Josh Richards scored his 53rd-career World of Outlaws Late Model Series win Saturday night at Brighton Speedway, highlighting the Series three-race Great Northern Tour through New York and Canada.
Starting the Northern Tour Thursday evening at Fonda (N.Y.) Speedway, Richards began his night on a promising note posting the fastest circuit in hot laps. He then qualified second, which lined him up in the pole position for his heat race. Richards quickly drove away from the field on the first lap and looked to be well on his way to a heat race win, when his engine failed coming out of Turn 2 on the last lap. Though he had a blown motor, the Rocket driver had such a commanding lead he was able to limp his No. 1 machine home to a second place finish. Unfortunately, the team was forced to unload the backup car and was put to the rear of the field for the start of the 40-lap feature event. Starting 24th in a brand new backup car with no laps on it, Richards was on a mission to find his way back toward the front of the field. It didn’t take him long, as the 27-year-old was scored in 17th in just three laps. He continued to methodically make his way through the field and was running in 10th at the halfway mark. With a never give up attitude, Richards was able to drive his way to a seventh-place finish in the remaining 20 laps to turn what could have been a disastrous evening in to a solid top-10 finish.
With a day in between races, the Rocket team went to work replacing the engine in their primary car before crossing the border into Canada for Saturday night’s race at Brighton Speedway. With his primary car back in order, Richards took to the one-third-mile clay oval for time trials. Qualifying fourth, Richards lined up in second for Heat Race 4. Running the bottom groove, the West Virginia native took the lead near the halfway point and cruised to the victory in the 10-lap event. With the top-two finishers in each heat race eligible for the redraw to determine their starting position for the A-Main, Richards was fortunate enough to draw the first spot. Starting on the pole, the Mark Richards Racing driver took command of the race early enduring multiple caution periods and restarts. With a healthy lead for the majority of the race, Richards began to encounter lap cars and was forced to patiently maneuver through the traffic with second-place Shane Clanton right on his bumper. Able to hold off a late-race charge, Richards captured the win leading all 50 laps en route to his fourth World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory of the season and sixth win overall this year.
With rain cancelling Sunday’s scheduled race at Cornwall Speedway in Canada, Richards and his team headed to Weedsport (N.Y.) Speedway for Tuesday night’s event. The evening got off to a fast start with Richards running the quickest circuit during hot laps, before qualifying in second place. His qualifying effort lined him up on the pole for Heat Race 2, and Richards easily drove away from the field leading the race flag-to-flag. By virtue of the redraw, the West Virginia driver started the 40-lap feature in the third spot. Driving into the second turn on the first lap, Richards’ Valvoline machine made contact with the cushion folding the nose of his car under. Though he had damage to the front of his car, Richards was able to maintain his third-place position even making it up to as high as second on Lap 13. With front-end damage making it difficult to steer, Richards made contact with the cushion again while in traffic and was forced to the pit area under a Lap 23 caution period. The crew quickly went to work, but Richards was unable to return to the race and had to settle for a 17-place finish.
After the completion of the Great Northern Tour, Richards remains second in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings.
The Series will return to action at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Penn., June 25-28 for the Firecracker 100 Weekend.
Qualifying – 2nd Heat Race –2nd Feature Start – 21st Feature Finish – 7th
Qualifying – 4th Heat Race –1st Feature Start –1st Feature Finish –1st
Qualifying – 2nd Heat Race –1st Feature Start –3rd Feature Finish – 17th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTE: “We had a tough break at Fonda (Speedway), I feel like we had a car capable of winning. I’m proud of our guys for working so hard to get the backup car ready so we could salvage some points. For never having run any laps on the backup, it was really good and we were fortunate to be able to drive up through the field.
“Saturday was a fun night and a great win for our Valvoline team. We hadn’t been to Brighton Speedway in a few years, and it was nice to be able to go back and get a win in Canada. Shane (Clanton) didn’t make it easy on us, but we were able to navigate our way through lap traffic and hold on for the victory.
“Tuesday was typical of how our season has been, we went into Weedsport Speedway after coming off a win and had bad luck making contact with the cushion on the first lap. There wasn’t much I could do after that with the bumper dragging and not being able to steer. It’s just a bummer because I felt like we had a car that could contend for the win. We’ll keep our heads up and go into the Firecracker 100 with high hopes.”