Story courtesy eldoraspeedway.com
ROSSBURG, OH – Veteran Dirt Late Model driver Darrell Lanigan, the 2003 winner of the Dirt Late Model Dream, and Ricky Weiss, one of the young stars of Dirt Late Model racing, each picked up $10,000 victories on Thursday night at Eldora Speedway as the 25th annual Dirt Late Model Dream kicked off at the high-banked, one-half mile oval.
Lanigan, of Union, Kentucky, started the first 25-lap feature event in the fifth position but methodically worked his way to the runner-up position in the first 10 laps behind race-long leader Jonathan Davenport.
With Davenport slowed while working his way through lapped traffic, Lanigan chipped away at the 20-car length deficit once he moved to the runner-up position on lap 15 and finally caught Davenport, the 2015 Dream winner, in the closing laps.
Lanigan made his move as the lead duo raced to the white flag. Coming off of turn four with the white flag in the air, Lanigan pulled even with Davenport and then the two made contact in turn one forcing Davenport up the track.
Lanigan held his line on the bottom of the track, while Davenport collected his car and charged back on the outside groove of the speedway. Again, in turns three and four, Lanigan forced Davenport up the track and then powered away for the win.
“It never gets old winning at Eldora,” Lanigan said. “It is always special to win here at these big events.”
Davenport settled for the runner-up finish in the first feature ahead of Brian Shirley, Chris Ferguson and Tim McCreadie. Earl Pearson, Jr., Gregg Satterlee, Chad Simpson, Mason Zeigler and Hudson O’Neal completed the top ten.
At last fall’s World 100, Weiss was not allowed to compete after his car failed pre-race tech inspection. Weiss returned to Eldora looking for redemption and the Canadian and found it in becoming the first Canadian to win a preliminary event before one of the Eldora “crown jewel” events.
Weiss, of Headingley, Manitoba, Canada, took the lead from Jacob Hawkins on lap 11 of the second feature event and was never seriously challenged the remainder of the 25-lap, caution-free event.
“It was disappointing to leave here like that last year,” Weiss said. “My guys have been really working hard at Scott’s (veteran driver, Bloomquist) shop and have really given me a good car.”
Chris Madden also moved around Hawkins in the races mid stages but could never challenge Weiss. In fact, after dropping back several car lengths to Madden, Hawkins charged back in the closing laps and just as they took the checkered flag, the duo made contact, in sparks-flying scraped with the outside wall.
Both drivers drove away from the melee with Madden scored in the second position ahead of Hawkins. Former Dream winners Dale McDowell and Jimmy Owens completed the top five. Shane Clanton, Jimmy Mars, Tyler Erb, driving for St. Mary’s-based Best Performance Motorsports, Mike Marlar and Brandon Sheppard completed the top ten.
The 25th Running of the Dirt Late Model Dream continues Friday with another pair of $10,000-to-win main events. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 PM with heat race action slated for 8:00 PM.