Richards Rallies to Third-Place Finish
In Inaugural Buckeye Nationals at Atomic Speedway
SHINNSTON, W.Va. (May 16, 2016) - Josh Richards rallied from deep in the field to finish third in the Inaugural Buckeye Nationals at Atomic Speedway in Chillicothe, Ohio, on Saturday. The finish marks Richards' 18th podium-finish in 23 races this season.
Racing-action for the Buckeye Nationals began on Friday with hot laps and Richards was credited with running the fastest lap in his group. The 28-year-old then took to the track for qualifying where he was the last car in Group A to make a lap. Though he went out late in qualifying, Richards turned the fifth quickest circuit. His time-trial effort lined him up on the outside-pole for his heat race. When the green flag flew, Richards slipped to third as he fought a loose-condition, but the Rocket Chassis driver was able to maintain his position for the 12-lap event to transfer into Saturday's 75-lap finale.
With rain showers falling in the early morning hours, track conditions for Saturday were much different than the previous night. Richards and crew readied the Valvoline machine and Richards took to the track for hot laps, where he was second fastest in his group. Guaranteed the 15th starting spot in the night's Feature by virtue of Friday's heat race finish, the West Virginia driver would not take to the track again until the $50,000-to-win A-Main. Starting on the inside of Row 8, Richards was shuffled back to 17th on the initial start until he made his way to the preferred outside-line. It only took two laps for the superstar driver to begin his march toward the front of the field. With a fast car, Richards was able to weave in and out of traffic, picking off one spot at a time. By Lap 15 he had cracked the top-10, and had his sights set on the leader. In a spectacular display of driving, Richards continued his run toward the front and was scored in fifth just past the halfway mark. Now dealing with lap-traffic, the top-five were strung out, but Richards was still running fast lap times and was able to take over the fourth spot by Lap 50. As the frontrunners continued to work lap-traffic, they remained spread out by several car lengths until a caution on Lap 72 bunched the field. With less than 10 laps remaining, the field lined up single-file for the restart and Richards was in third when the green-flag flew for the three-lap shootout. With each of the top-three getting a clean restart, Richards maintained his position to capture a podium-finish in inaugural 75-lap event at Atomic Speedway.
Richards' third-place finish continues his streak of not finishing outside the top 10 in 23 events this year.
The Valvoline driver is scheduled to return to racing-action May 27 at Moler Raceway Park in Williamsburg, Ohio, and May 28-29 at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, West Virginia.
Qualifying - 5th Heat Race -3rd
Feature Start - 15th Feature Finish - 3rd
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTE: "We had a great car for the Feature, but I knew Scott (Bloomquist) was really good, and this place has so much momentum. I knew it would be tough to make something happen, but I'm proud of our effort. We worked really hard. We got put in a hole yesterday with the heat race. Having to start 15th, I think I just wore my stuff out by the end spinning so much trying to get up through there. All things considered we'll take a third-place finish."