Francis Dominates World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Conococheague 50’ At Hagerstown Speedway

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

HAGERSTOWN, MD – May 30, 2009 – Steve Francis rolled to victory in Saturday night’s World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Conococheague 50’ at Hagerstown Speedway.

No luck needed. No luck involved.

Francis, 41, of Ashland, Ky., was simply the class of the field in the half-mile oval’s 28th annual event, roaring off the pole position to lead the entire 50-lap distance without facing a single serious threat. He pocketed $10,750 for his tour-best fourth triumph of the 2009 WoO LMS season and the 24th of his career.

“Tonight I could just kinda float around wherever I wanted to go,” said Francis, who has won more WoO LMS A-Mains than any other driver since 2004. “If a guy went wide, I just went wider. My car was just about perfect.”

Two days after seeing an apparent win at Delaware International Speedway slip through his fingers when a cut right-rear tire knocked him from the lead with six laps remaining, Francis had his Dale Beitler-owned Reliable Painting/Valvoline Rocket car in a league of its own. He easily pulled away after each of the race’s four restarts and defeated defending WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., by 3.815 seconds – nearly a full straightaway margin.

Rick Eckert of York, Pa., advanced from the eighth starting to finish a solid third in Raye Vest’s Team Zero by Bloomquist mount. Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., started and finished fourth – though he climbed as high as second – in his RSD Enterprises Rocket, and 17-year-old Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., registered a career-best WoO LMS finish of fifth in his family-owned Rocket.

“Out of a season, you might have a car this good two or three times,” said Francis, who is the only driver with more than one win in the 13 WoO LMS A-Mains contested this year. “You don’t get that kind of feel (inside a car) and also have everything go right – like winning a heat and drawing the pole – very often, so you just take it when you can get it.

“We might go to Tyler County (Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va.) tomorrow (May 31) and run 20th. That’s the way racing is, so we’ll enjoy this as much as we can.”

Francis did have flashbacks to his heartbreaking loss at Delaware International as the Conococheague 50 wound down, but his Cornett-powered dirt Late Model kept running on four filled tires.

“You’re always worried the whole time you’re racing,” said Francis. “So when I looked up at the (score) board and saw 42 laps were in, I just was thinking, ‘Let’s get the last eight laps in here without getting a flat.’ I just wanted the race to end.”

Francis won the Conococheague event for the second time in his career, 13 years after his initial triumph in a 1996 race sanctioned by the defunct Renegade/STARS series. He also gave Beitler, whose home in West Friendship, Md., is about an hour’s drive from Hagerstown, a victory at his hometrack for the first time in five years.

In addition, Francis moved into the WoO LMS points lead by 24 points over Lanigan. He entered the event two points behind leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who struggled to a 17th-place finish (one lap down) in a brand-new Rocket car and fell all the way to fifth in the points standings.

Lanigan, who turns 39 on June 3, steered his Fusion Energy Rocket past Clanton for second on a lap-18 restart and held the position for the remainder of the distance. But he wasn’t able to offer Francis a challenge.

“Francis had more traction,” said Lanigan, who recorded his fourth runner-up finish (without a victory) of the ’09 WoO LMS campaign. “If we just would’ve tightened up a little bit I think we could’ve run with him, but our car was pretty good in the heat so we didn’t change it as much as we should have.”

The 43-year-old Eckert, meanwhile, also slightly missed the optimum setup for the A-Main, which was run on a smooth, slick surface.

“Francis was the best car that I could see,” said Eckert, who moved into a tie with Clanton for third in the points standings. “I could just about run with Lanigan, but we needed to be a little tighter.”

Keith Jackson of Odenton, Md., scored a WoO LMS career-best finish of sixth. Jason Covert of York Haven, Pa., marched forward from the 16th starting spot to grab seventh place, while Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., rallied to finish eighth after falling from the 13th starting spot to last on the track when he nearly spun on the opening circuit and Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., moved from 17th to ninth. Hagerstown regular Andy Anderson of Bunker Hill, W.Va., completed the top 10.

The race’s four caution flags were all caused by single-car incidents. Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., and Kirk Ryan Jr. of Lewistown, Pa., each spun on lap two to bring out separate cautions, while J.T. Spence of Winchester, Va., stopped on lap 18 and D.J. Myers of Greencastle, Pa., pulled up lame on lap 27 after twice coming together with Brady Smith while battling for ninth place.

