Richards Emerges Victorious in First-Ever Appearance at Carolina Speedway
SHINNSTON, W.Va. (May 2, 2016) - Josh Richards captured the victory during a wild race in his first-ever appearance at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, N.C., on Friday. He followed up his Friday triumph with a fourth-place finish at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway on Saturday. The win is Richards’ 10th of the season and fifth in World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series competition.
Excitement was in the air as the World of Outlaws Series rolled into town for their first race at Carolina Speedway, but Richards was focused, knowing he had just a short hot lap session to learn the new track. That's all it took for the West Virginia native as he quickly turned the second fasted circuit during hot laps. Richards then qualified fourth in Group A time trials, lining him up on the outside-pole for the start of Heat 2. Taking the lead shortly after the drop of the green flag, Richards never looked back scoring the heat race victory. His heat win made him eligible for the redraw and the Rocket Chassis driver drew the eighth starting spot for the night's 50-lap A-Main. Starting back in Row 4, on a track that was muddy and deteriorating, Richards had his work cut out for him. It didn't take long for the caution flag to fly, as the first of 12 caution periods came just five laps into the event. As the field slowed, Richards had advanced one spot to seventh. Shortly after the restart, the 28-year-old made his way inside the top-five and was running in fifth on Lap 13 when the yellow flag flew again. Richards used the ensuing restart to his advantage as he muscled his way into the second spot before another caution on Lap 16 slowed the field. As the cars regrouped to take the green flag, leader Johnny Pursley's car had mechanical issues and he pulled into the pit area allowing Richards to inherit the lead for the restart. After taking command of the field, the Valvoline driver endured seven additional cautions, including a mandatory stop on Lap 25 to replace helmet tearoffs because of the massive amounts of mud. Just ten cars remained on the track 25 laps later as Richards took the checkered flag to win a race that some deemed "survival of the fittest." The victory marked his 63rd World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series win.
After Friday night's melee, Richards and crew arrived at Fayetteville Motor Speedway with a battered car and quickly went to work getting it ready for Saturday's racing action. With the car ready to go, the Mark Richards Racing driver took to the track for hot laps and was third quickest overall. Shortly after, he ran the third quickest lap in qualifying, securing the top starting spot in Heat 2. Richards easily won the 10-lap heat race and the victory made him eligible for the redraw. He drew the fifth starting spot, lining him up in Row 3 for the start of the 50-lap Feature. After the green flag dropped, it didn't take long for the field to spread out nose-to-tail and Richards was stuck on a narrow-grooved race track unable to pass. A Lap 17 caution bunched the field and Richards was able to take advantage on the restart and make his way to fourth. But again, the field quickly strung out and all the superstar driver could do was ride in line with everyone else. With little-to-no passing the remainder of the event, Richards was forced to settle for a fourth-place finish. His top-five effort marked his 17th top-five finish in 20 races this season.
The weekend's stellar performance increased Richards' Series point lead to 130 markers over second-place Shane Clanton.
The Valvoline driver is scheduled to return to World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series action this weekend at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky., on Friday, May 6 and Smokey Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn., on Saturday, May 7.
Qualifying - 4th Heat Race -1st Feature Start - 8th Feature Finish - 1st
Qualifying - 2nd Heat Race -1st Feature Start - 5th Feature Finish - 4th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: "We had another great weekend and I can't thank my Valvoline crew enough for all of their hard work. It's been an amazing start to the season and I feel very blessed.
"We had a great XR1 Rocket and we were able to make some moves and hang on to survive Friday at Carolina Speedway. Once I was able to get out front and in clean air, I felt like our chances were good. It was definitely a wild night that is for sure. I just want to thank all the fans for coming out, it was great to be able to get a win for them.
"I think I had a car to contend for the win on Saturday at Fayetteville (Motor Speedway). The track conditions just prevented me from being able to make up any ground. We'll take a fourth-place finish on a track with little passing."