Bobby Pierce - Russell King

Bobby Pierce's and Russell King's nights end early after an unfortunate incident at Lincoln Speedway during the "Land of Lincoln 50". (Randy Brown)

Drought Ends as Clanton Nips Richards In "Land of Lincoln 50" Photo-Finish

 Kevin Kovac

LINCOLN, Ill. - May 7. Shane Clanton ended his 13-month winless drought on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series in the most dramatic way possible. Taking advantage of a problem in lapped traffic that Josh Richards experienced on the final lap, Clanton jumped to the outside racing off turn four and beat

the defending tour champion to the finish line by mere inches to capture Friday's caution-free 'Land of Lincoln 50' at Lincoln Speedway.

Clint Smith - May 7

Georgia's Clint Smith garnered his first fast time award of the season prior to the  Lincoln Speedway "Land of Lincoln 50". (Randy Brown)

 Clanton, 34, of Locust Grove, Ga., appeared headed to a second-place finish after Richards used the inside groove to grab the lead on lap 43. But Richards scrubbed off significant speed when he tangled with a slower car entering turn three for the last time, opening the door for Clanton to steal his first WoO LMS triumph since April 4, 2009, at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway.

 "I'd rather be lucky than good any time," said Clanton, who snapped a 44-race winless streak with his 12th career victory on the WoO LMS. "We needed a win bad, so we'll take it any way we can get it."

The 22-year-old Richards finished second in his Rocket Chassis house car. Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, advanced from the 10th starting spot to place third, followed by Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who led laps 2-3 and ran second for much of the distance.

 Clanton, who started from the pole position with Richards alongside, wrestled the lead from McCreadie on lap four and built as much as a half-straightaway edge during the clean-and-all-green race. But Richards, who slipped as far

Richards - Babb - McCreadie

Josh Richards, #18 Shannon Babb, and #39 Tim MCCreadie go three-wide inside the top five with still some race track to spare at Lincoln Speedway. (Mike Ruefer)

back as fourth, found the extreme inside line to his liking after the halfway mark and steadily made his way toward Clanton's RSD Enterprises Rocket car.

 Richards caught Clanton on lap 42 and assumed command the following circuit, seemingly putting him in position for his series-leading third victory of 2010. Clanton was almost ready to concede the race to his young rival.

 "My car got to where it wouldn't steer a little in the middle of the corner, so I was having to hustle it," said Clanton. "I don't know if I sealed the right-front tire or something, but it was taking me the whole corner to steer in. When Josh got by me, he could get in the gas sooner and he just started driving away from us."

 Opportunity presented itself to Clanton on the final lap, however, in the form of a pack of four slower cars running tightly in front of the leader. Richards, who had nearly a half-straightaway advantage over Clanton, momentarily came

Josh Richards' (#1) little hiccup in last-lap traffic was just the break Shane Clanton needed to catapult his #25 into the lead and his first win in more than a year of racing. (Mike Ruefer)

together with the machine driven by Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., on the inside of turn three and lost too much speed to stave off Clanton.

 "They went down the racetrack together and they he was," Clanton said of the lapped traffic that blocked Richards's path to the checkered flag. "It stopped his momentum just enough for me to catch up and pass him.

 "I seen him get in the gas and spin the tires hard off (turn) four, but I had a run and said, 'Just be smooth and don't spin the tires.' We just beat him to the line."

 Richards was gracious in defeat. He interrupted the post-race ceremonies to congratulate Clanton on becoming the 10th different winner in 11 WoO LMS A-Mains this season.

 Clanton's victory, worth $10,575, also was his first since a late-January/early-February hospital stay for treatment of a serious thumb infection.

 "I didn't know how far ahead I was," said Richards. "I thought maybe I'd creep around the bottom underneath that 24 car (Unzicker) and clear him going down the backstraightaway, but I didn't get enough of a run and I slowed way up. Then he came down and we just got hooked. I was stopped almost before I could get going again.

 "It was one of those deals. We had an awesome car and everyone did a great job, but we just weren't meant to win tonight."

 Richards's runner-up finish did move him back into a tie for the WoO LMS points lead with McCreadie, who led the standings by just four markers entering the evening's program.

 Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., broke out of a close-running pack to finish sixth. Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., charged from the 18th starting spot to place seventh, followed by Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., who ran in the top five for much of the distance; Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., who started fourth and ran as high as third; and sixth-starter Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky.

 Thirty-nine cars were signed in for the event, which was run on under brisk, chilly weather conditions.

 Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., was quickest in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, lapping the black-clay oval in 12.977 seconds to register his first fast-time honor of the 2010 season.

 Heat winners were Richards, McCreadie, Clanton and Hubbard. Rick Eckert of York, Pa., and Fuller captured the B-Mains.

Birkhofer - Francis

Brian Birkhofer added another strong finish to his resume' with third place after putting away #15 Steve Francis at Lincoln Speedway. (Mike Ruefer)

WoO Finish - May 7

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