Richards Captures Second-Career Victrory
At Cedar Lake Speedway in Crown Jewel Event
SHINNSTON, W.Va. (Aug. 1, 2016) – Josh Richards swept the weekend at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., winning Thursday's preliminary event before capturing his second-career victory in Saturday's $50,000-to-win crown jewel event. Richards also collected a runner-up finish at Shawano (Wis.) Speedway on Tuesday.
Richards started the week at Shawano Speedway and began the evening by qualifying fourth overall. His time-trial effort lined him up on the outside-pole for the night's first heat race. Richards maintained his position for the 10-lap event, finishing second. With the top-two drivers in each heat eligible for the redraw, Richards drew the fifth starting spot for the A-Main. Starting on the inside of Row 3, the Rocket Chassis driver quickly moved to fourth on the first circuit of the 50-lap event. On Lap 2 he had advanced to the third position and remained there until making a pass for second on Lap 15. Though he was running in second, the field was spread out with lapped traffic separating Richards from leader Shane Clanton. Maintaining control of the second position, Richards gained ground on Clanton, but got stuck behind lapped cars in the caution-free Feature and was forced to settle for a runner-up finish.
Thursday marked the start of three days of racing in the prestigious USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway. Richards started the night by topping the charts with the quickest lap in Group B qualifying. His time-trial effort put him on the pole for Heat Race 4 and Richards led all 10 laps en route to the victory. The win made him eligible for the redraw, and the West Virginia native drew the fifth stating spot for the 30-lap Feature. Slated to start fifth, the third-place car was forced to go pit side with mechanical issues during parade laps, so Richards moved up to fill the spot, starting third. Just three laps after the drop of the green flag, the caution lights came on, again bunching the field. Richards capitalized, driving to second just after the restart. Running the top-groove, the 28-year-old began gaining ground on the leader, taking over the point position coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 9. However, the caution-flag flew before Richards reached the flag stand and he was forced to restart in second. On the ensuing restart the Valvoline driver slipped back to third, but retook control of the second position just one lap later. With his sights set on the top spot, Richards steadily gained ground, completing the pass on Lap 20. Once in command of the field, the Rocket Chassis driver easily led the remainder of the race to capture his 12th World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series victory of the year.
Friday began with qualifying and Richards turned the fourth quickest lap in Group B. The top-nine drivers in each qualifying group were forced to invert for their respective heat races, so Richards was set to start second in the sixth heat. Starting on the outside-pole for the 12-lap event, Richards battled fiercely with leader Brandon Overton, swapping back-and-fourth for the top spot until Richards finally took command of the race on Lap 3. Once out front, the young driver led the rest of the event to take home the heat win. With the winner of each heat race drawing for their starting positions for the six-lap dash, Richards drew the sixth and final spot. The dash finish would set the top-six starting spots for Saturday's 100-lap finale. Starting last, Richards was able to advance two spots in the short six-lap race to secure the fourth starting spot in the USA Nationals.
With confidence from Thursday's win, Richards was eager to get Saturday's racing-action underway. He quickly showed he was a force to be reckoned with posting the quickest circuit in hot laps. With hot laps complete, the Valvoline driver prepared for the famed 100-lap Feature. Starting fourth, the superstar driver was in no hurry to abuse his car, knowing he had 100-laps remaining. With a fast car, Richards was able to run a smooth and steady line, making his way to second by Lap 10. Running in second, Richards was content managing his tires, while keeping the leader in sight. On Lap 35 it was time for Richards to make his move, taking over the point position. Once in command of the field, Richards remained out front through several caution periods and maintained a comfortable lead until the night's final caution-flag flew with nine laps remaining. With the cars again bunched and lap traffic out of the mix, the ensuing restart set the field up for a nine lap shootout. When the green flag flew, Richards maintained the top spot, but the second-place car of Jonathan Davenport was right on his bumper. Though Davenport was giving it all he had running the very top groove of the track, Richards was equally determined running the middle and low grooves and was able to remain in the lead. The battle raged on for several laps, but Richards ultimately emerged as the victor, winning his 20th super dirt late model race of the year and collecting his second prestigious wooden eagle trophy in the USA Nationals.
Richards remains in the top spot in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series championship points standings, 236 markers ahead of second-place Shane Clanton.
Richards is scheduled to head to the East Coast for four nights of racing Thursday at Delaware International Speedway in Delmar and continuing Friday at Potomac Speedway in Budds Creek, Md., Saturday at Winchester (Va.) Speedway and Sunday at Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pennsylvania.
Qualifying -4th Heat Race - 2nd Feature Start -5th Feature Finish - 2nd
Qualifying -1st Heat Race -1st Feature Start - 5th Feature Finish - 1st
Qualifying -4th Heat Race -1st Feature Start - N/A Feature Finish - N/A
Qualifying -N/A Heat Race -N/A Feature Start - 4th Feature Finish - 1st
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: "We had an incredible week. I'm really speechless. Cedar Lake Speedway is one of my favorite tracks. It's awesome to be able to win at this place again. Our Valvoline XR1 Rocket Chassis has been awesome to drive. It's been so much fun racing the past couple of weeks.
"I thought (Shane) Clanton was still running second and then I looked up and saw the No. 6 (Davenport) on the board and I was like, 'Oh, no, here we go.' I knew where he was going (to the top side) and that I'd have my hands full.
"I knew I was best if I just paced myself and hit the traction spots right. I didn't want to do anything crazy and go off and banzai the top and push and then have him drive underneath me, so I was like, 'I'll just keep doing what I've been doing the whole race and try to stay smooth.'
"I knew he'd (Davenport) give it all he had, so it was good to come out on top. Luckily it all worked out.