By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
CORNWALL, ONT – June 22, 2008 – Josh Richards is now an international superstar.
The young sensation known as ‘Kid Rocket’ achieved a personal goal on Sunday night, winning on Canadian soil for the first time with a memorable rally in the 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series portion of the First Americans IGA ‘Triple Crown of Racing’ at Cornwall Motor Speedway.
Richards, 20, of Shinnston, W.Va., slipped back to third early in the A-Main after starting from the pole, but he came on to grab the lead from Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., on lap 40 and roll to his third WoO LMS victory of the season.
“One of my goals was to win a race in Canada this year,” said Richards, who earned $10,150 for his ninth career triumph on the WoO LMS. “It’s so cool to race in front of these fans up here. As a driver, you love it when the fans get into the racing.”
Richards also loved the way he pulled out a victory on the high-banked, quarter-mile oval, a longtime DIRTcar-sanctioned track that drew a standing-room-only crowd for the first-ever visit by the WoO LMS.
“It’s awesome to win like that,” Richards said of his come-from-behind effort in the Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket car. “We started on the pole, but we didn’t just lead every lap like we have in the past. It’s so much more fun to actually race your way to the front and beat the best guys in the country.”
Richards battled through some lapped traffic in the race’s closing moments to defeat McCreadie’s Sweeteners Plus Rocket No. 39 by 0.612 of a second. McCreadie, who started third and led laps 18-39, recorded his second runner-up finish in as many nights on the WoO LMS ‘Great Northern Tour.’
Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., finished third in the RSD Enterprises Rocket after racing off the outside pole to lead laps 1-17. WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., continued to rack up top-five finishes with a fourth-place run in the GottaRace.com Rocket, and Rick Eckert of York, Pa., place fifth in Raye Vest’s GRT car one night after posting his first WoO LMS victory of the season at Quebec’s Autodrome Drummond.
Though known more his long-track expertise, Richards demonstrated his growing acumen for shorter ovals at Cornwall after some troubles early in the night.
“We were too tight hot-lapping, too tight qualifying,” said Richards. “I drove off the track qualifying (time trials), and I was thinking, This is gonna be a long night. But the track conditions just got to where I’m always comfortable – it was just a momentum deal, and we have a pretty good package for tracks like this where you have to keep your speed up.”
Richards got off to slow start in the A-Main, losing the lead to Clanton at the initial green flag and watching McCreadie slide by him on lap six. But he regained second from Clanton on lap 31 and proceeded to run down McCreadie, who built nearly a straightaway edge.
With no caution flags slowing the race after lap 23, Richards took advantage of McCreadie’s momentary stumble in lapped traffic to assume command for good exiting turn four on lap 40.
“I knew I could get Clanton back, but I wasn’t sure if I could catch McCreadie,” analyzed Richards. “He was a good bit ahead at one point, but our car just kept getting better and better. I knew I could catch him, but I just wasn’t sure exactly how I was gonna get by him.
“Everything just went our way (on lap 40). He ducked down at the last minute to go under (Tim) Fuller, and it just broke his momentum. I had plenty of momentum and I just went around him.”
McCreadie, a 34-year-old who scored the first major win of his career in a 1996 DIRTcar 358-Modified event at Cornwall, suggested that his undoing was a tire choice.
“I just couldn’t steer any more on the right-front (corner),” said McCreadie. “We had on a softer right-front (Hoosier) tire than (Richards) did, so I knew the longer (green-flag) run was tailored more to him.
“I think if the cautions fell a little different (there were only two, on laps five and 23) – if we would’ve gotten one late in the race when I got to lapped traffic – it would have helped me. But Josh just had a better car at the end of the race, so he deserved to win.
“We’re still happy,” added McCreadie, whose sterling Canadian trip also included a win on Friday night at Ohsweken (Ont.) Speedway and second-place finish on Saturday night at Autodrome Drummond. “If you can’t win all three races or at least two them, then we’ll take two seconds to go with a win.”
Clanton, 32, also was done in by an incorrect tire-compound choice.
“They were a little softer on the right-front and a little harder on the left-rear,” Clanton said of Richards and McCreadie. “That made me too tight, and their cars were more balanced.”
Clanton did complete a strong Canadian swing, registering a top-five finish in all three events.
“If we keep leading these things, we’ll win one eventually,” said Clanton. “We’ve got a good race and we’re running up front, so our time is coming.”
Lanigan, 38, overtook Eckert for fourth on lap 36 and raced in the position to the finish. It was his eighth consecutive top-five finish on the WoO LMS – an impressive run that has helped him build a significant points lead in pursuit of his first career tour title.
The 42-year-old Eckert persevered through a loss of power-steering to close the Canadian swing with a top-five finish in each A-Main.
“I had the power steering give out about halfway through,” said Eckert, who started sixth. “I about fell out of my seat running the rest of the race without it. Every lap I just hit the brake and turned the steering as hard as I hard, so I just couldn’t make a good corner.”
Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., finished sixth after finally passing Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y., late in the distance. Decker settled for seventh, followed by John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., and defending WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., whose Canadian swing struggles continued with a quiet outing.
A field of 24 assembled for the huge night of racing, which also included action for the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints tour and Cornwall’s headlining DIRTcar 358-Modified division.
