Whether he likes it or not, all eyes will be on Darrell Lanigan as the four-time runner-up returns with the World of Outlaws Dirt Late Models to Lernerville Speedway this weekend for the seventh running of the Firecracker 100.
One can't blame Lanigan if he sounds miffed when asked if he'll ever win the Firecracker. The two-time WoO Late Model Champion from Union, Ky., set a record by winning 15 WoO features in 2012, including the WoO title in '12.
Will this be the year Lanigan finally has luck on his side and takes home the $30,000 check for winning the Firecracker 100?
"You just gotta have luck behind you," Lanigan said. "If you don't have no luck, you're not gonna win it. Actually, those races we finished second in there don't bother me. I mean, yeah, I want to win it, but I'm not gonna beat myself up about it if it doesn't happen."
The Firecracker 100 weekend opened Thursday with Josh Richards from Shinnston, W.Va. winning the 30-lap feature for the WoO Late Models.
All previous winners of the Firecracker 100 -- including two-time winners Scott Bloomquist and Jimmy Mars, along with Brian Birkhofer and Shane Clanton -- are expected to enter this year's event. Bloomquist's truck and trailer rig broke down in route to Lernerville and he missed the opening race. But he is expected to be at the track today.
Along with the eleven drivers on the WoO touring series, the local racers will be well-represented. It is a list of drivers highlighted by Jared Miley of South Park, whose eighth-place showing in 2012 was the highest finish claimed by a Western Pennsylvania racer in the history of the Firecracker 100.
"We know going into the Firecracker that the track will be slick by the time we get to the [100-lap] feature, and we are bringing back the same car [that finished eighth], so we'll try to improve a little bit and try to get into the top 5 this year," Miley said.
Alex Ferree from Saxonburg has been on a roll recently, winning at Lernerville and Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway, but the young veteran driver knows what the competition represents.
"These guys coming in do it for a living, there's a whole different level there," Ferree said. "A couple of them have bad nights but they are still really fast."
Other local drivers that have been impressive in 2013 at Lernerville include John Garvin Jr., who earned a provisional starting spot in the Firecracker 100 by leading the late model points going into this weekend, along with other feature winners Dave Hess Jr., Davey Johnson, Michael Norris and Mike Pegher Jr., driving the No. 1 Cochran late model for Lynn Geisler.
The Firecracker 100 weekend has many activities scheduled for everyone. Besides fireworks on the track, the skies over Saver will be filled with fireworks each night. Go to www.lernerville.com for a complete schedule of events.
PPMS to run Sunday
For the past six years Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway near Imperial has rescheduled its regular Saturday night event to the day after the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville so local fans and racers can take part in the region's highest-paying event for the late models. This year is no different.
PPMS will be host to the 410 Sprint Cars in a $2,500 to-win 20-lap feature event along with the track's other five divisions beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Motordrome Speedway in Smithton is in action at 8 p.m. today with all five divisions. ... Pittsburgh Raceway Park in New Alexandria has Friday Night at the Races today, regular classes in action Saturday and an Import Faceoff is at PRP on Sunday for an all-import drag racing event. Go to www.pittsburghracewaypark.com for details.
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