- June 17 - Merrittville Speedway by Sam Holbrooks


Jason Fuller - Merrittville VL

Actors from the "Oh Canada, Eh?" Dinner Theatre in nearby Niagara Falls made a unique victory lane appearance with Tim Fuller at Thorold. (Cory Stivason)

Fuller's Hot In the Great North With Merrittville WoO Win

By Kevin Kovac

THOROLD, ONT - June 17, 2010 - When Tim Fuller gets hot, he gets red hot.Just 48 hours after breaking down the door to Victory Lane in 2010, Fuller was back on Thursday, rolling to his second straight World of Outlaws Late Model Series triumph in the "Oh Canada Eh 50" at Merrittville Speedway. Fuller, 42, of Watertown, N.Y., passed Steve Francis for the lead on lap 29 and never looked back in the tour's first-ever visit to the Niagara Frontier track.

He pocketed $10,500 for his 12th career win on the WoO LMS, eight of whichhave come as part of win streaks, including two sets of back-to-back victories and his record-tying four consecutive wins last year.

"It's weird how things work out sometimes," said Fuller, who recorded his first win of the season in the "Great Northern Tour" opener on Tuesday at his hometrack, Can-Am Motorsports Park in Lafargeville, N.Y. "We"re definitely going good right now, but it was such a struggle to get here. Maybe now we're on to something and can keep it up".”

John Lobb set fast time at Merrittville, but blew an engine in his heat race and was sidelined for the night. (Jason Shank)

Rick Eckert of York, Pa., slid by Francis for second on lap 32, but never got close enough to threaten Fuller. The 44-year-old steered his Team Zero by Bloomquist car across the finish line 2.368 seconds behind Fuller's Gypsum Racing Rocket.

Rookie Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., who started sixth, finished one second behind Eckert in third place after slipping by polesitter Darrell Lanigan for the position on a lap-40 restart. Lanigan, who led laps 1-6 before being overtaken by Francis, settled for fourth, and Francis faded to fifth at the finish.

Fuller, who previously competed at Merrittville in DIRTcar big-block an 358-Modified events, but never won a feature there, didn't reach the promisedland

Shane Clanton leans hard on second running Tim Fuller in one of four heat races at Merrittville. (Jason Shank)
before experiencing a scare. The powerplant from the Gypsum Express team's in-house engine program sucked an intake gasket during hot laps, sending him into full scramble mode to make repairs in time for qualifying.

"I didn't know if we were gonna' get it together", said Fuller. "We had Francis, Clint (Smith) and my guys all digging in to get it fixed while I was trying to tighten the car up for time trials. We dropped a bunch of silicone on (theintake) so I could qualify, and then when I came back in we cut up a couple of gaskets and kind of cobbed it up.

"It worked - it's not sucking air. But for peace of mind I want to get it fixed right when we get back to the states. We're not motor builders.” Fuller did credit his team's resident engine constructor, Kevlar's Kevin Lamphere, with making changes to squeeze more much-needed power from the motor he used at Can-Am and Merrittville. He said his biggest struggle this season has been getting his new engine deal on the right track.

“We got a good motor now,” said Fuller. “We sent this one back after Virginia (Motor Speedway’s Commonwealth 100 in mid-April) and he put a new cam in it. It really livened it up. I don't know how much yet, but we're gonna' find out at (Autodrome) Drummond (on Sat., June 19) because that place usually is heavy.

"I know it really drives real good on these black-slick tracks,"”Fuller added. "This is the kind of track I was brought up on so I know what you have to do on these types of places".”

Fuller, who started fourth, mastered the D-shaped, one-third-mile oval to overcome Francis for the lead. After having two potential passes wiped out by successive caution flags on lap 22, Fuller finally surged underneath Francisrounding turns one and two to assume command for good on lap 29.

Tim McCreadie races #25 Shane Clanton for fifth place at Merrittville. McCreadie's sixth place slightly narrowed the gap between himself and ninth finishing Josh Richards in series points. (Cory Stivason)

"He was just hanging on the top because he had the wrong tire on,"”Fuller said of Francis, who chose a compound that was too soft to last. I could just dive down right through the black in the middle and drive by him".”

While Fuller wasn't quite as dominant as he was in winning at Can-Am, hewasn't challenged once he gained control of the race. Eckert couldn't stay with Fuller after the A-Main's sixth and final caution flag on lap 40 for Chub Frank, who slowed with right-front suspension damage while battling for a top-10 position.

"I'm just happy to finish second,"”said the fifth-starting Eckert, who recorded just his fourth top-five finish of 2010. "We didn't have anything for Fuller. Hewas just too good tonight".”

Fuller's performance made him the center of a unique post-race scene, featuring actors from the Oh Canada Eh! Dinner Theatre show in nearby Niagara Falls, Ont. The performers posed for photos with Fuller dressed in a variety of Canada-themed costumes, including a Royal Mountie who presented Fuller with an eye-catching, custom CNC-machined trophy.

"Anytime a track does something special like that, it's neat,"”Fuller said of the Victory Lane ceremony. "That trophy alone was amazing. That's not just some plastic trophy; that's something you want to display".

"But Pete (Bicknell, the DIRTcar 358-Modified superstar, chassis builder andco-owner of Merrittville Speedway) does it right. He's got a good facility, andwhen you come here you know the whole deal is gonna' be done right. Itmakes you want to come back again".”

John Lobb of Frewsburg, N.Y., pulled off the upset of the night, topping the 27-car field in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials with a lap of 15.408 seconds. But after registering his first career WoO LMS fast-time honor Lobb's night took a disastrous turn during the first heat; he relinquished the lead on lap eightwhen his car's engine belched smoke and flames heading down the backstretch, forcing him to scratch from the remainder of the program.

World of Outlaws - Merrittville Speedway - June 17th

1) Tim Fuller, 2) Rick Eckert, 3) Austin Hubbard, 4) Darrell Lanigan, 5) Steve Francis, 6) Tim McCreadie, 7) Dan Stone, 8) Brent Robinson, 9) Josh Richards, 10) Shane Clanton, 11) Clint Smith, 12) Russell King, 13) Greg Oakes, 14) Peter Mantha Jr., 15) Ed Carley, 16) April Farmer, 17) Darren Peters, 18) Jill George (prov.), 19) Andrew Reaume, 20) Mike Lewis, 21) Jeff Dayman, 22) Chub Frank, 23) Gregg Haskell, 24) Greg Belyea (prov.)

Top Qualifier (27 entries): John Lobb (15.408); Heat Winners: Smith, Hubbard, Lanigan; B-Main: Jeff Dayman.

Cory Stivason photo 

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Updated 11/17/10

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