After Eckert, 47, slipped underneath Lanigan to grab second, the 2011 WoO LMS champion appeared primed to make the final laps interesting. He pulled his Team Zero by Bloomquist car within a couple car lengths of McCreadie’s Sweeteners Plus Warrior but couldn’t summon quite enough speed to break into victory lane.
“You just gotta put a whole night together and we haven’t really done that yet,” Eckert matter-of-factly stated following the race when asked about falling just short of victory once again. “We’ve been close, but you gotta draw good too. You put five of these guys in front of you (for the start) like we did tonight and you’re in trouble.
“We got close there at the end, but we ran out of time. Maybe tomorrow night.”
McCreadie held on despite struggling with a car that was steadily becoming harder to drive.
“The more we ran the worse we got with fuel burn-off and stuff,” said McCreadie, who was victorious in the home state of his engine builder, Pro Power’s Bill Schlieper. “But I think a lot of it was just our tire was just dying, our right-rear was starting to give. I knew the tires (Eckert) had were gonna be better if we went a long green (flag) run. We were just a touch softer (on tire compound choice) than he was.
“I didn’t know (Eckert) was there,” he continued with his description of the final circuits. “I just tried to park (on the bottom groove) and not make a mistake. On the last lap the last thing I wanted to do was go up (off the bottom), slip across the middle and get in a push and have him drive under me (off turn four). These guys, (crewmen) Craig (McCrimmon) and Johnny Coco, they worked way too hard for me to make a mistake.
“They said he was close on the middle and the top, but it was just our night. We drew a good number and everything lined up for us tonight.”
Experiencing the other end of the racing-fortune spectrum was WoO LMS point leader Josh Richards, who could only manage a 15th-place finish after a nightmarish turn of events just before and after the start of the race.
First, Richards, who was scheduled to start 12th, was forced to take the green flag from the rear of the field because his team violated WoO LMS rules by changing a tire on their car after presenting it in the staging area. He then was swept up in an eight-car homestretch crash that brought out the red flag at the initial start – an incident that included local late model racers Todd Gehl, Roger Paolo, Aaron Lillo, Travis Budisalovich, Terry Lillo, Trevor Wilson and Zachary Wohlers and left Richards’s Rocket Chassis house car with extensive front-end damage.
Richards’s machine was towed to the pit area with its nosepiece completely ripped off. His crew was able to patch up the car enough for Richards to return to the race on lap 15, allowing him to turn a potentially devastating last-place finish into a 15th-place run that only cut his point lead over Shane Clanton, who finished seventh, from 44 to 28 points.
Tim McCreadie, Rick Eckert, Darrell Lanigan, Chub Frank, Brady Smith, Tim Fuller, Shane Clanton, Bub McCool, Jeff Provinzino, Eric Wells, Morgan Bagley, Clint Smith, Pat Doar, Harry Hanson, Josh Richards, Tim McMann, Zachary Wohlers, Chris Olson, Trevor Wilson, Terry Lillo, Travis Budisalovich, Aaron Lillo, Roger Paolo, Todd Gehl.