Opening-Lap Surge Propels Richards To ‘Gopher 50’ Triumph At Deer Creek Speedway

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

SPRING VALLEY, MN – July 13, 2011 – Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., made a spectacular surge to the front on the opening lap and never looked back en route to capturing Wednesday night’s 32nd annual NAPA Auto Parts ‘Gopher 50’ Charity Late Model Race at Deer Creek Speedway.

The 23-year-old superstar vaulted from the fourth starting to the lead at the initial green flag, capping the explosion by splitting front-row starters Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., and Rick Eckert of York, Pa., rounding turns three and four. He turned back a late challenge from Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, to register his third victory of the 2011 World of Outlaws Late Model Series season and first-ever at the Queensland family’s three-eighths-mile in southern Minnesota.

“It’s just awesome to finally get a win here at Deer Creek,” said Richards, whose $11,850 in earnings included a $1,000 bonus from NAPA Auto Parts. “These guys do a phenomenal job with this place. It’s one of my favorite tracks to come to every year.”

Driving his father Mark’s Seubert Calf Ranches/Kentucky Fuel Corporation Rocket No. 1, Richards paced the entire distance in front of a standing-room-only crowd that turned out for the prestigious co-promoted by the Blooming Prairie (Minn.) Lions Club and Deer Creek Speedway to raise money for Jaycee and Lions projects. The two-time defending WoO LMS champion was victorious for the third time in his last six starts on the national tour.
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Birkhofer, 39, passed Eckert for second on a lap-16 restart and drew close to Richards in the final circuits but settled for the runner-up spot in his MB Customs car. The two-time Gopher 50 winner crossed the finish line 0.537 of a second behind Richards.

Defending Gopher 50 champ Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., finished nearly two seconds behind Birkhofer in third after charging forward from the 12th starting spot in the Sweeteners Plus Victory Circle mount. He matched his best finish of the season on the WoO LMS.

Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, recorded a career-best WoO LMS finish of fourth – and earned the $500 ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won an A-Main on the series and isn’t ranked among the top 12 in the points standings – and ninth-starter Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., recovered from a slow start that dropped him out of the top 10 to place fifth.

Richards, who made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports on July 7 at Kentucky Speedway, used his head-turning move on the opening lap to propel himself to the checkered flag in the opening event of the WoO LMS ‘Wild West Tour.’

“The car just took off on the start and I couldn’t waste the momentum,” said Richards, who pushed his WoO LMS-leading career win total since 2004 to 31. “The track was getting drier and drier and Brian was on harder tires than we were, so I had to use every bit of the brown (moisture) that I could. I couldn’t really stick in the bottom too well so I just tried to use all of the track and get through there the best I could.

“If we would’ve hit it wrong just a little bit, Brian no doubt would’ve won the race.”

Birkhofer appeared to be in position to steal the race from Richards when he ducked underneath the leader in turns one and two with two laps remaining, but Richards managed to overtake the slower Ron Davies of Warren, Pa., entering turn three and hold on for one more tense circuit.

“It was a fun race,” said Birkhofer, who started third. “The lapped traffic was what it was. I knew Josh was gonna slide Davies, and when he got by him I got all screwed up for a second behind him and that probably cost me.”

The 37-year-old McCreadie, meanwhile, was upbeat despite seeing his year-long winless streak reach 35 races. He reached third place with a lap-36 pass of Simpson but never caught a caution flag that might have given him a shot at the leaders.

“To be second to these two guys in the slick like this – especially where we started – I’m happy,” said McCreadie, who last victory on the WoO LMS came in the 2010 Gopher at Deer Creek. “Since I got in this (Victory Circle) car (in mid-May) we’ve gone forward. It’s a matter of getting qualified a little better through a heat. It just seems like, for me personally, when you draw a bad (time-trial) pill you can’t overcome it like you could a few years ago.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he added when asked about his recent improvement. “We’re still making gains. Hopefully these other guys like Josh are where they’re gonna be and we can keep gaining and gaining. I know there’s more left in this car if we can just tweak it to find it.”

