Second-Year WoO LMS Competitor Outduels Veterans Clanton & Frank In Dramatic 50-Lapper At Bubba Raceway Park
OCALA, Fla. - Feb. 14, 2015 - Frank Heckenast Jr. refused to be denied again.
The second-year national traveler nearly saw another chance at his breakthrough World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory slip through his fingers Saturday night at Bubba Raceway Park when Shane Clanton snuck by him late in the 3/8-mile oval's 50-lap race. But instead of settling for another near-miss, Heckenast, 26, of Frankfort, Ill., dug deep and willed himself back to the lead one lap later.
The 2014 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year held off both Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., and hard-charging Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., through the race's final eight laps to earn $10,550 for his first career WoO LMS victory during the second round of the Bubba Army Winter Nationals.
"When Shane passed me, reality started to set in and I told myself I wasn't letting another one get taken from me," said Heckenast, who joined Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind., as the second first-time WoO LMS winner this season. "That next lap I just got up on the wheel and settled down and didn't get all flustered. I got beside him and drag-raced him off the corner and got ahead of him. I just did my best to drive a straight race the rest of the way."
Heckenast's Club 29 Race Car crossed the finish line 0.766 seconds ahead of Clanton's Capital Race Cars house car. Richards was third after catching the top two cars late in the race only for his Rocket Chassis house car to slip over the cushion just after edging ahead of Clanton for second on lap 48.
Defending series champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., recovered from an early spin in his Club 29 house car to finish fourth, while the Longhorn Chassis of early leader Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., rounded out the top five in a dramatic race that featured five lead changes and side-by-side racing near the front throughout its entirety.
For Heckenast, the hard-fought victory cements his status as a bonafide WoO LMS contender. After a seventh-place points finish on last year's WoO LMS, Saturday's strong performance now has Heckenast aiming much higher during his sophomore season.
"I feel like we belong here now," said Heckenast, whose No. 99JR machine carries sponsorship from St. Louis U-Pic-A-Part and Storage Squares. "Last year the rookie thing was beating me up pretty bad and I didn't have a whole lot of confidence. But in the second half of the year we were getting better and better and really just started putting everything together.
"I knew we could win a race this year, but I didn't want to have to wait until November to see if we could do it. Now that we've got it out of the way, I feel like we can win even more and have a really good chance at a good points finish this year."
The race was intense from the very beginning for Heckenast, who quickly charged forward from his fifth starting spot to challenge the teammates of Frank and Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., in a tight three-car battle through the race's early laps. Heckenast first edged into the lead at the completion of lap six, but he couldn't quite clear the veteran Frank, who was looking to end his nearly six-year WoO LMS winless streak.
Frank roared back ahead on lap eight and only narrowly held command with Heckenast and Briggs on his heels before a lap-11 caution slowed the lead battle. Heckenast took advantage of the restart, pulling alongside Frank through turns one and two on lap 12 before finally clearing him for the lead on lap 13.
Heckenast maintained a slight advantage through the race's middle portions while Clanton and Richards made their way forward. Richards took the second spot from Frank on lap 27 with Clanton following into third on the next lap. After overtaking Richards for second on lap 36, Clanton began to cut away at Heckenast's nearly straightaway advantage.
With Heckenast struggling in traffic, Clanton began to challenge for the lead by lap 40 and pulled ahead with a low-side pass in turns one and two on lap 41. A slight misstep by Clanton in turns three and four on the same lap allowed Heckenast to pull back alongside. He completed the winning move with a bottom-line pass of his own on lap 42.
Heckenast's bold recovery denied Clanton his second straight WoO LMS victory after he snapped his 66-race winless streak with a dramatic triumph of his own during the tour's Feb. 7 event at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. The runner-up performance continues Clanton's return to form following a dismal 2014 campaign that saw the WoO LMS veteran go winless on the tour for the first time since the series was restarted in 2004.
