HAMMETT, PA – July 27, 2008 – Steve Francis made World of Outlaws Late Model Series history on Sunday night at Eriez Speedway.
With a victory in the 50-lap finale of Alltel Ohio Speedweek, Francis set a new modern-era (2004-present) WoO LMS win standard. His 17th career triumph on the tour broke him out of a three-way tie atop the win list with Scott Bloomquist and Rick Eckert.
Francis, 40, of Ashland, Ky., earned $10,250 for his second win in four Alltel Ohio Speedweek events. The defending WoO LMS champion also captured the opening event, on July 24 at Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio.
It was the third WoO LMS victory of 2008 for Francis, who started from the outside pole and led all but three laps of Sunday’s A-Main. He swapped the lead twice with polesitter Robbie Blair of Titusville, Pa., just before the race’s halfway mark but maintained firm control of the top spot from lap 21 to the checkered flag.
Francis drove his Dale Beitler-owned Reliable Painting/Valvoline Rocket No. 19 across the finish line with a 0.379-second margin over Blair, who used the outside lane to draw close to Francis in the waning moments.
Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., finished third after losing the runner-up spot to Blair on lap 37. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., ran predominantly the outside groove to charge from the 22nd starting spot to a hard-earned fourth-place finish, and 21-year-old Mike Knight of Ripley, N.Y., registered a career-best WoO LMS placing of fifth at the track where he is the reigning Super Late Model champion.
Blair, McCreadie and Knight scored their first top-five finishes of the four-race swing, making them the final entries in the battle for the ‘Alltel Ohio Speedweek All-Star’ honor. The top-five finishers in each event became eligible for a $10,000 top prize that will go to the driver who receives the most votes in on-line polling at AlltelAllStar.com.
On-line Alltel Ohio Speedweek All-Star voting began at 12 midnight ET following the Eriez Speedway show.
Francis scored a top-five finish in three of the four Speedweek events and is ready to start campaigning for votes at AlltelAllStar.com.
“The Alltel deal would be neat to win, especially with our association with Ryan Newman,” said Francis, who maintains a dirt Late Model that the Alltel-sponsored NASCAR Sprint Cup star runs in selected events. “Hopefully the fans appreciated what we’ve done here, and we certainly appreciate what Alltel has done for us.”
The most stirring stretch of the race came after the second caution flag flew, on lap 13 for a flat tire on the car driven by Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill. Blair shot by Richards for second on the restart and proceeded to mount a serious assault on Francis.
Blair was scored the lead of laps 16-17 and also lap 20, but Francis was too strong on the bottom of the flat one-third-mile oval and gradually opened some breathing room after the halfway mark.
“When we were running side-by-side, I’m there hoping that he makes a mistake sooner or later,” Francis said of his battle with Blair. “He had an excellent car running out there (in the outside groove). I just didn’t realize you needed to be that wide out on the cushion. I was running through the slick part of the racetrack and didn’t realize you needed to be out there.
“We were able to get our wits back about us, get our car back under us and we were able to get back by him. It was just a fortunate deal that it happened the way it did.
“We pretty much focused on hitting our marks all night,” he continued. “The racetrack was very, very physical. It had icy-slippery spots, wet spots, rough spots – just really, really physical. You had to make sure you hit all of your marks. If you missed one you could kill your whole lap.
“We just tried to stay in our lane. If somebody was going to get us high and wide then they were going to get us and we were going to have to get up on the wheel and try to get back by them on the bottom.”
Blair, 37, was satisfied to match his career-best finish on the WoO LMS. He also finished second on Sept. 4, 2006, at Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pa.
“I was hitting those holes (early in the race) and my car was actually shutting off because the floats were too high or whatever,” said Blair, who drove his self-owned Rocket machine. “I just decided on that one restart, ‘It still looks like there’s traction up there (on the outside). I don’t know why nobody is running up there.’
“I was just trying to throw one lap up there and there was traction, so I stayed up there.
“I was having a ball (racing with Francis),” he continued. “I got ahead of him a couple of times. He was probably better in turns one and two and I was probably better in turns three and four, so it kind of evened out by the time we got back to the flagman.
“Then I got to racing Josh and it took me a while to get back by him – or maybe I would have had a shot at it. Who knows?”
The 20-year-old Richards, meanwhile, fell short of repeating his victory in last year’s inaugural WoO LMS event at Eriez Speedway. He moved up to second on a lap-three restart and swapped the position twice with Blair before settling for third in his Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket.
