It was good to be home for West Virginia native Josh Richards as he scored back-to-back victories in front of his home-state crowd Saturday and Sunday, sweeping Tyler County Speedway’s Jackpot 100 Weekend.
Though Richards was only an hour from home, the Shinnston, W.Va. driver didn’t have much experience racing at the quarter-mile oval, only having competed there six times since the World of Outlaws Late Model Series started visiting the facility.
Still, the 27-year-old driver considers Tyler County Speedway one of his favorite tracks, since so many of his family and friends are able to come out and show their support.
Richards began the weekend with his sights set on a win. Qualifying second for Saturday night’s $8,000-to-win event, the driver of the No. 1 machine lined up on the pole for heat number two. Richards quickly showed he was going to be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the night, leading his 10-lap heat race from start to finish. With the top-two drivers of each heat eligible for the redraw, Richards picked the second starting spot for the 40-lap feature.
Starting in the second position, Richards remained there for the majority of the race running the mid to low lines of the track. Knowing the laps were quickly clicking down, the Valvoline driver knew it was time to make a move or it would be too late. Richards made a gamble and moved to the high-side of the track on Lap 36, driving to the outside of Brandon Overton in the third turn. Overton attempted to block and Richards pulled a crossover move, completing the pass on Lap 37 for the top position. With three laps remaining, Richards held on to win night one of the Jackpot 100 much to the delight of the home-state crowd.
Sunday night began much the same with Richards eyeing a Memorial Day Weekend sweep. The Mark Richards Racing driver again qualified in the second position, putting him on the pole for his heat race. For the second night in a row, Richards led all 10 laps to capture the heat win. This time, Richards wasn’t as lucky in the redraw, picking the fourth starting spot for the night’s main event.
Richards began the 60-lap feature in fourth, but quickly made his way to third in just the first lap. The Rocket Chassis driver remained in third for much of the race as he tried to maneuver his way through lapped traffic in an event that only saw one caution. As the top-two drivers battled, Richards lurked behind waiting for the right time to make his move. That time came on Lap 42 when he overtook Chub Frank for the second position. Setting his sights on race-leader Brandon Overton, it didn’t take long for a hard-charging Richards to claim the top spot on Lap 48. With 12 circuits remaining, the three-time World of Outlaws Late Model Series Champion cruised to the win to complete the weekend sweep.
The victory marks Richards 52nd-career World of Outlaws Late Model Series win and his fifth overall victory this season. Richards is scored in second in the Series point standings, 84 markers behind Shane Clanton.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series will be off the next three weekends, but Richards will return to racing action June 4-6 at Eldora Speedway for the Dirt Late Model Dream.
Qualifying – 2nd Heat Race –1st Feature Start – 2nd Feature Finish – 1st
Qualifying – 2nd Heat Race –1st Feature Start –4th Feature Finish –1st
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTE: “That was a lot of fun out there this weekend. We had a great car. Andy Durham built us a new engine for this weekend and the team worked really hard to get our Valvoline car dialed in. It’s always extra special to win in front of our home-town crowd. It’s really neat to have so many family and friends come out to watch. I hope we put on a good show for them and all of the fans.
“Saturday I knew I had to try something I didn’t want to just settle for a runner-up finish. At the end I tried to go for the top. I knew I’d kick myself for not trying it. Luckily it worked out.
“Sunday night was more finesse and trying to figure out where you needed to be. I feel like once I started moving around, I started gaining on Chub (Frank) and Brandon (Overton). Our car just kept getting better and we were able to complete the weekend sweep.”