Seventh Heaven: Richards Closes ‘Wild West Tour’ With Victory At Dakota State Fair Speedway

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

HURON, SD – July 16, 2009 – Josh Richards closed the World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Wild West Tour’ in fine fashion, scoring a hard-fought victory in Thursday night’s ‘Great Plains 50’ at Dakota State Fair Speedway.

The 21-year-old sensation from Shinnston, W.Va., regained the points lead with his second win of the four-race western swing and series-leading seventh triumph of the season – a $10,600 checkered flag he earned using equal parts speed and smarts.

Running on a fast half-mile oval that produced significant tire wear, Richards calmly overtook Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., for the lead on lap 33 and maintained command for the remainder of the distance. He survived the race’s sixth and final caution flag, on lap 39, to defeat Francis by 1.404 seconds.

Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., who started from the outside pole and led early in the A-Main, settled for third place. Polesitter Rick Eckert of York, Pa., placed fourth and ninth-starter Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., took fifth.

“You had to think about this race,” said Richards, who bettered his personal single-season high of six WoO LMS wins in 2008. “It was just like running on pavement. You could run around there wide-open if you wanted to pretty much all the way from the bottom to the middle because you’re stuck so hard (to the track surface), but you had to conserve a little bit if you wanted to make it to the finish.

“I knew the (Hoosier) tire we had on could take some abuse, but you still had to be careful. So when I was behind Francis (after he passed Fuller for second on a lap-21 restart), I just started cruising around there, running half-throttle, giving it the gas on the straightaways and coasting through the corners.”

Richards, who started fourth in his Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket car, got the jolt he needed to step on the gas when he saw Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., appear to his outside just before a caution flag flew on lap 32. Smith had made a stirring charge from the 13th starting spot to the verge of second place by running slightly higher on the track – an advance that ultimately ended after Smith pitted during a lap-39 caution period to change a left-rear tire that had been flattened from turn-four contact with Fuller one circuit earlier.

“When I saw Brady run his nose up on me before that caution, I knew the outside was good,” said Richards. “So on the restart, Francis was going so slow (in the lead), I just rolled around him (on the outside of turn three) and figured I could try to maintain a steady pace the rest of way.

“It was definitely a nerve-racking last 20 laps,” he continued. “I kept seeing guys getting flats, so I tried to keep conserving the best I could. I figured that if I saw anybody, I could always pick the pace back up.”

Richards survived to register his 19th career WoO LMS victory, moving him past Eckert into sole possession of second on the tour’s win list since 2004. He left the track shortly after the race to head to the airport in Omaha, Neb., where he was scheduled to fly out early in the morning in order to make his ARCA superspeedway debut this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Francis, whose 25 victories since 2004 leads all WoO LMS drivers, couldn’t stop Richards from adding another victory to his ledger. The 2007 series champion led laps 9-11 and 13-32 en route to his second consecutive runner-up finish, following his bridesmaid outing on Tuesday night at Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway.

“It sucks to lose when you have a car as good as we did,” said Francis, who started sixth in the Beitler Motorsports Rocket. “We just got to conserving and running too slow on the bottom. Once everybody behind us saw Brady move up and pass cars, they realized they had to be wider on entrance (to the corners) and we were a sitting duck.”

Fuller, meanwhile, led laps 1-8 and also nosed ahead of Francis to pace lap 12, but he knew he was in trouble when Richards slipped by his Gypsum Express Rocket for second on the lap-21 restart.

“I was done after Josh got by me,” said Fuller, who recorded his best finish of the season. “I got up to Francis (in the closing stages), but he was playing defense and I couldn’t get by him.”

Eckert had to be satisfied with a fourth-place finish after slipping backward at the drop of the green flag from his pole starting spot. He watched Brady Smith step to the outside to march forward but couldn’t duplicate that maneuver with his Team Zero by Bloomquist mount.

