James over Lanigan in Florence Slugfest
UNION, Ky. – July 23. If the King
Family, promoters of Florence Speedway wanted to sell more tickets to next month’s Sunoco Race Fuels
"North/South 100", then Saturday was a golden opportunity as Scott James of Lawrenceburg, Ind. and Darrell
Lanigan of Union, Ky. put on a race-long battle for the lead that came down to the checkered flag, with James
sliding across the finish line and into the frontstretch retaining wall.
James took the lead for good from Lanigan
on lap 45 of the 50-lap “North-South Tune-up”, and as the two exited turn four on the final lap, the cars of
Rod Conley and Bill Blair, Jr. were directly in front of the duo as Lanigan pulled even with James. James was
able to get to the finish line first only after hitting the back of Blair’s car, which sent James headlong
into the wall. James’ car had to be towed from victory lane.
The race-long battle between the two who
grew up watching and eventually racing at the famed half-mile oval saw pole sitter Jesse Lay grabbed the lead
at the start of the $5,000 to win main event, but Lay would only lead a lap until fellow front row starter
James was able to seize the lead.
Lanigan, who was driving his nephew
Terry’s Rocket no. 28 moved into second on lap three just ahead of Lay, Mike Jewell, and Josh
McGuire. James and Lanigan then got the crowd fired
up as the two would go on a race-long pace that was filled with slide jobs, paint-swapping and wall banging
that kept everyone’s interest for all 50 circuits.
James and Lanigan would hit
traffic by lap 15, which did not slow either one’s attempts at passing each other. As James got trapped behind a car on lap 21, Lanigan went to the inside of James heading
into turn three and the two made heavy contact.
Lanigan would gain the lead as it took
James a lap or two to make sure his car was going to make it the rest of the way.During this time, Jewell
closed quickly on James and pressured him for second.
The top three pulled away from the rest of
the field and run nose-to-tail with 28 laps scored. Then two laps later, James powered to the lead around
Lanigan, but a caution flag would negate the pass for the top spot.
On the restart Lanigan remained on the
point and for the rest of the race, good hard racing would continue. James threw a "slider" on Lanigan twice
in the next five circuits after the race went green, but each time Lanigan would fight back and regain the
James then stalked Lanigan as James would
throw another slide job in turn four on lap 45 on Lanigan and that would end up being the winning
“I didn’t know he was
there,” said James of the contact between the two on lap 21. “I was
behind (Tim) Prince and I thought I was low enough to pass him, and there comes Darrell, he hit me pretty good,
I thought I broke a shock or something, it took me a couple of laps to regain my thoughts,” said the 39-year-old
second generation racer.
After the race the two exchanged
handshakes at the scales. “He apologized to me afterwards and that’s good enough for me, I think I had a
harder left rear tire on, the track was fast up high, I thought when I cleared him that one time, I had him,
but then he came back and re-passed me, and with five to go, I thought it was time to go, I had enough
patience there to get back by him,” said James.
“My Lucas Oil experience
has helped me over the years,” said the winner commenting on the five years he spent racing on the tour, “the
Lucas Oil racing and the Summernationals this year you have to learn to be patient. I have to thank Scott Riggs.
Without him, I wouldn’t be able to
race, we are having a pretty good year, to come here in a couple of weeks and win the North/South would be the
highlight of my career, no doubt about it.”
Lanigan, who settled for second, said "it
was just some good old hard racing. I got into him there early on, I had a run down the back stretch, he
didn’t know I was there and I came down there and jumped over his left front tire, that wasn’t the way I
wanted to pass him. He had a good car, probably the best one out there,” said the 41-year-old driver, who
like James will be searching for his first career N"orth/South 100" win in a few weeks.
It was James’ third overall win of 2011 in
the Riggs Motorsports, Clearwave Communications, Valken Wheels, VP Fuels, Integra Racing Shocks, Murphy
Motorsports, JFR Grahics, Jay Dickens Racing Engines, Rocket Chevrolet.
Trailing the two frontrunners were
Hoosier-state drivers Jewell of Scottsburg, and fast qualifier John Gill of Mitchell. Brad Neat of
Dunnville, Ky. finished fifth and was the hard charger of the race, passing 11 cars after starting
July 23 - Florence Speedway North South Tuneup
1) Scott James, 2) Darrell Lanigan, 3) Mike Jewell, 4) John
Gill, 5) Brad Neat, 6) Josh Williams, 7) Dustin Neat, 8) Jason Jameson, 9) Eddie Carrier Jr., 10) Greg
Johnson, 11) Steve Casebolt, 12) Chad Smith, 13) Rod Conley, 14) Bill Blair Jr., 15) Jeff Alsip, 16)
Jim Price, 17) Kent Robinson, 18) Tim Prince, 19) Jerry Rice, 20) Steve Landrum, 21) David Spille, 22)
Josh McGuire, 23) Jesse Lay, 24) Duane Chamberlain, 25) Cody Mahoney
Fast Time (34 entries):
Gill (16.657); Heat winners: Lay, James, Lanigan; B-Main winner: Carrier
Jimmy Dearing photo