Make It A Half-Dozen: Richards Captures ‘Wild West Tour’ A-Main At North Dakota’s River Cities Speedway

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

GRAND FORKS, ND – July 10, 2009 – Josh Richards breathed a sigh of relief after winning Friday night’s World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Seven Clans Casino 50’ at River Cities Speedway. 

In order to make the ‘Wild West Tour’ event at the high-banked, quarter-mile oval his series-leading sixth victory of the 2009 season, grab sole possession of the WoO LMS points lead and pocket a check worth $10,600, Richards had to survive a decidedly hairy moment in lapped traffic on lap 31.

Richards, 21, of Shinnston, W.Va., was fighting back a bid for the lead by Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., when the slower car driven by Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., spun sideways across turn four in front of the pacesetters. Frank bounded over Richards’s nose and into the infield berm, sending up a thick cloud of dust from which both Richards and Francis slowly emerged with damage evident to the hoods of their cars.

With the caution flag thrown for the dangerous situation caused by Frank’s spin, Richards and Francis maintained their positions at the front of the field for the ensuing restart. Richards stayed there for the remainder of the distance without receiving a serious challenge, while Francis, who entered the evening tied with Francis for the WoO LMS points lead, gradually faded before a lap-44 pit stop to change a right-rear flat tire left him 12th at the finish.

“It was a fast track tonight and I just tried to keep my nose clean, but obviously I got scraped up,” said Richards, gesturing toward the crinkled hood on his Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket that resulted from contact with Frank’s sliding machine. “Chub got bent and came across the track right in front of me, so I had nowhere to go. I just tried to keep rolling the best I could and luckily we got out it.”

Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., who won the recent Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., slipped by Francis’s ill-handling Beitler Motorsports car for second place on lap 38 and chased Richards to the finish line. He couldn’t mount a challenge after two caution flags flew on lap 44 and settled for the runner-up spot in his MB Customs mount, 1.292 seconds behind Richards.

Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., finished third in his Team Zero by Bloomquist car after his late attempts to overtake Mars fell short. The 32-year-old Smith, who scored his first career WoO LMS victory in last year’s event at River Cities, moved up from the fifth starting spot to register his 10th top-five finish of his first touring season.

Rick Eckert of York, Pa., advanced from the eighth starting spot to place fourth in Raye Vest’s Team Zero by Bloomquist car, and 12th-starter Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., passed Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., on the final circuit to complete the top five.

Richards, who started third, felt fortunate to escape the Frank incident with his car largely intact.

“I was pretty frustrated after it happened,” said Richards, who grabbed the lead for good with a lap-11 pass of Union, Ky.’s Darrell Lanigan. “(Frank) came right over my nose, so I didn’t know how much damage there was. It rolled around O.K. under caution, but I was nervous driving up into (turn) one on the restart. I was worried that some of the body might get into the tire or something.

“The breaks just went our way tonight. We had some bad luck a couple nights ago (an eighth-place finish at Minnesota’s Deer Creek Speedway after sustaining a flat tire), but it turned around tonight.

“It feels good to already match what we did last year,” he added, referring to equaling the six victories he totaled during the 2008 campaign. “But we’ve still got a long way to go.”

The victory was the fifth in the last nine WoO LMS A-Mains for Richards. It was also his 18th career triumph, breaking him out of tie for third with Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., on the national tour’s win list since 2004.

In addition, Richards left North Dakota with an 18-point lead over Lanigan, who started from the pole and led laps 6-10 but fell to seventh at the finish. Francis tumbled to third in the standings, 24 points behind Richards.

Mars, meanwhile, gladly accepted his $5,000 bridesmaid finish.

“I’m happy with second,” said Mars, who started fourth. “Josh was fast and ran a good race. My car just got so tight.”

Mars also had no qualms with the officials’ decision that kept Richards and Francis at the front of the pack after they jammed up in the wake of Frank’s spin. The incident did produce some varied opinions that led to post-race debate.

Though Mars stood to gain the most if officials ruled Richards and Francis had to restart at the rear of the field – after all, he would have been elevated to the lead – the 37-year-old “didn’t have a problem with it,” he asserted. “The leaders need to have some sort of protection in a situation like that with a lapped car.”

