PORTSMOUTH, OH (July 1, 2007)-Another new winner emerged with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series in 2007 as veteran driver Steve Francis of Ashland, KY became the 14th different winner in 19 Lucas Oil Series events this year as the former World 100 and Dirt Track World Champion took the top honors on Sunday Night at Portsmouth (OH) Raceway Park leading all the way in the “Pepsi 75”. The 39 year old racer teamed with car owner Tim Logan to take home the $10,000 first place prize in the series first ever visit to the 3/8th mile speed plant. Francis led all 75 laps to take his fourth career Lucas Oil Series win over Billy Drake of Bloomington, IL, Jackie Boggs of Grayson, KY, Clint Smith of Senoia, GA and Rod Conley of Wheelersburg, OH rounded out the top five finishers.
After the redraw for six heat race winners Drake and Francis would start on the front row of the main event. When the race went green the drivers would get one lap scored before eighth place starter Jimmy Mars slowed in turn four with a flat tire. Mars would head pit side to replace the tire and rejoined the field on the tail.
On the restart Francis would grab the point followed by Drake, Boggs, Smith and Conley. Francis would pull out to a two car length lead over Drake, but Drake would hang tough with Francis as he and Boggs would put the heat on Francis as the cars completed eight laps.
With the top three in a tightly contested battle for the race lead the second caution of the race would fly on lap ten for Donnie Moran who slowed in turn four with a flat tire. Moran had been running in the tenth position. This time on the restart Francis would scurry away from Drake opening up a four length lead over the Illini pilot, but a lap 14 caution for Brian Shirley would once again bunch the field back up for a restart.
The top five would remain the same as Francis would start to pick up the tail end of the field by lap 26. This would allow both Drake and Boggs to keep a close eye on Francis as they would close to within a car length of him. By the 30th circuit the top three were in a close knit group with Drake taking a peek on Francis coming off of turn number two pulling even with Francis.
Just as it looked like there may be the first lead change of the race the fourth caution would come out for Jimmy Owens just as 30 laps went in the record books. With still 45 laps remaining in the race Francis would led a double file restart to the line and head into turn number one still holding the lead.
The top five would remain Francis, Drake, Boggs, Smith and Conley. There was some good racing among the other participants in the top ten as Scott James, Steve Casebolt and Earl Pearson, Jr. were duking it out as the top three in the points standings were all running together.
Just as the top three were about to lap a few cars Brian Birkhofer would pull his car to the top side of turn number three and came to a stop bringing out caution number five. With that break Francis would again have a clear race track in front of him and no lapped cars to contend with.
With 25 laps to go Francis was still showing the way with Drake trying on a few occasions to take a look on the inside of Francis, but Francis would always shut the door in a clean manner on Drake never allowing him to get past.
With the laps winding down Francis would maintain his steady pace with Drake and Boggs still right there to jump to the lead if Francis would slide up out of the groove. With 71 laps complete sixth place running Josh McGuire slowed suddenly in turn two coming to a stop ending what would have been his best ever Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series finish.
As the final restart of the race fired off of turn number four all Francis had to do in the final four laps was hit his marks and the race would be his to win. Francis did just that as Drake was unable to mount a last lap ditch effort to pass as he would finish two car lengths behind Francis at the checkers. Boggs would finish a close third followed by Smith and Conley who ran their own competitive race for the fourth and fifth spots.
Francis who came into the race with three career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victories scored his first series win of the year and his first outside of the state of Florida. All of Francis’ previous series wins were at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, FL. In victory lane Francis was elated to win the event in front of his fans and family. “I’ve got to give credit to Tim and Lee Logan and Judy for their help, this car has a Russell Baker Engine in it, Rocket Chassis, Valvoline, Port City /Integra Shocks, Hoosier Tires we can’t do it without them. We’ve haven’t got to run this car this year as much as we would have liked to, we won at Kentucky Lake back in March with this car.” “It’s nice to win in front of the home town crowd, my Uncle Jim is in from Florida, my aunts and uncles were here and some of my other family and friends, it’s nice to race close to home for a change and we’re excited to get this Lucas Oil Series win,” said Francis afterwards.
The Tim Logan Racing #11 Rocket Chassis Monte Carlo with a Russell Bake Racing Engine under the hood is sponsored by Morehead Auto Truck Parts Sales/Valvoline/Rick’s Body Shop, Hoosier Racing Tires and J&M Grafix.
Second place finisher Billy Drake equaled his best series finish of the season in the Steve Drake/Creative Kitchens and Bats/C.J. Rayburn GTO. Third place finisher Jackie Boggs was behind the wheel of the Miller Brothers Coal/Pro Power Engines/Swartz Chassis GTO with Clint Smith’s fourth place finish coming in his Cliburn Tank Lines/RaceTek Race Engines/GRT GTO with Rod Conley fifth at the finish in the Conley Trucking/Draime Engines/Rocket Monte Carlo.
Completing the top ten were Brandon Kinzer, Scott James, Steve Casebolt, Chris Madden and Earl Pearson, Jr.
