Raising the Bar: Josh Richards Increases National Profile With Spectacular 2010 Dirt Late Model Season
Josh Richards increased his steadily rising national dirt Late Model profile even more in 2010, enjoying the best season of his young but already stellar racing career.
A second consecutive World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship, a breakthrough victory in a 100-lap special event and a career-best overall win total – were the highlights of a spectacular campaign on the clay for the 22-year-old from Shinnston, W.Va., who has gone from a fresh-faced rookie to an established superstar in just seven years.
Richards registered 16 feature wins during the 2010 season – more than any other dirt Late Model driver in the Northeast region. He almost evenly split his triumphs between his two rides: his father Mark’s Kentucky Fuel Corporation/Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket No. 1 (nine wins, including a series-best eight in WoO competition) and the Ernie D’s Enterprises Rocket No. 25 that he ran in most of his non-Outlaw appearances and put in Victory Lane seven times.
“It was an awesome year,” said Richards, the youngest driver in dirt Late Model history to win a national touring series championship. “You always want to win more races, but winning 16 races with so much competition out there is an accomplishment. I’m just fortunate to have the support of so many great people who make it possible for me to do something I love and be successful at it.”
Richards made a total of 79 dirt Late Model starts at 50 tracks in 20 states and two Canadian provinces in 2010 and authored a spectacular performance record, putting up 50 top-five and 67 top-10 finishes. He ran the familiar Mark Richards Racing Enterprises machine in 55 events and failed to finish the feature distance just once, and in his two-dozen starts behind the wheel of the Ernie Davis owned machine he finished outside the top 10 twice with a single DNF.
The focus of Richards’s 2010 assault, of course, was the WoO LMS, a national tour that he’s followed as a regular since he won the Rookie of the Year award in 2005. All the hard work and preparation of his team – father Mark and crewmen Matt Barnes and Jimmy Frye – helped him come out of top of a dramatic points battle that went down to the season-ending Lowes Foods World Finals on Nov. 6 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
One year after overtaking his racing mentor Steve Francis during the World Finals to score his first career WoO LMS crown, Richards outdueled Darrell Lanigan – another veteran driver who has helped Richards’s development – for the $100,000 title. While Richards led the points standings after more than three-quarters of the season’s events, he swapped the top spot with Lanigan four times in the last seven races before securing the championship by a mere four-point margin to become the first driver in the tour’s modern era (2004-present) to win the title twice.
Richards cemented himself his status as the new face of the WoO LMS with his superb 2010 season on the road, rolling up eight wins, 27 top-five and 36 top-10 finishes in 44 A-Mains – all but one of which he finished on the lead lap. His victories were spread across the season, beginning with his fourth consecutive opening-night win on Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., and ending with a triumph in the Showdown on Oct. 13 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte that gave him the points lead heading into the World Finals. He also scored Outlaw victories at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway; Delaware International Speedway; Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway; Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.; Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa.; and Mohawk International Raceway in Akwesasne, N.Y., where on Sept. 1 he earned $20,000 for capturing his coveted first-ever 100-lap dirt Late Model race in the inaugural Battle At Eastern Door.
With his victory explosion in 2010, Richards ended the season tied with Francis atop the tour’s win list since 2004. He has 28 career WoO LMS wins – 26 of which have come in the last four years.
“Our goal for 2010 was to win the World of Outlaws championship again and we accomplished it,” said Richards, who earned nearly $300,000 (including points-fund cash) for his efforts on this year’s WoO LMS. “It takes a lot of hard work and desire to win a championship, so what we did this year really proves the caliber of our team. It’s very exciting that we’ve won it twice already this early (in his career).”
Richards was just as successful off the WoO LMS trail in 2010. In his father’s car, he won a January Southern All-Stars Series event at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Georgia. His crown-jewel event statistics included a runner-up finish in October’s Knoxville Late Model Nationals, and top-10 finishes in the Dream (sixth) and World 100 (10th) at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway and the Dirt Track World Championship (seventh) at West Virginia Motor Speedway. With Davis’ Roush-Yates Ford-powered machine, meanwhile, his 16 top-five finishes included victories at Winchester (Va.) Speedway (Three-State Flyers Series on July 24; the Winchester 200 prelim and feature on Sept. 24; and the Raye Vest Memorial prelim and feature on Oct. 22-23); Hagerstown (regular show); and Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway (UFO Series).
Without the support of our sponsors the success, victories and championship of the 2010 season would not be possible. With your continued support we are able to go to the track each race with well built equipment and the confidence to go out and race at the highest possible level. Our success is your success and without your support Josh Richards and Mark Richards Racing would not have brought home an unprecedented second World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship.
Kentucky Fuel Corporation, Rocket Chassis, Cornett Racing Engines, Seubert Calf Ranches, Ernie D’s Enterprises, ACE Metal Works, Petroff Towing, Tony Stewart Racing, Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Racing Tires, Integra Shocks, Slavic Custom Decals, Valvoline, AEM, AFCO, ATL Fuel Cells, Aurora Bearing Company, Autolite, Banshee Graphics, Barnes Systems, Beyea Performance, Brinn Transmissions, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Braswell Carburetion, Butlerbuilt Seat Systems, CV Products, Dohm Cycles, Dyer’s Top Rods, Fram Filters, Frankland Rearends, Howe Racing, Kwik Change Product, LSI, Mason Racin’, MSD Ignition, Outerwears, Performance Bodies, Performance Friction Brakes, Performance Rod & Custom, Ringers Gloves, Scott Performance Wire, Simpson Race Products, Sweet Manufacturing, Tel Tech, TWM Racing Products, Trick Carbon Fiber Driveshafts, Jones Racing Products, TurboStart Racing Batteries, US Brake, Weld Racing Wheels, Wehr’s Machine, Wilwood and Wrisco Aluminum.