SHINNSTON, W. Va. (Feb. 21, 2015) – Josh Richards captured three top-10 finishes in the UMP DIRTCar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 16-21. As Speedweeks came to a close at the Ocala, Fla., track, mechanical woes plagued the Rocket Chassis team, after a successful start to the season earlier in the month.
Richards began the weeklong DIRTCar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park on Monday night by qualifying second in his group. After finishing third in his heat race, he lined up for the 30-lap feature in the 10th spot. Starting on the inside lane, Richards lost two positions on the first lap, but had returned back to his initial starting spot by Lap 2. Just five circuits later, the West Virginia native had worked his way up to eighth. With little passing among the top-10, Richards maintained his position and crossed the stripe in eighth-place.
After Tuesday’s race was cancelled due to heavy rain, the No. 1 Valvoline team returned to racing action Wednesday evening. Richards started Heat Race 5 in the fourth spot and gained one position in the 10-lap event, guaranteeing him a spot in the main event. Starting 17th in the 40-lap feature, Richards quickly made his way inside the top ten in just six laps. In a race that again didn’t see much passing among the front-runners, the 26-year-old methodically made his way toward the front of the field, coming to the checkered flag in the seventh position.
In the final night of UMP DIRTcar Series action, the Rocket house car driver qualified fifth in Group B. His qualifying effort lined him up on the outside-pole for his 10-lap heat race. Richards maintained his position and finished second. Starting 10th in the 50-lap feature, Richards quickly gained five positions and was scored in fifth at Lap 6. Shortly after, the No. 1 machine began to slowly slip backwards. Thinking it might have been his tires, Richards pitted under caution at the halfway point of the race. Restarting 24th, the Mark Richards Racing driver made his way up to 16th before ultimately finishing 19th. After closer inspection, the team discovered a plug wire came loose during the race and Richards was driving minus a cylinder.
In the first of two nights of World of Outlaws Late Model Series action at the Florida-based track, Richards started eighth in his heat race. With only the top-four cars transferring, the Valvoline driver had his work cut out for him. In an expert display of driving, Richards fought his way to a third-place finish in the 10-lap heat race. Starting 11th in the 50-lap main event, Richards made his way to as high as seventh in the early laps, before crossing the finish line 10th, collecting his third top-10 finish of the week.
Saturday marked the final night of the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park and Richards hoped to turn his luck around and come home with a podium finish. After a good showing in hot laps, Richard’s car became extremely tight in qualifying, putting him behind in his heat race. Starting ninth, he made his way up to fifth in the 10-lap heat, but missed the transfer spot by one position. Forced to run a B-Main, Richards started on the outside, but quickly made his way to the front taking command of the race and capturing the victory. Starting the feature event in 17th, Richards appeared as if his luck had changed as he methodically made his way toward the front of the field and found himself in the seventh spot at Lap 36. Just one lap later disaster struck as the blue and red machine was forced to the pits with a broken rear end. Richards was unable to finish the race and he was credited with an 18th-place finish.
The three-time World of Outlaws champion returns to World of Outlaws Late Model Series action at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway in Calvert City, Ky., on March 20. Followed by a race at 1-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Ark., on March 21.
Qualifying – 2nd Heat Race – 3rd Feature Start – 10th Feature Finish – 8th
Qualifying –11th Heat Race – 3rd Feature Start – 17th Feature Finish –7th
Qualifying – 5th Heat Race – 2nd Feature Start – 10th Feature Finish – 19th
Qualifying – 15th Heat Race – 3rd Feature Start – 11th Feature Finish –10th
Qualifying – 18th Heat Race – 5th Feature Start – 17th Feature Finish – 18th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTE: “I’m disappointed with how things went at Volusia Speedway Park. After a great start to Speedweeks, that’s not how we wanted to end things. My team worked really hard all week, we just had some mechanical issues that were out of our control. That’s just part of it. We tried some different setups and the track was really fast all week. We’ve got some time off before the next race, so we’ll go home and regroup and come back ready to put the Valvoline car back in Victory Lane.”