Four cautions flags and one red flag slowed the event.

The race’s most significant crash occurred on a lap-14 restart when a mid-pack scramble caused River Cities regular Brad Seng of Grand Forks, N.D., who had won the track’s last two features, to roll over off turn four. Seng’s car came to rest on its roof, but he climbed out of the cockpit uninjured after safety crews righted the machine.

Other drivers towed off due to damage sustained in Seng’s crash were Kelly Boen of Henderson, Colo., and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., who recorded his first career WoO LMS win at River Cities in 2007 but struggled on Friday night. Fuller had to use a provisional to start the A-Main after being struck down by a flat tire while leading a B-Main.

Finishing in positions 6-10 was Clint Smith, who started 10th; Lanigan; Al Purkey of Coffeyville, Kan., who earned the $500 WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a tour A-Main and wasn’t ranked among the top 12 in the points standings; Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio, who earned a $250 bonus as the race’s top Rookie of the Year contender; and Frank, who survived the lap-31 incident and two trips to the pit area to salvage a top-10 finish.

Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., raced off the outside pole to lead laps 1-5, but he retired during a lap-14 caution period due to a broken lower shaft on his car’s rearend.

Thirty-five cars were signed in for the evening’s action.

After the track surface was made faster by a short burst of light rain that delayed the start of hot laps, Eckert established a new dirt Late Model track record with a lap of 11.756 seconds in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials. He bettered the standard of 11.950 seconds set by Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., on June 12, 2007.

Heat winners were Eckert, Francis, Richards and Mike Balcaen of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The B-Mains were captured by WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contenders Jordan Bland of Campbellsville, Ky., and Brent Robinson of Smithfield, Va.

The WoO LMS ‘Wild West Tour’ will continue on Tues., July 14, at Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway and Thurs., July 16, at Dakota State Fair Speedway in Huron, S.D.

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

Results of WoO Late Model Series at River Cities Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (3) Josh Richards/50 $10,600
2. (4) Jimmy Mars/50 $5,000
3. (5) Brady Smith/50 $3,500
4. (8) Rick Eckert/50 $3,050
5. (12) Shane Clanton/50 $2,500
6. (10) Clint Smith/50 $2,200
7. (1) Darrell Lanigan/50 $2,000
8. (13) Al Purkey/50 $1,800
9. (16) Russell King/50 $1,950
10. (21) Chub Frank/50 $1,700
11. (17) Jordan Bland/50 $1,550
12. (7) Steve Francis/50 $1,650
13. (14) Tyler Reddick/48 $950
14. (24) April Farmer/47 $900
15. (11) Dustin Hapka/44 $850
16. (18) Brent Robinson/17 $1,300
17. (2) Pat Doar/14 $770
18. (9) Brad Seng/14 $750
19. (15) Kelly Boen/14 $730
20. (23) Tim Fuller/14 $1,200
21. (6) Mike Balcaen/13 $700
22. (20) Joey Pederson/8 $700
23. (19) Ricky Weiss/6 $700
24. (22) Tom Corcoran/1 $700

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 24 Mins., 59.924 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.292 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 4 (Laps 14, 31, 44, 44)
Red Flags: 1 (Lap 14)
Lap Leaders: Doar (1-5); Lanigan (6-10); Richards (11-50)
Provisional Starters: Fuller, Farmer
Rookie of the Race: King ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Purkey ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Darrell (‘Don Vito’) Cooper (Clint Smith)

