Richards Claims 60th-Career World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series Win
Friday at Volusia Speedway Park
Article From DirtonDirt.com
BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 19) — Josh Richards has earned many victories by getting his elbows up and driving his car to its absolute limit. None came in more spectacular fashion than his triumph in Friday night’s 50-lap World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series A-Main at Volusia Speedway Park.
In an absolutely scintillating performance, the 27-year-old superstar from Shinnston, W.Va., charged from the 14th starting spot to overtake Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., for the lead on lap 46 and then held off 2015's hottest driver on a wild final circuit for an unforgettable $10,000 victory.
It was the second straight WoO score and third triumph in five DIRTcar Nationals events for Richards, who positioned himself to become the second driver to sweep all three WoO features during the half-mile oval’s mid-winter motorsports meet. Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., pulled off the hat trick last year.
What’s more, Richards recorded his eighth overall win of Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, including a pair of Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga., and East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla., and a Crate Late Model score at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.
“It’s been an unbelievable Speedweeks,” said Richards, whose 10th career DIRTcar Nationals victory ranks him behind only Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark. (19 wins) and Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn. (11) on the event’s all-time win list. “I wouldn’t have expected to win that one, but we got up through there and made it work.”
Richards steered his Rocket Chassis house car across the finish line 1.332 seconds ahead of Davenport, who started from the outside pole in the K&L Rumley Longhorn Race Car and led the race’s first 45 laps. The 31-year-old Davenport, who has never won at Volusia, settled for his second runner-up and fourth podium finish of the week after his bid to reclaim the lead on the final lap was stymied by trouble with a lapped car off turn four heading to the white flag and again moments later in turn two.
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., was over four seconds behind the winner in third place at the checkered flag, but the race’s eighth starter was a major player in the event. The veteran driver reached second place just before the halfway point and was in position to challenge Davenport for the lead with less than 20 laps remaining when Richards moved in to create a three-car battle for the lead. Lloyd lost second to Richards on lap 34, regained the spot three circuits later and held it until Richards began his dramatic winning surge by grabbing the bridesmaid position for a second time on lap 44.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., finished fourth in the Sweeteners Plus Longhorn and Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind., placed fifth in Tye Twarog’s Rocket for his best outing of the DIRTcar Nationals.
Richards began the race uncertain about his chances of winning from the seventh row, but he soon realized that he could drive into contention. When he cracked the top five after a lap-13 restart, he was in position to pull off a memorable come-from-behind run.
“I didn’t know what the track was gonna do and it got dirty enough where you could move around a little bit,” Richards said. “They were throwing enough crumbs out there in (turns) three and four where you could kind of maintain and get a run back into (turn) one. In one you could make up a lot of ground if you hit it right, but otherwise you would go across the racetrack.
“The track, it’s just so technical out there that you don’t ever feel good two laps in a row. Even when we got up through there, you hit it right one lap and the next lap you’d slide. But that’s what makes racing good — you could move around.”
Richards turned up the wick midway through the race, passing McCreadie for fourth on lap 24 and Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., for third on lap 28. He sailed around the outside of Lloyd to snare second for the first time on lap 34 and the next circuit powered to Davenport’s outside on the backstretch, but he couldn’t complete a pass and on lap 37 ceded the runner-up spot back to Lloyd. By lap 40 Richards had fallen nearly two seconds behind Davenport and appeared headed toward a third-place finish.
But Richards refused to give up. He caught Lloyd on lap 43, used the outside groove off turn two to passed the home-state driver the next lap and one circuit later was challenging Davenport. Richards vaulted in front on lap 46, firing by Davenport off the outside of turn four.
“It was one of those things where I either rode around or tried to make something happen,” Richards said. “I was just trying to roll that outside and if they slipped up I would have a run, but I didn’t think we’d run him back down with seven or eight to go. I wasn’t gonna lose for trying.”
To clinch his milestone 60th career WoO win, however, Richards had to survive a frenetic last lap. Davenport slid inside Richards through turns three and four with the white flag flying but had his momentum killed off the corner by the lapped Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill.; at the other end of the track, Davenport once again drove inside of Richards, but the lapped Rick Eckert of York, Pa., momentarily slipped into Davenport’s path in turn two and Richards steamed away on the outside of the track with sufficient cushion to carry him home.
“It was so much fun out there,” Richards said. “I’m very blessed to get to do what I love to do. Just to race and get to compete for wins, you couldn’t ask for more.”