Sizzling Francis Overtakes Moyer To Capture Opening Night Of Inaugural ‘Showdown On The Gulf’ At Deep South Speedway

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

LOXLEY, AL – March 13, 2009 – Steve Francis is riding high on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. 

And after capturing Friday night’s 40-lap ‘Showdown on the Gulf’ opener at Deep South Speedway, the red-hot star from Ashland, Ky., has no intention of slowing down.

“I’m just gonna go out and try to win every race we can win,” said Francis, who registered his second straight WoO LMS victory and extended his points lead three races into the tour’s grueling 48-event schedule. “For some reason, I’m relaxed right now and just enjoying going racing.”

Francis, 41, topped a battle of former WoO LMS champions, overtaking Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., for the lead on lap 19 of the tour’s first-ever A-Main at the high-banked, four-tenths-mile oval. Driving a brand-new Valvoline/Reliable Painting Rocket car owned by Dale Beitler, Francis held on through two more caution flags to add $7,700 to his bank account.

The 51-year-old Moyer settled for second place, 0.671 of a second behind Francis after leading laps 1-18. He was behind the wheel of a car from the stable of Woodward, Okla.’s Tommy Weder Jr., a young dirt Late Model rookie who is campaigning Victory Circle machines built by Moyer.

Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, who started fourth in his Mars/Birkhofer car, quietly ran in third place from start-to-finish. He finished nearly four seconds behind the leaders.

Completing the top five was third-starter Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., in his Big Red Motorsports Bloomquist Chassis and sixth-starter Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., in the Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket.

Francis started from the pole position, but he was outgunned for the lead at the initial green flag by fellow front-row starter Moyer. Any uneasiness he had about his chances of regaining command from Moyer quickly disappeared.

“I was (doubtful) the first three laps, and then I wasn’t,” said Francis. “I realized how married (Moyer’s) car seemed to be to that top (groove), and then I was just kinda waiting to pick a spot when we got to lapped traffic. Passing him in wide-open track was gonna be hard, but we had a good car and were able to maneuver better than he was.

“I figured just from watching where he was having to run on the racetrack that he had committed a little softer on tires than I had. I knew when we got to lapped cars that I was able to turn and come down the bank a lot better than he could.”

Francis made his move exiting turn two on the 18th circuit, ducking underneath Moyer’s green-and-black mount with slower cars ahead. He had his Cornett Chevy-powered No. 19 in front for good as lap 19 was scored.

Moyer, who accepted an offer to run Weder’s brand-new No. 02 after his own Banner Valley Hauling No. 21 was sidelined by motor trouble during Thursday night’s practice session, would have liked to call a do-over on the 18th lap.

“I feel like I gave the race away myself,” said Moyer, who earned $3,100 for his night’s work. “I hit that hole (in the surface) and kinda made the wrong decisions, and Steve ran a great race. He did what he needed to do.

“It wasn’t the car’s fault. It was good. I set the car up just like mine, so really it should run as good as mine.”

Francis and Moyer had a hairy moment on lap 20, when they momentarily got bottled up on the backstretch behind the slowing car driven by WoO LMS Rookie of the Year candidate Brent Robinson of Smithfield, Va. They escaped the episode unscathed and Francis controlled the remainder of the distance.

“It feels like you’re going MACH-3 around this place,” said Francis, whose career WoO LMS win total of 22 leads all drivers during the tour’s World Racing Group-era (2004-present). “Things happen here in a hurry, and we had a close call there.”

Four caution flags slowed the event, which was run before the biggest crowd ever to attend a dirt Late Model event at the five-year-old Deep South Speedway.

Cautions were caused by the turn-two spins of Winston, Ga.’s Travis Pennington (lap four) and William Thomas of Phenix City, Ala. (lap nine), and the slow machines of Watertown, N.Y.’s Tim Fuller (flat left-rear tire as he ran 10th on lap 26) and WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contender Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio (overheating engine on lap 28).

Finishing in positions 6-10 was Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.; Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga.; defending WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who transferred to the A-Main through a heat race despite pitting to change a blown left-rear tire; Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga.; and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill.

