CANANDAIGUA, NY – June 24, 2008 – This time Josh Richards made it look easy.
Two days after pulling off a dramatic, come-from-behind victory in Canada, Richards rolled to a dominant flag-to-flag win before a standing-room-only crowd in Tuesday night’s World of Outlaws Late Model Series Turner Automotive 40 presented by Ferris Mowers at Canandaigua Speedway.
The 20-year-old sensation from Shinnston, W.Va., raced off the pole position to register his second straight triumph on the WoO LMS, following up his score on Sunday night at Cornwall (Ont.) Motor Speedway. It was his fourth overall win this season, tying him with Billy Moyer for the tour lead in that category.
“I’ve seen everybody else get on these little waves and run really good, and it’s so fun when it happens to you,” said Richards, who has already matched his career-high single-season WoO LMS win total achieved in 2007. “Everything is just going our way – we’ve been fast, and of course I’ve been lucky.
“I just want to keep riding this wave through Lernerville (Speedway’s Firecracker 100 this weekend) and the rest of the year, and hopefully we can catch Darrell (Lanigan) in the points. If we keep running like this, I think we’ll be alright.”
Richards drove his Mark Richards Racing/Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket No. 1 across the finish line with a commanding edge of 2.753 seconds – nearly a full straightaway – over Rick Eckert of York, Pa. Eckert challenged Richards briefly early in the A-Main, but his Raye Vest-owned GRT car wasn’t quick enough to keep pace with ‘Kid Rocket’ as the race wore on.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who spent several years as a DIRTcar big-block Modified regular at Canandaigua, advanced from the 11th starting spot to finish third in the Sweeteners Plus Rocket, while WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished fourth after steering his GottaRace.com Rocket by the Lester Buildings Rocket driven by Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., on the final lap.
There were few worries during the event for Richards, who maintained a consistent speed from start-to-finish.
“The car was just awesome,” said Richards, who earned $7,150 for his 10th career win on the WoO LMS. “The only real problem I had was on the initial start. I drove (turns) three and four a little easier than I should have and I kinda pushed up the racetrack, so Chub was able to get by me. Luckily the caution came out (for a multi-car tangle between turns three and four) – and I didn’t do the same thing the next time.”
Richards essentially clinched the checkered flag when he executed a breathtaking explosion by three lapped cars in turn two on lap 21. The slower cars had allowed Eckert to draw close, but he never got a sniff of the top spot again after Richards gained some breathing room with his maneuver.
“When I caught up to them (the pack of three lapped cars), I was so zoned in that I just drove right in between them,” described Richards, who picked the pole position in the pre-race draw for the third consecutive A-Main. “The car just stuck like glue, and I was like, ‘Wow!’ I don’t think I could’ve done that too many more times, though.”
The move was a telltale sign of how comfortable Richards was at Canandaigua Speedway, a sweeping half-mile oval that hosted the WoO LMS for the first time.
“I like tracks like this where you can just focus, hit your marks every lap and keep up your momentum,” said Richards, who closed within 30 points of Lanigan in the WoO LMS standings. “This place races a lot like Volusia (Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.), and we’ve always been real good there. There’s less bank here, but the way the backstretch is shaped and the way you drive into one, you can refer to Volusia a lot.”
Eckert, 42, slid from the third starting spot to second on the opening-lap restart and stayed there for the race’s entire distance, but Richards was too much for him.
“I was too loose the whole race,” Eckert said of his orange machine’s handling. “I thought I might have a chance when I caught (Richards) in lapped traffic, but he made some good moves to get around those cars and I got stuck behind them.”
The 34-year-old McCreadie – a crowd favorite thanks to his days in Canandaigua’s big-block Modified ranks – made the biggest move forward. But his charge stalled after he reached third place on lap 18.
“My car just got too tight,” said McCreadie, who initially closed in on Eckert after taking third but steadily lost ground over the final third of a race that ran caution-free from lap 11 to the finish. “When you get tight here you can’t keep your momentum up when you run the top through the corners.
“I’ve run this place enough that I should’ve known better than to tighten up (the car) before the feature, but what’s done is done.”
Lanigan, 38, continued his sterling run of consistency, quietly moving from the eighth starting spot to a fourth-place finish. He slipped underneath Frank rounding turns three and four on the last lap and beat the Pennsy star back to the finish line by a scant 0.039 of a second.
It was the ninth consecutive top-five finish for Lanigan, whose streak has taken him from fifth place in the points standings (64 points out of first) to a 30-point lead.
Just three caution flags slowed the event.
Finishing in positions 6-10 were Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., who ran in the top five for the first 17 laps; Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., who rallied after falling to 11th when he clipped the inside wall in turn two on lap 11; defending WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky.; 21-year-old Tony Knowles of Tyrone, Ga., who came from the 19th starting spot to register his first-ever WoO LMS top-10 finish; and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., a former Canandaigua big-block Modified regular.
A 34-car field assembled for the event, which was run on a brilliantly clear early-summer evening.
Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., who led the WoO LMS in Fast Time awards last season, earned his first quick-qualifier honor of 2008. He flashed around the sweeping fairground oval in 18.351 seconds.
Heat winners were Babb, Francis and Clint Smith, and Knowles captured the B-Main in his RSD Enterprises mount.
