Lucas Oil talent pool grows deeper after Clint Bowyer Racing move

Darrell Lanigan

Darrell Lanigan

The recent announcement that Clint Bowyer Racing had parted ways with driver Steve Francis and Barry Wright Race Cars affected more than that one team. Ultimately, an entire series will feel the impact of the move.

Along with the news of a driver and chassis builder that were being dropped by the team owned by the NASCAR star came the stunning revelation that Darrell Lanigan and his Club 29 Race Cars would be joining CBR. That move will take one of the top stars from the World of Outlaws Late Models Series and place him on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series as a full-time competitor.

Further consider that Lanigan was not just a star on the WoO tour, but a champion. The Union, KY driver so totally dominated the series in 2014 with his 17 victories that he essentially locked up his third championship ahead of the finale event at the World Finals in Charlotte.

While many drivers would be pleased to post a season with five total wins and 22 top-5 finishes(as Lanigan has done so far in 2015), those numbers proved to be a bit of a letdown for the ‘Bluegrass Bandit’ after his stellar campaign from the previous year. Lanigan even stepped away from his No. 29 machine midway through the season to refocus his efforts, both as a driver and chassis builder.

But with the Bowyer team, Lanigan’s responsibilities on his own car will be lessened significantly. That in turn should allow the driver/car builder to take care of his business during the week and his driving on the weekends. In other words, Darrell Lanigan will almost certainly return to full speed in 2016.

Lanigan will drive the No. 15 car out of the Clint Bowyer stable in 2016.

Lanigan will drive the No. 15 car out of the Clint Bowyer stable in 2016.

Consider that the likes of Jonathan Davenport, Scott Bloomquist, Jimmy Owens, Don O’Neal, Earl Pearson, Jr., Jared Landers, Eddie Carrier, Jr., Dennis Erb, Jr. and Brandon Sheppard are already among those who have raced regularly on the LOLMDS of late. Adding Lanigan to that mix will only serve to deepen the waters of the talent pool for this national touring series.

That, in turn, begs the question of whether any of those drivers may depart Lucas Oil to race with the WoO Late Models or to compete regionally instead of nationally. Not that any of the drivers listed above would necessarily fear the increased competition, but rather, there are a myriad of reasons why someone might change tours or abandon series racing altogether.

Also consider that Francis, who parted ways with Bowyer, has indicated that he will race on a national tour next year. Should that series be the LOLMDS, that will only further add to the number of championship caliber stars on that tour.

While there are a number of unanswered questions going forward, one thing seems certain. And that is the likelihood that 2016 will be a very interesting season in the world of Dirt Late Model racing.

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