Former WoO champ wins at Latrobe; Pullers are next
Dec 29, 2023
It's not every Saturday night that a grassroots race track gets a three-time national touring series champion to participate in any race without a contract to appear.
But that was the case at the Jesse Sterbutzel Memorial Race Saturday at Latrobe Speedway.
Darrell Lanigan, a three-time World of Outlaw Dirt Late Model Champion, took the opportunity to drive a Crate Late Model for an old friend with a successful outcome.
Brian Daugherty, a longtime employee of a company that supplies shock absorbers to the auto-racing industry, and Dirk Neal are partners in the No. 1 Rocket Crate Late Model.
Daugherty and Lanigan's relationship goes back a long way to Lanigan's Super Late Model driving days and his days of building the Club 29 Late Model chassis.
The Daugherty/Neal Rocket is an excellent running race car. The No.1 Rocket with Mark Whitener driving is a two-time Bill Emig Memorial RUSH Late Model race winner as part of the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway.
According to partner Neal, they will be trying for a three-peat at the 2023 Firecracker Bill Emig Memorial.
Lanigan – from Union, Kentucky – exercised enormous patience at the Jesse Sterbutzel Memorial as he followed current RUSH Late Model point leader Jeremy Wonderling for the first 29 laps.
In the Jesse Sterbutzel Memorial Race, the 40-lap Crate Late Model feature, Wonderling and Lanigan shared the front row, with Wonderling jumping out front to the lead over Lanigan and Henry Hornsby III.
Wonderling kept the pack behind him for the first 29 laps before Lanigan made the pass for the lead after a restart on lap 30.
After taking the lead, Lanigan, a 2021 National Late Model Hall of Fame inductee, took command for the remainder of the event.
Following Lanigan across the strip were Wonderling, David Pengrazio, Kyle Hardy and Ben Policz.
Pengrazio, Hardy and Policz failed post-race inspection, moving Noah Brunell, Ryan Frazee and Henry Hornsby III into the top five.
Brunell picked up an additional $100 from Bobby Lake Motorsports as the Hard Charger coming from the 20th starting spot.
Brunell was the highest-finishing Latrobe Speedway weekly Crate Late Model competitor in the field of the Jesse Sterbutzel Memorial Race.
The heat races were won by Wonderling, Lanigan, Braeden Dillinger and Hornsby III.
Brent Trimble was the Crate Late Model quick qualifier in Group A with a lap of 20.20 seconds to start on the inside pole, alongside Group B's quickest, Darrell Lanigan, who posted a lap of 20.23 seconds.
In the Super Late Model feature, Drake Troutman, who had a last-minute change of plans, decided to try Latrobe's Big-Half Mile before heading out on the UMP Late Model Hell Tour. Fortunately for Troutman, the gamble paid off with a visit to Latrobe's Victory Lane to claim the $2,500 check for winning the 30-lap Super Late Model feature.
Troutman dominated the event and was closely followed across the finish line by John Lee, Dan Angelicchio, Daniel Hill and Lucas McDonald.
Lee was the quick qualifier in the Super Late Models with a lap of 18.46 seconds around the big half-mile.
In the $1,000 to-win Pure Stock feature, the epic battle continued between the top two drivers of the division.
EJ Rozak and Anthony Monteparte put on an excellent show for the fans, with Rozak coming out on top of the 12-lap feature. Monteparte finished second, followed by Greg Blystone, Jim Zufall and Cody Behanna.
On Saturday, the Stock car racing will have the night off as Full Pull Productions presents the Latrobe Speedway Spring Full Pull for the first time in the track's history.
Six classes of pulling action will occur on the speedway's front stretch.
The featured classes include the Hot Farms Tractors, big tractors with roll cages, and 510 cubic inch diesel turbo engines. Pro Farm tractors with smaller turbo-powered engines, Renegade Street Diesel 4x4 Trucks, Super Street Gas, and Triple Crown Street Gas 4x4s.
A new youth class will compete, featuring 12- to 15-year-olds behind the wheel of a Strictly Street Stock class 4x4, being accompanied by an adult at all times.
Gates open at 5 p.m. with pulling at 7 p.m.
For more information, go to www.latobemotorsports.com or the Facebook page.
On Friday, Tim Smith led early at Bedford, lost the lead but rallied late to claim the Late Model win. After getting a late start on the season, it was Smith's first win of 2023 and third career Bedford win.
Bryan Bernheisel burst from third to lead the opening lap, but his thrill was short-lived as Tim Smith shot by on lap three. Spike Moore almost instantly hounded Smith at the front, but the man on the move was Jeff Rine, who boomed from seventh to third by lap five. Rine got by Moore two laps later and set out after Smith.
After a spirited battle, Rine got by for the lead on lap nine and appeared en route to his record-setting 38th career Bedford win. Smith remained on hot pursuit, but Rine pulled away over the next two laps. Then, on lap 12, the usually bulletproof 92 broke, and Rine drifted to a halt in turn three. That placed Smith back in the lead with Moore again chasing.
Smith took the win by about two seconds at the finish over Moore and Kyle Lee. Bernheisel and Matt Sponaugle completed the top five.
In other action, Ryan Sager led pole to pole to grab the Limited Late Model win, his first since 2020. After a season of frustration, Bill Replogle took the Semi Late win, and Kyle Beckett took the Pure Stock event before Shawn Smith ended the evening with a 4 Cylinder win.
On Sunday, Erick Rudolph made the visit to Bedford Speedway very rewarding as he swept away with the win in the annual visit of the BRP Big Block modifieds.
In other action on Modified Madness night, Drake Troutman rallied late to take the track EMod win before Bill Vanmeter ended the show with a Crate Modified win.
Reach DJ Johnson at [email protected].
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