Francis Slips By Richards Heading To White Flag For Dramatic Victory In Oil Region Labor Day Classic Opener At Tri-City Speedway
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
FRANKLIN, PA – Sept. 5, 2009 – Steve Francis is a bridesmaid no more.
The veteran from Ashland, Ky., ended his rewarding-but-frustrating run of second-place finishes on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series in dramatic fashion, slipping underneath Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., for the lead heading to the white flag to capture Saturday night’s 50-lap Armstrong Cable Oil Region Labor Day Classic opener at Tri-City Speedway.
Francis, 41, entered the weekend action at the half-mile oval with seven runner-up finishes in the last 12 tour A-Mains – and without a victory since scoring his fifth win of the season on May 31 at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va.
“It’s definitely a relief to finally win again,” said Francis, who started third in Dale Beitler’s Reliable Painting Rocket car. “When we’re finishing second, we’re making a living and maintaining in the points, but it’s still not a win.
“Anytime you win it feels good. That’s we come to do, and it had been awhile since we did it last.”
Francis earned $10,700 for his sixth triumph of the season on the WoO LMS. It was his 26th career series win – the most of any driver on the tour since 2004 – and gave him a victory in the first half of Tri-City’s Oil Region Labor Day Classic for the third consecutive year.
The 2007 WoO LMS champion’s joy came at the expense of Richards, who appeared headed to his series-leading eighth win of the season after passing Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., for the lead on lap 14. Richards turned back repeated challenges from Francis during a race that was slowed by only a single caution flag on lap 31, but he made a fatal slip on the 48th circuit that sent Francis to Victory Lane.
Richards, 21, settled for second place in his father Mark’s Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket after starting from the pole position, keeping him winless on the WoO LMS since he overtook Francis to win on July 16 at Dakota State Fair Speedway in Huron, S.D. He also saw his points lead over Francis shrink even smaller – to a mere eight points with six events remaining on the 2009 schedule.
Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who trails Richards and Francis in the points standings, followed the series leaders across the finish line in third place. He advanced from the eighth starting spot to third by lap 17 in his one-week-old Rocket car, but he couldn’t climb higher.
Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., moved up one position to finish fourth in the RSD Enterprises Rocket and sixth-starter Jason Covert of York Haven, Pa., placed fifth in Barry Klinedinst’s Rocket. Covert earned the $500 ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hadn’t won a WoO LMS A-Main and wasn’t ranked among the top 12 in the points standings.
Fuller, who had won six of the last nine WoO LMS events including Wednesday night’s ‘Dirt Demon 50’ at Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway, faded to a sixth-place finish after outgunning Richards from the outside pole to lead laps 1-13. His soft-compound right-rear tire overheated, dooming his chances.
Francis felt fortunate to bring his 20-race WoO LMS winless streak to an end.
“We were pretty equal,” said Francis, who reached second with a lap-16 pass of Fuller. “I felt like I could gain on Josh in (turns) one and two, but he could gain in three and four. I don’t think I’m passing him if he doesn’t slip up.
“When he ran in there (in turn three with two laps remaining) he just sort of misjudged where the rubber was and where his car needed to be. He slipped off the bottom and I was lucky enough to be there.”
Richards sat sullenly on the back step of his trailer after the race, replaying lap 48 over and over in his mind.
“I just slipped up,” said Richards. “I have to admit it. I gave the race away. There was only one groove to be (at the end) and I got out of it.
“We caught ‘Boom’ (Rick Briggs) with two-to-go and I tried to slow the pace down. He entered way, way low going into three. I entered just a little bit wider, I got my right-rear tire out of the rubber, and I just slipped. I left the door open for Steve.
“It was my fault,” he continued. “It’s just disappointing. The team’s worked so hard for this and we were in position to win, and I screwed up. It’s still good to run second, but we’re trying to beat Steve (in the points race) and Steve won.”
Finishing in positions 7-10 was Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., who was coming off a career-high second-place WoO LMS finish at Brewerton; 18th-starter Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y.; Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., who was never a factor after starting seventh; and Rookie of the Year points leader Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio, who scored his third top-10 finish in the last four events.
Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., brought out the race’s lone caution flag on lap 31 when he slowed in turn four. He continued and finished on the lead lap in 17th place.
A field of 41 cars was signed in for the program, which was run under clear, postcard-perfect weather conditions.
Austin Hubbard, 17, of Seaford, Del., registered the second WoO LMS fast-time honor of his young career with a lap of 18.328 seconds in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials. But he failed to qualify for the A-Main after fading out of a transfer spot in his heat and running into trouble during the first B-Main.
Hubbard’s problems in the last-chance race began when he was penalized one row by officials from his pole starting slot for jumping the initial green flag. He then tangled on the homestretch with Dave Hess Jr. of Waterford, Pa., and Bob Close of Eldred, Pa., while battling for second, sending him sliding through the infield. The youngster was left with a flat right-front tire and could only rally to finish sixth after making a pit stop.
Heat winners were Lanigan, Frank, Clanton and Covert, and the B-Mains were captured by Matt Lux of Franklin, Pa., and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y.
