Darrell Lanigan

Darrell Lanigan in Victory Lane at Ocala Speedway. (Rick Warren)

Lanigan Holds On For Victory In Tense World of Outlaws Inaugural At Ocala Speedway

By Kevin Kovac

OCALA, Fla. - March 19. Darrell Lanigan didn't catch his breath until reaching Victory Lane on Friday night at Ocala Speedway.

In a tense battle that had a standing-room-only crowd cheering, Lanigan repelled several rivals to capture the inaugural 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main at the unique three-eighths-mile oval in central Florida.

"That was pretty exciting," said Lanigan, who wasn't headed after grabbing the

McCreadie - Lanigan

Tim McCreadie looks underneath leader Darrell Lanigan during World of Outlaws action at Ocala Speedway, but he'd have to settle for second to the Kentucky ace. (Rick Warren)

lead on lap three but never got far enough ahead to relax. "This is a real tricky racetrack, so all it took was one mistake and somebody was gonna pass you. Luckily we were just able to hold on."

Lanigan, 39, of Union, Ky., fought hard from start-to-finish in his self-owned Rocket car, turning back especially strong challenges from teenage WoO LMS rookie contender Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., and 2006 tour champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., to emerge triumphant. The 2008 WoO LMS titlist pocketed $10,600 for his 13th career win on the national tour.

McCreadie, 35, settled for second place in the Sweeteners Plus Rocket, finishing 1.893 seconds behind Lanigan. The 18-year-old Hubbard placed third in Dale Beitler's Rocket – his career-best finish in World of Outlaws action – followed by defending WoO LMS champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.V. in the Rocket Chassis house car and 13th-starter Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., in his self-owned Rocket mount.

Lanigan, who started third, overtook hometown favorite Ivedent Lloyd of Ocala, Fla., for the lead heading down the backstretch of the egg-shaped track on lap three. He spent the remainder of the distance waiting for drivers to come knocking on his door.

"I kept looking on the (score) board and there was somebody different behind me every lap," said Lanigan, who registered his first victory on the WoO LMS since July 14, 2009, at Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway. "I was like, 'What's going on back there?' All I could do was run as hard as I could and try to stay in front."

Darrell Lanigan - Ocala

Darrell Lanigan rolls to his second win of the season and his second in Florida on
the World of Outlaws tour, this time at Ocala Speedway. (Rick Warren)

Hubbard was the first to threaten Lanigan, sailing around the outside of Richards to steal second on a lap-18 restart and almost immediately catching the leader. The teenager drove to the outside of Lanigan on the backstretch working lap 22 and appeared ready to take the lead, but he slipped high rounding turn four and lost second to McCreadie moments later.

"We had the lead for about point-four seconds," said Hubbard, who started sixth and earned the $250 Rookie of the Race prize. "I just completely drove into three and four too deep. I was a little overzealous."

McCreadie took up the chase of Lanigan and slipped inside the 'Bluegrass Bandit' several times, including one bid while working lapped traffic between turns one and two on lap 45. But Lanigan had sufficient speed running the top lane to turn back the challenge.

"I think we were a little softer than everybody else on tires and I was pretty dead there on the bottom," said Lanigan. "So I moved up (on the track), found a momentum line and stayed out front. I don't even remember seeing (McCreadie) inside me."

McCreadie settled for his third top-five finish in as many WoO LMS events this season, moving him to second in the points standings, just two points behind Richards.

"I pushed the right-front (tire) off," said McCreadie, who started second but slipped back to fourth early in the event. "As it got hot (the car) just wouldn't

Hubbard - McCreadie

Austin Hubbard helps polesitter Tim McCreadie bring the field to speed at Ocala before settling into a third place at the finish of the World of Outlaws sanctioned event. (Rick Warren)

steer down there on the bottom, so it would push real bad and I'd have to drive across the track. That's what happened when I got under Darrell – I just slowed down too much and lost too much ground."

Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., came on late in the distance to finish sixth after starting 17th. Young Tyler Ivey of Tallahassee, Fla., started and finished seventh to earn the $500 WoO LMS 'Bonus Bucks' cash for the top finisher who hasn't won a tour A-Main and isn't ranked among the top 12 in the points standings. Lloyd led laps 1-2 but gradually faded and settled for eighth, ahead of Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., who relinquished the WoO LMS points lead, and Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., who made his first competitive run of the season after a thumb infection forced him to merely take the green flag and park his car in last month's first two events of 2010.

Four caution flags slowed the race – two for slow cars (14-year-old Christian Auspurger of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on lap 18 and Justin Tilton of Dunnellon, Fla., on lap 26) and two for incidents (a turn-four tangle involving Tilton and Jill George of Cedar Falls, Iowa, on lap five and a crash that eliminated Jordan Bland of Campbellsville, Ky., on lap 32).

A field of 26 cars entered the event, which was contested under clear, comfortable conditions.

Lloyd, who won dirt Late Model championships at Ocala in 1992 and 1993, showed his knowledge of the oddly-shaped layout when he earned his first-ever WoO LMS fast-time honor during Ohlins Shocks Qualifying. His blistering lap of 15.399 seconds was nearly a half-second faster than second-place Richards.

Heat winners were Lloyd, Richards and Lanigan, and J.R. Hotovy of Covert, Mich., captured the B-Main.

World of Outlaws Finish - Ocala Speedway

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