's engine.
Eckert was quickest in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, clicking off a lap of 19.266 seconds. It was his fourth fast-time honor of 2011, tying him with Lanigan for the lead in the category.
Heat winners were Richards, Stone and Fuller. Ross Robinson of Georgetown, Del., who has worked as WoO LMS rookie John Lobb's chief mechanic since mid-May, captured the B-Main.
The WoO LMS will return to action on Wed., Oct. 13, contesting the annual World of Outlaws Late Model Showdown at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (4) Rick Eckert/50 $11,325
2. (1) Dan Stone/50 $5,050
3. (6) Josh Richards/50 $4,150
4. (3) Austin Hubbard/50 $3,550
5. (2) Tim Fuller/50 $3,050
6. (8) Shane Clanton/50 $2,750
7. (10) Chub Frank/50 $2,450
8. (12) Vic Coffey/50 $2,350
9. (14) Tim McCreadie/50 $2,350
10. (15) Dale Planck/50 $1,600
11. (13) Ricky Elliott/50 $1,050
12. (5) Pat Doar/50 $2,300
13. (11) Russell King/49 $950
14. (16) Ron Davies/49 $1,950
15. (22) Dave Zona/49 $850
16. (18) John Lobb/48 $800
17. (23) Chad Hollenbeck/47 $770
18. (24) Alan Fink/40 $750
19. (19) Lee Gill/34 $730
20. (9) Clint Smith/23 $1,750
21. (22) Rick 'Boom' Briggs/23 $700
22. (7) Darrell Lanigan/12 $1,850
23. (19) Ross Robinson/8 $700
24. (21) Alan Sagi/4 $725
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 21 Mins., 22.174 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 3.483 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 1 (Lap 37)
Lap Leaders: Fuller (1-33); Eckert (34-50)
Provisional Starters: Hollenbeck, Fink
Rookie of the Race: Doar ($250)
WoO LMS 'Bonus Bucks' Winner: Planck ($500)
Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 19.266
2. 19H-Austin Hubbard/Seaford, DE 19.282
3. 11-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 19.283
4. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 19.292
5. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 19.324
6. 2-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 19.374
7. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 19.380
8. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 19.447
9. 25-Shane Clanton/Fayetteville, GA 19.451
10. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 19.468
11. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 19.577
12. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 19.578
13. 71d-Ron Davies/Warren, PA 19.688
14. 77x-Dale Planck/Homer, NY 19.740
15. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 19.750
16. 88-Ricky Elliott/Seaford, DE 19.767
17. 1L-John Lobb/Frewsburg, NY 19.880
18. 99B-Rick 'Boom' Briggs/Bear Lake, PA 19.881
19. 15-Alan Fink/Central Square, NY 20.096
20. 7R-Ross Robinson/Georgetown, DE 20.101
21. 4ds-Chad Hollenbeck/Kingsley, PA 20.110
22. 7-Lee Gill/Lafargeville, NY 20.419
23. 66x-Carey Terrance/Akwesasne, NY 20.496
24. 24J-Jon Rohacevich/Prattsville, NY 20.548
25. 13b-Alan Sagi/Hagerstown, MD 20.679
26. 25B-Greg Belyea/Frankford, ONT 20.898
27. R1-Dale Caswell/Central Square, NY 21.733
28. 70-Michael Trapp/Gouverneur, NY 21.748
29. 29P-Philip Potts/Frankford, ONT 22.093
30. 98-Rick Miller/Fulton, NY 22.144
31. 99z-Dave Zona/Montrose, PA N/T
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Richards, Eckert, Lanigan, Frank, Elliott, Davies, Gill, Sagi, Zona, Fink, Trapp
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Stone, Doar, Clanton, King, McCreadie, Briggs, Caswell, Miller, Rohacevich, Hollenbeck
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Fuller, Hubbard, Smith, Coffey, Planck, Lobb, Robinson, Belyea, Potts (DNS) Terrance
B-Main (12 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Robinson, Gill, Sagi, Zona, Hollenbeck, Potts, Trapp, Belyea, Miller, Fink, Rohacevich, Caswell (DNS) Terrance
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:
Arizona Sports Shirts ($100 apparel certificate to 22nd fastest qualifier): Jon Rohacevich
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main w/decal): Dan Stone
Comp Cams ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Comp Cams (certificate to 10th place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Pat Doar
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Dave Zona
JE Pistons ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
JE Pistons (one set of Pro Seal rings to 11th-place or next highest w/decal, redeemable w/next purchase of one complete set of rings): Pat Doar
MSD Ignition ($75 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to last-place in A-Main or next lowest w/decal): Alan Sagi
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash to fast qualifier or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place or next highest w/decal): Chub Frank
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place or next highest w/decal): John Lobb
R2C Performance ($100 certificate to highest-finishing driver w/decal or $100 cash if race winner is using R2C filter and decal is displayed): Rick Eckert (cash)
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Dan Stone
Superflow Dynos ($50 cash to 7th-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chub Frank
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to winner of Heat 1 or next highest w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
VP Racing Fuels 'Nice Jugs Award' (one five-gallon plastic fuel jugs to fastest qualifier who does not make the A-Main or next highest w/decal): Greg Belyea
WIX Filters ($50 cash to 13th-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Ron Davies
Wrisco Aluminum (Three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner w/decal): Josh Richards
2011 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Oct. 6 – 29 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
1. Rick Eckert 4078
2. Josh Richards 4056 (-22)
3. Darrell Lanigan 3922 (-156)
4. Tim McCreadie 3858 (-220)
5. Chub Frank 3790 (-288)
6. Shane Clanton 3772 (-306)
7. Austin Hubbard 3752 (-326)
8. Clint Smith 3708 (-370)
9. (tie) Vic Coffey 3606 (-472)
9. (tie) Tim Fuller 3606 (-472)
11. Pat Doar 3454 (-624)
12. Ron Davies 3336 (-742)
13. John Lobb 3164 (-914)
14. Jill George 2122 (-1956)
15. Jason Feger 1756 (-2322)
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), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award), McCarthy's One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award), Chizmark Larson Insurance, Factory Value Parts and RacingJunk.com; in addition to contingency sponsors Comp Cams, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filters and Wrisco Aluminum.