Richards Claims Exciting Runner-Up Finish
In Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway
SHINNSTON, W.Va. (June 14, 2016) – Josh Richards drove a race to remember, coming up just shy of capturing his first-ever Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Finishing second in The Dream, Richards also claimed a runner-up and a top-10 finish in Thursday and Friday’s 25-lap Preliminary Features.
Richards headed into Eldora Speedway’s coveted three-day event with momentum on his side. With 11 wins so far this season, the 28-year-old was hoping to add another to his resume Saturday night.
Richards began Thursday by running the second quickest circuit overall in hot laps. He then went on to qualify fourth in the 72-car field. With the top-four cars in each Heat Race forced to invert, Richards lined up fourth in Heat Race 4. The young driver was able to advance two positions in the 10-lap heat to finish second, which guaranteed him a starting spot in the night’s second A-Main. Starting third in the 25-lap Feature, Richards quickly took over the second spot on Lap 3 and remained there until the midway point of the race when lapped traffic caused him to slip back to third. Richards didn’t stay there long and retook the second spot with 10 laps to go. Though he was running lap times comparable to the leader, he crossed the line second to bring home a runner-up finish.
Friday started out much the same for Richards as he was the sixth-fastest car overall in hot laps. He then qualified fourth in the 72-car field, which again lined him up fourth in Heat Race 4 after the four-car invert. Richards was able to advance one position in the 10-lap event to take the checkered flag in third. His third-place effort guaranteed him a starting spot in the night’s second Feature event. This time, Richards had his work cut out for him as he started 10th in the short 25-lap A-Main. At the drop of the green flag Richards muscled his way toward the front and was scored in seventh on Lap 1. With the Feature running caution-free, Richards’ tires lost grip and he was unable to make up anymore ground in the short race, ultimately finishing seventh.
With each of the teams accruing points for their respective qualifying, Heat Race and Feature efforts Thursday and Friday, this eliminated qualifying on Saturday and set the Heat Race lineups with an invert of the top-three. Richards was the point leader heading into Saturday, so the Valvoline driver lined up third in the night’s first Heat Race. Being the point leader also guaranteed Richards the 19th starting spot in the Dirt Late Model Dream if he did not advance through his Heat Race. That quickly became a mute point as Richards held on to finish third getting the final transfer spot in the 15-lap Heat Race. His third-place finish, lined the Rocket Chassis diver up in the 13th spot for the 100-lap finale.
Starting on the inside of Row 7, Richards knew it wouldn’t be easy to add his name to the famed list of Dream winners, but he didn’t let that deter him. Running the high-side, Richards quickly began his march toward the front of the field picking off one car at a time. Just 10 laps in, Richards had already cracked the top-five and it was clear he wasn’t going to stop there. Continuing to run the high-groove, the superstar driver muscled his way to the point position on Lap 36. Once out front, he continued to distance himself from the second-place car of Dennis Erb Jr. until lapped traffic allowed Erb to retake the lead on Lap 57. Richards remained in second until a Lap 69 caution flag would bunch the field. When the green-flag flew for the ensuing restart, Richards used the high-side to overtake Erb and again took command of the field on Lap 70. Out front and in clean-air, the Mark Richards Racing driver opened a sizeable lead, but as his tires began to wear and he approached lapped traffic, Erb pulled to his back bumper and eventually made the pass for the lead on Lap 90. With just 10 circuits remaining, Richards charged hard but was unable to gain any ground on Erb. Then on Lap 99 a spin by the lapped car of Jared Landers brought the caution out and set the race up for a two-lap shootout. Though Richards sustained left-front and nose damage from Landers machine, he gave it all he had on the final restart, but the damage was too heavy and he fell just short of capturing his first Dirt Late Model Dream win, ultimately finishing second.
Richards’ second-place effort marks his best finish in seven-career starts in the Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway.
The Valvoline driver is scheduled to return to racing-action June 21 at Weedsport Speedway in Weedsport, N.Y., and June 23-25 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania.
Qualifying – 4th Heat Race – 2nd Feature Start – 3rd Feature Finish – 2nd
Qualifying – 4th Heat Race -3rd Feature Start – 10th Feature Finish –7th
Qualifying – N/A Heat Race -3rd Feature Start – 13th Feature Finish- 2nd
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: “That is the most fun I’ve had in a while at Eldora Speedway. The last three trips here ended without racing the cars ever again (due to severe damage), so this is leaps and bounds better. I had a blast out there. I’ve been able to win a lot of cool races and do a lot of cool things in my career, but I haven’t felt that emotion in a long time. The excitement of being up front on this stage and having a shot at it, that’s all I can ask for.
“I thought we could win it. (Dennis) Erb took the lead on that really long green when he was able to roll that bottom a little bit better and keep the car underneath of him and get by us. Then we had that restart midway through and were able to get the lead again and get out there for a while. I fired back off and was good on the short runs, but the longer the runs went we just weren’t tight enough.” We caught (Shannon) Babb and (Jared) Landers and they kind of dirtied the track up on the top. Maybe I should’ve tried moving around to the bottom, but it’s hard to tell where you’re at when you’re in the lead. Then I saw Erb underneath me, and there’s not much I could do after that.
“Erb was smart, he chose the top on that last restart. You could see he wasn’t quite sure, but he picked the right spot. He really deserves it. He’s kind of one of those guys you never really see that he’s there. He’s always been there, but he’s real quiet. He does a phenomenal job. If anybody else had to win, I’m glad to see that he could win. He’s been coming here for a lot longer than I have, so for him to win this race is really cool.
“One of these years we’ll get one. I don’t ever let this place define me and think that I’m less of a racer for not winning here. We’ve just got to keep trying and keep digging at it.”