Clanton Breaks Through With $30,000 "Firecracker 100" Win
SARVER, Pa. - June 26. There were wildly contrasting emotions displayed by the top two finishers in the
fourth annual "Firecracker 100" at Lernerville Speedway. The race served as a satisfying and lucrative
breakthrough for Shane Clanton, and another frustrating disappointment for Lanigan, who was left to
sulk after once again falling just short of victory in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series mega-event for
the third time.
Clanton, 34, of Locust Grove, Ga., was the star of the show, racing to a signature triumph worth $30,500
that he can put alongside his 2008 "World
Shane Clanton made big gains toward climbing back to his position among the ranks of the
nation's top racers with his big win at Lernerville. (Cory Stivason)
100" score at Ohio's Eldora Speedway. He steered his RSD Enterprises Rocket car past Tim McCreadie of
Watertown, N.Y., for the lead on lap 73 and went on to cross the finish line 1.007 seconds ahead of Lanigan, who
settled for a runner-up finish for the third consecutive year in this event.
"To get a win at Lernerville, it's a pretty good feeling," said Clanton, who was a serious contender for
victory in two of the previous three Firecracker 100s, but never finished better than sixth (2007). "The place has
been bad to me (he suffered a separated left shoulder at the track in 2005), and now it's good to me, so I love
Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., who won last year's Firecracker 100, finished third after starting 10th. McCreadie
slipped to fourth at the checkered flag after leading laps 20-72.
Eventual third finisher Jimmy Mars makes some contact with #17m Dale McDowell as he cuts
down to get by early front runner Brady Smith. McDowell stayed in the fight to finish
fifth. (Cory Stivason)
Clanton, who started fifth, reached second place on lap on lap 22 and spent the next 50 circuits chasing
McCreadie. He made several bids for the lead, but wasn't successful until lap 73, when he sailed around the outside
of McCreadie following the race's third and final caution period one lap earlier for Steve Shaver, who started from
the outside pole but was never a factor.
"I felt we had a better race car (than McCreadie)," said Clanton, who registered his second WoO LMS win of 2010 and
the 13th of his career. "But we got to scrambling there a little bit when I got to him, he's turning left, and I
get to the top and he's turning right. I was biding my time there, so I was glad the caution came out.
"I chose the outside (of the second row behind McCreadie in the Delaware-style restart alignment) just to try and
get a run on him. He left me the whole outside there and I took advantage of it."
The A-Main stayed green to the finish and Clanton was never challenged over the remaining distance, but he did have
some anxious moments after Lanigan overtook McCreadie for second on lap 82. Lanigan appeared primed to make a
late-race charge that would erase his bitter memories of leading a combined 150 laps in the last two Firecrackers
100s, only to be passed for the lead late by eventual winners Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, in 2008 and Mars
"I looked (at the infield scoreboard) and (Lanigan's) in second and Jonathan's telling me the lead's shrinking down
the backstraightaway," said Clanton, noting the signals he received from his crewman Jonathan Owenby. "So I said,
`Oh, I got to go now.' (Lanigan is) always good here, so yeah, I was worried about him."
"Unbelievable," Lanigan muttered while sitting on a concrete wall in the infield after climbing out of his car for
the post-race ceremonies. "I guess I'm not supposed to win this ------ ------- race".
After losing the lead to Tim McCreadie, #2 Brady Smith gives way to Darrell Lanigan, who took yet
another bridesmaid finish. (Cory Stivason)
"We had a good car again this year, but me and Clanton were so equal it was real hard to make up any ground.
We'd hit a good lap and catch him a little, and then he'd hit a good lap and get some space on me again."
McCreadie, 36, led more laps than any other driver after passing early leader Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis.,
who started from the pole position, on lap 20. But the 2006 WoO LMS champion and winner of Friday's 30-lap
preliminary A-Main was no match for Clanton once his car's handling began to falter after the halfway mark.
"I was good, not great, until then," said McCreadie, who didn't qualify for the 2009 Firecracker 100 after
barrel-rolling several times during a qualifying heat. "All of a sudden I couldn't steer at all. I couldn't keep it
in the traction that was around the bottom anymore."
