Barberville, FL —Steve Francis saved his best for the last night of the 38th annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.
With a stirring drive forward from the eighth starting spot to win the 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main that ended the 12-night mid-winter racing extravaganza at Volusia Speedway Park, Francis headed home to Ashland, Ky., with a smile on his face and $10,100 in his pocket.
“I shouldn’t say, ‘It was about time,’ because no racetrack ever owes you anything,” said Francis, whose best finish in the week’s five other Super Late Model events was a fourth in Thursday night’s WoO LMS season opener. “But when you struggle as much as we have down here, it just makes you feel good when you leave here with a win.
“Now we get to be the guy who won the last race – and we get a month to think about it.”
Steve Francis – CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM VOLUSIA SPEEDWAY PARK!
Francis, 41, nailed the UMP DIRTcar Hoosier tire choice for his Dale Beitler-owned Rocket car after a post-heat race shower dampened the half-mile oval and delayed the program for one hour. He reached second with a lap-20 pass of Jacksonville , Fla. ’s Earl Pearson Jr. and then chased down race-long pacesetter Brady Smith of Solon Springs , Wis. , finally grabbing the top spot for good on lap 36.
Smith, who started from the outside pole in his Bloomquist Chassis mount, settled for a runner-up finish, 1.878 seconds behind Francis. The $5,000 outing came after the hopeful 2009 WoO LMS regular failed to qualify for the tour’s lidlifter on Thursday night due to a heat-race accident.
Rick Eckert of York , Pa. , finished third in the Raye Vest Racing Bloomquist car, giving him four top-five finishes in six events during the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.
Completing the top five was fifth-starter Kelly Boen of Henderson , Colo. , who enjoyed his best finish of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, and Pearson, who ran as high as second after starting sixth. Both drivers were behind the wheel of Rocket cars.
Josh Richards of Shinnston , W.Va. , who entered the evening’s action with back-to-back $10,000-plus victories in WoO LMS (Thursday) and UMP DIRTcar (Friday) competition, saw his hot streak end with a seventh-place finish. He started 12th.
Francis credited his 21st career WoO LMS triumph – the most of any driver on the national tour since 2004 – to his starting spot and tire choice.
“With the (heat) inverts (in the four UMP DIRTcar events) and how everything has played out, we haven’t been able to see the front of the field much this week,” said Francis, who previously won WoO LMS A-Mains during the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH in 2004 (the first WoO LMS event under the World Racing Group banner) and 2006. “Tonight we were finally able to start closer to the front and it made a big difference. We just didn’t have to kill our car the first 20 laps to get into contention. We were able to save some tires and some car.
“We went a little soft on tires because of the showers. I was afraid that after three or four laps we’d start seeing a black line, but I just saw some spotty black spots so I knew we could just keep chasing that cushion because we had on a little softer tires. Then we were able to save enough so we could go to the bottom and pass Brady (for the lead).”
Smith, 31, mourned the pair of caution flags that slowed the race, on lap 24 (for the stopped car of Batesville , Ark. ’s Wendell Wallace) and lap 25 (a homestretch spin by Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.).
“After the last restart I didn’t go as good,” said Smith, who built as much as a half-straightaway lead during the race’s first half. “I got some wheel spin, so I believe my right-rear sealed over. We actually had on a harder tire than (Francis), but that tire has got a tendency to seal over.
“I think if the race would’ve went all green we might’ve been able to hold on, but you always have ifs, ands or buts. We’re just happy we had a good run here to end our Speedweeks.”
Eckert, 43, thought tires and the mid-race caution flags were his downfall.
“I think Steve was a little bit softer on tires than us,” said Eckert. “I didn’t think the softer tires would’ve kept going the whole way, but those two cautions probably helped him more than us because his soft tires cooled down and it took me a while to get going after the restarts.”
Finishing in positions 6-10 was Shane Clanton of Locust Grove , Ga. , who surged to fourth following the lap-25 caution flag but slipped backward because he couldn’t hold the outside groove; Richards; defending WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky.; 18th-starter Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn.; and Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga.
Lanigan’s quiet run left him winless during the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, but his steady week – topped by three runner-up finishes – earned him the week’s overall points championship.
Fifty-six cars were entered in the evening’s action.
Chris Madden of Gaffney , S.C. , was fastest in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials with a lap of 16.125 seconds.
Heat winners were Madden, Boen, Eckert, Pearson, Wallace and Brady Smith. The B-Mains were captured by Justin Rattliff of Campbellsville , Ky. , Tyler Ivey of Tallahassee , Fla. , and Jimmy Owens of Newport , Tenn.
The WoO LMS will be idle until diving into an early-season ‘Month of Money’ beginning with a two-day show on March 13-14 at Deep South Speedway in Loxley, Ala. Complete programs will be contested both nights – a 40-lap A-Main paying $7,000 to win on Friday and a 60-lap, $12,000-to-win finale on Saturday.
A total of $109,000 in first-place cash will be on the line over a four-week period that begins at Deep South and continues with the inaugural ‘Lone Star 100’ on March 20-21 at Battleground Speedway in Highlands, Texas ($20,000 to win win); the Circle K Colossal 100 on March 27-28 at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. ($50,000); and the ‘Illini 100’ on April 3-4 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway ($20,000).
