Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., ended an eight-year absence from Victory Lane during the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment with a memorable triumph in Wednesday night’s 40-lap DIRTcar UMP Super Late Model A-Main at Volusia Speedway Park.
Racing at the half-mile oval where he won his first-ever dirt Late Model feature in 2004, McCreadie outdueled Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., for the lead on lap 29 and then hung on for dear life, ultimately nipping Lanigan and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., in a thrilling three-car finish to the week’s third and final DIRTcar UMP-sanctioned event.
McCreadie, 38, flashed under the checkered flag just 0.062 of a second ahead of Lanigan, who swapped the lead three times with his fellow World of Outlaws Late Model Series regular. Third-place Moyer was also part of the photo finish, just 0.119 of a second behind Lanigan.
Ninth-starter Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., finished fourth in his first appearance of the week and Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., started and finished fifth.
Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who won the first two UMP Super Late Model A-Mains of the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals by Summit, saw his streak end without even completing a lap in the feature. He started 22nd after qualifying through a B-Main and was knocked out of the race in a multi-car, turn-one tangle on the opening lap, leaving him with a 24th-place finish.
McCreadie’s $10,000 triumph was the fifth of his career during the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals by Summit but first since he captured the WoO LMS finale of the 2005 racing extravaganza. He won three of the six dirt Late Model features contested that year.
“It’s been since ’05 since I thought that we were a threat (at Volusia),” said McCreadie, whose career-first dirt Late Model win on Feb. 9, 2004, came in a DIRTcar UMP-sanctioned event at Volusia. “Tonight kind of felt like that (year).”
McCreadie demonstrated that he was ready to snap his victory drought at Volusia in Tuesday night’s A-Main when he sailed by Lanigan for the lead on lap two. His bid ended three circuits later when he jumped the cushion in turn two and slapped the guardrail, but even after retiring he remained upbeat about the performance of his Sweeteners Plus Warrior car.
Starting third in Wednesday’s headliner, McCreadie gained control of second from his teammate Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., on lap five and used the outside groove to overtake race-long pacesetter Lanigan for the top spot on lap 14. He ceded the lead back to Lanigan on lap 23 and fell nearly two seconds behind within four circuits, but a caution flag on lap 28 for Coffey, who stopped with terminal engine trouble, put McCreadie back in the game.
On the restart McCreadie immediately went to the outside of the track and drove into turn three side-by-side with Lanigan. He rocketed off turn four to regain command as lap 29 was scored.
“(During) the cautions we had got the crumbs packed in on the outside and (following the restart) you could really ring the outside for four or five laps,” said McCreadie. “But once it throws crumbs there (again), you can’t steer good enough and you’re just not hooked up good enough like the bottom was. I stayed out there too long the first time (after taking the lead), and then when (Lanigan) passed me I just kind of tried to follow him.
“I couldn’t really run with him at that point. Then the yellow come out (on lap 28) and it was long enough to get the moisture packed in. I figured (Lanigan would) go to the top (on the restart), but he just happened to go to the bottom (entering turn three).
“I had nothing to lose,” he continued. “We’ve had a better start than we’ve ever had in the past three four years down here, but it isn’t winning, so I just gave it a shot.”
The race was far from over, however. Over the last five laps Lanigan and Moyer alternated diving underneath McCreadie, who found himself needing to hold off both standout drivers rounding turns three and four on the final circuit.
“You don’t know where everybody is, but you can tell by the looks in (signaling crewmen’s) eyes when they’re waving (their arms) that fast that they think you’re in trouble,” said McCreadie, describing the deciding laps. “I was kind of scared, so I figured my best shot, because Lanigan had been running the bottom, was to cover the bottom and roll the middle just because I could keep my momentum up.
“Then I saw on the board that Moyer had got to second and he’s usually good in the hub there too, so I just figured, ‘Try to be smooth and cover most of the lanes, and if they beat you, they beat you.’
“We got lucky,” he concluded. “I kind of slipped up in (turns) three and four both of them almost went by me. The finish line – thank God it was where it was at instead of 10 foot further down the track.”
Lanigan, 42, graciously congratulated McCreadie in Victory Lane after settling for runner-up money. He tossed his car around the extreme outside of turns three and four on the last lap but couldn’t beat McCreadie to the finish line.
“We were just awful tight there in the middle of the race and couldn’t turn,” said Lanigan, who led laps 1-13 and 23-28 after starting from the outside pole in his Rocket machine. “We had a shot there at the end to just wing it around the top and I went for it, but we came up a little bit short.”
Moyer, 55, was awestruck by the race’s exciting finish. He advanced from the seventh starting spot to place a week-best third in his Victory Circle car.
“The people in the stands had to love that – we did too,” said Moyer, the winningest driver in the history of the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals by Summit. “It was awful close. I don’t know if I remember one with the top three that close.
“There was a little strip right there (on the bottom of the track) and when I hit it just right I could really go through there, but I couldn’t hit it right every lap. And that last lap I was thinking, I gotta do it, gotta do it, and I missed it just a little bit.”
Four caution flags slowed the event. In addition to Coffey’s mechanical trouble on lap 28, Eric Jacobsen of Sea Cliff Beach, Calif., and Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., tangled in turn two on lap seven; Scott James of Bright, Ind., spun wildly into turn one after contact with Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., on lap eight; and Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., spun in turn two on lap 13.
The opening-lap incident necessitated red-flag conditions. Joining Richards in the turn-one wreck were Tennessee’s Bloomquist and Stacy Boles and Illinois drivers Shannon Babb, Brandon Sheppard, Bobby Pierce and Jason McBride.
