HIBBING, Minn. — official series release — Todd Healy photo —
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series will continue its Wild West Tour without its defending champion.
After going winless through the first half of the WoO LMS season and virtually falling out of the national tour’s championship battle, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., has pulled off the series in order to refocus and regroup his race team and his Club 29 Race Cars business.
The 45-year-old Lanigan informed series officials of his intentions Friday morning after he finished 14th in the opening night of the WoO LMS Wild West Tour at Hibbing (Minn.) Raceway on Thursday. Friday’s Wild West Tour second-round event at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., will mark the first WoO LMS event the three-time series champion and all-time winningest series driver has missed since medical issues forced him to skip the tour’s 2011 season opener.
“I’m not doing myself, my customers or the series any good being out here running the back,” said Lanigan, who has been a full-time WoO LMS competitor since the tour was relaunched under the World Racing Group banner in 2004. “It’s time for me to go back, regroup and refocus. We’re just so far behind on customer stuff that we’ve had to overlook my own stuff, and it’s showing in our performance.”
Lanigan’s 2015 season has indeed fallen well short of his usual standards. While he’s third in the current points standings, the 212-point deficit to leader Shane Clanton makes claiming a record fourth series championship highly unlikely.
Lanigan’s eight top fives and 15 top 10s in 22 WoO LMS races are far off his phenomenal 2014 campaign that produced a single-season record 17 victories and his third series title. He attributes much of his struggles on the track to an expanding chassis business that has taken his team’s focus away from on his own program.
While he has yet to set a timetable for a return to WoO LMS action, Lanigan hopes more time in the shop will allow him to return the series much improved later in the season.
“Since we left (the June 25-27 Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway) and got back home, we worked 14-hour days every day and 90 percent of that was on customer cars,” Lanigan said. “We just need to go back, regroup and get some stuff caught up.
“I haven’t even had time to build myself a new car. I’m still running last year’s stuff. And I haven’t had time to test. That’s the only way you’re gonna win races is if you go test. We just need to regroup, update our equipment, go out and do some testing, then go back out again and get back to running like we’re used to.”