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Previewing The Firecracker 100 On June 24-26 At Lernerville Spwy

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World of Outlaws Late Model Series News & Notes: Previewing The Firecracker 100 On June 24-26 At Lernerville Speedway



SARVER, PA – June 23, 2010 –







ANOTHER TRY: Maybe the third time will be the charm for Darrell Lanigan.







After leading the most laps but settling for a runner-up finish in each of the past two Firecracker 100s at Lernerville Speedway, Lanigan has just one goal on his mind for the fourth annual World of Outlaws Late Model Series mega-event when it lights up the four-tenths-mile oval this week (June 24-26).







“Lead the last lap,” bottom-lined Lanigan, the 2008 WoO LMS champion.







Lanigan, 40, of Union, Ky., craves a $30,000-plus victory in the Firecracker 100, which carries presenting sponsorship from one of Lanigan’s backers, GottaRace.com. His second-place earnings for the last two Firecrackers total a cool $35,823 – he pocketed $17,667 in 2008 and $18,156 in ’09 – but that’s little consolation to the quiet, competitive driver.







“All I want to do is win,” said Lanigan. “That’s why we race.”







The race team owner/operator came close to the checkered flag in the 2008 event, which was postponed by rain to July 29, and even closer in the 2009 version contested on June 27. In ’08 he led the race’s first 69 laps before Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, gained control and ran away from the field for a convincing triumph; last year he paced laps 13-93 before Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., swept by him to emerge victorious after rallying from a lap-27 pit stop to change a cut tire.







“We just got loose at the end last year,” said Lanigan, who has started from the front row in each of the last two Firecracker 100s. “Mars had a little bit different tire on and he just came on late in the race. I did everything I could to stay ahead of him, but the race was a little too long.







“The other year (’08) Birky was just better at the end. We were running the cushion up top, but that eventually went away and Birky was good on the bottom.”







Both defeats stung Lanigan, but he’s certainly gotten used to heartbreaking losses in 100-lap WoO LMS specials the last two seasons. In 2009 he also finished second in the Lone Star 100 at Battleground Speedway in Highlands, Texas (after a flat forced him to pit while leading on lap 40) and the Colossal 100 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (after a flat tire put him to the rear early), and earlier this year he relinquished the lead in the Commonwealth 100 at Virginia Motor Speedway due to a popped right-rear tire with just nine laps remaining.







“We’ve had bad luck with flats,” said Lanigan, who finished 14th in the inaugural Firecracker 100 in 2007. “But we just need to get our (100-lap) program a little better.”







Lanigan is ranked second in the WoO LMS points standings (14 points behind leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va.) entering this weekend’s Firecracker 100 action, which for the first time features complete preliminary programs topped by 30-lap, $6,000-to-win A-Mains on Thurs., June 24, and Fri., June 25, that will be used to align the heat-race starting fields for the 100-lap finale on Sat., June 26.







“I like the new format,” said Lanigan, who is coming off a second-place finish in the last WoO LMS ‘Great Northern Tour’ A-Main on June 20 at Cornwall (Ont.) Motor Speedway. “As an owner/driver, it’s great because we can make money each night we’re at the track.







“I think we can pull off a win (in the Firecracker 100),” he added. “I like the track and we always seem to run pretty good there. They (officials) threw a little curveball in there this year with the tire rule (DIRTcar UMP’s Hoosier 10-20-30-40 compound mandate will be in effect) – that might be a little bit tricky, but everybody’s on the same playing field so it shouldn’t make too much of a difference.”







STILL SEARCHING: No WoO LMS star has a more burning desire to win a major event like the Firecracker 100 than defending champion Josh Richards. Just don’t ask him about the one missing item on his ever-growing resume.







“I don’t want to talk about that,” Richards joked when the subject came up. “We’re just gonna keep working hard and trying to win every race, and when it (a 100-lap win) happens, it happens.”







Richards, 22, has qualified well for each of the three previous Firecrackers, earning starting spots of fourth (2007), pole (’08) and sixth (’09). But that has translated to success in the final rundown – he’s finished ninth (’07), 12th (’08) and eighth (’09) in the 100-lapper.







The young sensation’s best shot at victory – or at least a top-five finish – came in the rain-delayed 2008 event. But while battling for third place he became hooked together with Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., sending both drivers to the rear and causing a few tense moments between the friends as Clanton had some strong words for Richards while their cars were still sitting on the racetrack.







Richards, who has tasted victory at Lernerville in a postponed 50-lap WoO LMS A-Main that kicked off last year’s Firecracker 100 weekend, enters this year’s action looking to get back to his early-season form. He’s in a rare slump, with only one top-five finish in his last five WoO LMS starts – a fourth-place run in the ‘Great Northern Tour’ opener on June 15 at Can-Am Motorsports Park in Lafargeville, N.Y. As a result, his points lead has fallen from a season-high 56 points after his fourth win of 2010, on May 15 at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway, to just 14 points over Lanigan and 20 points over 2006 champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y.







