SARVER, PA – June 29, 2007 – A side-by-side battle to the wire between Josh Richards and Steve Francis highlighted Friday night’s intense heat-race action for the inaugural ‘Firecracker 100’ at Lernerville Speedway.
Sixty drivers participated in the opening-night activities of the $140,000 weekend, which concludes on Saturday evening with a $30,000-to-win World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main.
Richards, 19, of Shinnston, W.Va., held off a furious challenge from Ashland, Ky.’s Francis to win the third of six 15-lap heat races. The teenage sensation beat his fellow WoO LMS regular to the finish line by a mere 0.075 of a second.
“It was a real fun race,” said Richards, who powered off the cushion in turn four to nip Francis for the victory. “It was close, but I knew I was ahead.”
Francis, 39, was actually more concerned about maintaining second place – the top-two finishers in each heat will redraw on Saturday for the first 12 starting spots in the ‘Firecracker 100’ – than passing Richards for the win.
“Josh and I were just running side-by-side trying to block the road so (Dale) McDowell (who finished third) couldn’t come up and pass us,” said Francis. “I didn’t want to push the issue too hard and lose a redraw spot.”
Of course, both Richards and Francis aren’t overly concerned about where they will start in the main event.
“At this place, you can win from wherever you start,” said Richards. “Your starting spot shouldn’t matter.”
Added Francis: “I’ll bet you that the guy leading on lap 50 won’t win the race. This place will change so much, I don’t think it will matter where you start.”
Other heat-race winners included Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., who has had little luck at Lernerville in WoO LMS events over the past three years; Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., who finished second in Lernerville’s WoO LMS event on April 17; first-time Lernerville visitor Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla.; Steve Shaver of Vienna, W.Va., who overtook Chub Frank of Sugar Grove, Pa., for the lead late in the distance; and Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., making his first Lernerville appearance since April 2005.
Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who enters the weekend with three consecutive runner-up finishes on the WoO LMS, had a tough night. His Raye Vest-owned car was sandwiched in turn four on a botched restart during the third heat, forcing him to the pit area with damage that included a busted radiator and dented fuel cell.
Also involved in the chain-reaction pileup that claimed Eckert was WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contender Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill. It was the third incident of the heat for Shirley, who spun out of fourth place on lap six and was involved in a tangle on the seventh lap.
Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., won the National Interstate Insurance Fast Time Award with his lap of 15.698 seconds. He earned a total of $600, including $100 from National Interstate and an additional $500 check from No. 1 Cochran Automotive.
The ‘Firecracker 100’ continues with a full day of activity on Saturday.
Kicking off the day at noon will be the first annual Lernerville Speedway ‘Weenie Roast,’ which will feature a horseshoes competition pairing fans with eight dirt Late Model stars.
Following a drivers’ meeting under the grandstand at 4 p.m., all the drivers participating in the weekend’s action will sign autographs from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Racing will begin at 7 p.m. with the C-Main, followed by two B-Mains, the ‘Uncle Sam 30’ – a $3,000-to-win race for the first 24 drivers who miss the A-Main – and the ‘Firecracker 100.’
For more information, visit www.lernerville.com
or call (724) 353-1511. National Interstate Insurance Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 44M-Chris Madden/Gray Court, SC 15.698
2. 28M-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 15.802
3. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 15.880
4. 44p-Earl Pearson Jr./Jacksonville, FL 15.884
5. 30-Steve Shaver/Vienna, WV 15.892
6. won11-Robbie Blair/Titusville, PA 15.901
7. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, PA 15.918
8. 24M-Jeremy Miller/Gettysburg, PA 15.925
9. 43A-Jason Covert/York Haven, PA 15.941
10. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 15.951
11. 99B-Rick Briggs/Bear Lake, PA 15.962
12. E1-Mike Balzano/Parkersburg, WV 15.967
13. 75-Bart Hartman/Zanesville, OH 15.977
14. 46-Doug Horton/Bruceton Mills, WV 16.000
15. 15-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 16.028
16. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 16.093
17. 20J-Jimmy Owens/Newport, TN 16.124
18. 0-Scott Bloomquist/Mooresburg, TN 16.142
19. 33H-Chris Hackett/Erie, PA 16.163
20. 40-Dutch Davies/Warren, PA 16.169
21. 17M-Dale McDowell/Chickamagua, GA 16.200
22. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 16.229
23. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 16.232
24. 44H-Dave Hess Jr./Waterford, PA 16.234
25. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 16.241
26. 2s-Sam Stile/Charleroi, PA 16.243
27. 1L-Dane Laraway/Irwin, PA 16.255
28. 11H-Josh McGuire/Ashland, KY 16.255
29. 99-Donnie Moran/Dresden, OH 16.280
30. 07R-Brent Rhebergen/Clymer, NY 16.288
31. 361-David Scott/Garland, PA 16.314
32. 20R-Chad Ruhlman/Bemus Point, NY 16.334
33. 1c-Lynn Geisler/Cranberry Twp., PA 16.354
34. 12-Rick Aukland/Zanesville, OH 16.357
35. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 16.358
36. H1-Jared Miley/South Park, PA 16.361
37. 48-John Flinner/Zelionople, PA 16.370
38. 3d-Dan Swartzlander/Sarver, PA 16.384
39. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 16.394
40. 66-Ken Schaltenbrand/Sarver, PA 16.411
41. 00H-Chuck Harper/Beverly, WV 16.492
42. 15J-Nick Jones/Pittsburgh, PA 16.494
43. 1J-Davey Johnson/Latrobe, PA 16.519
44. 5-Mike Blose/New Bethlehem, PA 16.551
45. 3s-Brian Shirley/Chatham, IL 16.557
46. 04-Bob Close/Eldred, PA 16.583
47. 91-Billy Decker/Unadilla, NY 16.584
48. 4-Alex Ferree/Saxonburg, PA 16.596
49. 28b-Dick Barton/Ashville, NY 16.663
50. 21M-Tony Musolino/Scott Twp., PA 16.697
51. 21L-Matt Lux/Franklin, PA 16.711
52. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 16.720
53. s1-Rick Strong/Chambersville, PA 16.750
54. 22-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA 16.789
55. 67-Jim Kurpakus/Leachburg, PA 16.963
56. 97c-Jeremy Clements/Spartanburg, SC 17.043
57. 21A-Pete Alspaugh/Russell, PA 17.099
58. 55-Kerry Jackson/New Kensington, PA 17.950
59. 93-Roy Mitchell/Rensselaer, IN 20.661
60. 0z-Mel Minnick Jr./Uniontown, PA DQ-light Heat No. 1 (15 laps - Top 3 Transfer):
Clanton, Madden, Fuller, Scott, Hartman, D. Johnson, Barton, Flinner, Hackett, Kurpakus Heat No. 2 (15 laps - Top 3 Transfer):
Mars, Horton, J. Miller, Davies, Stile, Ruhlman, Clements, Blose, Musolino, Swartzlander Heat No. 3 (15 laps - Top 3 Transfer):
Richards, Francis, McDowell, Geisler, Covert, Lux, Laraway, Eckert, Alspaugh, Shirley Heat No. 4 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer):
Pearson, C. Smith, Lanigan, Blankenship, Aukland, McGuire, Close, Schaltenbrand, Stone, Jackson Heat No. 5 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer):
Shaver, Frank, Birkhofer, Owens, Moran, Briggs, Decker, Harper, Strong, Mitchell Heat No. 6 (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer):
Bloomquist, Hess, Blair, Balzano, Ferree, Jones, Satterlee, Rhebergen, Miley, Minnick LISTEN ONLINE:
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