Darrell Lanigan’s Health Issues Force Him to Miss WoO Season Opener
by Chris McWilliams on February 26, 2011
Darrell Lanigan in Action (Image Credit: Barry Lenhart)
Darrell Lanigan missed out on the 2010 World of Outlaws Late Model title by a slim margin of four points and now he faces a tough time in 2011 as he seeks to regain the title in the series that crowned him their 2008 champion. Lanigan was plagued by health issues that caused the 40-year-old late model veteran to miss the 2011 season opener on Thursday, February 17th at the 40th DIRTcar Nationals by University of Northwestern Ohio at Volusia Speedway Park. As a result Lanigan found himself in an immediate points hole that he knows will be a challenge to overcome.
Lanigan had showed up in Volusia on February 14th with his new hauler but was forced to leave the track by himself during the afternoon and fly back home to Union, Kentucky. He informed his crew members that he wasn’t feeling well and that the lower-back pain and general malaise that bothered him in the off-season flared back up after he spent a day testing cars en route to Florida. Darrell decided that it would be best if he got checked out by his own doctor before the WoO LMS opener on February 17th. He thought he could take it easy for a few days and come back to Volusia on Thursday to join up with his team and start chasing his second WoO LMS championship.
When Lanigan showed up at the airport on Thursday morning to return to Volusia he was unable to board the plane because his blood pressure had become elevated. He immediately headed for the hospital for medical attention and was admitted for tests and observation which prevented him from entering the evening’s action at Volusia. Lanigan’s absence from the Volusia field was impossible to overlook. He is coming off a near-championship 2010 season that saw him win a career-best seven series A-Mains and was one of the original 12 drivers signed to follow the WoO LMS when the tour was reincarnated under the World Racing Group banner in 2004. February 17th’s opener was the 282nd WoO LMS A-Main contested since 2004 and marked just the second tour event he did not enter in his eight years as a regular (his other no-show came on July 3, 2007, at Missouri’s Lebanon I-44 Speedway). It also represented just the seventh A-Main that he did not start (he was a non-qualifier twice in 2004, once in ’05 and twice in ’07).
Darrell Lanigan (right) Recieves Trophy for His 2008 WoO Title
Luckily, Lanigan was released from the hospital on Friday and by Saturday morning felt much better and he took a morning flight to Florida. While preparing for hot laps to start that evening, he said doctors suggested his high blood-pressure reading might have resulted from a reaction to antibiotics he was prescribed for the initial treatment of a cyst found at the base of his tailbone which was apparently the source of his lower-back discomfort. Lanigan looked tough when he returned to the track on Saturday but ran into some bad luck. After qualifying 16th he made a powerful outside move to pass Jimmy Mars for third and was challenging Tim McCreadie for second when his car’s battery shorted out exiting turn two on the final lap, dropping him off the pace. Lanigan’s car came back to life rounding turn four just as third-place Mars slowed with an expired engine and he nearly recovered to grab the final transfer spot, but he settled for fourth and qualified for the A-Main by winning the B-Main.
Darrell Lanigan Door to Door With Scott Bloomquist (Image Credit: Rick Schwallie)
He started 20th in Saturday’s 50-lapper and was never a factor. Lanigan pitted during a lap-five caution to loosen up his car and change the left-rear tire, but he ultimately was lapped on the 40th circuit and finished 15th. The race was the first WoO LMS A-Main in which Lanigan was running at the finish but not on the lead lap since Aug. 15, 2009, at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway. He did receive 60 “hardship” points for the Thursday-night event because he is a WoO LMS contracted driver but he still left Volusia tied for 30th in the points standings, 120 points out of first place. On the positive note he is 96 points behind the highest-ranked driver who plans to follow the entire WoO LMS (Austin Hubbard) and he’s 76 points behind two-time defending champion Josh Richards.