Chris Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, finished sixth, falling just short of his brother Chad in the final rundown. Eckert faded to seventh at the finish after starting from the pole position – causing his WoO LMS points lead to shrink to 26 points over Richards – while Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., was eighth (from the 19th starting spot), WoO LMS Rookie of the Year points leader Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., was ninth and Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., climbed from the 17th starting spot to 10th.

Two caution flags slowed the event – for spins by John Lobb of Frewsburg, N.Y., on lap six and Nick Herrick of Kenyon, Minn., on lap 16.

With 37 cars on hand, Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., was quickest in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials with a lap of 14.365 seconds. It was his second fast-time of 2011 and the sixth of his career on the WoO LMS.

Heat winners were Hubbard, Clint Smith, Birkhofer and Doar; each received a $100 bonus from NAPA Auto Parts. The B-Mains were captured by Clanton and Tyler Breuning of Decorah, Iowa.

The WoO LMS ‘Wild West Tour’ continues on Fri., July 15, at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., and Tues., July 19, at Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway. Both events feature 50-lap A-Mains paying $10,000 to win.

For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.

Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50’ at Deer Creek Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (4) Josh Richards/50 $11,825
2. (3) Brian Birkhofer/50 $5,000
3. (12) Tim McCreadie/50 $3,700
4. (5) Chad Simpson/50 $3,000
5. (9) Jimmy Mars/50 $2,050
6. (8) Chris Simpson/50 $1,700
7. (1) Rick Eckert/50 $2,000
8. (19) Chub Frank/50 $1,850
9. (6) Pat Doar/50 $2,000
10. (13) Darrell Lanigan/50 $1,750
11. (7) Austin Hubbard/50 $1,600
12. (17) Shane Clanton/50 $1,550
13. (11) Vic Coffey/50 $1,500
14. (2) Clint Smith/50 $1,450
15. (15) Tim Fuller/50 $1,400
16. (10) Ron Davies/49 $1,350
17. (21) Mike Prochnow/49 $770
18. (16) Andrew McKay/49 $750
19. (22) John Lobb/49 $730
20. (24) Lance Matthees/49 $700
21. (18) Tyler Breuning/49 $700
22. (23) Jill George/48 $700
23. (20) Kerry Hansen/37 $700
24. (25) Nick Herrick/15 $725
25. (14) Brady Smith/6 $700

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 20 Mins., 23.473 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.537 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 2 (Laps 6, 16)
Lap Leaders: Richards (1-50)
Provisional Starters: George (WoO); Matthees (time); N. Herrick (track)
Rookie of the Race: Doar ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Chad Simpson ($500)

Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):

1. 19-Austin Hubbard/Seaford, DE 14.365
2. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 14.430
3. 32c-Vic Coffey/Caledonia, NY 14.489
4. 11-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 14.491
5. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 14.517
6. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 14.532
7. 32-Chris Simpson/Oxford, IA 14.547
8. 25s-Chad Simpson/Mt. Vernon, IA 14.552
9. 28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 14.581
10. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 14.582
11. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 14.588
12. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 14.638
13. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 14.653
14. 71d-Ron Davies/Warren, PA 14.660
15. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 14.698
16. 71-Andrew McKay/Edina, MN 14.732
17. 25-Shane Clanton/Fayetteville, GA 14.748
18. 90-Lance Matthees/Winona, MN 14.767
19. 16-Tyler Breuning/Decorah, IA 14.790
20. 1L-John Lobb/Frewsburg, NY 14.857
21. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 14.861
22. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 14.875
23. 25H-Kerry Hansen/Spencer, WI 14.994
24. 9T-Tim Isenberg/Marshfield, WI 15.021
25. 22-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA 15.061
26. 01-Kyle Jumbeck/Houston, MN 15.099
27. 1-Nick Beyenhof/Rock Rapids, IA 15.105
28. 29K-Bill Koons/Omaha, NE 15.172
29. 6-Nick Herrick/Kenyon, MN 15.179
30. 68-Mike Prochnow/Menomonee, WI 15.202
31. 00-Andy Altenburg/Truman, MN 15.345
32. 7-Dennis Hillson/Blooming Prairie, MN 15.748
33. 7E-Neal Eckhart/Rochester, MN 15.788
34. 33-Joe Ludemann/Grand Meadow, MN 15.839
35. 9-Roger Herrick/W. Concord, MN 16.003
36. 35-Jerry Bloom/Grand Meadow, MN 16.323
37. 96-Doug Herrick/W. Concord, MN N/T

