Pennsylvania veterans Rick Eckert (right) and Chub Frank
were the over-achievers on the night as they found the southern track to their liking with a one-two
finish. (Craig Whyte)
World of Outlaws: Eckert
Delivers "Pomp and Circumstance" at Swainsboro
By Kevin Kovac, series
SWAINSBORO, Ga. – May 7. Rick Eckert was unable to attend his daughter's college graduation ceremony on
Saturday, but he gave her a very memorable present.
With a dominating performance behind the wheel of his #24 car, Eckert rolled to a wire-to-wire victory in Saturday
evening's World of Outlaws Late Model Series 'Pine Tree 50' at Swainsboro Raceway.
Eckert, 45, of York, Pa., earned $10,775 for his first triumph of 2011 on the national tour. He also grabbed the
WoO LMS points lead for the first time since June 2006, vaulting past two-time defending champion Josh Richards,
who finished 19th after losing eight laps while his crew attempted to repair his car's folded front bumper.
Rick Eckert leads a higher running Chub Frank to the checkers at Swainsboro.
"Coming down the road (en route to the three-eighths-mile Georgia track), I was thinking, boy,
it would be neat if I could win tonight and dedicate it to her," Eckert said when asked about his 22-year-old
daughter Courtney, who celebrated the completion of her education at Millersville (Pa.) University on Saturday.
"Fortunately it worked out that way. This one's for my daughter.
"She was mad that I couldn't be there, but I said I really needed to stay out here and try to keep up in the (WoO
LMS) points. Now I've got some good news to tell her."
Six caution flags slowed the rough-and-tumble event, but Eckert faced little resistance on the restarts. He took
advantage of his pole starting spot – a position drawn for him by a young fan who ironically wore a t-shirt
emblazoned with the memorial race of Eckert's longtime car owner Raye Vest – to lead the entire distance without a
Tim Fuller races outside of Wisconsin's Pat Doar back at midfield at
Swainsboro. (Craig Whyte)
"I was out there running around the middle to the top early," said Eckert, whose 22nd career WoO LMS victory
snapped his 20-race winless streak dating back to July 30, 2010, at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park. "Then my crew guys
Bob (Miller) and Dan (White) told me that I needed to move down, so I started running the inside and the car worked
great there. We really hit on something."
Eckert easily outdistanced runner-up Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., who crossed the finish line 2.728 seconds behind
the winner. Frank, 49, advanced from the 12th starting spot to register a season-best finish in his Rocket car.
"I got pushed up high early in race and I found that my car was free enough to drive up there," said Frank, who
wrestled second place away from Darrell Lanigan following the race's final restart, on lap 31. "The track kept
getting rougher and rougher on the top, though, so you really had to be up on the wheel to hold it there. If they
could've run it in a little better and smoothed it out, maybe I would've had something for (Eckert). It just got so
rough up there, I just couldn't stay up there."
Shane Clanton races ahead of fellow north Georgian Tony Knowles before posting a
sixth place showing at Swainsboro. (Craig Whyte)
Lanigan settled for a third-place finish after needing just seven laps to hustle from the ninth starting to second
behind Eckert. The 2008 WoO LMS champion saw his two-race win streak on the tour come to an end, but he did record
his sixth consecutive top-three finish and pulled into a tie for second place in the points standings with
Richards, 22 points behind Eckert.
Teammates Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., finished fourth and fifth,
respectively. Coffey moved forward from the 11th starting spot to score his second top-five finish in the last
three WoO LMS events, while McCreadie, who started third, slipped backward in a car that sported damage to the
left-front corner of its nosepiece.
With his triumph, Eckert received a unique 'trophy' that was carved out of wood by an expert chainsaw sculptor
during the town of Swainsboro's annual Pine Tree Festival. He lifted the heavy piece while posing for photographers
in Victory Lane.
Johnny Pursley, #0 Mike Nasworthy, and #16 Brian Nuttall in a scrappy fight during
the third heat race at Swainsboro. (Craig
Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., finished sixth after battling for a top-five spot with McCreadie for much of
the distance and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., placed seventh after failing to tighten up his car following a
heat-race victory. Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., outdueled Greg Johnson of Bedford, Ind., for eighth place –
and Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., rounded out the top 10 after he was forced to restart at the rear of the field
because he slid to a stop in turn two while battling for fifth on lap seven.
Rick Eckert ended Darrell Lanigan's
hot streak and posted his second win of the season on his daughter's graduation night at Swainsboro (Ga.) Raceway
Saturday. (Jim Denhamer)
Swainsboro Raceway - World of
1) Rick Eckert, 2) Chub Frank, 3)
Darrell Lanigan, 4) Vic Coffey, 5) Tim McCreadie, 6) Shane Clanton, 7) Clint Smith, 8) Dennis Franklin,
9) Greg Johnson, 10) Austin Hubbard, 11) Johnny Pursley, Jr., 12) Tim Fuller, 13) Jordy Nipper, 14)
Jill George, 15) John Lobb, 16) Phil Pittman, 17) Pat Doar, 18) Ron Davies, 19) Josh Richards, 20) Tony
Knowles, 21) John Henderson, 22) Mike Nasworthy, 23) Brian Nuttall, Jr., 24) Chesley
Fast Time (33 entries): Darrell Lanigan (14.699); Heat winners: Smith, McCreadie,
Richards, Knowles; B-Main winners:" Johnson, Pursley
Jim Denharmer photo