Rocket man has earned stripes

AMERICAN Steve Francis heads to Lucas Oil Lismore Speedway for the NSW Late Model Championship tomorrow night fresh from a successful campaign in WA.

Francis won plenty of races and showed impressive car speed, which sets up a potentially strong showing in the State title.

He is a seasoned campaigner who has previously toured Australia and over the years has enjoyed an outstanding career in the United States Late Model Series.

Francis, from Kentucky, will drive a Rocket chassis car owned by long-time ACT racer Scott McPherson.

The other US competitor in the field is also the youngest driver at just 17.

Devin Moran from Ohio is the son of legendary US racer Donnie Moran, who is best known for winning $1 million in a race at Eldora Speedway in the US.

Devin Moran is in Australia racing for the Nicastri Motorsport team out of Sydney and he will be wheeling the car usually raced by Ross Nicastri.

Moran recently competed in WA and Sydney, performing well.

Lismore promoter David Lander believes the Americans are strong contenders for the State title.

"These two guys are full-time professionals and do this for a living," he said.

"Steve Francis is highly experienced and knows how to set up a car for Australian tracks, having raced here previously.

"Devin Moran already has made a name for himself in America and has a big future in the sport."

Two years ago Moran became one of the youngest feature race winners in any category in US auto racing history when he took out his first main event nudging 15 years of age at Ohio's Muskingum County Speedway - the same venue where he won the 2011 Late Model season track title.

One of the toughest racers in the field is Brad Blake from Bunbury in WA. Blake is the Australian Late Model champion, having won the title four times.

He also has taken out 10 WA titles, as well as a NSW and Queensland title.

A strong contingent of Queensland competitors is heading across the border intent on grabbing the NSW trophy.

Leading the Sunshine State charge is Blair Granger, who has been dominant in the northern Thunder Series this season, winning three of the five rounds and finishing second in another.

Granger was also runner-up in last year's Australian title and this season's Queensland title.

The host State is also well represented by Darryl Grimson (a dual A Main winner this season) and David Robertson (Sydney Grand National winner from last season).

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