"I thought I was going to (win)," said Clanton, who took over the series points lead and is the only driver to finish among the top five in all three of this season's WoO LMS A-Mains. "I just messed up in three and four and Frankie's car was good enough to take advantage of my misfortune. But overall a good night. We started seventh, and to get to second was pretty good.
"We got our ducks in a row right now. Hopefully we can keep them in a row and get a good points lead here. We're optimistic for a good year."
Polesitter Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., was never a factor after jumping the cushion on the race's opening lap. But he recovered to score a sixth-place finish, continuing his solid start to the season that saw the regional standout finish among the top three of both WoO LMS A-Mains at Screven.
Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, advanced from his 18th starting spot to finish seventh, while Briggs faded back to eighth after running among the top three through the race's first 20 laps. Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., finished ninth and rookie competitor Jordan Yaggy of Rochester, Minn., notched his first career WoO LMS top-10 finish in the 10th position.
The race was slowed by two cautions with the first appearing for Lanigan's spin on lap four. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., slowed to cause the final caution with 11 laps complete.
The fourth annual Bubba Army Winter Nationals conclude on Sunday with another $10,000-to-win WoO LMS program. Action gets underway with hot laps at 5 p.m. followed by a complete slate of time trials, heat races, B-mains and another 50-lap A-Main.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com. Fans can also follow the WoO LMS on Twitter at Twitter.com/WoOLateModels and Facebook at Facebook.com/WorldofOutlawsLateModelSeries.
Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series Bubba Army Winter Nationals at Bubba Raceway Park (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
- (5) Frank Heckenast Jr./50 $10,550
2. (7) Shane Clanton/50 $5,500
3. (9) Josh Richards/50 $3,150
4. (10) Darrell Lanigan/50 $3,150
5. (2) Chub Frank/50 $2,700
6. (1) Brandon Overton/50 $2,250
7. (18) Morgan Bagley/50 $1,950
8. (4) Boom Briggs/50 $1,900
9. (6) Chase Junghans/50 $1,750
10. (3) Jordan Yaggy/50 $1,400
11. (12) Steve Casebolt/50 $1,050
12. (20) Rodney Sanders/50 $1,050
13. (15) Rick Eckert/50 $1,600
14. (8) Austin Kirkpatrick/50 $1,000.00
15. (23) Eric Wells/49 $1,400
16. (14) Mason Zeigler/49 $800
17. (17) Dennis Franklin/49 $770
18. (16) Billy Ogle Jr./49 $750
19. (22) Tyler Clem/49 $730
20. (13) Mark Whitener/34 $700
21. (21) Bob Gardner/32 $700
22. (11) Ivedent Lloyd Jr./26 $700
23. (19) Tim McCreadie/12 $1,350
24. (24) Mike Hammerle/2 $725
Time of Race: 24 Mins., 04 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.766 Secs.
Yellow Flags: Two (laps 4 & 11)
Lap Leaders: Frank (1-5; 8-12), Heckenast (6-7; 13-40; 42-50), Clanton (41)
Provisional Starters: Wells, Hammerle
WoO LMS 'Bonus Bucks' Winner: Overton ($500)
WoO LMS 'Rookie of the Race' Winner: Yaggy ($250)
Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
- 1*-Chub Frank, Bear Lake, Pa., 15.092
2. 99B-Boom Briggs, Bear Lake, Pa., 15.299
3. 76-Brandon Overton, Evans, Ga., 15.400
4. 18c-Chase Junghans, Manhattan, Kan., 15.427
5. 77-Jordan Yaggy, Rochester, Minn., 15.488
6. 99jr-Frank Heckenast Jr., Frankfort, Ill., 15.525
7. 29-Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky., 15.697
8. 11K-Austin Kirkpatrick, Ocala, Fla., 15.701
9. 1-Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va., 15.708
10. 25-Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga., 15.747
11. 21-Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Ocala, Fla., 15.762
12. c9-Steve Casebolt, Richmond, Ind., 15.779
13. 58-Mark Whitener, Middleburg, Fla., 15.813
14. 25z-Mason Zeigler, Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.832
15. 87-Josh Knoll, Lake, Mich., 15.868
16. 311-Scott Groves, Canton, Ga., 15.915
17. 4G-Bob Gardner, Peoria, Ill., 15.927
18. 1F-Dave Fieber, Chippewa Falls, Wis., 15.931
19. 14-Tyler Clem, St. Petersburg, Fla., 16.012
20. 2-Dennis Franklin, Gaffney, S.C., 16.020
21. 7v-Rick Eckert,York, Pa., 16.070
22. 201-Billy Ogle Jr., Knoxville, Tenn., 16.091
23. 39-Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y., 16.131
24. 18-Eric Wells, Hazard, Ky., 16.146
25. 11-Austin Smith, Cedartown, Ga., 16.185
26. 20-Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, 16.271
27. 14m-Morgan Bagley, Longview, Texas, 16.705
28. 16H-Mike Hammerle, St. Charles, Mo., 17.701
Heat No. 1 (10 laps - Top 6 Transfer): Junghans, Frank, Clanton, Lanigan, Whitener, Ogle, Clem, Smith, Hammerle, Groves.
