BEDFORD, PA (July 31, 2008) - In a race cut short by six laps due to severe fog blanketing the track, Steve Francis of Ashland, KY became the 20th different driver to win a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event on Thursday Night at Bedford Speedway. Francis, in the Dale Beitler owned Rocket GTO, led all 24 laps in winning the $7,000 to win the inaugural “Paul Beamer Memorial Race” sponsored by Bedford Valley Petroleum. Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL finished second followed by Josh Richards of Shinnston, WV, Jeremy Miller of Gettysburg, PA and Rick Eckert of York, PA.
The start of the A-main was delayed due to a pop-up shower, but after about two hours and after running the track back in, the race was ready to go, with Francis and Richards starting on the pole. Third-place starter Bart Hartman slowed on the initial start bringing out the caution, which negated the start and forced a restart. Hartman took to the pits and not return to the race until the twelfth lap.
Francis managed to motor ahead of the field, as he led all 24 scored laps with a nice battle for second taking place between Richards and Pearson. Francis opened up a seven car length lead in the early stages of the race until lapped traffic would allow both Richards and Pearson to gain on him.
With ten laps down, Richards and Pearson had closed on Francis’ rear bumper as the first three cars were running nose to tail. Francis was able to put a lapped car between himself and the race for second as the first caution came out on lap 12.
On the restart, Francis would again extend his lead over Richards and Pearson as Pearson was all over the rear decklid of Richards’ car. With 15 laps down, Francis was on a rail, stretching his lead over the duo of Richards and Pearson with Jeremy Miller and Rick Eckert in a tight battle for fourth.
As the halfway mark was given, fog started to overtake the race track as Jeff Rine slowed for the third caution on lap 20. With ten laps to go, there was enough visibility for the drivers to continue as they would only be able to race for four more laps until Nick Dickson stopped in turn two bringing out the caution.
During the caution period, the drivers stopped on the frontstretch and relayed to the Lucas Oil officials and track officials that it was unsafe to resume the race. The decision was made to wave the checkered flag as the cars came back around the frontstretch and the race was officially ruled complete.
In Lucas Oil Victory Lane, for the first time since July 2007, Francis said the decision made was the right one for driver’s safety. “No doubt it was the right call, it’s easy for me to say being in front but when the second place guy and back says they can’t see you have to go with that,” Francis said as he thanked his crew who have turned around his fortunes on recent weeks. “The American Racer tires are good here and for them to get the track back in the shape they did after the rain my hats off to them, now we can go and hopefully run well the next two nights and then set our sights on Florence for next week, that’s a race I’d really like to win.”
The 40-year-old driver helmed the Dale Beitler Racing owned, Cornett powered Reliable Painting/Duralite Racing Wheels/Integra Shocks, Valvoline sponsored Rocket Chassis GTO.
Pearson extended his points lead in the Bobby Labonte Racing/Lifelong Locks/MasterSbilt Dodge Charger by virtue of his second place finish. Richards who was the PRC fast timer in qualifications among the 51 cars on hand drove the Ernie Davis/Ernie’s Towing and Hauling/Rocket Monte Carlo SS.
Completing the top five were Jeremy Miller in the Buckler Motorsports/Complete Flooring/Rocket GTO and Rick Eckert in the Raye Vest Excavating/Custom Engines/GRT Cadillac.
Rounding out the top ten Steve Shaver, Terry Casey, Ricky Elliott, Billy Drake and Steve Casebolt.
You can find out more about the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series by logging on to www.lucasdirt.com or call the series office at (951) 532-2503.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Thursday Night July 31st, 2008
Bedford Speedway, Bedford, PA
PRC Fast Time: Josh Richards / 20.223 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Josh Richards, Earl Pearson Jr., Chuck Clise, Justin Rattliff, Jeff Rine, John Mason, Wayne Chinn, Steve Everhart, Freddy Smith, Shawn Claar, DJ Myers, Bo Feathers, Tom Decker Sr.
Hawk Brake Second Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Rick Eckert, Steve Shaver, Jason Covert, Steve Casebolt, Gary Stuhler, Scott Haus, Randy Burkholder, Dan Schlieper, Greg Fetters, Wayne Johnson, Matt Parks, TJ Wright, Tom Decker Jr.
AFCO Racing Products Third Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Steve Francis, Jeremy Miller, Billy Drake, Dan Stone, Jim Yoder, Nick Dickson, Tyler Armstrong, Scott LeBarron, Brian Booze, Shane Beegle, Jimmy Owens, Andy Martz, Chris Harr.
Tiger Rearend Fourth Heat (10 Laps- Top 4 Advance): Bart Hartman, Terry Casey, Donnie Moran, Ricky Elliott, Jeff Miller, Tyler Hershey, Alan Sagi, Jack Pencil, Scott James, JT Spence, Scott Rhodes, Doug Ishler.
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno First B-Main (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Gary Stuhler, Jeff Rine, Scott Haus, John Mason, Randy Burkholder, Dan Schlieper, DJ Myers, Freddy Smith, Greg Fetters, Wayne Chinn, Steve Everhart, Wayne Johnson, Matt Parks, Tom Decker Sr., Shawn Claar, TJ Wright, Bo Feathers (DNS), Tom Decker Jr(DNS).
Quarter Master Second B-Main (12 Laps- Top 3 Advance): (Finished after 8 Laps Due to Rain Delay): Jeremy Miller, Jack Pencil, Nick Dickson, Tyler Hershey, Scott Rhodes, Tyler Armstrong, Scott LeBarron, Brian Booze, Alan Sagi, Shane Beegle, Jim Yoder, Scott James, JT Spence (DNS), Jimmy Owens (DNS), Anndy Martz (DNS), Doug Ishler (DNS), Chris Harr (DNS).
“Inaugural Paul Beamer Memorial” (30 Laps): Steve Francis, Earl Pearson Jr., Josh Richards, Jeremy Miller, Rick Eckert, Steve Shaver, Terry Casey, Ricky Elliot, Billy Drake, Steve Casebolt, Donnie Moran, Scott Haus, Jason Covert, Chuck Clise, Gary Stuhler, Scott James, Jeff Miller, Nick Dickson, Dan Stone, Jeff Rine, Justin Rattliff, Tyler Hershey, Jack Pencil, Steve Everhart, Freddy Smith, Bart Hartman.
Caution Flags: 5
Lap Leaders: Steve Francis 1-24 (Ended Due to Extreme Fog)
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Scott James, Freddy Smith Bedford Speedway Track Provisionals: Steve Everhart, Tyler Hershey
PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race: Scott Haus
Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Scott James
K&N Filters Clean Pass of the Race: Steve Casebolt
Quarter Master Rookie of the Race: Terry Casey
ASI Racewear Lucky 7 Award: Terry Casey
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Kevin Miller
Comp Cams Engine Builder of the Race: Cornett Racing Engines
Time of the Race: start: 1:02am finish: 1:30am
Current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Championship Points Standings
1) Earl Pearson Jr – 4990
2) Steve Casebolt – 4535
3) Bart Hartman – 4510
4) Billy Drake – 4230
5) Justin Rattliff – 4110
6) Terry Casey – 4050
7) Dan Schlieper – 4035
8) Scott James – 3920
9) Freddy Smith – 3615
10) Wayne Chinn - 3305
Quarter Master Rookie of the Year Points Standings
1) Terry Casey - 4050
2) Wayne Chinn - 3305