7/21/15- Richards Scores Two Runner-Up Finishes In World of Outlaws Late Model Series Wild West Tour
Josh Richards claimed two second-place finishes during the first week of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Wild West Tour, scoring runner-up finishes at both Hibbing (Minn.) Raceway and River Cities Raceway in Grand Forks, N.D. Richards rounded out the two week Tour with an eighth-place finish at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minnesota.
Richards started what was to be a five-race Wild West Tour, ultimately shortened to three races by rain, at Hibbing Raceway. The 27-year-old began the evening by qualifying second in Group B, which lined him up on the pole for the fourth heat race. After leading the majority of the race, Richards ultimately finished second after falling back on soft tires. Eligible for the redraw, Richards drew the fifth starting spot for the night’s 50-lap Feature. Once the green flag flew, the Rocket Chassis driver quickly made his way to the third position on Lap 3, before the field spread out nose-to-tail with no passing. With his sights set on the second-place car of Morgan Bagley, he patiently applied pressure for the majority of the race as the field continued to run single file. Richards finally overtook the spot with just eight laps remaining. Unable to pass on a track that only had one racing groove, the West Virginia native was forced to settle for a second-place finish at the Minnesota track.
Stop number two on the western tour was at River Cities Raceway and Richards began the night’s festivities by turning the fastest lap in his hot lap group. He went on to qualify eighth, which lined him up third in his heat race. With the field spread out single file in Heat Race 2, Richards was unable to advance, finishing third. Transferring into the main event, the Valvoline driver started in the eighth spot for the 50-lap A-Main. Caught in the outside lane for the start of the race, Richards slipped back to 11th on Lap 5, before making his charge toward the front. The Mark Richards Racing driver methodically made his way through the field and was scored in fifth at the halfway mark. As the laps wore on, Richards was able to roll his car around the top of the race track and gain valuable time on his competitors. Continuing to maneuver his way toward the front, Richards took over the second spot with just two laps remaining. With one of the fastest cars on the track, he was reeling in the leader before running out of laps, ultimately finishing second for the second night in a row.
With a few days in between races, the Rocket crew washed and worked on the No. 1 machine before heading to Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway. Once there, the night looked promising as Josh qualified third lining him up in the second spot for his heat race. Richards took to the track for Heat 3 as black storm clouds loomed in the distance. Finishing second in his heat, Richards was eligible for the redraw and drew the first starting spot. Just as the redraw concluded, the winds picked up and a thunderstorm converged over the race track with torrential downpours. After attempting to wait the storm out, the race was ultimately canceled due to inclement weather.
Bad weather also claimed the following night’s race in Rapid City, S.D., taking the tour from five scheduled races down to three.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series headed to Deer Creek Raceway on Saturday, July 18, for the final race of the Wild West Tour. At a track where he had seen success before, Richards began the night topping the field for time trials, earning his third fast-time award of the season. Starting on the pole for Heat 1, Richards held off an early challenge from Darrell Lanigan and cruised to the win leading all 10 laps. Eligible for the redraw, Richards drew the fourth starting spot for the 50-lap Feature. The Shinnston, W Va., driver quickly jumped to the second position on Lap 3, before slipping back to third on Lap 10. Richards remained inside the top five until a Lap 34 restart when his tires began to fade. It was all he could do to hang on for the remaining 16 laps, crossing the finish line in eighth.
After the Wild West Tour, Richards remains second in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings, 194 markers behind Shane Clanton.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series will return to action Thursday, July 23, at Quincy (Ill.) Raceway.
Qualifying – 2nd Heat Race –2nd Feature Start – 5th Feature Finish – 2nd
Qualifying – 8th Heat Race –3rd Feature Start –8th Feature Finish –2nd
Qualifying –1st Heat Race –1st Feature Start –4th Feature Finish –8th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTE: “We had a really good Valvoline machine the whole Wild West Tour. I feel like we had a car capable of winning all three races. I’m proud of my team, I feel like we made good setup decisions and learned a lot out west. We gambled on tires at Deer Creek (Speedway) and it didn’t work out. Overall we had a great trip and I’m looking forward to racing in Illinois and Wisconsin the next couple of weeks. I’m ready to get the Valvoline car back in Victory Lane.”