HE’S A CONTENDER: Aside from a quiet 10th-place finish in last year’s Firecracker 100, the 34-year-old Clanton has been a serious threat to capture the event’s unique trophy.







Clanton might have had the fastest car in the 2007 and 2008 editions of the race. His tangle with Richards, of course, knocked him from contention in ’08 (he finished 24th after retiring shortly after the incident because he slapped the wall while attempting to rally from the rear). In ’07, meanwhile, he appeared primed to sail by eventual winner Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., to take the lead on lap 88 but had his momentum broken by Bloomquist’s sixth-sense decision to move to the top of the track in turn three the very lap Clanton was making his run; Clanton fell back and didn’t have time to recover, finishing sixth.







ON A ROLL: Tim Fuller rolls into the Firecracker 100 as the hottest driver on the WoO LMS thanks to two wins (at Can-Am and Merrittville Speedway in Thorold, Ont.) and a third-place finish (at Ontario’s Cornwall Motor Speedway) in the three ‘Great Northern Tour’ events completed over the past week.







Can the former DIRTcar big-block Modified regular from Watertown, N.Y., continue his streak at Lernerville? If his Gypsum Express car runs like it did in last year’s Firecracker 100 there’s no reason to believe he can’t.







Fuller’s finishing position in the ’09 event only shows a 15th – his worst in three 100 starts following an eighth in ’07 and 10 th in ’08 – but he actually appeared to have one of the top cars in the event. He was marching forward from the seventh starting spot when he tangled with Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, while battling for third place on lap 23 – an encounter that blew out Fuller’s left-rear tire and broke his car’s left-rear shock, costing him two laps in the pits while his crew made repairs.







NO LUCK : Tim McCreadie has a WoO LMS A-Main triumph to his credit at Lernerville (in 2006), but he’s yet to come close to the checkered flag in the Firecracker 100.







The 36-year-old McCreadie – back as a WoO LMS regular this season for the first time since winning the title in 2006 – didn’t compete in the inaugural Firecracker. He finished eighth in ’08 and failed to qualify last year after barrel-rolling his car several times on the homestretch during Friday-night heat-race action – just one week after the Watertown, N.Y., star returned to the cockpit following five months on the sidelines due to the back injury he suffered during the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.







ACTION TRACK MASTER: Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., has a sterling performance record at Lernerville – including WoO LMS victories in 2004 and 2005 and two wins and a runner-up finish in three weekly-show starts this season – but he hasn’t yet been able to thrust himself into the mix for a Firecracker first prize.







The 48-year-old’s top Firecracker 100 finish came in 2007, when he advanced from the 10th starting spot to finish fifth in a race slowed by only three caution flags. He backed that up with finishes of sixth in 2008 and 12th in 2009.







IS THIS THE YEAR?: WoO LMS stalwart Rick Eckert of York, Pa., knows how to get around Lernerville – he has an ’06 Outlaw victory there – but he’s still searching for the combination that will make him a major threat in the Firecracker.







Eckert has, however, gotten progressively better with his Firecracker performances. He finished 16th in 2007 (after using a provisional and starting 25th), 11th in 2008 (started 19th) and ninth in 2009 (started 13th).







CONSISTENT RACERS: Just two drivers have scored a top-10 finish in all three Firecracker 100s – 2007 WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., and four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series titlist Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla.







Francis, who enters this year’s Firecracker 100 proceedings coming off his second WoO LMS victory of 2010 on June 20 at Cornwall Motor Speedway, owns finishes of seventh (’07), fourth (’08) and fifth (’09). He started second in last year’s event and led laps 1-9 and 11-12.







Pearson, meanwhile, has two third-place finishes (’07 and ’09) and a ninth (’08) under his belt. He was especially impressive last year, charging forward from the 20th starting spot.







FRUSTRATION: The Firecracker 100 has been a house of horrors for Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., who hasn’t even completed the 100-lap distance in any of the three previous editions of the event.







Smith’s best outing came in 2008 when he finished two laps down in 19th after using a provisional to gain entry to the 100. He completed only 11 laps of the ’07 A-Main before mechanical trouble left him with a 28th-place finish, and last year he dropped out on lap 73 and placed 18th.







The ’07 Firecracker was especially tough for Smith. He entered that year’s event tied for the WoO LMS points lead with Francis, but a last-place finish dropped him to third in the standings, 42 points behind, and he never recovered. He settled for a career-high third-place finish in the points battle.







