IMPERIAL, Pa. – 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 National Dirt Racing League PENNational 50 at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway Thursday night.
“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 No. 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.
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 No. 2 winner Billy Moyer came home tenth.
There were 41 NDRL late models that were on hand for the races. Fuller, Francis, Birkhofer and Davenport won the heat races.