A field of 41 cars was signed in for the event, which was run under brilliantly clear skies.

Fuller was fastest in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials for the first time this season, lapping the oval in 19.082 seconds. He earned a $50 bonus for his effort.

Heat winners were Francis, Eckert, Lanigan and Hubbard, whose A-Main performance earned him the $500 WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a WoO LMS event and wasn’t ranked among the top 12 in the series points standings. The B-Mains were captured by Brady Smith and Chub Frank.

The WoO LMS completes a three-race eastern swing on Sunday night (May 31) with a 40-lap, $7,000-to-win event at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va. It will mark the tour’s first-ever visit to the quarter-mile oval.

For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.

Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Conococheague 50’ (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (1) Steve Francis/50 $10,750
2. (3) Darrell Lanigan/50 $5,600
3. (8) Rick Eckert/50 $3,550
4. (4) Shane Clanton/50 $3,000
5. (5) Austin Hubbard/50 $2,500
6. (10) Keith Jackson/50 $1,700
7. (16) Jason Covert/50 $1,400
8. (13) Tim Fuller/50 $1,850
9. (17) Brady Smith/50 $1,700
10. (15) Andy Anderson/50 $1,200
11. (25) Frankie Plessinger/50 $1,050
12. (18) Chub Frank/50 $1,500
13. (2) Dan Stone/50 $950
14. (14) Clint Smith/50 $1,400
15. (7) Vic Coffey/50 $1,350
16. (21) Darryl Hills/50 $800
17. (11) Josh Richards/49 $1,270
18. (24) Russell King/48 $1,000
19. (23) Jordan Bland/48 $1,230
20. (6) Alan Sagi/40 $700
21. (12) D.J. Myers/26 $700
22. (20) Jeremy Miller/18 $700
23. (9) J.T. Spence/16 $700
24. (22) Roy Deese Jr./10 $700
25. (19) Kirk Ryan Jr./2 $700

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 28 Mins., 53.258 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 3.815Secs.
Yellow Flags: 4 (Laps 2, 2, 18, 27)
Lap Leaders: Francis (1-50)
Provisional Starters: King, Bland (WoO); Plessinger (track)
Rookie of the Race: Russell King ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Austin Hubbard ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Mike ‘Smoke’ Countryman (Fuller)

Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):

1. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 19.082
2. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 19.206
3. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 19.208
4. 11H-Austin Hubbard/Seaford, DE 19.251
5. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 19.305
6. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 19.315
7. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 19.433
8. 70J-D.J. Myers/Greencastle, PA 19.470
9. 8A-Alan Sagi/Hagerstown, MD 19.573
10. 88-Keith Jackson/Odenton, MD 19.581
11. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 19.614
12. 24M-Jeremy Miller/Gettysburg, PA 19.633
13. 5K-Kirk Ryan Jr./Lewistown, PA 19.656
14. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 19.686
15. 25A-Andy Anderson/Bunker Hill, WV 19.687
16. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 19.728
17. 91-J.T. Spence/Winchester, VA 19.729
18. B2-Brian Booze/Marion, PA 19.730
19. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 19.766
20. 27-Jim Yoder/Selinsgrove, PA 19.784
21. 6-Jamie Lathroum/Mechanicsville, MD 19.786
22. 9-Frankie Plessinger/Big Cove Tannery, PA 19.847
23. 05-Roy Deese Jr./Laurel, MD 19.874
24. 43A-Jason Covert/York Haven, PA 19.925
25. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 19.935
26. 46-Marvin Winters/McConnellsburg, PA 19.954
27. 21-Matt Lux/Franklin, PA 20.014
28. 12-Jordan Bland/Campbellsville, KY 20.033
29. 3s-Rusty Sites/Chambersburg, PA 20.084
30. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 20.099
31. 12F-Devin Friese/St. Thomas, PA 20.116
32. 06-Mike Lupfer/Shermansdale, PA 20.141
33. 7-Darryl Hills/Great Mills, MD 20.317
34. 8L-Scott LeBaron/Dover, PA 20.613
35. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 20.636
36. 14W-Bryan Wright/Front Royal, VA 20.649
37. 73-Al Cheney/Hamilton Square, NJ 20.671
38. 11-Tyler Reddick/Corning, CA 20.746
39. 43-Troy Erickson/Martinsburg, WV 21.474
40. 3-Brent Robinson/Smithfield, VA N/T
41. 31G-Steve Gibney/Mt. Airy, MD N/T (DQ – no scales)

