FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — G.R. Smith did all he could do to hang onto the lead on Friday night at Fayetteville Motor Speedway, but Darrell Lanigan was too strong down the stretch and swept past Smith to become the first driver with two World of Outlaws Late Model Series wins this season.
Smith and Rick Eckert battled for much of the 50-lap A-main before Lanigan and Jonathan Davenport came on strong in the second half of the feature. A restart with 15 laps to go shook up the contenders when they all tried to go for the same piece of real estate in turn one. By the time it settled, Lanigan jumped from fourth to second and set his sights on Smith.
Then with nine to go, Smith started sliding up the four-tenths-mile red clay oval, giving Lanigan a chance to drive under him and into the top spot. A caution with eight to go gave Lanigan the clear track he needed to drive off to a 2.292-second, $10,000 victory over Davenport, who was able to sneak past third-place finishing Smith on the last lap.
Chub Frank and Eckert rounded out the top five.
“The third caution we just got in there and got in the rut in turn one and got into the side of Rambo [Franklin] and couldn’t turn,” said Lanigan. “We fell back three or four spots, but got a good restart the next time and I found a little groove in there and the car was good.”
Lanigan became the series’ first two-time winner this season through nine A-mains. His victory Friday in his Club 29 machine is a little redemption for a runner-up performance in last week’s Illini 100.
“I feel like I let the one last week get by me so definitely to win this one makes us feel good,” he said. “It’s hard to believe, we’ve had a good car all year, we’ve been there, just needed a little bit.”
Davenport was in the hunt for a win all night long, but ultimately he wasn’t able to find a way around Lanigan down the stretch.
“I kept getting stuck on the outside and I kept trying to make it work,” said Davenport. “We probably had a third-place car there but we stuck with it and didn’t give up.”
Smith, whose team made the three-hour journey from the Charlotte suburbs with his car on the back of an open trailer, was strong all night. He picked up a $200 track bonus for setting quick time, then won his heat, got the outside pole in the redraw and raced hard to hold off Eckert, who was driving the No. 1 Rocket Chassis car. Ultimately, Smith settled for third, but was pleased with his volunteer crew’s effort.
“We had a real good car, setting fast time and winning the heat race,” said Smith. “We just lost it trying too hard. We didn’t know what kind of lead we had and got the right rear tire hot and if you give up a little bit to these guys they’re good enough to pounce on you.
“We define weekend warrior. I never really looked behind me, or looked on the board. I didn’t really care because I knew whether it was Rick Eckert or Darrell Lanigan or Jonathan Davenport, these guys are national champions. I made my mind up in the pit area before we went out there that we were going to go out swinging. We came up about eight laps short. At least we know we’re knocking on the door.”
Darrell Lanigan, Jonathan Davenport, G.R. Smith, Chub Frank, Rick Eckert, Morgan Bagley, Shane Clanton, Tim McCreadie, Clint Smith, Eric Wells, Chris Blackwell, Frank Heckenhast Jr., Ross Bailes, Steve Blackburn, Chase Junghans, Rick “Boom” Briggs, Dennis Franklin, Brandon Overton, Austin Hubbard, Kevin Wilson, Kyle Bronson, Johnny Pursley, Mike Parker, Shawn Harrell.