A Triumphant Weekend for Richards Ends in Heartbreak
Saturday Night at Knoxville Raceway
SHINNSTON, W.Va. (Sept. 20, 2016) - Josh Richards rode a roller coaster of emotions at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway going from triumph on Friday after dominating the night and winning the preliminary race to heartbreak on Saturday running out of fuel while running second with just four laps to go in the finale. Richards also brought home a podium-finish in Thursday’s preliminary event.
Returning to one of his favorite racetracks, Richards was eager to get underway on Thursday. He began the evening by qualifying third quickest in Group B. With the top-eight cars in each heat race forced to invert, Richards lined up eighth in the night’s final heat. The Valvoline driver quickly advanced making his way to second when the checkered flag flew. The top-three cars in each heat race transferred to the Feature, so Richards was guaranteed a starting spot. With the top-eight cars in points for the evening having to invert, Richards Started 6th in the 25-lap Feature. When the green flag waved, the 28-year-old driver began to methodically make his way forward. He was scored in fourth at Lap 5 and remained there for the next 10 laps as the frontrunners spread out on the big track. On lap 15, he completed the pass for third and set his sights on the second-place car. Running lap times almost equal to the top-two, Richards was unable to gain anymore ground in the remaining 10 circuits and crossed the line third to collect a podium-finish.
Friday, Richards was quick right out of the truck, clicking off the fasted qualifying lap to collect the overall fast-time award. His time-trial result lined him up in eighth for the first heat race after the eight-car invert. The West Virginia native showed no mercy as he went from eighth to first to collect the heat race win. His heat victory guaranteed him a starting spot in the night's Feature event. This time, Richards would start seventh after the invert. Having a fast car all night, Richards didn’t waste anytime making his way toward the front in the 25-lap Feature. At Lap 5 he was up to sixth and by Lap 10, he was scored in third. With the leader in sight, the Valvoline driver continued his march forward and took over the lead on Lap 19. Once out front, Richards never looked back en route to his 25th Feature victory of the season.
With each of the teams accruing points for their respective qualifying, heat race and Feature efforts Thursday and Friday, this eliminated qualifying and heat races on Saturday and set the Feature lineup. Since Richards had a perfect point night on Friday, he started first for 100-lap finale. Starting on the pole, Richards slipped back to second on the initial lap, but regained the point position just 11 laps later. Richards remained out front through several caution periods, until encountering lapped traffic just prior to the halfway point of the race where he again slipped back to second on Lap 39. On Lap 52, Richards made a pass for the lead, but the caution flag flew before he could cross the start/finish line, restarting the field how they ran the previous lap, with Richards in second. On the ensuing restart, the third-place car stormed by the young driver and forced him to third on Lap 54. Not wanting to wear his equipment out and knowing there were still 46 laps remaining, Richards bided his time, keeping the leaders in sight through several more caution periods. With just 11 laps remaining, Richards decided it was time to make his move and he completed the pass for second on Lap 89. Gaining ground on the leader and running quicker lap times, Richards had his sights set on his first Feature win in the 100-lap event. Then, heartbreak struck and the superstar driver ran out of fuel with just four laps to go, forcing him to retire to the pit area. Richards was ultimately credited with a 14th-place finish in the caution-filled event.
Richards is scheduled to return to racing Oct. 7-8 at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway in Imperial, Pa., for the 28th Annual Pittsburgher 100.
Qualifying - 3rd Heat Race - 2nd Feature Start - 6th Feature Finish - 3rd
Qualifying - 1st Heat Race -1st Feature Start - 7th Feature Finish -1st
Qualifying - N/A Heat Race -N/A Feature Start - 1st Feature Finish- 14th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: “I had a great car, I just didn’t make it to the end. Early in the race I passed (Mike) Marlar again for the lead on Lap 52, but the caution came out. I felt like I could’ve probably stayed in front of him had the caution not come out, but after that he did a heck of a job out there and set a good pace and I ran a little harder than I wanted to, to try and keep my rhythm.
“I fired off good on that last restart (lap 84) and got by Scott (Bloomquist) for second. I just had a run on him and knew I had to go, if I was going to win. I just knew I had to get by him right then and there. I felt like we had a chance to run down Marlar, but just a couple laps later the low fuel-pressure light came on and I was out of gas.
“It was a bummer to have the race end like that. I was giving it all I had at the end. I mean, I really wanted to win that race, but it just wasn’t our year. Mikey (Marlar) did a great job and we can’t take away from that. We’ll just have correct what went wrong this year and come back and try again next year.”