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Hubbard, Richards, Mars, Lanigan, Clanton, Hapka, George, N. Herrick, Eckhart (DNS) D. Herrick

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): C. Smith, Eckert, Davies, B. Smith, Frank, Matthees, Prochnow, Jumbeck, Ludemann

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Birkhofer, Chris Simpson, Coffey, Fuller, Breuning, Hansen, Beyenhof, Altenburg, R. Herrick

Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Doar, Chad Simpson, McCreadie, McKay, Lobb, Koons, Isenberg, Bloom, Hillson

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Clanton, Frank, Prochnow, Matthees, N. Herrick, Jumbeck, George, Hapka, Ludemann, Eckhart (DNS) D. Herrick

B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Breuning, Hansen, Lobb, Isenberg, Koons, Beyenhof, Bloom, Hillson, R. Herrick, Altenburg

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:

Arizona Sports Shirts ($100 apparel certificate to 22nd fastest qualifier): Kerry Hansen
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main w/decal): Chad Simpson
Comp Cams ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Tim McCreadie
Comp Cams (certificate to 11th place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Austin Hubbard
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Mike Prochnow/John Lobb
JE Pistons ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Josh Richards
JE Pistons (one set of Pro Seal rings to 11th-place or next highest w/decal, redeemable w/next purchase of one complete set of rings): Austin Hubbard
JE Pistons (one set of Pro Seal rings to 21st-place or next highest w/decal, redeemable w/next purchase of one complete set of rings): Jill George
MSD Ignition ($75 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Josh Richards
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to last-place in A-Main or next lowest w/decal): Nick Herrick
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash to fast qualifier or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Josh Richards
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place or next highest w/decal): Jimmy Mars
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place or next highest w/decal): Tim Fuller
R2C Performance ($100 certificate to highest-finishing driver w/decal or $100 cash if race winner is using R2C filter and decal is displayed): Josh Richards (cash)
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim McCreadie
Superflow Dynos ($50 cash to 7th-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Rick Eckert
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to winner of Heat 1 or next highest w/decal): Jimmy Mars
VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (one five-gallon plastic fuel jugs to fastest qualifier who does not make the A-Main or next highest w/decal): Kerry Hansen
WIX Filters ($50 cash to 13th-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Vic Coffey
Wrisco Aluminum (Three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner w/decal): Josh Richards

2011 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 13 – 16 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):

1. Rick Eckert 2350
2. Josh Richards 2324 (-26)
3. Tim McCreadie 2232 (-118)
4. Darrell Lanigan 2206 (-144)
5. Austin Hubbard 2162 (-188)
6. Chub Frank 2154 (-196)
7. Clint Smith 2148 (-202)
8. Shane Clanton 2134 (-216)
9. Tim Fuller 2028 (-322)
10. Vic Coffey 1984 (-366)
11. Pat Doar 1946 (-404)
12. Ron Davies 1808 (-542)
13. John Lobb 1750 (-600)
14. Jill George 1532 (-818)
15. Jonathan Davenport 1288 (-1062)

The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award), McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award), Chizmark Larson Insurance, Factory Value Parts and RacingJunk.com; in addition to contingency sponsors Comp Cams, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filters and Wrisco Aluminum.