The Armstrong Cable Oil Region Labor Day Classic continues on Sunday night (Sept. 6) with another complete WoO LMS program topped by a 50-lap A-Main paying $10,000 to win.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Armstrong Cable Oil Region Labor Day Classic’ Night No. 1 (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (3) Steve Francis/50 $10,700
2. (1) Josh Richards/50 $5,500
3. (8) Darrell Lanigan/50 $3,600
4. (5) Shane Clanton/50 $3,000
5. (6) Jason Covert/50 $2,500
6. (2) Tim Fuller/50 $2,200
7. (11) Vic Coffey/50 $1,400
8. (18) Tim McCreadie/50 $1,400
9. (7) Chub Frank/50 $1,700
10. (9) Russell King/50 $1,950
11. (10) Gregg Satterlee/50 $1,050
12. (15) Rick Eckert/50 $1,500
13. (14) Nick Dickson/50 $950
14. (12) Brady Smith/50 $1,400
15. (4) Robbie Blair/50 $850
16. (19) Bob Close/50 $800
17. (20) Clint Smith/50 $1,270
18. (23) Jordan Bland/50 $1,250
19. (13) Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs/50 $730
20. (16) Dan Stone/42 $700
21. (24) Brent Robinson/18 $1,200
22. (22) Brent Rhebergen/18 $700
23. (17) Matt Lux/13 $700
24. (21) Jeremy Miller/12 $700
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 19 Mins., 11.023 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.667 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 1 (lap 31)
Lap Leaders: Fuller (1-13); Richards (14-48); Francis (49-50)
Provisional Starters: Bland, Robinson
Rookie of the Race: King ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Covert ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Bobby Bachman (King)
Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 11h-Austin Hubbard/Seaford, DE 18.328
2. won11-Robbie Blair/Titusville, PA 18.411
3. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 18.433
4. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 18.612
5. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 18.670
6. 17-Nick Dickson/Lewistown, PA 18.674
7. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 18.684
8. 43A-Jason Covert/York Haven, PA 18.837
9. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 18.905
10. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 18.909
11. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 18.976
12. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 19.027
13. 99B-Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs/Bear Lake, PA 19.032
14. 22s-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA 19.055
15. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 19.085
16. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 19.116
17. 44H-Dave Hess Jr./Waterford, PA 19.161
18. 56b-Denton Boyer/Punxsutawney, PA 19.166
19. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 19.181
20. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 19.195
21. 24M-Jeremy Miller/Gettysburg, PA 19.202
22. 22G-Greg Oakes/Franklinville, NY 19.218
23. 12-Jordan Bland/Campbellsville, KY 19.240
24. 71d-Ron Davies/Warren, PA 19.255
25. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 19.296
26. 21-Matt Lux/Franklin, PA 19.321
27. 21*-David Scott/Garland, PA 19.416
28. 07R-Brent Rhebergen/Clymer, NY 19.458
29. 3-Brent Robinson/Smithfield, VA 19.508
30. 04-Bob Close/Eldred, PA 19.592
31. 90-Wally Fox/Cooperstown, PA 19.638
32. 119M-Chad McClellan/Stoystown, PA 19.690
33. M1-Mickey Wright/Albion, PA 19.800
34. 53-John Volpe/Lakeland, NY 19.839
35. 9k-Mike Knight/Ripley, NY 19.901
36. 70J-D.J. Myers/Greencastle, PA 20.033
37. 26-Tony Knowles/Tyrone, GA 20.037
38. B22-Bump Hedman/Sugar Grove, PA 20.197
39. 11-Tyler Reddick/Corning, CA 20.203
40. 0-Ryan Scott/Garland, PA 20.742
41. 18-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 21.091
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Lanigan, Fuller, King, Briggs, Hubbard, Hess, J. Miller, Hapka, Robinson, Wright, Knowles
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Frank, Blair, Satterlee, Dickson, Lux, Close, Oakes, Hedman, Volpe, Boyer
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, Richards, Coffey, Eckert, C. Smith, D. Scott, Bland, Knight, Reddick, Fox
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Covert, Francis, B. Smith, Stone, McCreadie, Rhebergen, Myers, Davies, McClellan, R. Scott
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Lux, Close, J. Miller, Oakes, Robinson, Hubbard, Wright, Hedman, Knowles, Volpe, Hapka, Boyer, Hess
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): McCreadie, C. Smith, Rhebergen, Bland, D. Scott, Myers, Reddick, Knight, McClellan, Fox, R. Scott, Davies
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:
* Arizona Sport Shirts ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in B-Mains): Brent Robinson, David Scott
* Champ Pans ($50 product certificate to ‘Bonus Bucks’ winner w/decal): Jason Covert
* 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): Russell King
* Crane Cams ($100 product certificate to Heat 3 winner w/decal): Shane Clanton
* Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner w/decal): Matt Lux, Tim McCreadie
* Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash award to fast qualifier w/decal): Austin Hubbard
* 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): Jason Covert
* Quarter-Master ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Robbie Blair
* Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’ (one case of product): Tim Fuller
* 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): Dave Hess Jr.
* 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 Sept. 5 – 36 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
1. Josh Richards 4937 (-0)
2. Steve Francis 4929 (-8)
3. Darrell Lanigan 4835 (-102)
4. Tim Fuller 4775 (-162)
5. Rick Eckert 4755 (-182)
6. Shane Clanton 4695 (-242)
7. Chub Frank 4667 (-270)
8. Brady Smith 4554 (-383)
9. Clint Smith 4445 (-492)
10. Russell King 3999 (-938)
11. Jordan Bland 3871 (-1066)
12. Brent Robinson 3655 (-1282)
13. Dustin Hapka 3347 (-1590)
14. Tyler Reddick 3167 (-1770)
15. Vic Coffey 2964 (-1973)
16. Austin Hubbard 2749 (-2188)
17. Matt Lux 1709 (-3228)
18. Gregg Satterlee 1588 (-3349)
19. Shannon Babb 1470 (-3467)
20. Dan Stone 1451 (-3486)
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.