- Mar 27 - Lone Star Speedway Part 1 by Sam Holbrooks

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Steve Francis
Steve Francis at Lone Star Speedway. (Kevin Kovac)
Francis Bursts Out of Early Season Doldrums
With Lone Star Outlaws Win
By Kevin Kovac

KILGORE, Tex. - March 27. With a little help from a friend, Steve Francis busted out of an early-season funk in Saturday night's 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main at Lone Star Speedway.

Some helpful hints from fellow former series champion Darrell Lanigan put Francis back on track and propelled him to his first victory of 2010 on the national tour.

"I gotta give Darrell Lanigan a lot of credit," Francis said after roaring off the pole position to lead from start-to-finish in the first WoO LMS event since 2004 at the East Texas half-mile oval. "We just couldn't figure out what was going on with our (Valvoline-sponsored Rocket) cars, and Darrell was good enough to work with us and share some information. He actually gave me some shock measurements from his car and we used them on ours tonight - and just like that, it drove like my cars always have for years.

"Finally, after struggling so much this year, my car drove around the track like it's supposed to. It's all thanks to Darrell's help, so hopefully I'll be able to return the favor sometime in the future."

Mired in eighth in the WoO LMS points standings with just one top-five finish through the tour's first five events of '10, Francis, 42, of Ashland, Ky., needed a pick-me-up for his self-owned team and got it. He survived one hairy moment in lapped traffic and turned back challenges from defending champion and current points leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., to register his 27th career win on the tour - more than any other driver since 2004.

Smith, 45, slipped by Richards for second place on a lap-14 restart and stayed there to the checkered flag, securing his best finish of 2010 in his Rocket machine. He finished 2.781 seconds behind Francis.

Richards settled for third place in his father Mark's Rocket Chassis house car after holding off repeated challenges from Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y.,
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