Weder, 23, drove his team’s primary car to an 11th-place finish, earning him the $500 WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who had never won a tour A-Main and wasn’t ranked among the top 12 in the points standings.

Forty-four cars were signed in for the evening’s action.

Rick Eckert of York, Pa., earned the $50 Ohlins Shocks Fast Time Award, blistering the oval in 15.304 seconds to establish a new track record.

But Eckert’s fortunes dive-bombed when he was involved in a tangle between turns one and two on the opening lap of the first heat, forcing him out of the preliminary with left-front suspension damage. He qualified through a B-Main (despite pitting to change a left-rear flat tire) and salvaged a 12th-place finish in the A-Main.

A total of 25 drivers topped Deep South’s standing dirt Late Model track record of 16.062 seconds, set by Pennington in November 2008.

Heat winners were Clanton, Richards, Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., who dropped out of the A-Main while running sixth on lap 31 due to an overheating engine, and Frank. The B-Mains were captured by Robinson and Thomas.

The ‘Showdown on the Gulf’ continues on Saturday night (March 14) with a grand finale highlighted by a 60-lap A-Main paying $12,000 to win.

Grandstand gates will open at 3 p.m. on Saturday, with practice scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

Additional info can be obtained by visiting www.deepsouthspeedway.com or calling the speedway office at 251-964-6953.

Results of WoO Late Model Series at (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (1) Steve Francis/40 $7,700
2. (2) Billy Moyer/40 $3,100
3. (4) Brian Birkhofer/40 $2,000
4. (3) Brady Smith/40 $1,700
5. (6) Josh Richards/40 $2,050
6. (7) Chub Frank/40 $1,800
7. (5) Shane Clanton/40 $1,700
8. (13) Darrell Lanigan/40 $1,700
9. (10) Clint Smith/40 $1,500
10. (11) Shannon Babb/40 $1,000
11. (15) Tommy Weder Jr./40 $1,350
12. (21) Rick Eckert/40 $1,350
13. (23) Vic Coffey/40 $1,250
14. (12) Tim Fuller/40 $1,240
15. (14) Tyler Ivey/40 $710
16. (24) Dustin Hapka/38 $930
17. (19) Russell King/36 $650
18. (8) Scott Bloomquist/31 $730
19. (16) Travis Pennington/31 $620
20. (20) Jimmy Mars/26 $610
21. (9) James Ward/21 $600
22. (17) Brent Robinson/19 $600
23. (22) Dan Schlieper/17 $600
24. (18) William Thomas/15 $600

* Earnings include Winner’s Circle program bonuses for WoO LMS Platinum Team members and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 19 Mins., 04.125 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.671 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 4 (Laps 4, 9, 26, 28)
Lap Leaders: Moyer (1-18); Francis (19-40)
Provisional Starters: Coffey, Hapka
Rookie of the Race: Hapka ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Weder ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Kevin Miller (Francis)

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

1. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 15.304 (NTR)
2. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 15.308
3. 0-Scott Bloomquist/Mooresburg, TN 15.321
4. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 15.455
5. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 15.467
6. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 15.472
7. 02-Tommy Weder Jr./Woodward, OK 15.488
8. 021-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR 15.517
9. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 15.549
10. 12-Jordan Bland/Campbellsville, KY 15.552
11. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 15.571
12. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 15.589
13. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 15.609
14. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 15.615
15. 18b-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 15.673
16. 71-Chris Wall/Holden, LA 15.683
17. w3-James Ward/Lettsworth, LA 15.692
18. 47-Tyler Ivey/Tallahassee, FL 15.744
19. 28M-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 15.765
20. 01-Travis Pennington/Winston, GA 15.784
21. 27-Jeff Fortner/Vidalia, GA 15.885
22. 6s-Scott Slay/Clinton, MS 15.899
23. 22-William Thomas/Phenix City, AL 15.977
24. 57-Shep Lucas/McKenzie, AL 16.045
25. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 16.049
26. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 16.087
27. 9-Dan Schlieper/Sullivan, WI 16.100
28. 21JR-Billy Moyer Jr./Batesville, AR 16.153
29. 56K-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 16.195
30. 6d-Jack Daughtry/Greenville, AL 16.229
31. B1-Freddy Smith/Seymour, TN 16.329
32. 21T-Mickey Trosclair/Luling, LA 16.528
33. 00J-Devin Jones/Baker, FL 16.638
34. 56s-Chas Shellenberger/Winfield, PA 16.800
35. 25H-Chuck Hummer/Ottawa Lake, MI 16.980
36. 97-Ryan Little/Satsuma, AL 17.028
37. 63-Dale Groves Jr./Tallahassee, FL 17.130
38. 11-Tyler Reddick/Corning, CA 17.159
39. 327-Jason Phillips/Milton, FL 17.268
40. 99d-Isaiah Day/Flomaton, AL 17.580
41. 00H-Chris Hoomes/Brewton, AL N/T
42. 3-Brent Robinson/Smithfield, VA N/T
43. 71-James Ussery/Cottondale, AL N/T
44. 13-Craig Grice/Sneads, FL N/T