“Brady’s car was just good,” said Eckert. “That rubber (on the track) that Brady was in was there for anybody, but your car had to be good to use it. I was too tight to go out there.”

Clint Smith completed the top five despite racing virtually the entire distance without power steering in his GRT car.

“I couldn’t race anybody,” said Smith, who enjoyed his second consecutive fifth-place finish. “I had to rest my left arm going down the straightaways so I could tug on the steering wheel with all the strength in my left arm every time I went into the corners.”

Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., finished a quiet sixth, while defending WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., placed seventh after running in the top five before a flat left-rear tire forced him to pit on lap 30. Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., slipped from a third-place starting spot to eighth at the finish, ahead of Brady Smith, who rallied after pitting on lap 39, and Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio, who earned a $250 bonus for being the highest-finishing WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contender.

A field of 29 cars was entered in the event, which brought the WoO LMS back to the Dakota State Fair Speedway for the first time since 2005.

Fuller registered his second fast-time honor of the season with a lap of 17.887 seconds – just a tenth of a second off the track record.

Heat winners were Fuller, Francis and Richards, and 14-year-old WoO LMS rookie Tyler Reddick of Corning, Calif., captured the B-Main for the second consecutive night.

The WoO LMS will take a short break before kicking off the four-race Ohio Speedweek on Thurs., July 23, at Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio. The swing will also visit Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park on Fri., July 24; Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, on Sat., July 25; and Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa., on Sun., July 26.

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

Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Great Plains 50’ (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (4) Josh Richards/50 $10,600
2. (6) Steve Francis/50 $5,650
3. (2) Tim Fuller/50 $3,550
4. (1) Rick Eckert/50 $3,000
5. (9) Clint Smith/50 $2,500
6. (7) Chub Frank/50 $2,200
7. (5) Darrell Lanigan/50 $2,000
8. (3) Shane Clanton/50 $1,800
9. (13) Brady Smith/50 $1,700
10. (10) Russell King/50 $1,850
11. (12) Jordan Bland/50 $1,550
12. (11) Al Purkey/50 $1,500
13. (22) Dustin Hapka/49 $950
14. (15) Eric Mass/49 $900
15. (14) Jason Hughes/38 $850
16. (8) Jimmy Mars/35 $800
17. (23) April Farmer/33 $770
18. (16) Brent Robinson/29 $1,250
19. (18) Bill Koons/16 $730
20. (17) Jill George/11 $700
21. (20) Brian Diede/10 $700
22. (21) Kent Arment/10 $700
23. (24) Zach Johnson/3 $700
24. (19) Tyler Reddick/0 $700

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 31 Mins., 43.798 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.404 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 6 (Laps 0, 21, 30, 32, 34, 39)
Lap Leaders: Fuller (1-8); Francis (9-11); Fuller (12); Francis (13-32); Richards (33-50)
Provisional Starters: Farmer, Z. Johnson
Rookie of the Race: King ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Purkey ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Mike ‘Smoke’ Countryman (Fuller)

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

1. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 17.887
2. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 17.955
3. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 18.166
4. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 18.325
5. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 18.361
6. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 18.378
7. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 18.494
8. 33-Al Purkey/Coffeyville, KS 18.567
9. 14-April Farmer/Livingston, TN 18.570
10. 11d-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 18.675
11. 22-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA 18.697
12. 12-Jordan Bland/Campbellsville, KY 18.734
13. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 18.748
14. 28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 18.754
15. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 18.821
16. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 18.823
17. 57-Chad Williamson/Watertown, SD 18.844
18. 29K-Bill Koons/Omaha, NE 18.934
19. 11-Tyler Reddick/Corning, CA 18.965
20. 23-Jason Hughes/Westfield, OK 18.993
21. 73-Zach Johnson/Kensington, MN 19.173
22. 18-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 19.176
23. U2-Scott Daly/Elk Horn, NE 19.399
24. 44M-Eric Mass/Rapid City, SD 19.411
25. 3-Brent Robinson/Smithfield, VA 19.816
26. 9-Kent Arment/Aberdeen, SD 19.842
27. 7c-Chad Chenoweth/Huron, SD 19.867
28. 7s-Mike Stadel/Rapid City, SD 20.017
29. 1d-Brian Diede/Aberdeen, SD 20.140

