East Bay Winter Nationals Late Models


Night 5 of the 29th Annual Winternationals

TAMPA, FL—Steve Francis of Ashland, KY become the fifth different winner in five nights as the Lucas Oil NARA DirtCar Series completed another exciting night of Dirt Late Model Racing during the 29th Annual Winternationals on Friday Night at the East Bay Raceway Park. The 37 year old racer earned his first career Lucas Oil NARA DirtCar Series win and his 6th career victory at East Bay. Francis had to fight off determined charges from Shannon Babb and Earl Pearson, Jr. to take the $10,000 triumph. Francis drove the Valvoline, Freeport Recycling Center, Banshee Graphics, Gary Stanton Racing Engines, MOPAR Rocket Dodge Intrepid to the victory in the 50 lap feature race. Babb gave Francis a scare in the closing laps nearly overtaking him for the win. Babb of Moweaqua, IL finished second in the Arkansas Motors/Jay Dickens Racing Engines/C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo. Third place went to Pearson of Jacksonville, FL in the Carlton and Kemp Lamm owned/Lucas Oil Products/Rocket Ford Taurus. Fourth place at the finish was Matt MIller of Waterville, OH in the Denny Thornton owned McCullough Industries/Russell Baker Racing Engines/Rocket Grand Prix and Terry English of Benton, KY took fifth in the Arizona Sport Shirts/Rayburn Automotive/C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo. On Friday Night there were 100 cars entered for the racing events marking the fifth straight night there have been 100 or more cars on hand for the Winternationals.

Francis would bolt to the lead right from the start of the 50 lap main event with Scott James riding in second followed by Don O’Neal, Eddie Carrier, Jr. and Jason Montgomery. Francis and James would go side by side for the lead on a couple of occasions early on, but Francis would gain a two car length lead by the sixth circuit. O’Neal then would challenge James for second racing side y side with his fellow Hoosier State driver. With Francis in front and a side by side battle going on between James and O’Neal, there were several drivers making their way to the front including Earl Pearson, Jr. Shannon Babb, Dennis Erb, Jr. and Matt Miller. Pearson had started ninth and broke into the top five early on and started to put the heat on Carrier for fourth. With 15 laps in the books it was still Francis showing the way followed by James, O’Neal, Carrier and Pearson. The first caution of the race came out for a stopped Davey Johnson in turn one. Right after the restart O’Neal would pass James for second with the racing still going on at a rapid pace with two wide racing common through the field. The next yellow would fly for O’Neal who had a flat tire on lap 28 and stopped on the race track.

After O’Neal went to the pit area Pearson would now be the new second place runner with Carrier in third followed by James and Erb. With 20 laps remaining in the race Francis still showed the way with Pearson putting the pressure on Francis for the point. At this point all eyes were on Babb as he would go to the top of the race track and storm to the front passing Miller and Erb to take third. Babb and Pearson then hooked up and started to track down Francis. The final caution came out of lap 40 for mechanical problems on James’ car ending his night. This would set up a ten lap dash to the finish between Francis, Pearson and Babb that had the fans on their feet. Babb would take the high line by Pearson for second on lap 42 and with eight laps to go he had his sights set on getting by Francis. Babb would slide to the outside of Francis on a couple of occasions looking like he would take the high side past Francis, but Francis would hold his low line around the race track and despite the best efforts of Babb, Francis would be the first driver to cross the line and take the win. Babb and Pearson’s exciting charges were noted with a standing ovation from the large crowd on hand. “It feels good to finally win one this week,” said Francis afterwards. “I saw the red on the nose of a car and I looked at the scoreboard and I knew it was Shannon so I just tried my hardest to keep my line and I about slipped up there once coming off of four and I thought I was in deep trouble.” Said the smiling Francis in victory lane.

Completing the top ten were Dennis Erb, Jr., Anthony Rushing, Tim Dohm, Billy Moyer and Rick Eckert.

John Mason would be the Oval Craft Racing Aluminum Designs Fast Timer with a lap of 15.420 seconds. The VP Racing “Makin’ Power” heat race winners were Eddie Carrier, Jr., Scott James, Babb, Jason Montgomery, Francis and Don O’Neal. The Rebel Shock Dyno B-Main was won by Davey Johnson with the Real Wheels second B-Main taken by Butch McGill. The other two B-Mains were captured by Tim Dohm and Brian Shirley, who both advanced to the feature event. Steve Hillard won the Gulf Coast Produce Strawberry Dash.

