OCALA, Fla. — Darrell Lanigan reclaimed the World of Outlaws Late Model Series spotlight on Friday night, capturing the 35-lap feature during the Bubba Army Late Model Winter Nationals at Bubba Raceway Park.
The defending tour champion outdueled BRP star Ivedent Lloyd Jr. for the lead on lap 20 and never looked back in his familiar Cornett-powered Rocket car. He pulled away following a deciding lap-33 restart, winning by 1.410 seconds over Tim McCreadie in the Sweeteners Plus Warrior.
Josh Richards finished third in the Rocket Chassis house car after using the outside groove of the three-eighths-mile, D-shaped oval to move up two spots during the green-white-checkered finish. Lloyd settled for a career-best WoO LMS finish of fourth after leading laps 10-19 in a Snow Brothers Chassis machine and Scott James placed fifth in the Warrior Chassis house car.
Lanigan, 42, earned $7,150 for his first WoO LMS victory of 2013 and the 42nd of his career — an all-time tour record. It was his fourth win in six WoO LMS starts over the past four years at BRP.
“At this place, you definitely have to be elbows up,” said Lanigan, who set a single-season WoO LMS win record with 15 triumphs in 2012. “It’s definitely a racy little track. I kind of like doing that, so this place fits our program pretty good.”
Lanigan demonstrated his mastery of the unique speedway by defeating one of its resident greats in Lloyd, a 46-year-old former BRP champion who knows the track’s nuances like few others. Lloyd started fifth — one spot behind Lanigan — but got to the front first, grabbing the lead on lap 10 from early pacesetter Rick Eckert.
Lloyd’s hometown fans began dreaming of an upset victory by a local, but Lanigan had other ideas. The WoO LMS stalwart overtook James for second on lap 15 and five circuits later sailed around the outside of Lloyd to assume command.
While Lloyd was able to briefly close back up to Lanigan’s rear bumper on lap 30, his bid effectively ended after he slid high through turns one and two on lap 31, allowing McCreadie to snatch second. The driver who lives just miles from BRP ultimately fell to fourth after the race’s final restart on lap 33.
“He came from behind us and took the lead so we definitely were concerned with him,” Lanigan said of Lloyd. “But our car was pretty good and I was just biding my time until I could get up there to him.”
Lloyd was powerless to stop Lanigan’s burst into the lead.
“He went by me pretty quick,” said Lloyd, a former Southern All-Stars Series champion. “He found that outside and just drove by me. I knew there was some traction up there, but I was pretty decent on the bottom and leading the race so I couldn’t really go up there and try it.”
McCreadie, 38, attempted to use that high side in a last-ditch effort to challenge Lanigan after the lap-33 caution period but couldn’t get close enough to threaten. The former WoO LMS titlist wasn’t disappointed with a runner-up finish after struggling in the tour’s season-opening doubleheader last week at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga.
“I figured, Why not try (for the win)?” McCreadie, who started sixth, said of his strategy following the final restart. “I ran out there (on the outside), but I just didn’t steer good enough out there. I gave it a shot, but it’s hard down that backstretch. You lose the nose real easy, and that’s what I was headed toward so I just tried to tuck in (entering turn three). I kind of got into Ivedent a little bit when I did that and I’m sorry for that, but I’m happy we were able to hold on to second. It’s definitely better than we’ve been.”
Richards, 24, ran out of time in his bid for a second consecutive WoO LMS victory. He started third but tumbled out of the top five early in the race, hampered by a tire-compound selection that was too hard.
“We had a pretty good hot rod, but I kind of killed us with tire choice on the left-rear,” said Richards, who took over sole possession of the WoO LMS points lead with his third top-five finish in as many starts this season. “It took a while to get going. I wish it would’ve been 50 laps, but I’ll take the blame on that one.”
Thirty-nine cars were signed in for the event.
Richards set a new track record of 13.771 seconds in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, eclipsing the one-year-old mark of 13.938 seconds held by Lanigan.
Darrell Lanigan, Tim McCreadie, Josh Richards, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Scott James, Shane Clanton, Mike Marlar, Brandon Sheppard, Rick Eckert, Brady Smith, Kent Robinson, Mason Zeigler, Dillon Wood, Morgan Bagley, Chub Frank, Eric Wells, Tim Fuller, Bub McCool, Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Mars, Clint Smith, Pat Doar, Ray Cook, Ron Davies, Mark Whitener.