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Friday, April 11, 2014
Francis Bests Strong NDRL Field to win Penn National 50 at PPMS
PPMS Winner Steve Francis
The Kentucky Colonel Steve Francis made a lap 19 pass on
Jonathan Davenport and held off Brian Birkhofer the rest of way to pick up the
win in the NDRL Penn National 50 at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway Thursday
“It was nice to get a win here tonight,” Francis said. “This
was a brand new car and the guys did a good job with it. It was good to get one
for Clint Bowyer Racing and Georgia Boot.”
Francis and Tim Fuller paced the field of 26 cars to the
green flag, but it was Davenport who got the early lead, rocketing from the outside
of the second row around the front row starters.
Davenport was able to pull out ahead to a bit of a lead, but
as the cars entered lapped traffic Francis reeled him in and slid by the 6 machine to take the top
spot on the 19th circuit. Birkhofer quickly followed Francis around
Davenport into second and they remained close together in lapped traffic until
Jared Miley slowed bringing out the race’s only caution on lap 24.
Second Place Finisher Brian Birkhofer
Once the field went back to green the top three remained in
a good battle up front, while 10th starting Brandon Sheppard made a
pass around Gregg Satterlee to move into fourth.
The top two cars pulled away from Davenport and as they again got
into lapped traffic. Birkhofer would get within a car length of Francis,
but that was about as close as he would get.
Francis stretched his lead out to about four car lengths in the
latter stages of the race and it would be the 15 Clint Bowyer Racing Georgia Boot
backed late model that would cross the checkered flag first in front of a large
crowd at the Dirt Monster Half Mile.
“The track was great,” Francis said. “It was smooth and you
could run on it top to bottom.”
It was Francis’s first win at Pittsburgh since 1996 and his
first start at the track since 2007.
“We haven’t had much luck with the NDRL races and with a few
laps left I got into traffic that was two wide and I thought I was going to
give this one away with about five to go,” Francis said. “But we were able to
get by and ended up getting this one.”
Kent Robinson was able to get by both Satterlee and Sheppard
to finish fourth, followed by the Rocket House Car of Sheppard, who rounded out
the top five. Satterlee would wind up sixth, followed by Fuller in seventh, the NDRL point leader coming into the night Chris Madden in eighth, Kenny Pettyjohn in ninth and B Main #2 winner
Billy Moyer came home tenth.
Third Place Finisher Jonathan Davenport
There were 41 NDRL late models that were on hand for the races.
Fuller, Francis, Birkhofer and Davenport won the heat races.
In other action Steve Dixon survived a race of attrition that
saw top contenders Bart Hartman and Jacob Hawkins have mechanical issues to win
the NDRL E Mod main event. Jonathan Taylor was second, followed by Mike Potosky,
Mercer winner Rich Michael, Jr, and Ryan Taylor.
Ryan Montgomery won the Rush Weekly Series Crate Feature, a
race that went caution free. Steve Beatty finished second and Michael Lake completed
This is leg one of
what is a three race weekend for the NDRL. They head to Virginia the next two nights
starting with the Gunter’s Honey 50 at Winchester Speedway Friday night and
then the Aaron’s King of the Commonwealth at Virginia Motor Speedway on