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Francis, Sagi, Spence, Fuller, Ryan, Hills, King, Sites, Lathroum, Cheney (DNS) Gibney

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Eckert, Clanton, Jackson, C. Smith, B. Smith, LeBaron, Winters, Booze, Plessinger, Reddick

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Lanigan, Coffey, Richards, Anderson, Frank, Deese, Lux, Friese, Hapka, Erickson

Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Hubbard, Stone, Myers, Covert, Miller, Yoder, Lupfer, Bland, Wright, Robinson

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): B. Smith, Ryan, Hills, King, Plessinger, LeBaron, Booze, Lathroum, Sites, Cheney, Reddick, Winters (DNS) Gibney

B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Frank, J. Miller, Deese, Lux, Yoder, Lupfer, Bland, Hapka, Wright, Friese (DNS) Erickson, Robinson

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:

* Arizona Sport Shirts ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in B-Mains): Frankie Plessinger, Jim Yoder
* Armor All (case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main w/decal): Austin Hubbard
* Champ Pans ($50 product certificate to ‘Bonus Bucks’ winner w/decal): Austin Hubbard
* 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): Andy Anderson
* Crane Cams ($100 product certificate to Heat 3 winner w/decal): Darrell Lanigan
* Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner w/decal): Brady Smith, Chub Frank
* Fusion Energy ($50 cash award to Heat 2 winner w/decal): Rick Eckert
* Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash award to fast qualifier w/decal): Steve Francis
* 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): Austin Hubbard
* Quarter-Master ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Vic Coffey
* 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): Brian Booze
* 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 May 30 – 13 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):

1. Steve Francis 4-8-10-$67,980-1715 (-0)
2. Darrell Lanigan 0-5-10-$59,900-1691 (-24)
3. (tie) Shane Clanton 1-2-10-$43,500-1687 (-28)
3. (tie) Rick Eckert 1-5-9-$33,745-1687 (-28)
5. Josh Richards 1-7-9 -$52,020-1683 (-32)
6. (tie) Chub Frank 0-2-8-$25,800-1629 (-86)
6. (tie) Tim Fuller 0-2-6-$24,180-1629 (-86)
8. Brady Smith 0-5-7-$30,175-1614 (-101)
9. Clint Smith 0-0-5-$20,830-1553 (-162)
10. Vic Coffey 0-0-1-$14,440-1398 (-317)
11. Shannon Babb 1-4-7-$42,330-1395 (-320)
12. Jordan Bland 0-0-0-$12,930-1287 (-428)
13. Russell King 0-0-1-$11,220-1270 (-445)
14. Brent Robinson 0-0-0-$5,810-1190 (-525)
15. Dustin Hapka 0-0-0-$5,710-1135 (-580)
16. Tyler Reddick 0-0-0-$3,325-1043 (-672)
17. Austin Hubbard 0-1-2-$7,805-731 (-984)
18. Dale McDowell 0-2-3-$12,400-717 (-998)
19. Dennis Erb Jr. 0-0-1-$5,010-657 (-1058)
20. Chris Madden 1-3-3-$20,000-615 (-1100)

FOLLOW THE ACTION ON TWITTER: Fans can now keep up-to-date with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series online and through text messages on cell phones via the Twitter, the internet’s fast-growing social-networking and micro-blogging website. Updates are provided to Twitter ‘followers’ of the WoO LMS throughout each race night, and fans also receive breaking news and interesting notes from the tour.

To sign-up as a WoO LMS ‘follower’ on Twitter to receive updates anywhere at anytime, visit http://twitter.com/WoOLateModels.

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 protected]

The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Crane Cams (Official Valvetrain), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Fusion Energy Boost (Official Energy Boost), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser) and VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors Champ Pans, Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tires, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Ohlins Shocks, Racing Electronics, Quarter Master and Wrisco Aluminum; Crane Cams Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Cornett Racing Engines, Custom Race Engines and Pro Power Racing Engines; and Chassis Builder Challenge participants Rocket Chassis and Team Zero by Bloomquist.