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Bristol Motor Speedway

Cedar Lake lures touring drivers with gas money

April 22, 2008, 11:00 am
From track and series reports

If Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., commits to attending this year's USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., he'll be guaranteed a check for $583.50 before he even hits the racetrack. The track announced it will pay 50 cents per mile from each team's race shop to the track in an effort to lure more touring racers to the $50,000-to-win event.

The offer is limited to the first 30 teams located at least 100 miles from the track to call (612) 363-0479 and commit to running the 21st annual unsanctioned event. “We are excited to offer a unique incentive like this to the drivers," said Cedar Lake Speedway owner Brad Both. "It couldn’t come at a better time with rising fuel costs."

The event, which traditionally kicks off the late-season specials, is scheduled for July 31-Aug. 2. WDRL hosts a $5,000-to-win tuneup race on the opening Thursday night. On Friday, time trials and heat races are scheduled with Saturday's action highlighted by the 100-lap feature.

Past winners include Billy Moyer ('88-'90, '92-'93), Scott Bloomquist ('99, '03, '06), Brian Birkhofer ('04, '07), Dale McDowell ('01, '05) and Jimmy Mars ('96), the only home-state winner. — From track reports

Francis-Beitler connection hitting stride

Before the 2008 season started, Steve Francis estimated that he’d be completely comfortable and rolling with Dale Beitler’s team by Memorial Day Weekend. Well, after Francis cruised to a convincing $50,000 victory in Saturday's Circle K Colossal 100 at the Dirt Track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, he could probably move up that performance timetable.

“To win a race like this for Dale, as early as we are here with this new team, is just a great accomplishment,” said Francis, who decided to park his own team after winning the 2007 World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship and chase a second title driving for Beitler. “We haven’t gotten our consistency exactly where we want it yet, but our cars are getting closer and closer. We’re really starting to jell as a team. We’re getting everything where we really want it.”

Francis is actually still getting accustomed to using American Racer tires, which he rode to victory in the Colossal 100. “I have worn them American Racer guys out since I took this ride,” said Francis. “We did a bunch of testing before the season started, and they’ve been sending some engineers to the races with us to help us out. We’ve been working on development, but we’re still not 100 percent there.”

Francis, 40, credits West Friendship, Md.’s Beitler with providing him all the tools for success. “The group of guys that Dale has put together behind me — Robby Allen, Kevin Miller, Jeff, Jeremy — they’ve given me excellent equipment every time I’ve gone on the racetrack,” said Francis. “I can’t ask for anything more.”

Francis has especially enjoyed working with Allen, a former WoO LMS traveler as Rick Eckert’s chief mechanic who serves as a consultant to the Beitler team. “Me and Robby are able to talk and he understands when I’m trying to explain things to him now,” said Francis. “It’s very similar to the relationship I had with Lee (Logan, Francis’s ’07 crew chief) last year, and my brother (the late Chris Francis) in the past. I’ve been real fortunate to be able to work with excellent crew chiefs my whole career — my brother, Ronnie Stuckey, Ronnie Hackworth, Lee — and then for Dale to put Robby in there ... it’s phenomenal to work with guys like that. It makes my job a lot easier because it just adds that much experience.”

Beitler, meanwhile, is just enjoying the magic-carpet ride that Francis is giving him. “This is great, as good as it gets,” a smiling Beitler said in the pit area after the Colossal 100. “It’s just an awesome feeling to win this race. I’ve got a great team, a great driver. I couldn’t be any happier right now.” — Kevin Kovac

Big announcement coming at Eldora

At the opening ceremonies for the $100,000-to-win Dream XIV on June 7, Eldora Speedway has announced that track owner Tony Stewart will make a major announcement that centers around the heritage and history of the track, along with its former owners, Earl and Berneice Baltes. "This is big and unprecedented, and I can't wait," the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion said in a new release.

Eldora also announced the Turn One Suite Club, available during last year's World 100, will be onsite for the June 6-7 Dream weekend. Located high atop turn one, the custom-designed mobile Suite Club features an inside lounge and restrooms, inside and outside seating and a private catering area. Tickets are $200 per person and includes admission to the track, a pit pass, an event T-Shirt, program, snacks, drinks and a catered meal. Space is limited and reservations are recommended. Call Eldora at (937) 338-3815, ext. 24. — Larry Boos

Frank takes wild ride at Lowe's

Chub Frank had never flipped a car during his 30-year racing career — until April 19 at the Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway during the third annual Circle K Colossal 100. While biding his time running 11th on lap 45 of the 100, Frank’s machine bicycled onto its right side between turns three and four and went flipping. He got some serious air time before the car landed on its wheels in turn four.

“I came in (the corner) on a bad angle,” Frank said. “Instead of going in high, I kinda come in a little bit off the cushion and slid to it. But I was in there so hot, the whole right side just caught and bicycled over, and then it just took off.

“It felt like when you’re watching a crash on those in-car cameras, when the camera is behind the driver. At one point I was standing on my nose and looking right at the ground, and I’m thinking, ‘This ain’t gonna be good.’ ”

Frank, who has worn an R3 head-and-neck restraint from Safety Solutions all season, quickly emerged from his cockpit without injury. He even jogged back to the pits.

Frank’s car — his favorite Rocket since he debuted it in September 2006 — had its bodywork mangled and plenty of suspension parts broken, but Frank didn’t think it sustained significant frame damage. — Kevin Kovac

Odds and ends

The World of Outlaws have made a few schedule changes. The August event at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga., has been removed from the schedule while a July 13 race at Williston Bay Speedway in Williston, N.D., has been added. ... Families planning on attending the May 2-3 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway should take note. Children 16-and-under are admitted free with a paying adult. Lucas Oil competitors battle for $9,999 winning purses each night.

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