Finishing in positions 6-10 were Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., who climbed as high as third; 14th-starter Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga.; 18th-starter Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky.; fourth-starter Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga.; and 15th-starter Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who made his first start of the week.
A week-high 55-car field was entered in the program, which utilized group qualifying to set the starting lineups for six heat races.
McDowell registered the fastest overall qualifying lap at 15.870 seconds. Other group fast-timers were Rick Eckert of York, Pa., (15.976), Moyer (16.004), Boles (16.147), Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ind. (16.224) and Owens (16.240).
Heat winners were O’Neal, Lanigan, Coffey, McCreadie, Pearson and Roberts. The B-Mains were captured by Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, Tenn., Babb and Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., and Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., topped the 12-lap Bulrush Dash for non-qualifiers.
The DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit continues on Thursday night (Feb. 21) with the first of three straights of competition featuring the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. A 50-lap WoO LMS A-Main paying $10,000 to win will top the program, which also includes a 30-lap feature for the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds. Race time is 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
For more information on the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, log on to www.DIRTcarNationals.com.
DIRTcar UMP Late Model 40-Lap A-Main Finish (Finish Pos./Start Pos./Driver/Laps Completed):
1. (3) Tim McCreadie/40
2. (2) Darrell Lanigan/40
3. (7) Billy Moyer/40
4. (9) Dale McDowell/40
5. (5) Don O’Neal/40
6. (6) Earl Pearson Jr./40
7. (14) Shane Clanton/40
8. (18) Steve Francis/40
9. (4) Casey Roberts/40
10. (17) Jimmy Owens/40
11. (16) Jimmy Mars/40
12. (13) Tyler Reddick/40
13. (21) Bub McCool/40
14. (11) Mason Zeigler/40
15. (27) Donnie Moran/39
16. (19) Billy Ogle Jr./39
17. (1) Vic Coffey/27
18. (15) Brady Smith/12
19. (10) Scott James/8
20. (12) Eric Jacobsen/7
21. (8) Dennis Erb Jr./7
22. (25) Scott Bloomquist/7
23. (20) Shannon Babb/0
24. (22) Josh Richards/0
25. (24) Bobby Pierce/0
26. (23) Stacy Boles/0
27. (26) Brandon Sheppard/0
28. (28) Jason McBride/0
Time of Race: 22 mins., 28.658 secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.062 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 4 (laps 7, 8, 13, 28); 1 red flag (start)
Lap Leaders: Lanigan (1-13); McCreadie (14-22); Lanigan (23-28); McCreadie (29-40)
Provisional Starters: Bloomquist, Moran (DIRTcar Nationals); Sheppard, McBride (’12 UMP points)
Heat No. 1 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Don O’Neal, 2. Billy Moyer, 3. Tyler Reddick, 4. Billy Ogle Jr., 5. Eric Wells, 6. Josh Richards, 7. Jason McBride, 8. Justin Rattliff, 9. Dan Stone, 10. Chad Hollenbeck
Heat No. 2 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Darrell Lanigan, 2. Dennis Erb Jr., 3. Shane Clanton, 4. Eddie Carrier Jr., 5. Tim Fuller, 6. Scott Bloomquist, 7. Billy Moyer Jr., 8. Ricky Weiss, 9. Chuck Julien
Heat No. 3 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Vic Coffey, 2. Dale McDowell, 3. Brady Smith, 4. Shannon Babb, 5. Kenny Pettyjohn, 6. Clint Smith, 7. Morgan Bagley, 8. Joey Coulter, 9. Kent Robinson
Heat No. 4 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Tim McCreadie, 2. Scott James, 3. Jimmy Mars, 4. Stacy Boles, 5. Dillon Wood, 6. Ron Davies, 7. Joey Coulter, 8. Chub Frank, 9. Jerry Lierly
Heat No. 5 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Earl Pearson Jr., 2. Mason Zeigler, 3. Jimmy Owens, 4. Bub McCool, 5. Bobby Pierce, 6. Gregg Satterlee, 7. Jared Landers, 8. Donnie Moran, 9. Brandon Sheppard
Heat No. 6 (8 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Casey Roberts, 2. Eric Jacobsen, 3. Steve Francis, 4. Pat Doar, 5. Michael Norris, 6. Todd Frank, 7. Michael Walker, 8. Rick Eckert, 9. Mike Benedum
B-Main No. 1 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Billy Ogle Jr., 2. Josh Richards, 3. Tim Fuller, 4. Eric Wells, 5. Scott Bloomquist, 6. Eddie Carrier Jr., 7. Billy Moyer Jr., 8. Ricky Weiss, 9. Justin Rattliff, 10. Chad Hollenbeck, 11. Jason McBride
B-Main No. 2 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Shannon Babb, 2. Stacy Boles, 3. Dillon Wood, 4. Morgan Bagley, 5. Kenny Pettyjohn, 6. Kent Robinson, 7. Clint Smith, 8. Ron Davies, 9. Chub Frank, 10. Joey Coulter, 11. Chuck Julien (DNS) Stormy Scott, Jerry Lierly
B-Main No. 3 (10 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Bub McCool, 2. Bobby Pierce, 3. Pat Doar, 4. Gregg Satterlee, 5. Michael Norris, 6. Donnie Moran, 7. Brandon Sheppard, 8. Jared Landers, 9. Todd Frank, 10. Mike Walker (DNS) Rick Eckert, Mike Benedum
by Kevin Kovac