Heat No. 2 (10 laps - Top 6 Transfer): Briggs, Yaggy, Kirkpatrick, Lloyd, Zeigler, Franklin, McCreadie, Gardner, Sanders.
Heat No. 3 (10 laps - Top 6 Transfer): Heckenast, Overton, Richards, Casebolt, Eckert, Bagley, Wells, Fieber, Knoll.
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps - Top 4 Transfer): McCreadie, Sanders, Gardner, Clem, Wells, Knoll, Hammerle, Fieber. Did not start: Smith, Groves.
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners (awards presented to noted finisher/qualifier or next highest displaying decal):
Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash to fast qualifier): Frank
Comp Cams ($50 certificate to A-Main winner): Heckenast
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner): Heckenast
Quartermaster ($100 certificate to A-Main winner): Clanton
Wrisco (three sheets of aluminum/certificate to A-Main winner): Heckenast
Mobil 1 ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main): Frank
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 5th-place finisher in A-Main): Frank
Lincoln Welders ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main): Overton
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to 8th-place finisher in A-Main): Briggs
Edelbrock ($50 cash to 9th-place finisher in A-Main): Junghans
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main): Yaggy
Cometic ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main): Sanders
JRI Shocks ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main): Kirkpatrick
Superflow Dynos ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main): Kirkpatrick
Quartermaster ($25 certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main): Wells
JE Pistons (one set of rings certificate to 16th-place finisher in A-Main): Ogle
Quartermaster ($50 certificate to 19th-place finisher in A-Main): Gardner
Mobil 1 (20 percent certificate to 20th-place finisher in A-Main): Gardner
JE Pistons (one set of rings certificate to 21st-place finisher in A-Main): Gardner
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main): Hammerle
QA1 ($50 to driver with fastest lap of the night): Frank
Arizona Sports Shirts ($100 certificate to highest-finishing non-WoO driver): Casebolt
2015 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Feb. 14 - Three A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
- Shane Clanton 436
2. Brandon Overton 428 (-8)
3. Steve Casebolt 424 (-12)
4. Josh Richards 406 (-30)
5. Darrell Lanigan 404 (-32)
6. Frank Heckenast Jr. 402 (-34)
7. Chub Frank 400 (-36)
8. Morgan Bagley 394 (-42)
9. Boom Briggs 378 (-58)
10. Tim McCreadie 370 (-66)
11. Mason Zeigler 368 (-68)
11. (tie) Rick Eckert 368 (-68)
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Lincoln Welder (Official Welder), VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and McCarthy's One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award); in addition to contingency sponsors: Butlerbuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Edelbrock, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Mobil 1, MSD, Ohlins Shocks, QA1, QuarterMaster, Superflow Dynos and Wrisco Aluminum; along with manufacturer sponsors Capital Race Cars, Club 29 Chassis, Integra Shocks, Impact Racing Products, Intercomp, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis,