Rick and Krystal Eckert

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 Gumbo

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

Rick Eckert at speed at Battleground Speedway. (Ron Skinner)

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.

Billy Moyer

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.  

Lanigan - Eckert - Hubbard

Rick Eckert is joined in Victory Lane by runner up Darrell Lanigan and third place Austin Hubbard after his Battleground Speedway WoO win.(Ron Skinner)

Battleground Speedway finish

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