Clanton In Unlikely Arkansas Winner
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Shane Clanton knows his third World of Outlaws Late Model Series triumph of 2013 was a product of good fortune.
After capturing Saturday night’s 50-lap A-Main at I-30 Speedway, the 37-year-old driver from Zebulon, Ga., could only shake his head at the unlikely turn of events that made him a winner in the national tour’s first event in the state of Arkansas.
“I got lucky,” admitted Clanton, who was victorious for the second time in the last three WoO LMS events. “It was given to me because (Tim) McCreadie got into the lapped car. He had a better race car.”
Indeed, Clanton appeared resigned to finishing second after being passed for the lead by Watertown, N.Y.’s McCreadie on lap 43. But two circuits later McCreadie spun between turns three and four when he tangled with Robbie Stuart while attempting to lap the DeRidder, La., driver, sending McCreadie to the rear of the field for the ensuing restart and handing the top spot back to Clanton.
Then Clanton — despite running with a deflating left-rear tire on his Kennedy Motorsports Capital Race Car — held off a furious challenge from Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., over the final five laps to defeat the defending WoO LMS champion by a mere 0.259 of a second.
Josh Richards maintained his WoO LMS points lead with a third-place finish after starting sixth. Outside polesitter Rick Eckert placed fourth and Billy Moyer completed the top five.
Normally a very demonstrative Victory Lane personality, Clanton was rather subdued after his latest success. The circumstances of his 19th career WoO LMS checkered flag left him unwilling to celebrate in his trademark roof-pounding manner.
Clanton started from the pole position and led the race’s first 42 laps, keeping Lanigan at arm’s length for the first half of the A-Main and then battling to hold McCreadie at bay after the 2006 WoO LMS champ passed Lanigan for second on a lap-25 restart. But McCreadie’s ability to keep his Sweeteners Plus Warrior car glued to the inside of the track ultimately proved too much for Clanton, who ceded the lead to McCreadie on lap 43.
McCreadie, 39, immediately pulled away from Clanton, but his bid came to a heartbreaking end on lap 45 when contact with Stuart forced him into the uke tires lining the inside of turns three and four and then into a spin.
Clanton couldn’t believe his eyes when McCreadie went spinning from contention just ahead of him.
“He had a good run on the lapped car, and I felt like the lapped car should’ve given him room and he didn’t,” said Clanton, whose victory moved him within six points of Richards in the WoO LMS standings. “When you’re the last car on the lead lap (and) somebody’s under you, you know it’s the leader so you just move out of the way.
“I feel sorry for McCreadie a little bit, but hey, a win’s a win. You gotta put yourself in them positions to take advantage of it. We had the second-best race car, and we won the race.”
Clanton didn’t cruise to victory after McCreadie’s misfortune. He was dogged every step of the way by Lanigan, who came within inches of leading lap 47 and stayed glued to Clanton’s rear bumper until the final lap when he bobbled slightly attempting a high-side pass rounding turns one and two.
“I was just trying to fend him off the best I could,” Clanton said of Lanigan. “I knew I was leaving the bottom open leaving the corner, but I just had a flat left-rear tire so I was doing all I could. The left-rear tire going flat was killing me down the straightaways.”
Lanigan, 42, settled for his second consecutive runner-up finish on the WoO LMS.
“It was hard to pass,” said Lanigan, who started third in his Rocket mount. “On the last lap I went in (turn one) a little higher to try go through the middle to pass (Clanton), but there was no traction.”
When Clanton parked his No. 25 on the homestretch for the post-race ceremonies, he emerged from the cockpit to see his left-rear tire almost completely devoid of air. He was amazed that he was able to hold on with the handicap.
“When (McCreadie) passed me there on the bottom (for the lead on lap 43) we got together and I guess it cut the left-rear tire down,” said Clanton, who earned $10,550 for a victory that tied him with Lanigan atop the tour’s 2013 win list. “He was running way lower down the straightaway than what I realized. I thought I got by him down the straightaway, but he had a good run and we hit, and it cut the left rear tire down. Luckily we could finish the race.”
McCreadie, meanwhile, was running at the conclusion of the A-Main, but he crossed the finish line in 19th place. After passing Eckert, Lanigan and Clanton en route to the front from his fourth starting spot, the defeat was a bitter pill for him to swallow.
“It’s frustrating,” said a dejected McCreadie, who was bidding for his second WoO LMS victory of 2013. “I had a run on that lapped car (into turn three) and was completely up underneath him, and he just kept coming down into me. I couldn’t even gas it up to slide up and push him out of the way, so I ended up going around.”
Shane Clanton, Darrell Lanigan, Josh Richards, Rick Eckert, Billy Moyer, Bub McCool, Clint Smith, Wendell Wallace, Kyle Beard, Jack Sullivan, Tim Fuller, Scott James, Robbie Baker, Eric Wells, Morgan Bagley, Chandler Petty, Tommy Surrett, Zach McMillan, Tim McCreadie, Dillon Wood, Chub Frank, Robbie Stuart, Odie Green, Timothy Culp.