MONTAGUE, Mich. — Rick Eckert dashed the hopes of two fellow World of Outlaws Late Model Series stars with a triumphant run in Friday night’s NAPA Auto Parts Winston 50 presented by Keyser Manufacturing at Winston Speedway.
The national tour’s defending champion outdueled returning two-time titlist Josh Richards to gain control of the A-Main on lap 27. He dominated the race’s second half to snap the six-race win streak of 2012 circuit dominator Darrell Lanigan, who settled for a fifth-place finish after starting 12th.
Eckert, 46, of York, Pa., earned $10,650 for his third WoO LMS victory of the season, tying him with Tim McCreadie for second on the ’12 win list behind Lanigan’s single-season record of 13. He was also proud to be the driver to finally shut Union, Ky.’s Lanigan out of victory lane.
“I’m glad I stopped him,” Eckert said of Lanigan. “He’s been on a roll. He’s been for sure the guy to beat all year long, so this is big for our team.
Richards started from the pole position and led laps 1-16 and 18-26, but he crossed the finish line as the runner-up, 2.098 seconds behind Eckert’s Team Zero by Bloomquist car. He made his first WoO LMS start in his father Mark’s Rocket Chassis house car since leaving the tour in April to pursue a NASCAR Nationwide Series ride.
Vic Coffey started and finished third, maintaining a firm grasp on the show position for the entire distance in his Sweeteners Plus Rocket. Terry Casey placed fourth in a MasterSbilt car and Lanigan was fifth in his Rocket after slipping into the position on the final lap when Richards’s teammate, Brandon Sheppard, lost momentum in a turn-two scrape with the lapped Eric Spangler.
It was Richards who provided Eckert’s stiffest test. Eckert, who started from the outside pole, nosed in front of Richards to lead lap 17 but relinquished the spot the following lap and spent the next nine circuits in chase mode.
“Josh set a heck of a pace there early,” said Eckert, who registered his 27th career win on the WoO LMS. “I couldn’t run with him. Then I got to thinking, Maybe if that top (cushion) blows off, maybe I could rotate the center better than him because he was tight in.
“Finally, (the outside) slowed down and he couldn’t rotate the center quite as well as I could. Besides that, though, we were pretty equal.”
Eckert glided away from Richards once he gained command on lap 27, controlling a race that ran caution-free from lap 12 to the finish. He denied Richards a checkered flag that would have pulled the youngster back into a tie atop the WoO LMS career win list, at 39.
“It’s great to see him come back,” Eckert said of Richards’s return to competition on the WoO LMS. “He’s a heck of a racer and I like him a lot, but I didn’t want to see him win his first race back.”
Rick Eckert, Josh Richards, Vic Coffey, Terry Casey, Darrell Lanigan, Brian Birkhofer, Brandon Sheppard, Brady Smith, Jason Feger, Chub Frank, Bub McCool, Mike Spatola, Clint Smith, Kent Robinson, Tim Fuller, Pat Doar, Eric Spangler, Jeep VanWormer, Tim McCreadie, Dennis Erb Jr., Shane Clanton, Jill George, Duane Treadwell, Matt Miller.