In preliminary results Steve Shaver was the LifeLong Locks Fast Qualifier Award winner among the 66 entries with a fast lap of 15.112 seconds. The Hawk Brake and Quarter master sponsored heat race winners were Earl Pearson, Jr., Billy Drake, Jackie Boggs, Rod Conley, Clint Smith and Steve Francis. The Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno and Penske Shocks sponsored B-Mains were won by Brian Birkhofer and Scott James.
The Edelbrock Hard Charger of the Race was Scott James, who started 20th and finished seventh. The K&N Clean Pass of the Race was awarded to Chris Madden as he finished ninth after starting 22nd. The Allstar Performance Performer of the Race was Billy Drake, who finished second. It matched his best finish of the year.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Sunday Night, July 1, 2007
Portsmouth Raceway Park-Portsmouth, OH
LifeLong Locks Fast Qualifier: Steve Shaver 15.112 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Earl Pearson, Jr., Steve Shaver, Brandon Kinzer, Freddy Smith, Terry Hicks, Jimmy Owens, John Mason, D Jay Miller, Terry English, Chris Stotts, Tony Ruby
Quarter Master Second Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Billy Drake, Jimmy Mars, Tim Dohm, Wayne Chinn, Doug Drown, Shawn Holliday, Greggie Oliver, Bobby Kitchen, Craig Leist, Jared Teegarden, Marty Huntley
Hawk Brake Third Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Jackie Boggs, Josh McGuire, R.J. Conley, Brian Birkhofer, Jason Covert, Justin Rattliff, Delmas Conley, Tim Tungate, Chuckie May, Tim Dillow, Rick Aukland
Quarter Master Fourth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Rod Conley, Jason Montgomery, Paul Harris, Scott James, John Blankenship, Ben Adkins, Kenny Christy, Eric Wells, Sean Cosgrove, Mark Frazier, Rob Stambaugh
Hawk Brake Fifth heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Clint Smith, Donnie Moran, Steve Casebolt, Chris Madden, Barry Bragdon, Eddie Carrier, Jr., Shannon Thornsberry, Whitney McQueary, Audie Swartz, Ralph Withem, Joe Ramey
Quarter Master Sixth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Steve Francis, Brian Shirley, Damon Eller, Michael England, Kevin Wagner, Brad Neat, Anthony Adams, Arnie Fields, Josh Bocook, Nick Bocook
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno First B-Main (12 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Brian Birkhofer, Jimmy Owens, Jason Covert, Freddy Smith, Justin Rattliff, Delmas Conley, Greggie Oliver, Craig Leist, Shawn Holliday, Doug Drown, Bobby Kitchen, John mason, Terry Hicks, Marty Huntley, Tim Dillow, Chris Stotts, Wayne Chinn, D Jay Miller, Tim Tungate, Terry English
Penske Shocks Second B-Main (12 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Scott James, Chris Madden, John Blankenship, Shannon Thornsberry, Michael England, Kenny Christy, Audie Swartz, Kevin Wagner, Eddie Carrier, Jr., Ben Adkins, Anthony Adams, Brad Neat, Eric Wells, Whitney McQueary, Barry Bragdon, Mark Frazier, Arnie Fields, Joe Ramey, Sean Cosgrove, Ralph Withem, Rob Stambaugh, Josh Bocook, Rick Combs
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series “Pepsi 75” Feature Event (75 Laps): Steve Francis, Billy Drake, Jackie Boggs, Clint Smith, Rod Conley, Brandon Kinzer, Scott James, Steve Casebolt, Chris Madden, Earl Pearson, Jr., R.J. Conley, Justin Rattliff, Tim Dohm, Terry English, Paul Harris, Donnie Moran, Jason Montgomery, Damon Eller, Josh McGuire, Brian Birkhofer, Steve Shaver, Jimmy Owens, Jimmy Mars, Brian Shirley
Yellow Flags: 6
Lap Leaders: Steve Francis 1-75
Edelbrock Hard Charger Award: Scott James (Started 20th and Finished 7th-Advanced 13 Positions)
All-Star Performance Performer of the Race: Billy Drake
K&N Clean Pass Award: Chris Madden
COMP Cams Rookie of the Race: Justin Rattliff
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Terry English and Justin Rattliff
Current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Championship Points Standings (After July 1, 2007)
1) Earl Pearson, Jr. (Jacksonville, FL)-2660
2) Steve Casebolt (Richmond, IN)-2570
3) Scott James (Lawrenceburg, IN)-2570
4) Terry English (Benton, KY)-2415
5) Donnie Moran (Dresden, OH)-2165
6) Justin Rattliff (Campbellsville, KY)-2110
7) Dan Schlieper (Sullivan, WI)-2095
8) Billy Drake (Bloomington, IL)-2085
9) Damon Eller (Crumpler, NC)-1935
10) Brad Neat (Dunnville, KY)-1800
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series COMP Cams Rookie of the Year Points Standings (After July 1, 2007)