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Volusia Speedway Park (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (8) Steve Francis/50 $10,100
2. (2) Brady Smith/50 $5,000
3. (4) Rick Eckert/50 $3,000
4. (5) Kelly Boen/50 $2,550
5. (6) Earl Pearson Jr./50 $2,000
6. (7) Shane Clanton/50 $1,700
7. (12) Josh Richards/50 $1,400
8. (11) Darrell Lanigan/50 $1,300
9. (18) Scott Bloomquist/50 $1,200
10. (24) Dale McDowell/50 $1,200
11. (9) Dennis Erb Jr./50 $1,050
12. (13) Dan Schlieper/50 $1,000
13. (3) Chris Madden/50 $1,000
14. (28) Tim Fuller/50 $200
15. (16) Darren Miller/50 $1,350
16. (19) Justin Rattliff/50 $800
17. (17) Billy Decker/50 $770
18. (10) John Blankenship/49 $750
19. (15) Jordan Bland/49 $730
20. (22) Vic Coffey/48 $700
21. (20) Tyler Ivey/48 $700
22. (27) Clint Smith/48 $0
23. (23) Scott James/25 $700
24. (25) Chub Frank/24 $700
25. (1) Wendell Wallace/23 $700
26. (14) Dillon Wood/18 $700
27. (26) Shannon Babb/14 $700
28. (21) Jimmy Owens/13 $700
* Earnings include cash contingency award bonuses
NOTE: Vic Coffey switched to a backup car for the A-Main and started from the rear of the field
Time of Race: 21 Mins., 10.904 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.878 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 2 (Laps 24, 25)
Lap Leaders: Brady Smith (1-35); Francis (36-50)
Provisional Starters: Frank, Babb, C. Smith, Fuller
Rookie of the Race: Dustin Hapka ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Darren Miller ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Kevin Miller (Francis)
Ohlins Shock Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 44M-Chris Madden/ Gaffney , SC 16.125
2. 19-Steve Francis/ Ashland , KY 16.191
3. 28e-Dennis Erb Jr./ Carpentersville , IL 16.199
4. 21M-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR 16.228
5. 91-Billy Decker/ Unadilla , NY 16.251
6. 02-Tommy Weder/ Woodward , OK 16.271
7. 25-Shane Clanton/ Locust Grove , GA 16.306
8. 07-Kelly Boen/Henderson, CO 16.380
9. 24-Rick Eckert/ York , PA 16.384
10. 44P-Earl Pearson Jr./ Jacksonville , FL 16.388
11. 88-Wendell Wallace/ Batesville , AR 16.393
12. 2-Brady Smith/ Solon Springs , WI 16.398
13. 9-Dan Schlieper/ Sullivan , WI 16.407
14. 18b-Shannon Babb/ Moweaqua , IL 16.417
15. 12b-Jordan Bland/ Campbellsville , KY 16.420
16. 32d-Darren Miller/ Milledgeville , IL 16.433
17. 56K-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 16.434
18. 1-Josh Richards/ Shinnston , WV 16.440
19. 32c-Vic Coffey/ Caledonia , NY 16.450
20. 26-Dillon Wood/ Daytona Beach , FL 16.452
21. 2A-John Anderson/ Omaha , NE 16.454
22. 23-John Blankenship/ Williamson , WV 16.480
23. 29-Darrell Lanigan/ Union , KY 16.499
24. 17M-Dale McDowell/Chickamauga, GA 16.511
25. 19T-Tim Fuller/ Watertown , NY 16.512
26. 50-Shannon Buckingham/ Morristown , TN 16.513
27. 54-David Breazeale/ Four Corners , MS 16.516
28. 47-Tyler Ivey/ Tallahassee , FL 16.516
29. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake , PA 16.525
30. 0-Scott Bloomquist/ Mooresburg , TN 16.526
31. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 16.542
32. 16R-Justin Rattliff/ Campbellsville , KY 16.548
33. 3R-Brent Robinson/ Smithfield , VA 16.549
34. 18K-Brandon Kinzer/Allen, KY 16.556
35. 21L-Ivedent Lloyd/Ocala, FL 16.583
36. 20-Jimmy Owens/ Newport , TN 16.654
37. 18H-Dustin Hapka/ Grand Forks , ND 16.667
38. 28c-Eddie Carrier Jr./Salt Rock, WV 16.674
39. 83-Scott James/ Greendale , IN 16.676
40. 7J-Joe Isabell/ Pennellville , NY 16.690
41. 49-Mark Pettyjohn/ Millsboro , DE 16.732
42. 29R-Ronnie Rihn/ Chippewa Falls , WI 16.745
43. 99B-Rick Briggs/ Bear Lake , PA 16.757
44. 19J-Greg Johnson/ Bedford , IN 16.760
45. 11H-Austin Hubbard/Seaford, DE 16.772
46. 44-Clint Smith/ Senoia , GA 16.810
47. 12K-A.J. Kirkpatrick/ Castroville , CA 17.220
48. 77-Jason McBride/ Carbondale , IL 17.319
49. 8-Gregg Hill/ Eveleth , MN 17.595
50. 22-Jill George/ Cedar Falls , IA 17.661
51. 11R-Tyler Reddick/ Corning , CA 17.682
52. 56s-Chas Shellenberger/ Winfield , PA 17.685
53. 32-Greg Kendall/ Paoli , IN 17.690
54. 25H-Chuck Hummer/ Ottawa Lake , MI 17.884
55. 1*CFR-Peter Mantha/Gatineau, QUE 17.931
56. 16H-Mike Hammerle/ St. Charles , MO 17.941
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Madden, Clanton, Schlieper, Coffey, Stone, Briggs, Hill, Hapka, Mantha, Fuller
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Boen, Francis, Wood, Rattliff, Babb, Buckingham, Johnson, Carrier Jr., Hammerle, George
