Richards Sweeps Exciting Prairie Dirt Classic Weekend
At Fairbury American Legion Speedway
SHINNSTON, W.Va. (Aug. 1, 2016) – Josh Richards continues his dominating season, sweeping the weekend at Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway with a win in the FALS Draw on Friday and a victory in the prestigious Prairie Dirt Classic on Saturday. Richards also racked up an eight-place finish on Thursday at Quincy (Ill.) Raceway.
After having the previous weekend off, Richards and crew headed to the Illini State for three nights of racing. The trip started with a stop at Quincy Raceway on Thursday where Richards took to the track and recorded the fifth fastest time overall in hot laps. He then qualified fourth quickest, which lined the Valoline driver up in the second spot for Heat Race 1. Richards quickly took command of the race on Lap 2 and never looked back en route to the victory in the 10-lap event. With the top-two cars in each heat eligible for the redraw, Richards drew the fourth starting spot for the 40-lap Feature. Starting on the outside of Row 2, the 28-year-old driver methodically made his way to second on Lap 19, before getting spun from behind just two laps later. Though Richards did a complete 360 in front of an onrushing field, he was able to avoid substantial damage and never stop moving, allowing him to blend back into traffic in the 11th position. Sustaining quarter-panel damage from the spin, Richards never gave up and was able to race his way back to a top-10 finish, crossing the stripe in eighth.
Friday marked the start of the prestigious Prairie Dirt Classis Weekend at Fairbury American Legion Speedway and with a full roster of World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series drivers and many Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series regulars competing, 59 drivers had their sights set on the $27,000 payday.
The first order of business on Friday was qualifying, and Richards recorded the second fastest time in Group B. His time-trial effort put him on the pole for Heat Race 5. After the green-flag flew, Richards battled with local favorite Derek Chandler for several laps, but ultimately settled for a second-place finish in the 15-lap event. His Heat Race finish would line him up in the 11th starting spot for Saturday’s 100-lap finale. Next up was the non-points, 25-lap FALS Draw, where all 18 drivers got to draw for the starting spot of their competitors. With various ways to be eligible for the race, Richards got in by being the current World of Outlaws points leader and was given the 10th starting spot by fellow Series driver Shane Clanton. With all of the local favorites starting up front, Richards had his work cut out for him if he wanted to win the short race. The Rocket Chassis driver didn’t waste any time making his way toward the front, being scored in fifth just seven laps into the event. Richards continued his march forward and was in second just 10 laps later. On Lap 19, the young driver took command of the field and never looked back taking home the victory in the FALS Draw.
With momentum on his side from Friday’s win, Richards had his eye on a victory in Saturday’s famed Prairie Dirt Classic. After a short hot lap session, Richards readied himself for the $27,000-to-win Feature. Starting in 11th, Richards knew he had 100 laps to make his way toward the point position. After the green-flag flew, the superstar driver began to quickly make his way forward. At Lap 10 he was scored in seventh and by Lap 20 he had worked his way inside the top-five, running in fourth. Continuing to run a fast pace, Richards was scored in second on Lap 41 and had his sights set on leader Steve Casebolt. Just one lap later, Casebolt slowed on the track with mechanical issues causing the caution flag to fly. Richards inherited the lead on the ensuing restart as Casebolt pulled to the pit area. After taking command of the race on Lap 42, Richards quickly pulled away from the rest of the field and retained a comfortable lead until the night’s final caution came on Lap 74. Richards was able to hold off the second-place car of Dennis Erb on the ensuing restart, but this time Erb stayed right on the West Virginia native’s back bumper. Changing their racing lines almost every lap the two battled fiercely for the next 20 circuits, with Erb getting his nose next to Richards on multiple occasions. Though he was close, Erb was never able to take the lead away from Richards. Giving it everything he had, the three-time World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series Champion was able to pull away from Erb in the final three laps to win the prestigious event by .544 seconds. The win marks Richards’ 11th World of Outlaws victory of the season and 18th dirt late model win of the year.
Richards remains in the top spot in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series championship points standings, 214 markers ahead of second-place Shane Clanton.
The Valvoline driver is schedule to return to action Tuesday at Shawano (Wis.) Speedway and Thursday-Saturday at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wisconsin.
Qualifying -4th Heat Race - 1st Feature Start -4th Feature Finish - 8th
Qualifying -2nd Heat Race -2nd Feature Start - 10th Feature Finish - 1st
Qualifying -N/A Heat Race -N/A Feature Start - 11th Feature Finish - 1st
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: "It was a bummer that I got spun out running second at Quincy (Raceway), I don’t know if I had anything for Shane (Clanton), but I was sure going to try. Considering what happened, I’ll gladly take a top-10 finish. It could have been much worse.
“It sure feels good to be in Victory Lane for the FALS Draw. I know Saturday is really when it counts, but these guys are all extremely tough. This is probably the toughest local crowd you can ever race against. We gambled on tires a little bit, and the Valvoline car was great. It worked. We have 100 laps tomorrow, and that’s a big difference. We’re going to try our best to be back in Victory Lane again on Saturday.
“To win The Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury (American Legion Speedway) is awesome. It’s one I’ve always looked forward to and it’s special to finally get a win here. It wasn’t easy, Dennis (Erb) is one of the best guys in the country with these long races. He paced himself around the bottom and I saw him get close a couple of times. The top was good early, and when you’re leading you’re sometimes a sitting duck. I was able to move around and find some speed at the end. I’m just so grateful to have won this race. The fans and the staff are awesome here. It’s really a top-notch facility.”