- Aug. 20 - Merritt Speedway by Sam Holbrooks


Brady Smith at Merritt Speedway VL

Solon Springs, Wisconsin's Brady Smith returned to World of Outlaws action and captured Saturday's win at Merritt Speedway. (Steve Datema)

World of Outlaws: Brady Smith Sweeps to Merritt Checkers

Kevin Kovac

LAKE CITY, Mich. – Aug. 20. Brady Smith scrawled his name all over Saturday's first-ever World of Outlaws Late Model Series event at Merritt Raceway.

The 34-year-old driver from Solon Springs, Wis., was perfect at the quarter-mile oval, sweeping the program in convincing fashion. He set fast time, won a heat race and dominated the Lane Automotive/All-Star Performance 50 from start-to-finish.

Smith was never seriously challenged en route to his first WoO LMS triumph since Feb. 13, 2010, at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. It was his fourth career triumph overall on the national tour.

Jason Feger and Rick Eckert at Merritt Speedway

Jason Feger held down third place throughout at Merritt. while #24 Rick Eckert struggled after a B-Main entry and saw his points lead narrowed by Josh Richards. (Steve Datema)

"This was our first time here and it couldn't have gone any better," said Smith, who earned $10,050 for becoming the 11th different winner in 26 WoO LMS A-Mains this season. "We unloaded pretty fast, set fast time, won the heat, drew the pole and won the feature. That's a great night."

DIRTcar UMP standouts Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., and Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., chased Smith from the second and third positions, respectively, for the entire distance and finished in those spots. Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., started and finished fourth and two-time defending WoO LMS champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., advanced from the 12th starting spot to place fifth.

Richards, who reached fifth on a lap 39 restart when he slipped underneath Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., fell short of a series-record-tying fourth consecutive win but pulled within striking distance of points leader Rick Eckert of York, Pa. Eckert's season-worst 16th-place finish allowed Richards to slice his deficit in the standings from 50 to 28 points with nine events remaining on the '11 schedule.

Brady Smith at Merritt Speedway

Brady Smith sails out front at Merritt Speedway. (Steve Datema)
Eckert experienced a rare off night on the '11 tour, qualifying through a B-Main for the first time since March and finding himself a lap down to Smith on lap 12. A caution flag on lap 13 put him back on the lead lap thanks to the 'Outlaw Pardon,' but he was unable to take advantage of the break; after stopping on the track to bring out a caution on lap 23 and then pitting, he ran quietly at the back end of the top 20 and needed the final-lap miscue of Watertown, N.Y.'s Tim McCreadie, who slid off the track in turn four and relinquished 11th place, to salvage 16th.

Smith, who parked alongside Eckert in the pit area, had no such problems. He built leads of as much as three secondsover Erb during the 50-lapper before ultimately crossing the finish line with an 0.878 of a second margin.

Shane Clanton and Vic Coffey at Merritt Speedway
Shane Clanton and #32 Vic Coffey finished sixth and eighth, respectively. (Steve Datema)

"I didn't really know what anyone else had for tires, so I was trying to conserve yet still set a good pace," said Smith, who kicked off his 2011 season with back-to-back runner-up finishes in February's WoO LMS A-Mains at Volusia. "When I got to (lapped) traffic I thought I was getting through it pretty good, but some yellows certainly didn't hurt me. They got me open track again.

"Everything worked out for us," he continued. "With the way we've been running our program this year we're not hitting the road as much as we were and the $10,000 wins are hard to come by. It's been too long since we've had one, so we're happy to be in World of Outlaws Victory Lane. It's definitely an honor."

Erb, 38, was unable to pull close enough to threaten Smith.

"I thought I was gonna start closing on him a little bit when we got into lapped traffic, but then a caution came out and opened it up a little bit again," said Erb, who recorded his best finish in seven WoO LMS starts this season. "He rolled around there good when he got out in open track. I knew my tires were giving out at the end, so I was just holding on for second."

Josh Richards and Shane Clanton at Merritt Speedway World of Outlaws

Josh Richards (1) got by #25 Shane Clanton after a lap 39 restart to secure a fifth place finish. (Steve Datema)

Clanton settled for a sixth-place finish after hustling from the ninth starting spot to fifth by lap 24. Eighth-starter Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., climbed as high as fifth before slipping back to seventh at the checkered flag, while Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., placed eighth to move past Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., for ninth in the WoO LMS points standings; Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., finished ninth; and Jeep VanWormer of Pinconning, Mich., who started his career racing Street Stocks at Merritt, rounded out the top 10.

Richards kicked off the program with a victory in the 10-lap Merritt Raceway 'Race of Champions,' a special event reserved for former WoO LMS and Michigan dirt Late Model champions. He drew the pole position and led the entire distance, beating Lanigan to the checkered flag for a $1,000 bonus.

Aug. 20 - World of Outlaws at Merritt Speedway

1) Brady Smith, 2) Dennis Erb Jr., 3) Jason Feger, 4) Darrell Lanigan, 5) Josh Richards, 6) Shane Clanton, 7) Chub Frank, 8) Vic Coffey, 9) Austin Hubbard, 10) Jeep VanWormer, 11) Clint Smith, 12) Tim Fuller, 13) Pat Doar, 14) Eric Spangler, 15) David Hilliker, 16) Rick Eckert, 17) Dona Marcoullier, 18) Ron Davies, 19) Richard Neiser, 20) Tim McCreadie, 21) John Lobb (prov.), 22) Curtis Roberts, 23) Jill George (prov.), 24) Bob Hammar (prov.), 25) Jimmy Mars
Fast Time (46 entries): B. Smith (14.473); Heat winners: B. Smith, Feger, Erb, Frank. B-Main winners: Spangler, Doar

Jim Denhamer photo


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