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Fuller, Eckert, Frank, King, B. Smith, Robinson, Reddick, Doar, Hapka, Stadel

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Francis, Lanigan, Purkey, Mars, Hughes, George, Arment, Diede, Daly, Williamson

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Richards, Clanton, C. Smith, Bland, Mass, Koons, Farmer, Johnson, Chenoweth

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Reddick, Diede, Arment, Hapka, Johnson, Chenoweth, Williamson, Stadel, Farmer (DNS) Doar, Daly

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:

* Arizona Sport Shirts ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in B-Mains): Zach Johnson
* Champ Pans ($50 product certificate to ‘Bonus Bucks’ winner w/decal): Al Purkey
* Crane Cams ($100 cash award to A-Main winner w/decal): Josh Richards
* Crane Cams ($100 cash award to 10th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Russell King
* Crane Cams ($100 product certificate to Heat 3 winner w/decal): Josh Richards
* Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner w/decal): Tyler Reddick
* Fusion Energy ($50 cash award to Heat 2 winner w/decal): Steve Francis
* Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash award to fast qualifier w/decal): Tim Fuller
* Quarter-Master ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner w/decal): Josh Richards
* Quarter-Master ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Clint Smith
* Quarter-Master ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Jason Hughes
* Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’ (one case of product): Tim Fuller
* VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (two free VP five-gallon containers to fastest qualifier who does not make the A-Main if decal is displayed): Chad Chenoweth
* Wrisco Aluminum (three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner w/decal): Josh Richards

2009 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 16 – 25 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):

1. Josh Richards 3381 (-0)
2. (tie) Darrell Lanigan 3371 (-10)
2. (tie) Steve Francis 3371 (-10)
4. Rick Eckert 3319 (-62)
5. Shane Clanton 3263 (-118)
6. Brady Smith 3234 (-147)
7. Tim Fuller 3209 (-172)
8. Chub Frank 3189 (-192)
9. Clint Smith 3099 (-282)
10. Russell King 2708 (-673)
11. Jordan Bland 2651 (-730)
12. Brent Robinson 2555 (-826)
13. Dustin Hapka 2382 (-999)
14. Tyler Reddick 2167 (-1214)
15. Vic Coffey 2007 (-1374)
16. Austin Hubbard 1544 (-1837)
17. Shannon Babb 1470 (-1911)
18. Matt Lux 1140 (-2241)
19. Jimmy Mars 1062 (-2319)
20. April Farmer 975 (-2406)

FOLLOW THE ACTION ON TWITTER: Fans can now keep up-to-date with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series online and through text messages on cell phones via the Twitter, the internet’s fast-growing social-networking and micro-blogging website. Updates are provided to Twitter ‘followers’ of the WoO LMS throughout each race night, and fans also receive breaking news and interesting notes from the tour.

To sign-up as a WoO LMS ‘follower’ on Twitter to receive updates anywhere at anytime, visit http://twitter.com/WoOLateModels.

LISTEN ONLINE: If fans can’t get to a track to see the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, they can experience the excitement of the nation’s premier tour live on DIRTvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network.

To listen to the free audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo.

Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. For technical support or questions, e-mail [email protected]

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), Crane Cams (Official Valvetrain), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Fusion Energy Boost (Official Energy Boost), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser) and VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors Champ Pans, Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tires, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Ohlins Shocks, Racing Electronics, Quarter Master and Wrisco Aluminum; Crane Cams Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Cornett Racing Engines, Custom Race Engines and Pro Power Racing Engines; and Chassis Builder Challenge participants Rocket Chassis and Team Zero by Bloomquist.