Steve Francis, known to dirt late model fans as the "Kentucky Colonel," marched to a $50,000 victory Saturday night during the third annual Circle K Colossal 100 at The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion started from the pole in the 100-lap race and survived 16 caution flags en route to one of the biggest victories of his career.

After receiving the traditional Medieval knight's helmet and a 50-inch Macleod Medieval sword in victory lane, Francis admitted his No. 19 Valvoline machine nearly didn't make it to the checkered flag.

"We ran out of fuel right at the end of the race," Francis said. "I saw Darrell (Lanigan) coasting down through there and I figured he was out of fuel because my (fuel) light was on the last five to seven laps.

"The scariest part about the whole race was the last five laps, worrying about running out of fuel. I was watching the fuel pressure gauge instead of watching what I should have been watching at that point."

Despite the high number of caution flags, the Ashland, Ky., resident was able to pull away on each restart and became the first driver to lead the Circle K Colossal 100 from start to finish.

"That car was just absolutely phenomenal tonight," Francis said. "This was probably the best car I've ever had in a 100-lap race. It never changed a characteristic the whole race. I could run right around the bottom, and I could go the top. When you get a car like that, it makes your job way, way easier."

While Francis was cruising at the front, Chris Madden was charging through the field. The Gaffney, S.C., driver lined up 25th in the 36-car field and moved into second when Darrell Lanigan's machine slowed on lap 90. However, he was no match for Francis and settled for the $20,000 runner-up prize for the second consecutive year.

Twenty-year-old Josh Richards started 13th and earned $10,000 for finishing third while Jimmy Owens moved up from the 16th-starting spot to claim fourth. Dale McDowell completed the top five.

Shannon Babb, driving the No. 18 owned by NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer, finished sixth with Tim McCreadie, John Blankenship, Eddie Carrier Jr. and Ricky Weeks rounding out the top 10.

The most serious incident and the only red flag came on lap 45 when veteran Chub Frank flipped violently in Turn 4. The Bear Lake, Pa., driver was running 11th when his car hooked the cushion and tumbled through the air. Frank was able to climb from his heavily damaged machine and walked away.

Two-time Colossal 100 winner Scott Bloomquist was among those who had a tough night. The Mooresburg, Tenn., driver pitted three times early in the race for adjustments and eventually got tangled up in a  four-car crash on lap 82. He ended up 16th.

After evening showers delayed racing more than two hours, Brady Smith went wire-to-wire in beating John Blankenship, Doug Horton and Dennis "Rambo" Franklin to the checkered flag in the first 25-lap B feature. Transferring through the second 25-lap B feature were winner Rick Eckert, Mike Marlar, Vic Coffey and Jeff Smith.

John Rary, of Concord, N.C., claimed his first career CRASHCar victory in a 15-lap battle. Rary started seventh in the Nuclear Banana, moved up to second by lap three and put the bright yellow machine into the lead on lap six. David Spivey finished second in the Redneck Medic while defending series champion Paul Sparrow was third in the Invader.

The Dirt Track returns to action during Coca-Cola 600 Week with the Rite Aid Outlaw Showdown on Friday night, May 23. The winged sprint cars of the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Series and the late models of the Goodyear Fastrak Challenge are on the action-packed card.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.

The results:

First B Feature (25 laps): 1. Brady Smith; 2. John Blankenship; 3. Doug Horton; 4. Dennis "Rambo" Franklin; 5. Steve Lucas; 6. Dean Bowen; 7. Al Shawver Jr.; 8. Brent Robinson; 9. Stacy Holmes; 10. Norman Short Jr.; 11. Luke Roffers; 12. Tim Fuller; 13. April Farmer; 14. Clint Smith; 15. Cody Sommer; 16. Ricky Elliott; 17. Shane Clanton; 18. Shannon Babb; 19. Chuck Harper; 20. Sean Beardsley; 21. Danny Johnson; 22. Brad Neat; 23. Joe Isabell; 24. Ronny Lee Hollingsworth; 25. Jason Dupont.

Second B Feature (25 laps): 1. Rick Eckert; 2. Mike Marlar; 3. Vic Coffey; 4. Jeff Smith; 5. B.J. McCammon; 6. Damon Eller; 7. Jordan Bland; 8. Mark Pettyjohn; 9. Shanon Buckingham; 10. Chris Knight; 11. Rob McLaughlin; 12. Ed Gibbons; 13. Jill George; 14. Jonathan Davenport; 15. Tim Allen; 16. G.R. Smith; 17. Eric Jacobsen; 18. Brian Shirley; 19. Donnie Moran; 20. Mike Duvall.

Circle K Colossal 100 (100 laps): 1. Steve Francis; 2. Chris Madden; 3. Josh Richards; 4. Jimmy Owens; 5. Dale McDowell; 6. Shannon Babb; 7. Tim McCreadie; 8. John Blankenship; 9. Eddie Carrier Jr.; 10. Ricky Weeks; 11. Jeep Van Wormer; 12. Bob Gordon; 13. Darrell Lanigan; 14. Rick Eckert; 15. Doug Horton; 16. Scott Bloomquist; 17. Earl Pearson Jr.; 18. Ray Cook; 19. Brady Smith; 20. Dennis "Rambo" Franklin; 21. Billy Moyer; 22. Vic Coffey; 23. Mike Marlar; 24. Donnie Moran; 25. Jackie Boggs; 26. Randle Chupp; 27. Jeremy Miller; 28. Chub Frank; 29. Jeff Smith; 30. Dan Schlieper; 31. Clint Smith; 32. Jimmy Mars; 33. John Gill; 34. Steve Shaver; 35. Brian Birkhofer; 36. G.R. Smith.

 

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