SARVER, Pa. — Darrell Lanigan finally ended his frustrating pursuit of victory in the Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com at Lernerville Speedway, capturing the eighth annual event’s top prize amid a flurry of raindrops on Saturday night.
A runner-up in four of the previous six World of Outlaws Late Model Series spectaculars at the four-tenths-mile oval, Lanigan at long last found the proper mix of speed and good fortune to claim the $30,650 first-place payoff. He inherited the lead when Jonathan Davenport slowed on lap 67 with a broken rear end and was still holding strong in front when rain forced the race to be declared official after 90 laps.
“It’s just unbelievable to win this race here,” said Lanigan, who padded his already healthy WoO LMS points lead with his seventh triumph in 17 events this season on the national tour. “To be so close so many times and not get it — man, to finally get it, it’s just unbelievable.”
After a short period of rain after the B mains delayed the start of the 100-lapper, Lanigan, 43, raced off the outside pole at the initial green flag to take the lead. He lost the top spot to the very fleet Davenport, who started from the pole, on lap 12 and fell behind by as much as a straightaway at points, but he had drawn within striking distance before Davenport’s bid ended on the 67th circuit.
Lanigan proceeded to turn back challenges from Scott Bloomquist following restarts on laps 67 and 73 and was able to stay ahead of the two-time Firecracker 100 winner on a slickening track surface before officials put out a caution flag for the rain on lap 90. After the field was briefly sent to the staging area in the pits to wait out the weather, WoO and track officials decided that the precipitation had become too heavy and the checkered flag belonged to Lanigan and his self-designed Club 29 car.
“The car was awesome all night,” said Lanigan, who also won the first 30-lap preliminary feature of the Firecracker 100 weekend on Thursday night for his career-first victory at Lernerville. “It started getting greasy there at the end (running) on the top, and man it was hard to stay on the track. I’m just glad that caution came out (on lap 90).”
Lanigan had a good feeling about his chances for victory throughout the race — even when Davenport appeared to be the dominant force circling the outside groove in his K&L Rumley Longhorn machine.
“I figured he would be good around the cushion up there,” said Lanigan, who recorded his milestone 60th career win on the WoO LMS. “But my car was good pretty much wherever I wanted to go, so I was just kind of biding my time with him. I felt like I had plenty left.
“I feel like once the top dried up a little bit we could reel him in there. That’s basically about what was happening.”