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

1. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 11.756 (NTR)
2. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 11.778
3. 28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 11.785
4. 11d-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 11.816
5. 12s-Brad Seng/Grand Forks, ND 11.899
6. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 11.904
7. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 11.918
8. 10-Mike Balcaen/Winnipeg, MAN 11.939
9. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 11.944
10. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 11.952
11. 73-Zach Johnson/Kensington, MN 11.960
12. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 12.059
13. 33-Al Purkey/Coffeyville, KS 12.114
14. 12-Jordan Bland/Campbellsville, KY 12.116
15. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 12.150
16. 56-Russell King/Bristolville, OH 12.198
17. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 12.210
18. 11-Tyler Reddick/Corning, CA 12.244
19. 7P-Joey Pederson/E. Grand Forks, MN 12.360
20. 11s-Troy Schill/Grand Forks, ND 12.368
21. 7W-Ricky Weiss/Winnipeg, MAN 12.378
22. 29K-Bill Koons/Omaha, NE 12.391
23. 07-Kelly Boen/Henderson, CO 12.477
24. 14-April Farmer/Livingston, TN 12.508
25. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 12.551
26. 99-Doyle Erickson/Baglen, MN 12.592
27. 3-Brent Robinson/Smithfield, VA 12.649
28. 22-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA 12.681
29. 19b-Brandon Burke/Grand Forks, ND 12.756
30. 14J-Todd Johnson/Petersburg, ND 12.806
31. T1-Tom Corcoran/E. Grand Forks, MN 13.063
32. 9-Steve Anderson/Grand Forks, ND 13.140
33. 12A-Matt Aukland/Fargo, ND 13.303
34. 5G-Scott Greer/E. St. Paul, MN 13.324
35. 4-Harold Schill Jr./W. Fargo, ND N/T

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Eckert, Lanigan, Seng, Purkey, Fuller, Weiss, Frank, Burke (DNS) Aukland

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Francis, B. Smith, C. Smith, Reddick, Bland, Erickson, Koons, T. Johnson, Greer

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Richards, Mars, Hapka, Boen, Robinson, Pederson, Corcoran, Z. Johnson

Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Balcaen, Doar, Clanton, King, T. Schill, Farmer, Anderson, George

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Bland, Weiss, Frank, Koons, Burke, Fuller, Erickson, T. Johnson (DNS) Greer, Aukland

B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Robinson, Pederson, Corcoran, Farmer, T. Schill, George, Anderson (DNS) Z. Johnson

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:

* Arizona Sport Shirts ($50 product certificate to fifth-place finisher in B-Mains): Brandon Burke, Troy Schill
* Armor All (case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main w/decal): Jimmy Mars
* 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): Chub Frank
* 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): Jordan Bland, Brent Robinson
* Fusion Energy ($50 cash award to Heat 2 winner w/decal): Steve Francis
* Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash award to fast qualifier w/decal): Rick Eckert
* 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): Shane Clanton
* Quarter-Master ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main w/decal): Dustin Hapka
* Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’ (one case of product): Jimmy Mars
* 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): Troy Schill
* 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 10 – 23 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):

1. Josh Richards 6-12-18-$112,220-3103 (-0)
2. Darrell Lanigan 1-11-19-$117,806-3085 (-18)
3. Steve Francis 5-13-18-$99,285-3079 (-24)
4. Rick Eckert 2-9-16-$60,775-3041 (-62)
5. Shane Clanton 1-4-16-$62,000-2985 (-118)
6. Brady Smith 0-10-13-$58,265-2964 (-139)
7. Tim Fuller 0-6-11-$44,180-2923 (-180)
8. Chub Frank 0-3-14-$46,100-2919 (-184)
9. Clint Smith 0-1-10-$37,720-2819 (-284)
10. Russell King 0-0-3-$24,740-2454 (-649)
11. Jordan Bland 0-0-1-$26,290-2405 (-698)
12. Brent Robinson 0-0-1-$15,280-2319 (-784)
13. Dustin Hapka 0-0-0-$11,160-2142 (-961)
14. Vic Coffey 0-2-4-$23,900-2007 (-1096)
15. Tyler Reddick 0-0-0-$7,225-1945 (-1158)
16. Austin Hubbard 0-2-4-$16,545-1544 (-1559)
17. Shannon Babb 1-4-7-$42,830-1470 (-1633)
18. Matt Lux 0-0-0-$10,640-1140 (-1963)
19. Dan Stone 0-1-1-$7,220-949 (-2154)
20. Dale McDowell 0-2-3-$14,550-829 (-2274)

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.