Decker, who has won at Cornwall in DIRTcar big-block Modified competition, set fast time in the evening’s qualifying session with a lap of 13.017 seconds. It was his first fast-time honor on the tour since he turned the quickest lap on June 20, 2004, at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y., where he made his first career WoO LMS start.
Heat winners were Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., Clanton and Lanigan.
Fuller, who also has been victorious in DIRTcar Modified action at Cornwall and was racing less than two hours from his home, didn’t translate his prelim speed to the A-Main. He went too soft with his tire choice and was never a factor, finishing one lap down in 13th after pitting on lap 23 to change a flat left-front tire.
The night’s action was marred by a grinding crash during hot laps involving Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa. His car dug into the track surface when he slid into turn three for the first time, sending him into a wild series of flips.
Briggs, who won the 2004 WoO LMS Crew Chief of the Year Award when he worked for Chub Frank, was shaken up by the rough ride. He climbed from the cockpit with some assistance from safety workers and walked back to his trailer, but he was later transported to a local hospital and released several hours later after tests revealed no serious injuries.
The WoO LMS ‘Great Northern Tour’ takes a day off on Monday before making midweek stops on Tuesday night (June 24) at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Speedway and Wednesday night (June 25) at Big Diamond Raceway in Minersville, Pa. Both tracks will host the tour for the first time.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Cornwall Motor Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (1) Josh Richards/50 $10,150
2. (3) Tim McCreadie/50 $5,100
3. (2) Shane Clanton/50 $3,000
4. (5) Darrell Lanigan/50 $2,500
5. (6) Rick Eckert/50 $2,000
6. (8) Shannon Babb/50 $1,700
7. (7) Billy Decker/50 $1,900
8. (10) John Blankenship/50 $1,300
9. (12) Clint Smith/50 $1,200
10. (9) Steve Francis/50 $1,100
11. (13) Chub Frank/50 $1,050
12. (21) Danny Johnson/50 $1,250
13. (4) Tim Fuller/49 $950
14. (11) Neil Baggett/49 $900
15. (17) Dan Stone/49 $850
16. (15) Sean Beardsley/47 $800
17. (22) Adam Ferri/46 $770
18. (16) Tony Knowles/31 $750
19. (18) Joe Isabell/25 $730
20. (23) Ricky Elliott/19 $700
21. (14) Jeremy Miller/16 $700
22. (19) Peter Mantha Jr./14 $700
23. (20) Greg Oakes/12 $700
Time of Race: 17 Mins., 06.033 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.612 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 2 (Laps 5, 23)
Lap Leaders: Clanton (1-17); McCreadie (18-39); Richards (40-50)
Rookie of the Race: D. Johnson ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Decker ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Jimmy Frey (Richards)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Clanton (half-off tire warmers)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 91-Billy Decker/Unadilla, NY 13.017
2. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, NY 13.091
3. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 13.118
4. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 13.129
5. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 13.214
6. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 13.227
7. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 13.229
8. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 13.294
9. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 13.483
10. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 13.632
11. 44N-Neil Baggett/Shannon, MS 13.639
12. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 13.652
13. 26-Tony Knowles/Tyrone, GA 13.811
14. 24M-Jeremy Miller/Gettysburg, PA 13.839
15. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 13.854
16. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 13.874
17. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 13.947
18. 27J-Danny Johnson/Phelps, NY 13.977
19. 1M-Peter Mantha Jr./Gatineau, QUE 14.229
20. 22-Greg Oakes/Franklinville, NY 14.304
21. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 14.395
22. 1F-Adam Ferri/Port Colborne, ONT 14.412
23. 121-Ricky Elliott/Seaford, DE 14.834
24. 99b-Rick Briggs/Bear Lake, PA N/T
Heat No. 1 (10 laps): Fuller, Eckert, Decker, Blankenship, Frank, Knowles, Mantha, Ferri
Heat No. 2 (10 laps): Clanton, McCreadie, Babb, Baggett, Miller, Stone, Oakes, Elliott
Heat No. 3 (10 laps): Lanigan, Richards, Francis, C. Smith, Beardsley, Isabell, D. Johnson
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of June 22 – 16 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 1-8-14-$41,300-2159 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 3-8-12-$63,010-2121 (-38)
3. Rick Eckert 1-7-12-$43,950-2115 (-44)
4. Steve Francis 1-8-12-$84,250-2109 (-50)
5. Chub Frank 1-6-10-$38,130-2103 (-56)
6. Shannon Babb 1-6-11-$50,450-2073 (-86)
7. Shane Clanton 0-7-10-$32,530-2057 (-102)
8. Clint Smith 1-4-7-$28,110-2017 (-142)
9. Tim Fuller 0-3-4-$19,120-1959 (-200)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-4-$19,160-1905 (-254)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-2-$12,510-1528 (-631)
12. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$8,650-1366 (-793)
13. Tim McCreadie 1-5-8-$36,200-1319 (-840)
14. Billy Moyer 4-6-6-$70,420-1181 (-978)
15. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$5,310-1171 (-988)
16. Brian Shirley 0-0-2-$9,680-1127 (-1032)
17. Ricky Elliott 0-1-4-$9,010-896 (-1263)
18. Jeremy Miller 1-1-2-$17,160-894 (-1265)
19. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$3,100-849 (-1310)
20. Jeep VanWormer 0-0-2-$8,070-729 (-1430)
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.