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, B. Smith, Ward, Lanigan, Hoomes, Jones, Groves, Coffey, Eckert, Fortner, King

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Richards, Francis, C. Smith, Ivey, Robinson, Slay, Hapka, Shellenberger, Daughtry, Reddick, Bland

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Bloomquist, Birkhofer, Babb, Weder, Thomas, Mars, Schlieper, F. Smith, Phillips, Hummer (DNS) Ussery

Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Frank, Moyer, Fuller, Pennington, Trosclair, Moyer Jr., Little, Day, Wall (DNS) Lucas, Grice

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Robinson, King, Eckert, Reddick, Hoomes, Shellenberger, Daughtry, Hapka, Slay, Coffey, Jones, Groves, Bland (DNS) Fortner

B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Thomas, Mars, Schlieper, Trosclair, F. Smith, Little, Moyer, Phillips, Day, Hummer (DNS) Wall, Lucas

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:

* Arizona Sport Shirts ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in B-Mains): Chris Hoomes, Freddy Smith
* Armor All (case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main w/decal): Billy Moyer
* Champ Pans ($50 product certificate to ‘Bonus Bucks’ winner w/decal): Tommy Weder Jr.
* 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): Shannon Babb
* Crane Cams ($100 product certificate to Heat 3 winner w/decal): Scott Bloomquist
* Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner w/decal): Brent Robinson, William Thomas
* Fusion Energy ($50 cash award to Heat 2 winner w/decal): Josh Richards
* Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash award to fast qualifier w/decal): Rick Eckert
* 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): Josh Richards
* Quarter-Master ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Tyler Ivey
* Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’ (one case of product): Billy Moyer
* 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): Jordan Bland
* 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 March 13 – 3 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):

1. Steve Francis 2-3-3-$21,000-442 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 1-2-3-$14,050-426 (-16)
3. Darrell Lanigan 0-1-3-$8,750-414 (-28)
4. Shane Clanton 0-0-3-$5,350-410 (-32)
5. Rick Eckert 0-1-2-$6,050-400 (-42)
6. Tim Fuller 0-0-1-$3,240-378 (-64)
7. Chub Frank 0-0-2-$4,200-372 (-70)
8. (tie) Dan Schlieper 0-1-1-$3,600-370 (-72)
8. (tie) Scott Bloomquist 0-0-1-$3,080-370 (-72)
8. (tie) Shannon Babb 0-1-2-$4,700-370 (-72)
11. Brady Smith 0-2-2 -$6,700-363 (-79)
12. Billy Moyer 0-1-2-$5,000-359 (-83)
13. Vic Coffey 0-0-0-$3,250-352 (-90)
14. Clint Smith 0-0-1-$2,700-348 (-94)
15. Tyler Ivey 0-0-0-$2,110-334 (-108)
16. Tommy Weder Jr. 0-0-0-$2,160-307 (-135)
17. Jordan Bland 0-0-0-$1,540-295 (-147)
18. Dustin Hapka 0-0-0-$1,400-268 (-174)
19. Russell King 0-0-0-$870-266 (-176)
20. Brent Robinson 0-0-0-$820-256 (-186)

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 Bloomquis