SARVER, PA — official release — Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., kicked off the eighth annual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com weekend in fine fashion, powering past Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., for the lead on lap 21 and marching on 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 of York, Pa., 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 of Blairsville, Ga., 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 of Newport, Tenn., 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.”
Owens, making his first Firecracker 100 appearance in five years, placed third after slipping by Davenport on lap 27 and seeing his last-ditch bid to overtake Bloomquist fall short. Davenport, who started outside of Lanigan on the front row and outgunned the eventual winner for the lead at the initial green flag, slipped to fourth at the finish and seventh-starter Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., completed the top five.
Just two caution flags slowed the race, both for stopped cars. Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., broke a driveshaft on lap nine and Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., came to a stop on the backstretch on lap 17.
Marlar topped the 55-car field in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, turning a lap of 16.221 seconds in Group 1 that was the overall fastest of the night.
Heat winners were Owens, Bloomquist, Doug Drown of Wooster, Ohio, Davenport, Lanigan and Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del. The B-Mains were captured by Jared Miley of South Park, Pa., Dave Hess Jr. of Waterford, Pa., and Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga.
The Firecracker 100 weekend continues on Friday night (June 27) with another full program topped by a 30-lap, $6,000-to-win feature. Hot laps are at 6:50 p.m., time trials at 7:15 p.m. and racing at 8 p.m.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Fans can also follow the WoO LMS on Twitter at Twitter.com/WoOLateModels and Facebook at Facebook.com/WorldofOutlaws.
Results of WoO Late Model Series Firecracker 100 Presented by GottaRace.com Preliminary A-Main No. 1 at Lernerville Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (1) Darrell Lanigan/30 $6,150
2. (4) Scott Bloomquist/30 $3,200
3. (4) Jimmy Owens/30 $2,050
4. (2) Jonathan Davenport/30 $1,750
5. (7) Mike Marlar/30 $1,500
6. (8) Tim Fuller/30 $1,250
7. (19) Jared Miley/30 $1,300
8. (15) Alex Ferree/30 $1,150
9. (9) Morgan Bagley/30 $1,100
10. (12) Rick Eckert/30 $1,200
11. (22) Tim McCreadie/30 $1,050
12. (6) Doug Drown/30 $875
13. (21) Dale McDowell/30 $750
14. (5) Austin Hubbard/30 $725
15. (16) Max Blair/30 $700
16. (25) Eric Wells/30 $730
17. (10) John Blanenship/30 $670
18. (23) Chub Frank/30 $710
19. (18) Shane Clanton/30 $690
20. (20) Dave Hess Jr./30 $620
21. (26) Frankie Heckenast Jr./30 $900
22. (24) Boom Briggs/30 $650
23. (27) Clint Smith/30 $160
24. (11) Mason Zeigler/30 $600
25. (28) Chase Junghans/29 $160
26. (13) Mike Knight/21 $600
27. (17) Dan Stone/17 $600
28. (14) Kent Robinson/8 $600