The program marked the dirt Late Model driving debut of Larry Wight, a 15-year-old DIRTcar Modified talent from Baldwinsville, N.Y. Wight, whose father John owns the dirt Late Models driven by Fuller and Decker, missed the cut for the A-Main.
The WoO LMS ‘Great Northern Tour’ continues on Wednesday night (June 25) with the Jack Rich Inc. ‘Coal Country 40’ at Big Diamond Raceway in Minersville, Pa., before ending with the $40,000-to-win Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com on Friday and Saturday (June 27/28) at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Canandaigua Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (1) Josh Richards/40 $7,150
2. (3) Rick Eckert/40 $3,600
3. (11) Tim McCreadie/40 $2,000
4. (8) Darrell Lanigan/40 $1,700
5. (2) Chub Frank/40 $1,500
6. (5) Clint Smith/40 $1,300
7. (9) Shane Clanton/40 $1,200
8. (6) Steve Francis/40 $1,100
9. (19) Tony Knowles/40 $1,500
10. (7) Tim Fuller/40 $900
11. (4) Shannon Babb/40 $850
12. (14) Billy Decker/40 $800
13. (12) Vic Coffey/39 $1,000
14. (18) Brent Rhebergen/39 $740
15. (16) John Blankenship/39 $710
16. (21) Greg Oakes/39 $680
17. (17) Danny Johnson/38 $650
18. (22) Rich Gardner/31 $630
19. (10) Ricky Elliott/23 $620
20. (15) Mike Marlar/20 $610
21. (23) Joe Isabell/3 $600
22. (20) Dan Stone/2 $600
23. (13) David Scott/1 $600
24. (24) Jeremy Miller/1 $600
Yellow Flags: 3 (Laps 0, 2, 11)
Lap Leaders: Richards (1-40)
Provisional Starters: Isabell, Miller
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Knowles ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Jared Morris (Knowles)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award (half-off tire warmers): Richards
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 18.351
2. 19F-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 18.468
3. 17M-Mike Marlar/Winfield, TN 18.551
4. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 18.593
5. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 18.598
6. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 18.628
7. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 18.731
8. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 18.812
9. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 18.836
10. 121-Ricky Elliott/Seaford, DE 18.839
11. 9k-Mike Knight/Ripley, NY 18.868
12. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 18.900
13. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 18.968
14. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 19.052
15. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 19.060
16. 1G-Rich Gardner/Waterford, PA 19.186
17. 91-Billy Decker/Unadilla, NY 19.202
18. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 19.215
19. 3-David Scott/Garland, PA 19.226
20. 27J-Danny Johnson/Phelps, NY 19.302
21. 07R-Brent Rhebergen/Clymer, NY 19.355
22. 99L-Larry Wight/Baldwinsville, NY 19.440
23. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 19.471
24. 2J-Jeff Rine/Danville, PA 19.626
25. 01-Doug Ricotta/Warsaw, NY 19.641
26. 5b-Kirk Bradley/Great Valley, NY 19.796
27. 24M-Jeremy Miller/Gettysburg, PA 19.817
28. 22-Greg Oakes/Franklinville, NY 20.033
29. 23H-Jesse Helton/Rogersville, TN 20.034
30. 7-Ed Carley/Freedom, NY 20.241
31. 13B-Dave Zona/Montrose, PA 20.404
32. 1F-Adam Ferri/Port Colborne, ONT 20.536
33. 26-Tony Knowles/Tyrone, GA 21.061
34. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY N/T
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Babb, Frank, Fuller, Elliott, Scott, Blankenship, Isabell, Ricotta, Oakes, Zona, Gardner, Wight
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Francis, Richards, Lanigan, McCreadie, Decker, D. Johnson, Stone, Knight, Ferri, Helton, Bradley
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): C. Smith, Eckert, Clanton, Coffey, Marlar, Rhebergen, Miller, Knowles, Beardsley, Rine, Carley
B-Main (12 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Knowles, Stone, Oakes, Gardner, Rine, Ferri, Beardsley, Zona, Isabell, Carley, Bradley, Wight, Miller, Ricotta (DNS) Knight, Helton
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of June 24 – 17 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 1-9-15-$43,000-2301 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-9-13-$70,160-2271 (-30)
3. Rick Eckert 1-8-13-$47,550-2261 (-40)
4. (tie) Steve Francis 1-8-13-$85,350-2243 (-58)
4. (tie) Chub Frank 1-7-11-$39,630-2243 (-58)
6. Shannon Babb 1-6-11-$51,300-2201 (-100)
7. Shane Clanton 0-7-11-$33,730-2193 (-108)
8. Clint Smith 1-4-8-$29,410-2155 (-146)
9. Tim Fuller 0-3-5-$20,020-2089 (-212)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-4-$19,870-2025 (-276)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-2-$13,510-1652 (-649)
12. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$9,300-1482 (-819)
13. Tim McCreadie 1-6-9-$38,200-1463 (-838)
14. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$5,910-1279 (-1022)
15. Billy Moyer 4-6-6-$70,420-1181 (-1120)
16. Brian Shirley 0-0-2-$9,680-1127 (-1174)
17. Ricky Elliott 0-1-4-$9,630-1008 (-1293)
18. Jeremy Miller 1-1-2-$17,760-996 (-1305)
19. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$3,210-924 (-1377)
20. Billy Decker 0-0-2-$6,920-832 (-1469)
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.