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Eckert, Erb Jr., Bland, Breazeale, James, Anderson, Hubbard, Robinson, Reddick
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Pearson, Blankenship, Miller, Ivey, Kinzer, C. Smith, Isabell, Shellenberger, Moyer
Heat No. 5 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Wallace, Lanigan, Decker, King, Lloyd, Frank, Pettyjohn, Kirkpatrick, Kendall
Heat No. 6 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): B. Smith, Richards, Bloomquist, Weder, McDowell, Owens, McBride, Rihn, Hummer
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Rattliff, Coffey, Stone, G. Johnson, Hapka, Briggs, George, Hammerle, Hill, Babb (DNS) Carrier, Fuller, Buckingham, Mantha
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Ivey, James, Kinzer, C. Smith, Anderson, Hubbard, Robinson, Shellenberger, Isabell, Reddick (DNS) Breazeale, Moyer
B-Main No. 3 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Owens, McDowell, Lloyd, McBride, Weder, Hummer, Kendall, Rihn, King, Frank, Kirkpatrick, Pettyjohn
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:
* Arizona Sport Shirts ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in B-Mains): Dustin Hapka, John Anderson, Tommy Weder
* Armor All (case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main w/decal): Brady Smith
* Champ Pans ($50 product certificate to ‘Bonus Bucks’ winner w/decal): Darren Miller
* Crane Cams ($100 cash award to A-Main winner w/decal): Steve Francis
* Crane Cams ($100 cash award to 10th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Dale McDowell
* Crane Cams ($100 product certificate to Heat 3 winner w/decal): Rick Eckert
* Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner w/decal): Justin Rattliff, Tyler Ivey, Jimmy Owens
* Fusion Energy ($50 cash award to Heat 2 winner w/decal): Kelly Boen
* Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash award to fast qualifier w/decal): Chris Madden
* Quarter-Master ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner w/decal): Steve Francis
* Quarter-Master ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Earl Pearson Jr.
* Quarter-Master ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Darren Miller
* Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’ (one case of product): Steve Francis
* VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (two free VP five-gallon containers to fastest qualifier who does not make the A- Main if decal is displayed): Billy Moyer
* Wrisco Aluminum (three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner w/decal): Steve Francis
2009 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Feb. 14 – 2 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Steve Francis 1-2-2-$13,200-292 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 1-1-2-$12,000-286 (-6)
3. Darrell Lanigan 0-1-2-$6,950-280 (-12)
4. (tie) Rick Eckert 0-1-2-$4,700-274 (-18)
4. (tie) Shane Clanton 0-0-2-$3,650-274 (-18)
6. Dan Schlieper 0-1-1-$3,000-266 (-26)
7. (tie) Tim Fuller 0-0-1-$2,000-256 (-36)
7. (tie) Scott Bloomquist 0-0-1-$2,250-256 (-36)
9. Dale McDowell 0-0-1-$2,050-250 (-42)
10. Chris Madden 0-0-0-$1,900-246 (-46)
11. (tie) Billy Decker 0-0-0-$2,270-242 (-50)
11. (tie) Kelly Boen 0-1-1-$3,250-242 (-50)
13. Shannon Babb 0-1-1-$3,700-240 (-52)
14. Chub Frank 0-0-1-$2,400-234 (-58)
15. Justin Rattliff 0-0-0-$1,550-232 (-60)
16. John Blankenship 0-0-0-$1,520-230 (-62)
17. Vic Coffey 0-0-0-$2,000-228 (-64)
18. Jimmy Owens 0-0-0-$1,750-222 (-70)
19. Brady Smith 0-1-1-$5,000-221 (-71)
20. Jordan Bland 0-0-0-$1,430-220 (-72)
LISTEN ONLINE: If fans can’t get to a track to see the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, they can experience the excitement of the nation’s premier tour live on DIRTvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network.
To listen to the free audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo.
Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. For technical support or questions, e-mail email@example.com.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including VP Racing – the Official Racing Fuel of the WoO LMS; Fusion Energy – the Official Energy Boost of the WoO; and contingency sponsors Armor All, Champ Pans, Crane Cams, Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tires, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Ohlins Shocks, Quarter-Master, Super Clean and Wrisco Industries.