Race Summary

Lucas Oil NARA DirtCar Series

Friday Night, Febraury 11, 2005

East Bay Raceway Park-Tampa, FL

29th Annual Winternationals

Entries: 100

Oval Craft Racing Aluminum Designs Fast Time: John Mason 15.420

VP Racing Makin’ Power First Heat: 1) Eddie Carrier, Jr. 2) Trent Follmer 3) Terry English 4) John Mason 5) Billy Moyer 6) Butch McGill 7) Bill Cunningham 8) Pat Doar 9) Keith Nosbisch 10) Jeff Gress 11) Mike Benedum 12) Chris Conley 13) Steve Harvey 14) Brad Neat 15) Joe Morris 16) Dean Bowen 17) Ronnie DeHaven, Jr.

VP Racing Makin’ Power Second Heat: 1) Scott James 2) Darren Miller 3) Anthony Rushing 4) Brady Smith 5) Brian Birkhofer 6) Michael England 7) Terry Casey 8) Rick Aukland 9) Randy Korte 10) Johnny Chastain 11) Sonny Conley 12) John Kuchar 13) Mike Hammerle 14) Michael Jackson 15) Steve Hillard 16) John Gill 17) Wes Steidinger

VP Racing Makin’ Power Third Heat: 1) Shannon Babb 2) Earl Pearson, Jr. 3) R.J. Conley 4) Shane Clanton 5) Davey Johnson 6) Dale McDowell 7) Tim McCreadie 8) Freddy Smith 9) Rod Conley 10) Josh Richards 11) Dan Schlieper 12) Steve Lucas 13) Jayme Zidar 14) Bryan Collins 15) Jason Flory 16) Scott Riggs

VP Racing Makin’ Power Fourth Heat: 1) Jason Montgomery 2) Jimmy Mars 3) Scott Bloomquist 4) Mark Voigt 5) John VanDenBerg 6) Delmas Conley 7) Darin Meierotto 8) Roy Deese, Jr. 9) Russ Scheffler 10) Zach Carney 11) Corey Conley 12) Frank Smith 13) Eric Jacobsen 14) Ronnie Smith 15) Dennis Little

VP Racing Makin’ Power Fifth Heat: 1) Steve Francis 2) Billy Drake 3) Dennis Erb, Jr. 4) Tim Dohm 5) Rick Eckert 6) Ray Cook 7) Jason Smith 8) Greg Johnson 9) Evan Herrell 10) Bo Feathers 11) Garrett Durrett 12) Anthony White 13) Victor Lee 14) Josh Manning 15) Carl Edwards 16) Mike Mataragas

VP Racing Makin’ Power Sixth Heat: 1) Don O’Neal 2) Matt Miller 3) Donnie Moran 4) Steve Shaver 5) Rohn Moon 6) Jackie Boggs 7) Wayne Johnson 8) Brian Shirley 9) Ricky Elliott 10) Dave Hess 11) Dan Stone 12) Brent Robinson 13) Matt Hubbard 14) Kristin Flory 15) Marshall Austin 16) Greggie Oliver

Gulf Coast Produce Strawberry Dash: 1) Steve Hilllard 2) Evan Herrell 3) Anthony White 4) Kristin Flory

Lucas Oil NARA DirtCar Series A-Main (30 Laps): 1) Steve Francis 2) Shannon Babb 3) Earl Pearson, Jr. 4) Matt Miller 5) Terry English 6) Dennis Erb, Jr. 7) Anthony Rushing 8) Tim Dohm 9) Billy Moyer 10) Rick Eckert 11) Darren Miller 12) Scott Bloomquist 13) Steve Shaver 14) Dan Schlieper 15) Trent Follmer 16) Eddie Carrier, Jr. 17) Jimmy Mars 18) Donnie Moran 19) Butch McGill 20) Brian Shirley 21) Scott James 22) Billy Drake 23) Don O’Neal 24) Davey Johnson 25) R.J. Conley 26) Jason Montgomery

Race Statistics

NARA Provisionals: Rick Eckert and Steve Shaver

R.A.C.E. Provisionals: Billy Moyer and Dan Schlieper

Lap Leaders: Francis 1-50

Cautions: 3

PPM Racing Products Hard Charger of the Race: Dennis Erb, Jr. (advanced 11 positions)




 East Bay Winter Nationals Late Models


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