Richards Makes Most Out of Rough Weekend
SHINNSTON, W.Va. (Sept. 6, 2016) - Josh Richards made the most out of a woeful Labor Day Weekend, rallying to bring home an eighth-place finish at Lernerville Speedway on Saturday after a lapped car took him out of contention while leading. Richards' rough luck continued Sunday when he was forced to a backup car at Selinsgrove after running over a piece of lead while in command of the field during his heat race.
Returning to Lernerville Speedway for the second time this season, Richards was ready for redemption after finishing second in the Firecracker 100 in June. He was quick right off of the truck Friday, clicking off the fastest qualifying lap overall to take home the night's fast-time award. His time-trial effort lined him up on the pole for the second of two 25-lap, $2,500-to-win heat races. The heat race finishes would set the field for Saturday's 75-lap finale. At the drop of the green flag, Richards showed he was the class of the field, easily leading flag-to-flag unchallenged. With the top-four finishers in each heat race going to the redraw, Richards would have to wait until Saturday to find out his fate.
Saturday evening began with redraw and the West Virginia native drew the fourth starting spot for the A-Main. Knowing his car was fast on Friday, Richards was eager to get the race underway in hopes of collecting the $20,000-to-win payday. When the green flag flew, the 28-year-old made a two-car pass to be scored in second on the opening lap. On Lap 2, Richards took command of the field. Once out front, he fought off challenges from several competitors in the ensuing laps, but held his ground showing his dominance. It looked as if the superstar driver was about to capture his 18th World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series win of the year, when the lapped car of Chub Frank made contact with Richards on Lap 64 causing him to suffer a flat right-front tire. The Valvoline driver pitted and was forced to restart at the tail end of the field in 14th. On a mission to make his way back toward the front, Richards muscled his way to eighth in the remaining 11 laps. His eighth-place effort marks his 51st top-10 finish of the season.
After a rough Saturday night, Richards and crew were ready for a fresh start on Sunday at Selinsgrove Speedway. The young driver was again fast right off of the truck, running the second quickest lap in Group A qualifying. His time-trial effort lined him up on the pole of Heat Race 2. At the drop of the green flag, Richards quickly began to open a big margin on the field. On Lap 6, he was nearly half of a track ahead of the second-place car. Looking as if he was on his way to the heat race win, a piece of lead on the track struck Richards' oil pan on Lap 7 ripping it open. With heavy smoke billowing out of the car, the Rocket Chassis driver was forced to the pit area unable to continue. The crew hustled to unload the backup car and Richards was set to start at the tail end of the B-Main. Starting last in a car that had never made a lap, Richards was able to drive his way to third in the short 10-lap race to transfer into the 40-lap Feature. Staring 21st, Richards had an uphill climb. Just seven laps after the green flag, the Valvoline driver entered the pits under caution for a new tire. Richards returned to the track in Turn 1 as the leaders were taking the green-flag for the ensuring restart just behind him. Though the back of the field was more than half a track in front of Richards, he was able to catch up and tag the tail by Lap 9. Determined, the young driver continued to advance. With large gaps between Richards and the cars in front of him, he methodically chased them down one-by-one, ultimately making his way to 13th when the checkered flag flew.
Despite the woeful weekend, Richards maintained his lead in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series championship points standings, 270 markers ahead of second-place Shane Clanton.
Richards is scheduled to return to action this weekend at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, for the World 100, Thursday-Saturday.
Qualifying -1st Heat Race -1st Feature Start - N/A Feature Finish - N/A
Qualifying -N/A Heat Race -N/A Feature Start - 4th Feature Finish - 8th
Qualifying -2nd Heat Race -DNF Feature Start - 21st Feature Finish - 13th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: "We had a great car at Lernerville Speedway. I really wanted to win this one after finishing second at the Firecracker 100. I knew we only had nine or 10 laps left and Jimmy Mars was on our heels. I thought I was far enough beside Chub (Frank) down the straightaway to where he could see me. I know he knew we were coming, but when I got down beside of him he kept coming left and just didn't give us any room. It's unfortunate a lapped car took us out of contention.
"We had another really fast car at Selinsgrove. The car felt good in qualifying and was awesome in the heat race. I felt the car hit something and then I saw the smoke. We got the backup car out and I jumped in for the B-Main. I'd never made a lap in that car so I felt it out the first few laps and then I was able to drive up to third. The car was good, it's just hard to make up much ground starting in the back of the Feature on such a big track."