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Mr. Smooth closes out SpeedWeeks with $10,000 win

By admin | February 25, 2012

By Richard Allen

 

This is the final night of the UNOH DirtCar Nationals at the Volusia Speedway Park and the final night of Georgia/Florida SpeedWeeks that has carried on for seventeen days on multiple tracks throughout the two states. This race would be a 50 lap affair paying $10,000 to the winner in the World of Outlaws Late Models sanctioned event.

Steve Francis led 54 cars in qualifying on the half-mile clay oval with a time of 16.024 seconds. He would head the pack in heat race one as a result. The other drivers to earn pole positions for the heats were Shane Clanton, Jimmy Mars, Billy Moyer, Sr. and Dan Stone.

WoO Late Models points leader Darrell Lanigan’s car caught fire during his time-trial run. He was uninjured and safety crews were able to extinguish the flames but he would eventually be forced to go to his backup car.

Heat races were ten laps in duration with the top-4 finishers transferring to the feature event. The winner of each heat race would be sent to the redraw to determine the top-5 starters in the main event.

Steve Francis and Jason Feger raced side by side for several laps early in heat race one before Francis broke away and drove on to a comfortable win. Scott Bloomquist and Dale McDowell also got by Feger as the race wore on. And eventually, Pat Doar moved around Feger as well with a last lap pass on the high side in turn four to gain the final transfer spot.

Shane Clanton had to survive a restart with one lap to go for the win in heat two. Although it appeared as though the checkered flag was displayed before that final caution, it was determined that there would be a restart with the green and white flags displayed at the same time. Friday night winner John Blankenship was 2nd in the heat followed by Frank Heckenast, Jr. and Clint Smith.

That final restart proved devastating for Tim McCreadie as he was passed by Smith on the last lap to lose the final transfer spot.

Jimmy Mars drove away for the win in heat three. But the real story was of Darrell Lanigan, who started at the tail of the field as a result of going to his backup car, moving up to 2nd place. At one point, Lanigan went three wide to move around Jimmy Owens and Bobby Pierce and he passed Dennis ‘Rambo’ Franklin on the last lap at the line.

The finish order of heat three was Mars, Lanigan, Franklin and Owens.

After a brief battle with Billy Moyer, Sr., Dennis Erb, Jr. drove away to the win in heat four. The finish order was Erb, Moyer, Rick Eckert and Josh Richards.

Don O’Neal earned the win in the fifth and final heat race over Dan Stone, Donnie Moran and Brady Smith.

Tim McCreadie won the first Last Chance Showdown to earn his way into the feature race. Jason Feger also advanced with a 2nd place finish in the twelve lap preliminary. Chub Frank and Bub McCool failed to transfer from LCS number one but would be awarded WoO provisional starting spots in the main event.

Brandon Sheppard and Bobby Pierce took the top-2 positions in LCS number two to fill out the field for the feature.

Steve Francis was awarded the pole starting position via the redraw. Jimmy Mars, Don O’Neal, Shane Clanton and Dennis Erb, Jr. would follow ‘The Kentucky Colonel’ to the green flag.

Steve Francis jumped to the lead from the green flag of the feature with Mars, O’Neal, Erb and Clanton following for the initial two laps before caution slowed the field for Dan Stone’s stalled car.

On that ensuing restart, O’Neal got by both Mars and Francis to take the lead. Mars began to fall through the field with an ill handling car as Clanton, Erb, Bloomquist and Moyer passed by the #28 machine just before Vic Coffey coasted to a stop to bring out a second caution of the event.

When the green flag once again waved, battles renewed all over the track. With O’Neal continuing to show the way, Clanton and Francis dueled for 2nd while Moyer and Lanigan fought for the 4th spot. All the while, Bloomquist, McDowell, Mars, Blankenship and Owens exchanged positions just behind the top-5.

But it was after the final caution of the race on lap 16 for Pat Doar’s wounded car that Moyer really came to life on the rapidly drying clay surface. After finally disposing of Lanigan, Moyer began to close quickly on the top-2 of O’Neal and Clanton.

At lap 32, ‘Mr. Smooth’ made a move to the inside as Clanton challenged O’Neal for the lead. At the start/finish line the cars were three wide. Finally, near the halfway point of the backstretch, Moyer bolted passed both of the leaders at once.

From that point, Moyer would hold the lead for the rest of the way but not without a couple of challenges from O’Neal as slower traffic held the #21 up on occasion. O’Neal made a strong bid with less than ten laps to go when Moyer was boxed in behind two lapped machines who were racing side by side.

However, Moyer was eventually able to extricate himself from the trap and cruise on to the win. O’Neal ran 2nd followed by Clanton, Lanigan, Francis, Owens and Erb.

“You had to search around early in the night,” Moyer explained in victory lane. “I thought it was going to be one of those ‘married to the top’ deals but the track finally came in and you could race all over.

“Today I made some adjustments to the old hot rod I should have made a couple of days ago,” the winner added.

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