Florida/Georgia Speedweeks was a love/hate affair for Steve Francis and his Georgia Boot/Clint Bowyer Racing #15 Barry Wright Race Car.
The first three events of the season for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (LOLMDS) started at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, GA. Last year, Francis kicked off the 2014 season with a victory at the "Fastest Dirt Oval in The South".
The 2015 season has brought a few changes, which includes a new crew chief for Francis and his Georgia Boot/Clint Bowyer Racing team. Anthony Burroughs is an accomplished dirt late model racer and crew chief returns to Clint Bowyer Racing from a driving stint in 2014. In addition to the crew chief change, Francis made the switch to Penske Racing Shocks.
This year things started off on a positive note with a 4th place finish in the February 5th "Edwin Coggins Memorial" event. February 6th resulted in a 12th place finish. After finding a faulty break switch the following day, Francis had made a run as high as 4th before an overheating engine forced him to pull in resulting in a 15th place finish on February 7th. Even though the final two nights at GIS ended in disappointment, the team showed a tremendous amount of potential.
"The first weekend out was a learning experience with our new Penske Racing Shocks program and crew chief Anthony Burroughs. In just the short time we've been together, I can see the potential of their product and Anthony's knowledge about the car. I'm excited! Good things are definitely on the horizon."
The following week at Eastbay Raceway Park, Francis had a mixed bag of results. On Wednesday night, he set fast time in his group, but broke a rocker arm on the engine before his heat race started. The team made the repairs and was able to get him on the track in time for the A-Main. Francis showed why he's already in the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. The Ashland, KY driver rallied from 25th to finish 3rd.
That week he also had two 9ths, a 19th and 22nd place finish in LOLMDS action. He left Eastbay 10th in LOLMDS points, only 135 points behind the leader.
Francis and his Clint Bowyer Racing team competed at Bubba Raceway Park on February 15th. After making contact with a spinning car and fighting his way in from a b main, he earned a 19th place finish.
Volusia Speedway Park February 18-21 was the final destination for the Georgia Boot #15 BWRC. The week got off to a bad start when Francis made contact with the wall in hotlaps on February 18th. The car sustained enough damage that the team decided to take their time making repairs and sit out the rest of the night. The team rebounded on February 19th with a 10th place finish. The following night, Francis failed to qualify for the A-main. On the final night of racing on February 21st, the team made a statement coming from the 15th starting spot to finish 5th.
"We obviously had our difficulties at Volusia. Our Georgia Boot/Clint Bowyer Racing #15 is a good piece. We made alot of gains on the final night and clinched a top 5. There's still a lot of work to be done, but I feel like we're pointed in the right direction." stated Francis on Monday from Florida.
Steve Francis and his Georgia Boot/Clint Bowyer Racing #15 team's next race will be Atomic Speedway, Chillicothe, OH on March 20 and Brownstown Speedway, Brownstown, IN on March 21.