Richards Accepts $100,000 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Championship Check For Third Time At Sunday Night’s Awards Banquet
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
CONCORD, NC – Nov. 10, 2013 – Josh Richards’s triumphant return to the World of Outlaws Late Model Series reached its zenith on Sunday night.
The 25-year-old superstar from Shinnston, W.Va., was crowned the champion of the renowned national tour for a record third time – and accepted a $100,000 points-fund check – during Sunday’s annual WoO LMS ‘Night of Champions’ Awards Banquet at the Great Wolf Lodge.
Just 24 hours after capping his 2013 championship season with a triumph in the 50-lap World Finals finale down the street at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Richards was saluted for becoming the first three-time titlist since the series was restarted in 2004 under the World Racing Group banner.
“Nothing will be like the first championship,” said Richards, whose previous titles came in 2009 and 2010. “But if there wasn’t a first one, we couldn’t have a second or a third.
“And this one is definitely special. To take a break (from WoO LMS traveling) like we did (in 2012) to pursue other opportunities and come back and win it this year is pretty unreal. I’m just proud to represent the World of Outlaws this year and hopefully we can do it again.”
Richards left the WoO LMS early in the 2012 season to move south and concentrate on NASCAR Nationwide Series racing. He was unable to land a fulltime NASCAR ride for 2013, however, so he reclaimed the seat in his father Mark’s Valvoline-sponsored Rocket Chassis house car and embarked on a relentless march to another World of Outlaws crown.
After seizing sole possession of the points lead in the third race of the ’13 campaign, Richards never looked back. He sat atop the standings for the remainder of the 46-event schedule, rolling up a career-high 10 wins, 32 top-five and 41 top-10 finishes en route to capturing the championship by a resounding 150-point margin over defending champ Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky.
Richards acknowledged that his championship season wasn’t without its share of obstacles, but he fought through it all with his trademark perseverance and plenty of support from his family and crew. He proudly pointed out that despite some struggles he managed to register podium finishes in fully half of his WoO LMS starts.
“When things are going smoothly, that’s the easy part,” said Richards, who ended the 2013 season with 49 career WoO LMS wins on his ledger. “When everything’s clicking together, you can just keep racing and going smoothly. It’s when you fall that you have to try and pick yourself back up. We did that this year.”
Richards directed special credit for his success to his team members, including his father; Matt Barnes, who was named the 2013 WoO LMS Crew Chief of the Year in a vote of his fellow tour mechanics; and Cody Duncan.
“If it weren’t for my crew I wouldn’t be here,” said Richards, whose points-fund check pushed his 2013 WoO LMS earnings to $342,970. “My name’s on the check and the trophy, but I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you guys. Thank you being a championship group and helping get me up there.”
Richards also thanked “the three most important women” in his life (his mother Tina, youngster sister Morgan and fiancée Andrea Cleveland) and a long list of sponsors, including Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, ACE Metal Works, Sallack Well Services, Petroff Towing, Roush Yates Engines, Ernie D’s Enterprises, Hoosier Tire, Integra Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels and Slavic Corporation.
“This is my 10th season driving a race car and to be the (WoO LMS) champion three times is pretty cool,” said Richards. “I just love racing and feel so lucky to have this opportunity.”
Lanigan, 43, settled for second place in the 2013 points standings, worth $60,000 in points-fund money that left his total earnings at $300,110. He recorded a series-leading 12 wins along with 28 top-five and 34 top-10 finishes.
Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., who matched his career-high with four wins in 2013, finished third in the standings for the second consecutive year, falling just two points short of Lanigan in the final rundown. He pocketed $40,000 in points-fund cash to end the campaign with $191,550 in earnings.
Rick Eckert of York, Pa., collected $35,000 for finishing fourth in the standings while Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.., pocketed $30,000 for a fifth-place finish. Eckert placed in the top five for the fifth consecutive year while McCreadie ran his top-five streak to four seasons in a row.
Rounding out the top 10 in the 2013 points standings was Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky. ($25,000); Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. ($24,000); Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas ($23,000); Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. ($22,000); and Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss. ($21,000).
Wells, 24, picked up an additional $10,000 for winning the 2013 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year Award. He captured one A-Main and registered eighth top-five finishes to take the rookie crown over Bagley, who earned a $5,000 bonus for his runner-up finish in the first-year driver battle.
Rocket Chassis continued its ownership of the WoO LMS Chassis Builder of the Year Award, receiving the honor for the 10th straight year. The Shinnston, W.Va.-based company operated by Mark Richards and Steve Baker is the only winner of the award since the tour relaunched in 2004.
Seven drivers won WoO LMS A-Mains using Rocket cars in 2013, giving the manufacturer 29 victories in 46 events.
Roush Yates Engines was named the winner of the 2013 WoO LMS Engine Builder of the Year award, which was determined through the DIRTcar Horsepower program. Richards was one of four drivers who helped bring Roush Yates 14 World of Outlaws triumphs this season.
WoO LMS director Tim Christman announced that the tour’s 2013 Promoter of the Year Award winner was Gary Risch Jr., the general manager of Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., who oversaw the seventh annual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com.
Other special awards handed out during the banquet included:
* The Raye Vest Memorial Pill-Draw Awards presented by McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning went to McCool (lowest time-trial pill-draw average for the 2011 season) and Frank (highest average). Each driver received a $500 check.
* The $500 DirtonDirt.com Hard Charger Award, which went to Frank for the fourth consecutive season. He picked up the most positions in WoO LMS A-Mains this season, advancing 212 spots to beat Fuller by a scant two positions.
* The inaugural DirtonDirt.com WoO LMS Most Popular Driver Award, a $500 prize that was presented to McCreadie. The 2006 tour champion received the most fan votes in the contest conducted on-line during the World Finals.
* VP Racing Fuels handed Lanigan $500 in bar drink tickets to distribute to banquet attendees. Lanigan received the traditional award because he led the series in A-Main wins.
* American Racing Wheels handed out a $2,000 set of custom car or truck wheels to Eckert, who won the prize in a random draw among the season’s 11 WoO LMS regulars.
Among the World Racing Group officials who addressed those in attendance were Chief Executive Officer Brian Carter, President Tom Deery and Chief Marketing Officer Ben Geisler. Christman also gave a review of the 2013 season, recognized the tour’s hard-working road crew (race director and banquet emcee Bret Emrick, pit steward Tyler Bachman, tech inspector Roy Faulkner, scorer Jeff Olsen, P.R. director Kevin Kovac and announcer Ben Shelton) and looked ahead to the upcoming 2014 campaign.
Christman said the full 2014 WoO LMS schedule will be released in the coming weeks, but the season is scheduled to kick off on Feb. 7-8 with the running of the ‘Winter Freeze’ event at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. The tour will then head to Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., from Feb. 14-16 and Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., for the 43rd annual UNOH DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 20-22.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: American Racing Custom Wheels (Official Custom Wheel), Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), KMC (Official Custom Truck Wheel), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award); in addition to contingency sponsors: Butlerbuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Dominator Race Products, Edelbrock, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, QuarterMaster, Roush Yates Performance Parts, Superflow Dynos, Wrisco Aluminum and XS Power Racing Batteries; along with manufacturer sponsors Capital Race Cars, Integra Shocks, GRT Chassis, Jake’s Carts, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis, TNT Rescue, and Warrior Chassis.