“I was a little bit softer on tires than Steve and Blair were, but for a little bit I could run with them,” said Richards. “I kept watching my dad tell me to run the top or the bottom. I hate it sometimes when I’d miss just a little bit, but our tires started to give up at the end so it was good for us to get third.”
No driver authored a more exciting drive than the 34-year-old McCreadie, who discovered that there was indeed an outside lane and used it to charge forward. He moved his Sweeteners Plus Rocket by Knight for fourth place heading to the white flag.
“It’s just sometimes mind over matter,” said McCreadie, who qualified poorly but came alive in the feature. “We struggled all night long with the car. Finally we hit on something.
“I owe it to Al Stevens, Tommy Grecco, Vic Coffey, Johnny Cocco and ‘Frog’ – everybody who was on this deal. We struggled all night, and finally when you throw enough things at it you’re going to get lucky and that’s what we did.
“The long green flag hurt me at the end,” added T-Mac. “I needed more restarts. I wish I had done my job as a driver earlier to get it further up so we wouldn’t have had to work so hard, but it is what it is.”
Knight slipped back two positions from his third starting spot, but the rising young star was ecstatic over his best run to date with the WoO LMS.
“I usually run up top at this track,” said Knight, who drove his family-owned Mobilia Farms Rocket car. “I won a couple of races up top, but I was maintaining in the top five and I decided to stay on the bottom and just maintain. I wanted a good top five. I had never been in the top five with the Outlaws. I was just trying to be smart about it.
“If we get some money coming our way, we’d probably end up going on tour with the Outlaws,” he added, looking toward the future. “I’d like to get out there and do some more traveling and run with these guys. Hopefully we can get things going. That would be great.”
Finishing in positions 6-10 were points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky.; Vic Coffey of Leicester, N.Y., who earned the $250 Rookie of the Race bonus; Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga.; Ron Davies of Warren, Pa.; and Rich Gardner of Waterford, Pa.
A field numbering 48 cars was signed in for the event.
Ron Davies recorded the fastest lap in time trials, rounding the oval in 16.400 seconds for his first career fast-time honor on the WoO LMS.
Heat winners were Francis, Blair, Knight and Richards. The B-Mains were captured by David Scott of Garland, Pa., and Greg Oakes of Franklinville, N.Y.
Among the non-qualifiers were WoO LMS regulars Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., and John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., and Ricky Elliott of Seaford, Del., who finished second the previous night at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio.
The busy month of July for the WoO LMS will draw to an end on Tuesday (July 29) with the rescheduled $40,000-to-win Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. The entire second night of Firecracker 100 action is set for the midweek date, including a C-Main, B-Main, the $3,000-to-win Uncle Sam 30 for non-qualifiers and the 100-lap headliner.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Eriez Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (2) Steve Francis/50 $10,250
2. (1) Robbie Blair/50 5,600
3. (4) Josh Richards/50 $3,000
4. (22) Tim McCreadie/50 $2,500
5. (3) Mike Knight/50 $2,000
6. (5) Darrell Lanigan/50 $1,700
7. (6) Vic Coffey/50 $1,650
8. (8) Shane Clanton/50 $1,300
9. (9) Ron Davies/50 $1,200
10. (11) Rich Gardner/50 $1,100
11. (10) Dan Stone/50 $1,050
12. (14) Dave Hess Jr./50 $1,000
13. (19) Chub Frank/50 $950
14. (7) Andy Bozell/50 $900
15. (24) Rick Eckert/50 $850
16. (16) Doug Eck/50 $800
17. (17) David Scott/50 $770
18. (12) Shannon Babb/50 $750
19. (23) Clint Smith/ $730
20. (13) Chad Valone/ $700
21. (25) Andy Kania/ $700
22. (15) Donnie Moran/ $700
23. (18) Greg Oakes/ $700
24. (21) Randy Lobb/ $700
25. (20) Dutch Davies/ $700
Time of Race: 27 Mins., 12.465 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.379 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 3 (Lap 3, 13, 24)
Lap Leaders: Francis (1-15); Blair (16-17); Francis (18-19); Blair (20); Francis (21-50)
Provisional Starters: C. Smith, Eckert (WoO); Kania (Alltel Fans’ Choice)
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Blair ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Al Stevens (McCreadie)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Francis (half-off tire warmers)
Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’: Francis ($100)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 71d-Ron Davies/Warren, PA 16.400
2. won11-Robbie Blair/Titusville, PA 16.429
3. 9k-Mike Knight/Ripley, NY 16.538
4. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 16.552
5. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 16.616
6. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 16.630
7. 1G-Rich Gardner/Waterford, PA16.672
8. 03-Doug Eck/Corry, PA 16.690
9. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 16.712
10. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 16.714
11. 12b-Andy Boozel/Clymer, NY 16.726
12. 3H-Bruce Hordusky/Erie, PA 16.764
13. 99b-Rick Briggs/Bear Lake, PA 16.770
14. 33-Chris Hackett/Erie, PA 16.803
15. B22-Bump Hedman/Sugar Grove, PA 16.806
16. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 16.806
17. 2v-Chad Valone/Warren, PA 16.813
18. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 16.820
19. 99-Donnie Moran/Dresden, OH 16.866
20. M1-Mickey Wright/Albion, PA 16.885
21. 28J-Randy Lobb/Jamestown, NY 16.893
22. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 16.897
23. 40-Dutch Davies/Warren, PA 16.912
24. 3-David Scott/Garland, PA 16.939
25. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 16.942
26. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 16.944
27. 121-Ricky Elliott/Seaford, DE 16.969
28. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 16.986
29. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 16.989
30. 44H-Dave Hess Jr./Waterford, PA 17.007
31. 07R-Brent Rhebergen/Clymer, NY 17.012
32. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 17.065
33. 2J-Scott Johnson/Wattsburg, PA 17.078
34. 00-Dan Maxim/Erie, PA 17.078
35. NO7-Jason Dupont/Cyclone, PA 17.079
36. 22-Greg Oakes/Franklinville, NY 17.086
37. 8-Jason Morell/North East, PA 17.115
38. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 17.154
39. 76-Andy Kania/Waterford, PA 17.156
40. 4T-Merle Terry/Erie, PA 17.199
41. 28b-Dick Barton/Ashville, NY 17.278
42. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 17.282
43. 15H-Steve Halpainy/Ashville, NY 17.354
44. U1-Matt Urban/North East, PA 17.403
45. 17L-Dennis Lunger/Cherry Hill, PA 17.460
46. 53-John Volpe/Lakeland, NY 17.570
47. 0s-Ryan Scott/Garland, PA 17.680
48. 7Jr.-Jeff Isabell Jr./Pennellville, NY 17.866
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Francis, Lanigan, R. Davies, Valone, D. Scott, Lobb, Briggs, Eckert, S. Johnson, Morell, Barton, Lunger
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Blair, Coffey, Stone, Hess, Hackett, Fuller, C. Smith, Frank, Joe Isabell, Volpe, Maxim, Beardsley
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Knight, Boozel, Gardner, Moran, D. Davies, Hedman, Rhebergen, Kania, Dupont, R. Scott, Elliott, Halpainy
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Richards, Clanton, Babb, Eck, Oakes, McCreadie, Wright, Urban, Terry, Blankenship, Jeff Isabell Jr., Hordusky
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): D. Scott, Frank, Lobb, Briggs, Eckert, C. Smith, Barton, Morell, Fuller, Volpe, Beardsley, Lunger, Joe Isabell, Maxim, S. Johnson, Hackett
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Oakes, D. Davies, McCreadie, Hedman, Kania, Wright, Hordusky, Rhebergen, Urban, Terry, R. Scott, Dupont, Elliott, Jeff Isabell Jr. (DNS) Blankenship
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 27 – 30 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-18-28-$81,150-4141 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-14-21-$94,360-4015 (-126)
3. Steve Francis 3-14-23-$121,450-3999 (-142)
4. Shane Clanton 1-14-22-$69,390-3967 (-174)
5. Chub Frank 1-9-20-$59,980-3943 (-198)
6. Shannon Babb 2-12-20-$81,500-3923 (-218)
7. (tie) Clint Smith 1-10-18-$53,820-3903 (-238)
7. (tie) Rick Eckert 1-9-20-$61,780-3903 (-238)
9. Tim Fuller 2-6-12-$53,300-3722 (-419)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$30,370-3576 (-565)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-7-$26,670-3097 (-1044)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$14,420-2670 (-1471)
13. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$9,030-2168 (-1973)
14. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$13,620-2112 (-2029)
15. Tim McCreadie 1-7-11-$43,200-1849 (-2292)
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 several sponsors and partners, including Advance Auto Parts – the official auto parts store of the WoO LMS – and contingency sponsors Wrisco Industries, Chicken Hawk Racing, Crane Cams, Ohlins Shocks, Quarter-Master, Eibach Springs, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Qwikliner and Super Clean.