Richards Rallies to 11th-Place Finish At Eldora Speedway
Suffering Flat Tire Early in World 100
SHINNSTON, W.Va. (Sept. 12, 2016) - Josh Richards rallied to an 11th-place finish in the World 100 after suffering a flat tire early in the race at Eldora Speedway. Richards also claimed a podium-finish and a top-10 effort in Thursday and Friday's 25-lap Preliminary Features.
After a nearly four hour rain delay, Richards began Thursday by running the second quickest circuit in his hot lap group. He then went on to qualify second quickest overall in the 108-car field. With the top-four cars in each heat race forced to invert, Richards lined up fourth in Heat Race 2. The Valvoline driver quickly advanced and took over the top spot near the end of the 10-lap event. His heat race win guaranteed him a starting spot in the night's second A-Main. With the top-two cars in each heat race having to invert, Richards Started 10th in the 25-lap Feature. Scored in eighth by Lap 1, the young driver was on a mission to make his way toward the front. At the halfway point, Richards was up to fifth and he continued to muscle his way through the field in the short race, making his way to third when the checkered flag flew to bring home a podium-finish.
Friday started out much the same for Richards, as he was again the second fastest car in his hot lap group. He then qualified third overall in the 108-car field, which again lined him up in fourth for his heat race after the four-car invert. Richards advanced two positions in the 10-lap event to cross the stripe in second. His second-place effort guaranteed him a starting spot in the night's first Feature event. This time, Richards would start fourth after the invert. Choosing a soft tire for the short 25-lap Feature, Richards began to slip backwards shortly after the drop of the green flag as he struggled to find grip. Though he was lacking grip, Richards was able to salvage a top-10 finish, taking the checkered flag in 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-five. Richards was second in the overall points heading into Saturday, so the Valvoline driver lined up fifth in the night's second heat race. Being one of the top-two drivers in points, also guaranteed Richards the 20th starting spot in the World 100 if he did not advance through his heat race. That quickly became a mute point, as Richards was able to drive to second in the 15-lap event, transferring into the 100-lap race. His second-place effort, lined the Rocket Chassis driver up in the eighth starting spot for the finale.
Starting on the outside of Row 4, Richards quickly began his march toward the front and was up to sixth at Lap 5. Shortly after advancing, Richards began to slip backwards as he felt a tire going down, ultimately being forced to pit on Lap 18 with a flat left-rear. Having to restart at the tail end of the field in 29th, the 28-year-old driver had his work cut out for him if he wanted to make his way toward the front. Richards didn't let the setback deter him as he began to quickly make his way forward. Just six circuits after pitting, Richards had already advanced nine spots to be scored in 20th on Lap 25. The young driver continued to methodically make his way through the field over the next 40 laps, cracking the top-10 on Lap 65. The Rocket Chassis driver maintained his position for the next 32 laps through several caution periods and ensuing restarts. In the final laps, Richards slipped back one spot to 11th, after the car in front of him slowed just enough to upset Richards' preferred racing line. The superstar driver ultimately rallied from 29th to finish 11th in the World 100.
Richards is scheduled to return to racing-action Thursday-Saturday at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway for the Late Model Nationals.
Qualifying - 2nd Heat Race - 1st Feature Start - 10th Feature Finish - 3rd
Qualifying - 3rd Heat Race -2nd Feature Start - 4th Feature Finish -7th
Qualifying - N/A Heat Race -2nd Feature Start - 8th Feature Finish- 11th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: "I felt like maybe this was our year to win it. I feel like with the success that we've had and the stuff that we've learned, we were ready. But there's still something about when you come to this place, it's always tough, it's not easy. Everything you've learned from anywhere else, you just throw it out the window and start over again at Eldora (Speedway).
"Our balance just was a little off. I didn't really know what to expect going into the weekend with the tires. I felt pretty good on Thursday when the track had a little grip. We tried some things Friday night and we were off a little bit, so then we made some changes for Saturday's Feature. I felt like we definitely made progress. We were going in the right direction, but we just didn't go far enough and our balance was just a little off.
"We made some changes when we had to stop to get a new tire Saturday and that definitely helped. I was just a little too tight across the center to be able to pick the gas up early and roll through the corners.
"If the tire rule stays, I think we know what direction to go, and if it goes back the other way, I feel like we had something at the Dream. We'll just have to go back next year and try again."