Buckeye 100 Qualifying Night Not Kind To Steve Francis & Other World of Outlaws Stars

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

ALMA, OH – Aug. 21, 2009 – Friday night’s ‘Buckeye 100’ qualifying program at K-C Raceway wasn’t kind to World of Outlaws Late Model Series points leader Steve Francis.

But on an evening that saw four of the top-five drivers in the tour points standings fail to qualify through a heat race, Francis certainly wasn’t alone in his misery.

The lone qualifier among the racers highest in the WoO LMS points battle was second-place Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who trails Francis by six points entering the $20,000-to-win spectacular. He finished second in the fourth 12-lap heat despite racing more than half the distance with nosepiece damage that his car sustained when it dug into the track surface in turn three.

It was a tough night all around for the WoO LMS regulars. The only series traveler to win a heat race was Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., who was joined by Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., and Jeep VanWormer of Pinconning, Mich., on the list of preliminary victors.

Francis, 41, of Ashland, Ky., was the highest profile casualty on the opening night of the Buckeye 100 weekend. Racing at a three-eighths-mile oval located just over an hour’s drive from his home, the 2007 WoO LMS champion slowed on lap four of the third 12-lap heat when his Beitler Motorsports was stricken with a broken oil-pump belt as he set the pace.

The mechanical malfunction forced Francis and his Chris Burton-led crew to pull out a backup engine and make a powerplant swap before turning in for the night.

“It was just a fluke deal,” said Francis, who has finished second in six of the last eight WoO LMS A-Mains. “I haven’t had an oil-pump belt break since (a race at) Brownstown (Ind.) four years ago.

“But that’s racing. All we can do now is race as hard as we can tomorrow and see what happens.”

Francis faces a starting spot deep in a B-Main on Saturday night, but he remains confident about his chances to capture the big money in the Buckeye 100 and continue his pursuit of a second WoO LMS title.

“If the track’s like it was tonight,” said Francis, “I can win the race from 23rd (starting spot).”

Defending WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who sits third in the points standings, also missed the cut in Friday night’s heat races. He started second in the first heat but struggled to a seventh-place finish.

The list of heat non-qualifiers also included Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., and Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who sit fourth and fifth, respectively, in the WoO LMS points standings. Fuller, whose streak of four consecutive tour wins ended on Thursday night at Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio, was unable to overtake Bart Hartman of Zanesville, Ohio, for the final transfer spot in the fourth heat.

The evening’s turn of events would seem to put Richards in the driver’s seat in the championship battle. He’s among the eight drivers – the top two finishers in each heat – who will redraw for the top eight starting spots in the Buckeye 100 on Saturday night.

A field of 43 cars assembled on qualifying night for the Buckeye 100, which was postponed by rain on its original date in early May.

Rick Combs, 34, of Bethel, Ohio, was fastest in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, turning a lap of 14.184 seconds to secure his first-ever fast-time honor on the WoO LMS. But his fortunes turned in his heat race when he spun between turns three and four after falling from the pole to seventh and failed to qualify.

Twin B-Mains and the Buckeye 100 headline the program on Saturday night (Aug. 22) at K-C Raceway. A complete open-wheel Modified show will also be presented.

Gates are scheduled to open at 4 p.m., with racing set to begin at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com or www.kc-raceway.com.

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

1. 11H-Rick Combs/Bethel, OH 14.184
2. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 14.260
3. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 14.339
4. 55-Jeep VanWormer/Pinconning, MI 14.387
5. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 14.388
6. 28M-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 14.393
7. 49-Jonathan Davenport/Blairsville, GA 14.401
8. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 14.429
9. 22-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA 14.442
10. 15B-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 14.459
11. 26-Tony Knowles/Tyrone, GA 14.464
12. 28c-Eddie Carrier Jr./Salt Rock, WV 14.465
13. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 14.494
14. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 14.511
15. 18W-Eric Wells/Hazard, KY 14.533
16. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 14.552
17. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 14.568
18. 12A-Rick Aukland/Zanesville, OH 14.584
19. 11A-Austin Hubbard/Seaford, DE 14.623
20. 75-Bart Hartman/Zanesville, OH 14.644
21. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 14.701
22. 18K-Brandon Kinzer/Allen, KY 14.738
23. 71c-R.J. Conley/Wheelersburg, OH 14.744
24. 12-Jordan Bland/Campbellsville, KY 14.749
25. 12x-Doug Drown/Wooster, OH 14.780
26. 96F-Keith Berner/Millersburg, OH 14.781
27. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 14.797
28. 30-Steve Shaver/Vienna, WV 14.831
29. 12d-Doug Dodd/Cambridge, OH 14.857
30. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 14.861
31. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 14.898
32. 47-Greg Oliver/Jackson, OH 14.929
33. 71-Delmas Conley/Wheelersburg, OH 14.930
34. 71R-Rod Conley/Wheelersburg, OH 14.936
35. 7M-Matt Miller/Waterville, OH 14.939
36. 99-Donnie Moran/Dresden, OH 14.965
37. 17T-Zack Dohm/Cross Lanes, WV 14.976
38. 18-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 15.154
39. 16-Paul Davis/Pilgrim, KY 15.189
40. 79c-Brian Whiteman/McArthur, OH 15.372
41. 00-Matt Pistole/West Portsmouth, OH 16.066
42. 11-Tyler Reddick/Corning, CA N/T
43. 3-Brent Robinson/Smithfield, VA N/T

Heat No. 1 (12 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Satterlee, Frank, McCreadie, Drown, Eckert, D. Conley, Lanigan, Dohm, Dodd, Combs, Pistole

Heat No. 2 (12 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, Birkhofer, Mars, Kinzer, King, C. Smith, Berner, Rod Conley, Hapka, Reddick, Aukland

Heat No. 3 (12 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Davenport, B. Smith, Hubbard, R.J. Conley, Miller, Wells, Coffey, Davis, Knowles, Francis (DNS) Robinson

Heat No. 4 (12 laps – Top 4 Transfer): VanWormer, Richards, Carrier, Hartman, Fuller, Shaver, Bland, Oliver, Moran, Whiteman

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.