- Feb 8 - Dirtcar Nationals - Volusia Speedway Park Part 1 by Sam Holbrooks

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Lanigan - Birkhofer

Union, Kentucky's Darrell Lanigan finds a low route around the Volusia Speedway Park oval to hold off a high flying Brian Birkhofer for a big win at the Daytona area track. (Mike Ruefer photo)  

Lanigan Off To Strong Start With Opening Night WoO Victory at Volusia

By Kevin Kovac

BARBERVILLE, FL - Feb. 8, 2010 - Darrell Lanigan won't be a bridesmaid during the 39th annual DIRTcar Nationals by University of Northwestern Ohio.

The standout racer from Union, Ky., made sure of that on Monday night, scoring a hard-fought victory in the 30-lap UMP Late Model A-Main that opened the meet's full-fender action at Volusia Speedway Park.

Lanigan, 39, outdueled Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Ia., to pocket a $7,000 top prize -- almost exactly one year after finishing second in the first event of the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH. He went on to record two more runner-up finishes in the remaining five nights of the 2009 series.

Lanigan - winner

Darrell Lanigan takes his place in the winner's circle on the first night of "DIRTCar Nationals" racing at Volusia Speedway Park. (Dan Fennell photo)  

"It feels good to get a win right out of the box this year," said Lanigan, the 2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion. "But we didn't do anything real different from last year. We just made some little tweaks and got some breaks."

Driving a car he debuted late in the 2009 season, Lanigan used the inside lane to move forward from the fifth starting spot and grab the lead from Birkhofer on lap 14. Birkhofer regained command on lap 16, but Lanigan surged ahead on lap 19 and repelled late-race challenges in lapped traffic from Owens and Birkhofer to emerge victorious.

Owens settled for second place, 0.582 of a second behind Lanigan after his high-side bid rounding turns three and four on the final lap fell short. He started seventh in his Team Zero by Bloomquist machine.

Birkhofer finished third in his MB Customs car after leading laps 1, 3-13 and 16-18 in the wildly competitive affair, which included five lead changes among three drivers.

Completing the top five was 17th-starter Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., and eighth-starter Dan Schlieper of Sullivan, Wis.

"The car was awesome and the track was perfect tonight," said Lanigan, who made his first start of 2010 in preparation for his seventh consecutive season as a WoO LMS regular. "You could race all over it -- so hat's off to the Volusia Speedway track crew, and hat's off to my crew too."

Owens, a four-time DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion, wasn't disappointed with his second-place finish.

"To race like that with Lanigan and Birkhofer -- man, that was fun," said Owens. "It was a great race."

Birkhofer, meanwhile, came through his first appearance of the season with a good idea of what he should have done to his machine.

"We thought one thing and should've done the other," said Birkhofer, who didn't plan to enter the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH until less than two weeks
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