Rick Eckert parks "Hondo"
long enough to celebrate his Battleground Speedway win with wife Krystal.(Ron Skinner)
Eckert Scrubs Off Season's First Win on Battleground
By Sam Holbrooks
HOUSTON, Tex. - March 26. Slowed only by a half-dozen or so minor cautions, Rick Eckert, of York, Pa, found few
serious challenges en route to his first win of the season as the World of Outlaws Late Model Series returned to
the black gumbo oval at Mike Walling's Battleground Speedway.
Eckert started outside of pole winner Tim Fuller and grabbed the lead on lap one as Fuller momentarily gave up
the low side of the race track. From there
Rick Eckert at speed at Battleground Speedway. (Ron
on, Eckert commanded that groove and held off Fuller's best efforts to attack from the high side, using the
track's remaining "cushion".
Steve Francis and Darrell Lanigan logged into the third and fourth positions early on, with Tim McCreadie, Josh
Richards, and Austin Hubbard following as the track provided at least two solid racing grooves.
As Battleground's black mud began to glaze over down low, Eckert seemed only to get smoother, and appeared
unfazed as he approached the tail end of the field near lap ten. Eckert's paced was slowed for the first time by a
slowing #c28 of Kenny Merchant on lap 15 of the 50-lap affair.
With the restart, Francis battled his way to second, but it was short-lived as Fuller came roaring back to
retake the position, then after a lap 18 caution for a slowing Keith Foss, made his first serious attempt at
Eckert's lead. Francis, meanwhile, soon began to fade backwards.
After failing to qualify through preliminary action at Battleground, Billy Moyer blasted from his 19th
starting spot to finish fourth. (K.C.Rooney)
Lap 21 saw the only real contact between anyone in the field as Chub Frank spun and collected April Farmer and
Foss. Frank would take his mount to the infield a few laps later.
Fuller remained strong on restarts, but each time his high side momentum fell just short, and by the race's
midpoint, his attention turned to a hard charging Hubbard. Those two would exchange the second position several
times before Fuller's ownership of the spot appeared a bit more secure as the flagman replaced the "Delaware"
style restarts for a single file configuration. But, another Fuller slip handed second back to Hubbard and left
Fuller with his hands full of Lanigan in a fight for third.
By race's end, cautions would also reappear for Wendell Wallace on lap 26, Rob Litton on lap
30, Tony Knowles on lap 36, and Russell King on lap 37. Richards spun on the backstretch
with 13 to go, but he was spared a trip to the rear because Knowles, who had slowed just seconds before.
Richard would ultimately finish eighth.
That final restart saw Hubbard make a serious challenge for Eckert's lead, but the
final caution immediately came out, and Hubbard had shown his hand. Eckert had a relatively easy time of
it for the remainder, while Lanigan turned up the wick and put Fuller away, then captured second from Hubbard on
lap 48. Hubbard settled for third ahead of Fuller, while Billy Moyer, seemingly coming out of nowhere after
starting way back in 19th place, charged into fifth in a near photo-finish with Fuller.
Rick Eckert is joined in
Victory Lane by runner up Darrell Lanigan and third place Austin Hubbard after his Battleground Speedway WoO