Richards Tops Field at Merritt Speedway
Collecting 24th Super Dirt Late Model Win of the Season
SHINNSTON, W.Va. (Aug. 30, 2016) - Josh Richards added another victory to his already record-setting season at Merritt (Mich.) Speedway on Sunday. He also earned a podium-finish in Friday’s 25-lap Feature at the Michigan track. Sunday’s win marks his 24th super dirt late model victory of the season and 17th World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series win of the year.
Retuning to Merritt Speedway for the first time since 2013, Richards began Friday evening by turning the third quickest circuit in Group B qualifying. His time-trial result lined him up on the outside-pole for Heat Race 3. At the drop of the green flag, the West Virginia native quickly took over the point position and led the remainder of the 10-lap event to capture the victory. Richards’ heat race win made him eligible for the redraw and he drew the fourth starting spot for the Feature. Starting on the outside of Row 2, Richards didn’t waste any time muscling his way to the second spot on the initial circuit of the 25-lap event. The Valvoline driver maintained his position until Lap 8 when he slipped back to third. Shortly after the pass, the frontrunners spread out single-file and the track narrowed. With the race running caution-free, Richards was forced to settle for a third-place effort. The finish marked his 40th podium-finish of the season.
Inclement weather forced Saturday’s scheduled 75-lap Feature to be shortened to 50 laps and postponed until Sunday. With a day off in-between races, the Valvoline team did their homework and unloaded Sunday with confidence. Richards hit the track for qualifying and ran the quickest lap overall to earn his ninth fast-time award of the season. His time-trial effort lined him up on the pole for the first heat race and Richards led all 10 laps en route to the victory. The win made him eligible for the redraw and the 28-year-old drew the first starting spot for the 50-lap A-Main. Starting on the pole, Richards led the initial lap, but slipped back to second on Lap 2. Though he was running in second, he never let leader Rich Neiser out of his sights. Approaching lapped traffic on Lap 12, Richards maneuvered his way through the lapped cars and pulled to Neiser’s back bumper. Waiting for the right time to make his move, Richards retook the lead on Lap 22. Once out front, the superstar driver opened a sizable lead and led the remainder of the event winning by a margin of nearly four seconds.
Richards’ extended his points lead in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series championship standings to 270 markers ahead of second-place Shane Clanton.
The Valvoline driver is scheduled to return to action this weekend at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., on Friday and Saturday and Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway on Sunday.
Friday Race Results
Qualifying – 3rd Heat Race - 1st Feature Start – 4th Feature Finish – 3rd
Sunday Race Results
Qualifying – 1st Heat Race - 1st Feature Start -1st Feature Finish – 1st
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: “We had a good car on Friday. Those local guys are just tough. They know how to get around this track (Merritt Speedway). It’s so different than what we’re used to. It’s very small. We were starting to catch them at the end. We just needed some cautions and some more laps.
“Rich (Neiser) did a great job setting the pace on Sunday. I have to give him a lot of credit. He was one of the reasons why this Valvoline car was as fast as it was. He and his brother Randy helped us a lot. We had a great battle out there.
“The track moved around quite a bit more than I thought. I thought the bottom was going to be better than the top, but the top groove had just enough brown where I was a little too tight early. Once the tires got up to speed it was a lot better. I was just trying to get through lapped traffic the best I could. It was a lot of fun.”