YOUNG GUNS: The newest WoO LMS regulars – 2009 Rookie of the Year Russell King, 21, of Bristolville, Ohio; ’09 rookie contender Brent Robinson, 22, of Smithfield, Va.; and ’10 rookie Austin Hubbard, 18, of Seaford, Del. – will be looking to turn heads in their biggest WoO LMS starts of the season to date.







King is the only driver of the trio who has made a Firecracker 100 starting lineup. After falling short in his first attempt at the event in 2008 (he finished sixth in the Uncle Sam 30 Non-Qualifiers’ Race), the former DIRTcar big-block Modified used a provisional to start last year’s 100 and finished 16th, completing 92 laps before breaking an oil pump pulley.







Both Robinson and Hubbard made the Firecracker 100 debuts last year. Hubbard’s weekend ended with a third-place finish in the Uncle Sam 30 (though he said he got a great education when he stood in the infield for the A-Main and watched the unique line that Mars used to navigate the track), while Robinson finished 12th in the Uncle Sam event.







DID YOU KNOW?: The best Firecracker 100 run authored by a Lernerville or western Pennsylvania dirt Late Model regular came in 2007, when Dave Hess Jr. of Waterford, Pa., finished 11th.







CONSOLATION PRIZE: Former winners of the Uncle Sam 30 Non-Qualifiers’ Race – a $3,000-to-win event that will be run prior to the start of the Firecracker 100 on Sat., June 26 – include Josh McGuire of Ashland, Ky. (2007), Mike Knight of Ripley, N.Y. (2008) and Robbie Blair of Titusville, Pa. (2009).







BIG LIST: The names of nearly 50 drivers appear on the official Firecracker 100 pre-entry list, including all the WoO LMS regulars and former event winners Bloomquist, Birkhofer and Mars.







Other notable pre-entries include Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., who finished fourth in last year’s event; Bobby Labonte Racing teammates Pearson and Brad Neat of Dunnville, Ky.; Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga.; 2008 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y.; defending All-Star Late Model Series champion Robbie Blair of Titusville, Pa.; Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., a winner last week on the DIRTcar Summer Nationals tour; Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa.; Davey Johnson of Latrobe, Pa.; 15-year-old Tyler Reddick of Corning, Calif.; Matt Lux of Franklin, Pa.; Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa.; and Lernerville standouts such as Alex Ferree of Saxonburg, Pa., and Lynn Geisler of Cranberry Twp., Pa.







WHAT A WEEKEND: Fans don’t want to miss the Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com, which features great, lucrative racing as well as pre- and post-race entertainment such as concerts (after the Thursday and Friday programs), a driver/fan horseshoes tournament, the Ms. Firecracker pageant, a Saturday driver autograph session and plenty of pyrotechnics.







Advance tickets to the Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com are on sale and can be purchased by clicking on the 'Buy Tickets Now!' link at www.lernerville.com or by calling the speedway office at 724-353-1511.







For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.







Fourth Annual Firecracker 100 Presented by GottaRace.com Entry List (as of June 22):









0-Scott Bloomquist/Mooresburg, TN



1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV



1-Will Vaught/Crane, MO



1c-Lynn Geisler/Cranberry Twp, PA



1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA



1J-Davey Johnson/Latrobe, PA



1J-Dave Murdick/Slippery Rock, PA



H1-Jared Miley/South Park, PA



2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI



2J-Mike Johnson/Imperial, PA



3-Brent Robinson/Chesapeake, VA



4-Alex Ferree/Saxonburg, PA



4J-John Mollick/Toronto, OH



J4-John Garvin/Sarver, PA



7x-Herman Bertolini/Creighton, PA



11-Tyler Reddick/Corning, CA



won11-Robbie Blair/Titusville, PA



12-Doug Drown/Wooster, OH



14-Corey Conley/Wellsburg, WV



15-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY



15B-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA



17M-Dale McDowell/Chickmauga, GA



19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY



19-Austin Hubbard/Seaford, DE



J19-Jason Fosnaught/Creighton, PA



20-Jimmy Owens/Newport, TN



21-Matt Lux/Franklin, PA



22-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA



22-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA



23-John Blankenship/Wlliamson, WV



23-Tony Burke/Sarver, PA



24-Rick Eckert/York, PA



24M-Jeremy Miller/Gettysburg, PA



25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA



28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI



29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY



29-Ken Schaltenbrand/Sarver, PA



32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY



C33-Chris Casner/Mifflintown, PA



38R-Nick Reges/Butler, PA



39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY



41-Brad Neat/Dunnville, KY



44-Dave Hess Jr./Waterford, PA



44-Earl Pearson Jr./Jacksonville, FL



44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA



56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH



71D-Ron Davies/Erie, PA



72-Michael Norris/Sarver, PA



99b-Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs/Bear Lake, PA

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