Richards Ends Storybook-Season with Unprecedented Fourth
World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series Championship
SHINNSTON, W.Va. (Nov. 1, 2016) - Josh Richards rewrote the history books Saturday night as he collected an unprecedented fourth World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series Championship at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. In addition to his record-breaking fourth championship, Richards also made history Friday night when he earned his 18th World of Outlaws victory, breaking the single-season Series win record.
Richards’ storybook-season began in February with Florida/Georgia Speedweeks and culminated last weekend with the World Finals in Concord, N.C. Over the course of the year, the superstar driver competed in 63 super dirt late model events, collecting a record 27 wins and amassing 51 top-five and 58 top-10 finishes. Richards also picked up 12 fast-time awards.
The season-ending race weekend began on Thursday with hot laps and two qualifying sessions. Richards set the pace early as he ran the fastest circuit overall during hot laps. He then went on to make his first of two qualifying attempts, which would set the Heat Race lineups for Friday. Richards recorded the fastest lap in Group B qualifying, which would line him up on the pole for Friday’s fourth Heat Race. The Valvoline driver’s second time-trial effort would set Saturday’s Heat Race lineups and he ran the quickest lap overall to collect his 12th fast-time award of the season. His qualifying effort would line him up on the pole for Saturday’s first Heat Race.
With no practice or qualifying on Friday, Richards took to the track for the first time during his heat. Starting on the pole, the-28-year-old easily led the 10-lap event flag-to-flag en route to the victory. His Heat Race win made him eligible for the redraw, which would determine his starting spot in the night’s 50-lap Feature. The West Virginia native drew the No. 1, putting him on the pole for the A-Main. At the drop of the green-flag, Richards slipped back to second as he fought a loose-condition in the early laps of the race. He maintained his position until a Lap 17 restart caused him to fall to third. Richards continued to run in third until Lap 35 when he was able to muscle his way back to second. With his Valvoline machine seeming to come to life, Richards set his sights on the leader and began to reel him in with just 10 laps remaining in the Feature. Changing his racing lines, Richards seemed to get a burst of speed exiting Turn 2 on the top side, and drove alongside of race leader Chris Madden on Lap 45. Overtaking Madden on the following lap, Richards led the remaining five laps to capture his record-setting 18th World of Outlaws Series win of the season.
With the championship officially wrapped up, Richards was relaxed headed into Saturday and had only one thing on his mind, winning. He again started the night with his Heat Race and easily led all 10 laps to collect the win. His Heat Race effort made him eligible for the redraw and this time Richards drew the fifth starting spot. Starting on the inside of Row 3 for his final race of the season, Richards slipped back to sixth at the drop of the green flag, but retook the fifth spot just four circuits later. At Lap 7, he was up to fourth and at Lap 13, he had cracked the top-three. Navigating through lapped traffic, Richards was on a mission to make his way to the front and at Lap 19, he was running in second with his sights set on the leader. Two caution periods ensued and Richards looked as if he was poised to take over the top spot, when the third-place car of Chris Madden drove into him on a Lap 29 restart, resulting in a bent left-rear wheel. Richards was forced to pit on Lap 30 to change wheels, restarting at the tail-end of the field in 28th. He didn’t waste any time making his way forward as he was up to 24th on Lap 31 and 20th on Lap 34. The Rocket Chassis driver continued his exciting march forward in the closing laps, but with the race remaining under green-flag conditions, it was hard to make up ground. Richards ultimately crossed the line in 12th, an impressive feat considering the circumstances. Although he may not have won Saturday’s race, Richards ended his historical season a massive 268 points ahead of Shane Clanton to collect the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series Championship.
If winning an unprecedented fourth Series Championship and breaking the single-season win record wasn’t enough, Richards also made history this season with the most wins (76) overall in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series. The young driver is also the Series all-time leader in Fast-Time Awards and Heat Race wins.
Thursday Race Results
Qualifying Session 1 - 1st Qualifying Session 2 - 1st
Friday Race Results
Qualifying - N/A Heat Race - 1st Feature Start - 1st Feature Finish - 1st
Saturday Race Results
Qualifying - N/A Heat Race - 1st Feature Start -5th Feature Finish - 12th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: “I’m speechless right now. We’ve had a phenomenal year. This championship is just so special. It means just as much as the first one did. On top of having a successful year and winning all of the races we did, to have the support and people behind us means a lot. I’ve said it before, sitting out in 2014 and watching but not being able to race was difficult. It puts everything in perspective. I just love to race, so to be able to come back and do what I love is an amazing feeling.
“It feels like we can sleep now, at least for a couple weeks until we get back at it again. This sport is extremely tough and things are always changing. It takes so much work to be able to accomplish so much. It’s just been incredible.
“My crew guys have worked their tails off and have had a lot of sleepless nights. I can’t thank them enough. I want to thank all of my sponsors, the guys back at the Rocket Chassis shop, my family and my fans. I’m grateful to have so much support.
“It’s been an incredible season. It’s just a dream come true. I am so blessed.”