Analyzing Darrell Lanigan’s Amazing Year
CONCORD, N.C. – Darrell Lanigan’s spectacular 2012 World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship campaign has been rehashed and dissected countless times. Here’s a listing of the World of Outlaws records he set on his way to the second title of his career:
– Most wins in a single season. Lanigan’s 15 triumphs obliterated the modern-era (2004-present) standard of nine shared by Scott Bloomquist (04) and Josh Richards (11) and the all-time mark (including the original 1988-89 seasons) of 12 established by Billy Moyer in 89.
– Consecutive wins. Lanigan sizzling streak of six straight wins in July and August eclipsed the modern-era record of four (Rick Eckert in 06, Tim Fuller in 09) and Moyers all-time standard of five in-a-row in 89.
– Career wins. Lanigan vaulted to the top of the modern-era and all-time winners lists, ending the season with 41 career victories.
– Win percentage. Lanigan won at a .375 clip; no other regular in the national tours modern era has put up a win percentage of even 30 percent. Richardss .281 percentage in 2011 ranks second to Lanigan.
– Largest championship points margin. Lanigan defeated Eckert by 228 points, easily surpassing his own record of 160 points when he won his first World of Outlaws crown in 2008.
– First driver to lead the points standings from start-to-finish. Lanigan seized the points lead with a victory in the season opener on Feb. 11 at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga., and never relinquished it.
– Number of tracks conquered. Each of Lanigan’s wins came at a different track ranging in size from a quarter-mile to five-eighths-of-a-mile to establish a new mark.
– Most 100-lap wins in a single season. With triumphs in the Jackpot 100 on May 26 at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va. ($25,000), the USA Nationals on Aug. 4 at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis. ($50,000) and the Keyser Manufacturing Down & Dirty 100 presented by NAPA on Sept. 22 at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich., Lanigan became the first driver to pull off a hat-trick in WoO LMS century-grind events.
– A-Main laps led. Lanigan set the pace for 638 circuits more than three times as many laps led as the next highest-ranked driver (Eckert, 170).
– Season earnings. Lanigan pocketed $426,700 in purse and points-fund cash, nearly doubling points-runner-up Eckerts total take in 2012.
The 2012 WoO LMS was comprised of 40 A-Mains at 33 tracks in 19 states and two Canadian provinces.
Florida was the site of the most tour events, hosting five races at two tracks. There were four events held in North Carolina and Pennsylvania; three in Michigan and New York; two in Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, West Virginia and Wisconsin; and one in Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec.
Just four tracks presented multiple WoO LMS events: Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. (three), Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. (three), The Dirt Track at Charlotte (three) and Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. (two).
Weather and other unexpected factors caused the cancellation of seven scheduled events in 12, preventing the tour from surpassing its record number of races in a season (44). Five events were stopped by rain and could not be rescheduled: June 24 at Cornwall (Ont.) Motor Speedway; July 6 at Amsoil Speedway in Superior, Wis.; Aug. 25 at Winchester (Va.) Speedway; Aug. 26 at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway; and Sept. 1 at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va. Events scheduled at two other venues July 20 at Hartford (Mich.) Motor Speedway and Sept. 14 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway — were canceled in advance by track management and World Racing Group officials, respectively.
The only race that was postponed by rain and then run on another date was at Shawano (Wis.) Speedway, which had its 50-lapper moved from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7.
Rain did wash out the qualifying night of the Keyser Manufacturing Down & Dirty 100 presented by NAPA Auto Parts on Sept. 21 at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway, but the entire program was spun off the following evening.
In 2012, Lanigan was the tours winningest driver for the first time in his career. He ended the reign of Richards, who had captured the most A-Mains in each of the last four seasons.
A total of 16 drivers reached Victory Lane on the WoO LMS in 2012 up two from 11, but short of the record 21 different winners in 08. Multiple victories were claimed by Lanigan (15), Eckert (5), Tim McCreadie (three), Richards (two), Bloomquist (two), Dennis Erb Jr. (two) and Jimmy Owens (two), while single scores were garnered by Shane Clanton, Chris Garnes, Chris Madden, Jimmy Mars, Bub McCool, Billy Moyer, Brad Neat, Brandon Sheppard and Dan Stone.
After an 11 season in which only one driver scored a career-first WoO LMS A-Main triumph, four joined the tours select group of winners in 12 (in order of victories): Neat, McCool, Garnes and Sheppard.
Lanigan’s control of the 12 campaign was evidenced by his stranglehold on the points standings. He assumed command with his victory in the season opener on Feb. 11 at Screven and never looked back, building his advantage with virtually every race to achieve a start-to-finish championship run.
En route to his record 228-point championship margin over Eckert, Lanigan pushed his points lead over the 100-point mark after just the 13th race of the season, on May 26 at Tyler County Speedway. His edge was never less than triple digits for the remainder of the schedule.
There were only 13 occasions when Lanigan left a racetrack with his points lead smaller than it was when he arrived and just four times was his net loss to his nearest pursuer 10 or more points.
Lanigan’s unprecedented championship season exceeded the expectations placed on him by members of the dirt Late Model press who participated in the fifth annual WoO LMS Pre-Season Media Poll.
Lanigan was predicted to win the title by just six of the 43 media types who voted in the poll, which awarded points to drivers named on each top-five ballot using a 5-4-3-2-1 system. He received 11 second-place, 14 third-place, six fourth-place and four fifth-place votes, good for 132 points and third place in the final tabulation behind pre-season favorite Richards (170 points, 22 first-place votes) and runner-up McCreadie (159 points, 12 first-place votes).
Six press members picked Lanigan to win the points crown: magazine writers Bill Holder and Al Martin; announcer/writer Chris Stepan; Gater Racing News blogger Bruce Eckel; and photographers Michael Moats and Lee Smith.
Holder was the years best prognosticator, correctly picking three of the top-five points finishers. He hit on Lanigan, fourth-place McCreadie and fifth-place Frank.
Six media types, meanwhile, had at least two of their top-five picks finish in the spots they predicted: Stepan, Moats, Paul Arch, Al Paradise, Cory Stivason and the late Charles Haffer Jr., the Midwestern photographer known as Photobilly who lost his life in a summer highway accident. Sixteen others correctly picked one drivers final points finish.
The poll also asked the media to predict the seasons winningest driver (including number of victories) and the winners of three marquee events the season-opening Winter Freeze at Screven, the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., and the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake.
Just three respondents writers Keith Courson and Walt Wimer and photographer Lee Smith predicted that Lanigan would lead the tour in A-Main triumphs, but none were close to his total of 15 victories.
In the special-event category, no media members were right with the winner of more than one race. Courson, Paradise, Don Davies, Dustin Jarrett, Paul Fletcher and Gary Shrey correctly picked Lanigan as the winner at Screven; Haffer, Stivason, Dave Argabright, Jeff Gromis, Lou Long and Ben Shelton nailed Bloomquist as the Lernerville victor; and Todd Ridgeway was the lone media member to pick Lanigan as the winner of the USA Nationals.
Over $2.7 million was paid out to drivers during the 2012 WoO LMS, including just over $400,000 in points-fund and post-season bonus cash.
Lanigan led the money-won list with $426,700 in event and points-fund earnings. Eckert ranked second at $217,930, and also reaching six-figures was McCreadie ($165,970), Clanton ($143,250), McCool ($123,880), Frank ($115,750) and Smith ($114,570).
Bloomquist was the top non-WoO regular on the list, coming in 12th with $59,000 in earnings for just nine starts.