Lanigan & Weiss Grab Thursday Twin Victories For The LM Dream At Eldora

Story By: ELDORA SPEEDWAY – 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.

Group A Feature Finishing Order:
1. 29-Darrell Lanigan[5]; 2. 49D-Jonathan Davenport[2]; 3. 3S-Brian Shirley[3]; 4. 22-Chris Ferguson[11]; 5. 39-Tim McCreadie[1]; 6. 1P-Earl Pearson, Jr.[7]; 7. 22S-Gregg Satterlee[10]; 8. 1S-Chad Simpson[4]; 9. 25Z-Mason Zeigler[8]; 10. 71-Hudson O’Neal[16]; 11. 83-Scott James[14]; 12. 40B-Kyle Bronson[6]; 13. 88R-Andrew Reaume[15]; 14. 18X-Michael Page[18]; 15. 28-Dennis Erb, Jr.[20]; 16. 32S-Chris Simpson[12]; 17. 17-Zack Dohm[21]; 18. 23B-John Blankenship[19]; 19. 2-Brandon Overton[17]; 20. 32-Bobby Pierce[23]; 21. 1ST-Johnny Scott[13]; 22. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, Jr.[24]; 23. 24-Dylan Yoder[9]; 24. 2H-Nick Hoffman[22]

Group B Competition:
The story of Ricky Weiss’ drive to victory in Thursday’s Group B Feature was not as dramatic as Lanigan’s, but just as exciting to watch.

Weiss laid down a lap of 16.041 in qualifying, only good enough for 15th in Group B. However, with the lineup procedure for the Heat races, Weiss started on the pole in Heat 4 and won, setting himself up for a fourth-place redraw effort. And did he ever make the most of it…

Right from the drop of the green, the Turk Enterprises, Sweet-Bloomquist chassis #7 was a rocket ship. He made the move underneath Chris Madden on a crossover move out of turn four to take the runner-up spot on lap 4 and wrestled the lead from Jacob Hawkins by lap 10.

From that point onward, it was smooth sailing for Weiss. Nobody was able to even come near the black-and-orange #7, as he led the final 16 laps to claim his very first Feature win at “The Big E.”

“From the second we pulled in, my crew unloaded the car, and we’ve all been pretty confident on that car and that program,” Weiss said. “This is one of our favorite tracks, and we knew, coming in, that we’d be something to contend with.”

As expected, Weiss and the crew had a lot of Scott Bloomquist’s teachings in the back of their heads on Thursday night, and were especially proud to pick up the victory for his brand.

“This was just an awesome race for the Bloomquist cars. It just goes to show how strong we really are,” Weiss said.

Meanwhile, Chris Madden got the bounce-back finish he needed on Thursday, fighting for the runner-up spot with Jacob Hawkins early and finally running off with the spot on lap 13. He held that spot and looked very strong the rest of the way – a much-needed boost of confidence after experiencing some mechanical misfortunes in previous weeks’ competition.

Group B Feature Finishing Order:
1. 7W-Ricky Weiss[4]; 2. 44-Chris Madden[2]; 3. 8H-Jacob Hawkins[1]; 4. 17M-Dale McDowell[7]; 5. 20-Jimmy Owens[8]; 6. 25C-Shane Clanton[9]; 7. 28M-Jimmy Mars[3]; 8. 1T-Tyler Erb[5]; 9. 157-Mike Marlar[12]; 10. 1-Brandon Sheppard[16]; 11. 0B-Shannon Babb[6]; 12. 7R-Kent Robinson[14]; 13. 7M-Donald Mcintosh[15]; 14. 18-Chase Junghans[11]; 15. 33-Jonathan Henry[10]; 16. 50-Shanon Buckingham[13]; 17. 87-Ross Bailes[18]; 18. 8S-Kyle Strickler[23]; 19. O-Scott Bloomquist[19]; 20. B1-Brent Larson[24]; 21. 99RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[17]; 22. 16T-Tyler Bruening[22]; 23. 5-Don O’Neal[20]; 24. 14-Josh Richards[21]

With Lanigan’s and Weiss’ victories on Thursday night, it marks the first time in event history, since the 2013 format change, that a single night’s preliminary Features were both won by full-time World of Outlaws drivers.