US driver dominates Invasion Tour

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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American star Steve Francis continued his domination on Australian soil by winning the final round of the Late Model USA Invasion Tour at Albany’s Attwell Park Speedway on Saturday night.

Francis, one of three professional American drivers in Australia for the series that consisted of rounds at the Perth Motorplex, Collie Speedway and Attwell Park, was simply dominant as he powered to a fourth feature race win which helped wrap up the series title.

After feature race wins on both nights at the Perth Motorplex last weekend, then another strong victory in Collie on Friday, Francis appeared set for a fourth win from as many starts when he began the 30-lap final from pole position.

The only stoppage of the race came after one completed lap.

After that Francis had to withstand an early challenge from the impressive Paul Stubber, who climbed into second place and was right behind the American gun on the eighth lap.

Fellow American visitor Devin Moran pounced, though, as Stubber battled with Francis to snatch back second place as Francis pulled away from the chasing pack.

Francis was simply brilliant through the slower lapped traffic as he sailed around comfortably to lap all the way up to third place.

He crossed the line some 7.758 seconds ahead of Moran, who had a titanic battle with Stubber for second place.

Moran and Stubber were the only drivers on the lead lap after being the only ones Francis did not pass in the final.

Craig Vosbergen and Katanning’s Kye Blight rounded out the top five in Saturday’s final, with Mt Barker’s Chris Pavlovich the only driver not to finish, while Veronica McCann failed to start the main event.

Courtesy of his fourth feature race win, Francis became the 2017 Late Model USA Invasion Tour champion with a near-perfect 481 points to down fellow countryman Moran (441 points) and Stubber (424).

New South Wales driver Ben Carter in action.
Camera IconNew South Wales driver Ben Carter in action. Credit: Jody Shanhun

Such was Francis’ domination, he almost went through the four nights of racing undefeated, with Blight handing him the sole defeat in heat three in Albany.

Francis still won two heat races, while the other victories went to Vosbergen, Blight, New South Wales competitor Wade Carter, and Stubber.

The meeting also doubled as the second annual Forrest Windscreens Street Stock Rumble, with Albany driver Tim Coxall prevailing in an epic 15-lap feature race.

Coxall started from position three behind Ethan Genev and Peter Herbert, who filled the front row and took until the fifth lap to reach the lead, where he withstood plenty of pressure to take the title.

Hayden Norman fell back through the field but recovered to cross the line second, 1.094 seconds behind Coxall, while local Peter Herbert finished third, followed by Genev and Jake Blight.

Genev, Herbert and Coxall each won a qualifying heat race earlier in the night.

In the support divisions, Brooke Watson won the junior sedans, Shane Devonshire was too strong in the production sedans, and the formula 125s was taken out by Sam Jewell.

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