Darrell Lanigan put an exclamation point on his World of Outlaws championship season by winning a thriller on Friday night at the World Finals.
Lanigan ran the far outside groove alongside of race leader Chris Madden for much of the event. When he had pushed the top out all the way to the fence, Lanigan began to slip back and dropped to third in the final laps.
“I was set-up to run the bottom,” said Lanigan, “but I went to the top because they were all on the bottom.”
With heavy lapped traffic sitting in Madden’s low groove at the end, Lanigan drove back to second and then took the lead exiting turn four on the final lap for the thrilling win.
“I saw them ahead, but I figured Madden would move up, but he never did. I didn’t know it was the last lap. I was still running hard after the checkered.”
The victory was a career high 17th of the season for Lanigan who had clinched the point title before heading to Charlotte.
“We’re definitely happy,” said Lanigan later in the pits.
“To get 17 wins in one year against this caliber of racers is awesome.”
For many years, Lanigan brought Rocket-built Late Model chassis into his shop and made them “Club 29” specials. After the completion of the 2013 season, he began to build his own chassis by partnering with Ronnie Stuckey. The frames are built in Stuckey’s shop in Shreveport, Louisiana. They are then finished in Lanigan’s shop in Union, Kentucky. His own race team is kept in another building.
After just one season building cars, Lanigan
has found out that the old saying, ‘win on Saturday, sell on Monday’ is true.
“When you win, it definitely helps sell race cars,” said Lanigan. “If you’re winning, people will buy. The 51st car is on the jig now. It’s been phenomenal.”
Racing with customers is often difficult. Lanigan had to make sure while he was helping a customer, he didn’t cost himself a race or a Championship
“I did worry about that,” he said, “but I work very, very, very hard to keep my own program going and yet help my other customers. My daddy always told me ‘you can achieve anything if you work hard enough at it’.”
Lanigan said his No. 29 is no different than anything his customers receive. He is, however working on something new for next year that he’ll be testing in December.
“It’s the same car everyone else has. Nothing out of the ordiniary. We try small stuff throughout the year, but we’re going to build a little different chassis and try it this winter.”
Lanigan said if his ideas work, it will go into production, he won’t keep it as an edge for himself.
“I’m proud of that,” said Lanigan of seeing his ideas on race cars of competitors. “It’s neat to see my ideas on someone else’s car even when it’s on another brand. It lets you know it must have been a pretty good idea.”
Lanigan joins Scott Bloomquist, Shane Clanton, Jimmy Bernheisel and other top veteran drivers who are in the chassis building business.
“It’s something for my future,” said Lanigan of his decison to build his own cars. “I’m not going to drive forever. I love helping younger drivers achieve and do well. I definitely want to stay in the sport.”
At Charlotte, the Late Model division had the biggest car count with 79 entered. While the car count has remained high at big events, it is less than numbers achieved in years past.
“I don’t know how healthy the division is,” said Lanigan, “but it’s definitely sticking in there. It does cost more and more each year to run up and down the road. I’ve seen some teams struggling to stay out there next year, but I think you’ll hear that ever year at the end of the season.”