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Francis heading in right direction at Bulls Gap

October 13, 2007, 8:27 am
By Kevin Kovac
World of Outlaws Late Model Series

BULLS GAP, Tenn. (Oct. 12) — So far, so good for Steve Francis. The World of Outlaws Late Model Series points leader took another step toward his first career tour championship, winning Friday's heat race during opening-night action of the Tennessee Fall Brawl 100 at Volunteer Speedway.

Francis, 40, of Ashland, Ky., won the first 15-lap preliminary in dominating fashion, setting himself up to start among the first four rows in Saturday night’s $20,000-to-win main event. The first- and second-place finishers in each of the four heats will redraw for the top-eight starting spots prior to the 100-lapper. Other heat winners were Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who came within five laps of winning Volunteer’s Scorcher 100 on Aug. 23; Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga.; and Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C. A total of 52 cars were signed in for the second WoO event of the season at Joe Loven’s 4/10-mile oval.

Francis enters the weekend leading the WoO championship standings by 40 points over Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. With only the Outlaws World Finals weeekend Nov. 1-3 at the Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway remaining, Volunteer will be critical in the race for the $100,000 points title.

Frank is hoping to finish ahead of Francis in the 100-lapper to close the gap heading to Lowe's, but he’ll have his work cut out for him after a subpar qualifying-night performance. After watching Francis sweep to a convincing prelim triumph, Frank struggled with handling problems in the second heat and finished sixth, forcing him into a consolation race.

The evening began with southern standout Rick Rogers of Knoxville, Tenn., surprising the field by setting fast time with a lap of 12.364 seconds. His first career National Interstate Insurance Fast Time award earned him a $100 bonus. Rogers, a 48-year-old, second-generation racer, went on to finish second to Francis in the first heat, earning himself a redraw berth for the feature.

First heat: Francis, Rogers, Weaver, C. Smith, White, Moran, Arms, Roberts, Eller, Kinzer, Wells, Goddard, Neubert
Second heat: Owens, Hill, Bloomquist, Shirley, B. Smith, Frank, Eckert, Jones, Miller, Carrier, Davidson, Fultz, S. Smith. Scratched: Solomon.
Third heat: McDowell, Clanton, Lanigan, Douglas, M. Smith, Babb, Arp, Hendrix, Jackson, Buckingham, Stone, Mitchell
Fourth heat: Cook, England, Schlieper, Richards, Dillon, Neat, Ogle Jr., Wyatt, Blankenship, C. Ogle, Lester, Crabtree. Scrathed: Giffin.

Time trials

Pos. Driver, hometown, time
1. Rick Rogers, Knoxville, Tenn., 12.364
2. Vic Hill, Morristown, Tenn., 12.386
3. Shane Clanton, Locust Grove, Ga., 12.388
4. Michael England, Glasgow, Ky., 12.465
5. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky., 12.474
6. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn., 12.540
7. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga., 12.622
8. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C., 12.636
9. Clint Smith, Senoia, Ga., 12.638
10. Brian Shirley, Chatham, Ill, 12.711
11. Shanon Buckingham, Morristown, Tenn., 12.721
12. Austin Dillon, Welcome, N.C., 12.726
13. Ricky Arms, Moss, Tenn., 12.740
14. Chub Frank, Bear Lake, Pa., 12.750
15. Skip Arp, Georgetown, Tenn., 12.755
16. Dan Schlieper, Sullivan, Wis., 12.767
17. Anthony White, Clinton, Tenn., 12.771
18. Kerry Jones, Bristol, Tenn., 12.779
19. Mark Douglas, Knoxville, Tenn., 12.780
20. Brad Neat, Dunnville, Ky., 12.783
21. Randy Weaver, Crossville, Tenn., 12.785
22. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn., 12.786
23. Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky., 12.806
24. Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va., 12.817
25. Donnie Moran, Dresden, Ohio, 12.846
26. Eddie Carrier Jr., Salt Rock, W.Va., 12.863
27. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, Ill., 12.915
28. Billy Ogle Jr., Knoxville, Tenn., 12.938
29. Shane Roberts, Blountville, Tenn., 12.943
30. Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis., 12.982
31. Bryan Hendrix, Knoxville, Tenn., 13.010
32. David Crabtree, Maryville, Tenn., 13.062
33. Brandon Kinzer, Allen, Ky., 13.078
34. Brett Miller, Greenville, Tenn., 13.093
35. Michael Smith, Rogersville, Tenn., 13.131
36. Brett Wyatt, Crossville, Tenn., 13.139
37. Damon Eller, Crumpler, N.C., 13.166
38. Rick Eckert, York, Pa., 13.170
39. Randy Davidson, Morristown, Tenn., 13.176
40. John Blankenship, Williamson, WV 13.248
41. Herman Goddard, Knoxville, Tenn., 13.258
42. Steve Smith, Powell, Tenn., 13.329
43. Dan Stone, Thompson, Pa., 13.334
44. Chad Ogle, Sevierville, Tenn., 13.373
45. Eric Wells, Hazard, Ky., 13.385
46. Clint Solomon, Mosheim, Tenn., 13.452
47. Mike Jackson, Greenville, Tenn., 13.487
48. Van Lester, Dandridge, Tenn., 13.774
49. Jeff Neubert, Knoxville, Tenn., 13.869
50. Travis Fultz, Harrogate, Tenn., 14.018
51. Roy Mitchell, Hobart, Ind., 14.586
52. Bobby Giffin, Maryville, Tenn., no time

World of Outlaws point standings

1. Steve Francis (5,538)
2. Chub Frank (5,498)
3. Clint Smith (5,446)
4. Shane Clanton (5,362
5. Josh Richards (5,350)
6. Rick Eckert (5,348)
7. Darrell Lanigan (5,092)
8. Tim Fuller (4,259)
9. Brian Shirley (3,932)
10. Shannon Babb (3,657)
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