Perseverance Key to Richards' Week of First Time Tracks
St Marys, Ohio, (May 30, 2017) - In a week of first time tracks for Josh Richards, he found perseverance was the key to consistency. Richards scored a top-five finish at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., on Friday and brought home two top-10 finishes at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., on Tuesday and Lucas Oil Speedway on Saturday.
Richards’ first new track was a visit to I-80 Speedway on Tuesday. With the weather not cooperating, Richards went out for hot laps in the rain. After the rain subsided, Richards went on to qualifying and ran the 13th quickest lap in Group B. Seeming to have some mechanical issues, the Best Performance Motorsports crew went to work on the No. 1 machine before Richards’ heat race where he was slated to start seventh. On a track that was very muddy from earlier rain showers, Richards was unable to make up any ground in his heat race finishing seventh. With only the top-four cars transferring to the A-Main, Richards was forced to run a B-Main. Starting sixth in the B-Main, Richards muscled his way to a second-place finish, guaranteeing him the 19th starting spot for the Feature.
Starting 19th, Richards was up to 16th on Lap 2, but a clump of mud lodging in his wheel on Lap 7 forced him to the pits. Returning to the race at the tail-end of the field, it didn’t take long for Richards to begin his march forward. At Lap 12 he was inside the top-15 and at Lap 18 he was knocking on the door of the top-10, running in the 11th spot. Just two laps later Richards was again forced to go pit side, this time for a new helmet after poor track conditions covered his primary helmet with a thick layer of mud. Restarting at the tail-end of the field for the second time in 20 laps, the West Virginia native was more determined than ever to make his way to the front. At Lap 25 he was up to ninth and at Lap 30 he was running in eighth. Continuing to rally, Richards secured the sixth spot with 15 laps to go and maintained his position for the remainder of the event to bring home a hard-fought sixth-place finish.
With a day off in between, the Best Performance Motorsports team arrived at Lucas Oil Speedway on Thursday, another new track for Richards. Thursday marked the first of two nights of non-traditional points racing. Thursday and Friday night’s performances would accrue event points setting the field for Saturday’s 100 lap finale, but would not count towards the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Championship standings.
Richards began the evening with hot laps and qualifying where mechanical issues again hampered the No. 1. He qualified 29th, lining him up in 10th for Heat Race 5. With 66 cars vying for 24 open spots in the Feature and no provisionals awarded, Richards had his work cut out for him. On a narrow race track that didn’t allow for much passing, the 29-year-old driver was only able to advance three positions to finish seventh in his heat race. With only the top-3 cars in each of the six heats advancing, Richards had to start deep in the field in a B-Main. The young driver gave it all he had, but again with little-to-no passing, he was unable to make up much ground and was forced to settle for a fourth-place finish. With only the top-two cars advancing to the Feature, Richards night ended prematurely.
Starting Friday with a clean slate, Richards and crew were more determined than ever to succeed. He began the night with hot laps where he ran the second fastest circuit in his group. Next up was qualifying and he was the sixth quickest car in Group B. His time trial effort lined him up on the outside-pole for Heat Race 6 and Richards maintained his position throughout the 10-lap event to finish second. With the top-three cars in each heat transferring to the A-Main, Richards was guaranteed the 12th starting spot for the 40-lap Feature.
Starting on the outside of Row 6, he methodically began to make his way forward. He was scored in 11th at Lap 10 and at Lap 15 he was up to the 10th spot. Running the low side in Turns 1 and 2 and the high groove in Turns 3 and 4, Richards started gaining ground on the front-runners. He was up to eighth at Lap 30 and maintained that position when the caution flag flew on Lap 32. With less than 10 laps remaining the field was restacked single-file for the ensuing restart. At the drop of the green flag Richards again began running the top groove in Turns 3 and 4, but the cars in front of him were also running that line. Knowing he had to switch racing lines in order to pass, Richards drove low entering Turn 3 on Lap 36 and completed a two-car pass to place him in fifth with three laps to go. The Best Performance Motorsports driver maintained his position in the final laps to bring home a top-five finish.
Richards’ event points combined from both Thursday and Friday guaranteed him the 13th starting spot for Saturday’s scheduled Show-Me 100, but Saturday brought severe storms to Lucas Oil Speedway forcing the postponement of the race until Sunday.
Already locked into the 100-lap Feature, the only track time Richards would have on Sunday before the prestigious race would be hot laps where he was the second quickest car in his group. After special parade laps and fireworks for Memorial Day weekend, Richards lined up 13th for the start of the Show-Me 100. The driver of the No. 1 slipped back to 17th before he could settle into his favored racing groove on Lap 10. Once able to run his preferred line, he quickly began to move forward and was up to 12th at Lap 20 and running in 6th at Lap 30. A Lap 41 caution restacked the field and Richards who was previously running the high-side was forced to restart on the low-side. When the green flag flew, Richards fell back to seventh and remained there until a Lap 57 caution. With track conditions deteriorating, the West Virginia native began to fight a tight condition causing him to fall back to ninth on the restart. As the laps wore on, Richards did all he could to advance, pulling alongside the seventh and eighth place cars on multiple occasions but was unable to complete the passes as he continued to struggle with a tight race car on a very rough track. The Best Performance motorsports driver maintained his position for the final 10 laps to cross the finish line in ninth.
Richards sits in third in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series point standings, after Sunday’s Show-Me 100.
Tuesday Race Results
Qualifying -13th Heat Race –7th Feature Start -19th Feature Finish –6th
Thursday Race Results
Qualifying -29th Heat Race –7th Feature Start- N/A Feature Finish –N/A
Friday Race Results
Qualifying – 6th Heat Race –2nd Feature Start –12th Feature Finish –5th
Sunday Race Results
Qualifying – N/A Heat Race –N/A Feature Start –13th Feature Finish –9th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: “We had some mechanical issues Tuesday and Thursday that put us behind early in qualifying. Thankfully, Tuesday we were able to come back and get a sixth-place finish. Thursday, with a narrow track and no passing, I just couldn’t make up any ground.
“The crew worked really hard to get the car dialed in for Friday and we were able to qualify well and run up front all night.
“During the first part of the Show-Me 100 we were ok. We got up to sixth before the track started breaking apart. I think we were anticipating a smoother track. Once it started to get rough, the car was way too tight and I couldn’t even manhandle it through the holes. I have to thank my crew, they did a great job persevering all weekend. We learned a lot, and I think when we come back next time, we’ll have a better idea of what to expect for track conditions.”