SARVER, Pa. — Darrell Lanigan kicked off the eighth annual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com weekend in fine fashion, powering past Scott Bloomquist for the lead on lap 21 and marching to victory in Thursday night’s 30-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series preliminary A-Main at Lernerville Speedway.
Lanigan, 43, continued his mastery of the 2014 WoO LMS campaign, winning his second straight event and for the sixth time in 15 starts. His already comfortable lead in the national tour’s points standings ballooned to 152 points over Rick Eckert, who finished 10th.
The race also marked Lanigan’s long-awaited first-ever triumph at Lernerville, a four-tenths-mile oval where he’s come frustratingly close to a checkered flag on numerous occasions. He’s been the runner-up in the Firecracker 100 in four of the last six years, so he hopes reaching the finish line first in the weekend’s first preliminary feature is a good omen for Saturday night’s $30,000-to-win spectacular.
“It’s good to finally get a win here,” said Lanigan, who earned $6,150 for his 59th career WoO LMS triumph. “Now we’re really looking forward to tomorrow night (the second preliminary program) and Saturday night. We have a real good car so I think we have a good shot at it.”
Lanigan started from the pole position, but his route to the checkered flag was far from easy. He was outgunned for the lead at the initial green flag by outside polesitter Jonathan Davenport and fell to third behind Bloomquist on a lap-nine restart, but he battled back to grab second from Davenport on lap 19 and slide underneath Bloomquist for the lead on lap 21.
“We fell to second there on the (original) start and then Bloomer got that outside on the (lap-nine) restart and got by us,” Lanigan said. “I just never got a good start, but I felt like we had a good enough car to get back by those guys and in the end we did.”
Bloomquist, 50, battled forward from the fourth starting spot to grab the lead from race-long pacesetter Davenport on lap 19, but he couldn’t hold off Lanigan. The two-time Firecracker 100 champion was able to repel a late challenge from Jimmy Owens to secure a second-place finish, 1.462 seconds behind Lanigan.
“The car was so tight that I was having to pitch the car sideways and kind of get it drifting going in the corner so it didn’t push,” said Bloomquist. “But now that we have one night under our belt we’ll kind of go back and reanalyze everything. We just were extremely tight out there, so we’ll free the car up a little bit so we won’t need that much slide to turn it tomorrow.”