Pairing Of Champions: Tim McCreadie Ready To Make Debut In Steve Francis No. 15 At This Weekend’s Circle K Colossal 100
CONCORD, NC – April 14, 2008 – O.K., Steve Francis, so it’s the final laps of the third annual Circle K Colossal 100 this Saturday night (April 19) at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and you have Dale Beitler’s No. 19 dirt Late Model up front battling for the lead with a familiar-looking car.
Yeah, that would be your No. 15 car, with Tim McCreadie behind the wheel.
With a $50,000 top prize on the line, what’s going to be racing through your mind, ‘Kentucky Colonel?’
“At that point, I’ll be thinking, ‘Don’t make a mistake and take us both out,’” smiled Francis, considering the scenario he could experience during his first event fielding a car from his stable for McCreadie. “That would be an ideal situation, though, especially with how well the Colossal pays back.
“I just hope I’m leading and he’s running second.”
Francis will begin an interesting big-show experiment at this weekend’s Circle K Colossal 100. With the Ashland, Ky., driver stepping out of his own top-notch equipment this season to chase a second straight World of Outlaws Late Model Series title with Beitler’s West Friendsville, Md.-based team, he’s hired fellow WoO LMS titlist McCreadie to steer his well-known No. 15 in several major events.
Why did Francis, 40, seek out the 34-year-old McCreadie to fill the seat of his Steve Francis Racing machine?
“Who else would you pick if you’re looking for a driver?” Francis asked rhetorically. “Getting Timmy to drive my stuff a few times is just the right situation for him and me. It keeps all my sponsors happy and gives me something to do – hopefully not too much – to keep my shop active and everything up-to-date while I’m running for Dale.”
Back in early December when the pairing of former WoO LMS champions was announced, McCreadie, who won the title in 2006, was very uncertain about how much dirt Late Model racing he would be able to do in 2008. He was hopeful that his deal as a Richard Childress Racing Development Driver would result in a schedule heavy with NASCAR Nationwide Series starts – a direction that would likely curtail his appearances with the Sweeteners Plus team – so a limited arrangement to run on dirt with Francis seemed very attractive.
Of course, a lack of sponsorship for RCR’s No. 21 Nationwide Series team has left McCreadie in limbo with his pavement aspirations and he’s continued to drive the Avon, N.Y.-based Sweeteners Plus dirt Late Models. But he’s upholding his commitment to race the Francis No. 15, a car he feels honored to buckle up in.
“One day a few months ago, when I was looking to do some races with different people, I was talking with Francis on the phone and he said, ‘I want you to come drive my stuff,’” said McCreadie. “I was like, ‘Sure.’ Any time one of the top guys thinks enough of you to ask you to drive their car, it’s flattering.
“The fact that he wanted me to drive for him, when it could take money out of his pocket, because he likes me or thinks I can get the job done or whatever, that’s cool.
“It helps both of us,” continued McCreadie. “He’s got sponsors and product sponsors that now he can give some races, and he can keep his equipment up-to-date just in case something ever happens where he has to run it. You just can’t let stuff sit dormant and expect it to say top-notch.”
McCreadie knows he’ll have a “top 10” car at his disposal when he climbs into Francis’s Custom-powered Valvoline Rocket for the Colossal as well as his other tentative assaults with Francis, including the UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned ‘Dream’ and ‘World 100’ at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
“It’s the exact same car he ran last year and won with, so hopefully I can get in there, be comfortable and get it up to speed,” said McCreadie. “Just seeing how he races, he knows what it takes for a race team to win, and that gets me excited.
“He thinks he can give me a chance at winning some of the bigger races – and I’m all for that. I haven’t gotten (a win in) any of these big races yet, so that’s something I’d love to do. We’ve been up front in them, but we just haven’t hit on what we need to win one yet.”
McCreadie has “a lot of respect” for Francis, a rival he knows well from their three years of traveling the WoO LMS together.
“We’ve always been straight with each other and had a good relationship,” said McCreadie. “I remember that when we were winning all those Outlaws races a few years ago (2006, when he led the tour with eight victories), Steve was struggling a little bit. We talked and kinda showed him what we were doing, he started doing it, and then he started winning again. I told him, ‘If we didn’t give you that stuff, we could’ve probably won a bunch more shows because we ran second to you a bunch of times.’
“I think we’ve had a respect for each other, and I think he does more with a race car and is a lot smarter than people think.”
Francis has similar thoughts about McCreadie.
“Me and Timmy have always been friends, always got along real well,” said Francis. “I’m looking forward to putting him in my car. It’s gonna be something different, something kind of fun for me – my first deal as a car owner.”
In last year’s Circle K Colossal 100, McCreadie piloted the Sweeteners Plus No. 39 to a fourth-place finish and Francis finished sixth driving Tim Logan’s No. 11.
They’re hoping to be even closer to each other at the finish of Saturday’s event – and a few spots higher as well.
The Circle K Colossal 100 will be run over two days (April 18-19) at the four-tenths-mile Dirt Track @ Lowe’s.
The Friday-night (April 18) portion of the weekend features group time trials and heat races. The top-two finishers in each heat will secure a spot in the 100-lap finale and a draw will determine the starting lineup.
Saturday night's program begins with a driver autograph session and the on-track action includes at least four additional qualifying races prior to the main event. The race is part of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, but The Dirt Track's traditional format, including the extremely popular Delaware-style restarts, will be utilized.
If purchased in advance, reserved tickets for both Friday and Saturday nights are just $39 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 and
under. Two-day pit passes are $60 in advance.
Tickets and pit passes for the April 18-19 Circle K Colossal 100 can be purchased online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-455-FANS.
The Fleetwood RV Camping Resort is located adjacent to The Dirt Track and full-service camping spots can be reserved by calling (704) 455-4445.
The Circle K Colossal 100 is the first of four WoO LMS events at The Dirt Track this season. The tour returns on Oct. 8 for the Armour Foods Vienna Sausage Showdown presented by Ferris Mowers and Oct. 30-Nov. 1 for the second running of the ‘Outlaws World Finals’ that also includes the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Attached is a photo of Steve Francis and Tim McCreadie posed together for use with this story. (Kevin Kovac/WoO LMS photo)