Barberville,FL — BARBERVILLE, FL – Feb. 8, 2010 – Darrell Lanigan won’t be a bridesmaid during the 39th annual DIRTcar Nationals by University of Northwestern Ohio.
The standout racer from Union, Ky., made sure of that on Monday night, scoring a hard-fought victory in the 30-lap UMP Late Model A-Main that opened the meet’s full-fender action at Volusia Speedway Park.
Lanigan, 39, outdueled Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, to pocket a $7,000 top prize – almost exactly one year after finishing second in the first event of the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH. He went on to record two more runner-up finishes in the remaining five nights of the 2009 series.
“It feels good to get a win right out of the box this year,” said Lanigan, the 2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion. “But we didn’t do anything real different from last year. We just made some little tweaks and got some breaks.”
Driving a Rocket Chassis car he debuted late in the 2009 season, Lanigan used the inside lane to move forward from the fifth starting spot and grab the lead from Birkhofer on lap 14. Birkhofer regained command on lap 16, but Lanigan surged ahead on lap 19 and repelled late-race challenges in lapped traffic from Owens and Birkhofer to emerge victorious.
Owens settled for second place, 0.582 of a second behind Lanigan after his high-side bid rounding turns three and four on the final lap fell short. He started seventh in his Team Zero by Bloomquist machine.
Birkhofer finished third in his MB Customs car after leading laps 1, 3-13 and 16-18 in the wildly competitive affair, which included five lead changes among three drivers.
Completing the top five was 17th-starter Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., and eight-starter Dan Schlieper of Sullivan, Wis.
“The car was awesome and the track was perfect tonight,” said Lanigan, who made his first start of 2010 in preparation for his seventh consecutive season as a WoO LMS regular. “You could race all over it – so hat’s off to the Volusia Speedway track crew, and hat’s off to my crew too.”
Owens, a four-time DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion, wasn’t disappointed with his second-place finish.
“To race like that with Lanigan and Birkhofer – man, that was fun,” said Owens. “It was a great race.”
Birkhofer, meanwhile, came through his first appearance of the season with a good idea of what he should have done to his machine.
“We thought one thing and should’ve done the other,” said Birkhofer, who didn’t plan to enter the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH until less than two weeks ago. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the week. It’s an awesome racetrack, and you’re gonna have to get your car right if you want to win.”
Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., finished sixth after starting 20th, followed by Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark., who started from the pole position and led lap two, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y.
Two cautions flags slowed the feature – on lap five for a spin by Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., and lap 10 for the slow car driven by Tommy Kerr of Maryville, Tenn.
Sixty-seven cars entered the evening’s action.
Owens turned the best overall lap of the evening’s group time-trial session, blistering the sweeping track in 15.962 seconds.
Other group fast-timers included Kyle Berck of Marquette, Neb. (16.360), Erb (16.268), McCreadie (16.347), Will Vaught of Crane, Mo. (16.328) and Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark. (16.704).
Heat winners were Sullivan, Birkhofer, Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., Jordan Bland of Campbellsville, Ky., Lanigan and Ross Camponovo of Clarksdale, Miss., who pulled off an impressive prelim triumph in his first-ever start at Volusia. The B-Mains were captured by Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., Pearson and Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa.
The 39th annual DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH continue on Tuesday (Feb. 9) with a DIRTcar UMP Late Model/Modified doubleheader. Race time is 7:30 p.m.
DIRTcar UMP Late Model A-Main Finish (30 laps):
1. Darrell Lanigan
2. Jimmy Owens
3. Brian Birkhofer
4. Billy Moyer
5. Dan Schlieper
6. Earl Pearson Jr.
7. Tim McCreadie
8. Jack Sullivan
9. Dennis Erb Jr.
10. Tim Fuller
11. Dale McDowell
12. Josh Richards
13. Jason Feger
14. Vic Coffey
15. Rick Eckert
16. Rick Briggs
17. Brady Smith
18. Clint Smith
19. Steve Francis
20. Tommy Kerr
21. Jordan Bland
22. Tyler Ivey
23. Eric Jacobsen
24. Ross Camponovo
Lap Leaders: Birkhofer (1); Sullivan (2); Birkhofer (3-13); Lanigan (14-15); Birkhofer (16-18); Lanigan (19-30)
Heat No. 1 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Jack Sullivan, 2. Jimmy Owens, 3. Rick Eckert, 4. Jason Feger, 5. Jason McBride, 6. John Blankenship, 7. Dan Stone, 8. Mike Knight, 9. Ronnie Rihn, 10. Chuck Julien, 11. Steve Sheppard Jr. (DNS) Brandon Kinzer
Heat No. 2 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Brian Birkhofer, 2. Dan Schlieper, 3. Tim Fuller, 4. Justin Rattliff, 5. Dale McDowell, 6. Eric Wells, 7. Kyle Berck, 8. Dave Zona, 9. Dillan White, 10. Danny Mitchell (DNS) Brent Robinson
Heat No. 3 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Vic Coffey, 2. Dennis Erb Jr., 3. Josh Richards, 4. Brady Smith, 5. Ricky Weiss, 6. Bub McCool, 7. Russell King, 8. Chub Frank, 9. Tim Dohm, 10. Brandon Sheppard, 11. Mason Ziegler
Heat No. 4 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Jordan Bland, 2. Tim McCreadie, 3. Steve Francis, 4. Earl Pearson Jr., 5. Eddie Carrier Jr., 6. Brad Neat, 7. Austin Hubbard, 8. Dwight Falcon, 9. Jonathan DeHaven, 10. Darren Peters (DNS) Jeff Phipps
Heat No. 5 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Darrell Lanigan, 2. Billy Moyer, 3. Tyler Ivey, 4. Clint Smith, 5. Ronnie DeHaven Jr., 6. Randy Korte, 7. Whitney McQueary, 8. Will Vaught, 9. Tyler Bruening, 10. Stacy Boles, 11. Wendell Wallace
Heat No. 6 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Ross Camponovo, 2. Eric Jacobsen, 3. Tommy Kerr, 4. Rick Briggs, 5. Jared Landers, 6. Jeff Beyers, 7. Joe Callahan, 8. Kevin Colston, 9. Donald Beyers, 10. Mike Hammerle (DNS) Tyler Reddick
B-Main No. 1 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Feger, McDowell, Stone, Rattliff, Blankenship, Berck, Wells, Knight, Zona, S. Sheppard, McBride, Kinzer, White, Rihn, Julien, Mitchell (DNS) Robinson
B-Main No. 2 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Pearson, B. Smith, Neat, Carrier, McCool, Dohm, Hubbard, Frank, B. Sheppard, Peters, Ziegler, J. DeHaven, Falcon, Weiss, King (DNS) Phipps
B-Main No. 3 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Briggs, C. Smith, Korte, R. DeHaven, Wallace, J. Beyers, Bruening, Boles, Callahan, McQueary, D. Beyers, Colston, Reddick, Hammerle, Vaught (DNS) Landers