McCreadie's car did sport a bashed-in right-side door from an encounter he had with Bub McCool while lapping the
Vicksburg, Miss., driver, but he doubted that the damage hampered his effort.
"I don't know if it affected the car or not, but I'm sure that's not why we lost," said a dejected McCreadie, who
blamed himself for the scrape with McCool. "Shane had the best car at the end, that's all. We have no excuses."
Mars, 38, was the highest-finishing driver behind Clanton who was actually satisfied with his outing.
An early three-wide fight between #9 Mike Knight, #19 Tim Fuller, and #44 Clint Smith at
Lernerville. (Cory Stivason)
"My tire combination wasn't really good on the restarts," said Mars, who grabbed third from McCreadie on lap 89.
"It took me a few laps to get going. We felt pretty good on long runs, but the car started feeling weird and laying
over (late in the distance) and was wondering what was going on. Here the right rear tire was going flat I started
wheel spinning to keep air in it, so I was happy to get third."
There were no major accidents in the Firecracker 100, which had only three caution flags and was completed in just
over 43 minutes.
Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., brought out the first caution flag when he spun on lap 18, and shortly after the restart
for Vaught's problem, inaugural Firecracker 100 winner Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., slowed to trigger a
yellow flag on lap 21. Bloomquist, who had come together with McCreadie on the homestretch while battling for
second on lap 19, pitted so his crew could check out his car's right-front corner. He returned and rallied to
Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., finished sixth, advancing from the 17th starting spot. Thursday's preliminary A-Main
winner Josh Richards started and finished seventh in a steady but quiet performance, followed by the sixth-starting
Bloomquist, 11th-starter Steve Francis, and Brady Smith, who faded from contention after leading laps 1-20.
Both Francis and Smith were hampered by similar problems: hanging carburetors that made it difficult for them to
correctly slow their cars to negotiate the corners.
With Saturday's heat races lined up using drivers' best finishes in the Thursday and Friday preliminary action, the
qualifiers were captured by Shaver, McCreadie, Clanton, Bloomquist, Brady Smith and Lanigan. The B-Mains were won
by Rick Eckert of York, Pa., Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., and McCool.
Former Firecracker 100 victor Birkhofer failed to qualify for Saturday's headliner, but he earned a consolation
prize worth $3,000 by capturing the Uncle Sam 30 Non-Qualifiers Race.
Birkhofer came from the sixth starting spot to pass 15-year-old Tyler Reddick of Corning, Calif., for the lead on
lap 16. He was never challenged over the remaining distance.
Matt Miller of Waterville, Ohio, finished second, a straightaway behind Birkhofer. Ken Schaltenbrand of Sarver,
Pa., finished third after starting 23rd.
Brian Birkhofer slips under Tyler Reddick before driving on to the non-qualifiers race win at
Lernerville. (Cory Stivason)
Shane Clanton takes advantage of a restart to grab the lead from #39 Tim McCreadie
and set sail to a big win at Lernerville. (Cory
Uncle Sam 30 Non-Qualifiers Race Finish: 1. Brian Birkhofer ($3,000);
2. Matt Miller ($1,500); 3. Ken Schaltenbrand ($800); 4. Gregg Satterlee ($700); 5.
Tyler Reddick ($600); 6. Lynn Geisler ($500); 7. Jamie Lathroum ($400); 8. Corey Conley
($375); 9. Mark Byram ($350); 10. John Mollick ($325); 11. Mason Ziegler ($300); 12.
April Farmer ($300); 13. Nick Reges ($270); 14. John Garvin ($260); 15. Michael Norris
($250); 16. Peter Mantha Jr. ($240); 17. Chris Casner ($230); 18. Chuck Sarver ($220);
19. Todd Bachman ($210); 20. Greg Oakes ($200); 21. Davey Johnson ($200); 22. Mike
Johnson ($200); 23. John Flinner ($200); 24. John Mason ($200)