Richards Returns To Scene Of Memorable Victory For ‘Cash Cow 100’ Weekend March 18-19 At Columbus Speedway
Two-Time Defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series Champ Was Triumphant As A Teenager Five Years Ago At ‘The Bullring’
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
COLUMBUS, MS – March 9, 2011 – Columbus Speedway might be over 750 miles from Josh Richards’s home in Shinnston, W.Va., but the Mississippi track will always hold a prominent place on his ever-growing career resume.
It was, after all, at the intense high-banked, one-third-mile oval known as The Bullring where Richards took a major step toward his current superstar status as the two-time defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion.
When Richards leads the WoO LMS contingent to Columbus Speedway on March 18-19 for the inaugural $20,000-to-win ‘Cash Cow 100’ weekend, the soon-to-be 23-year-old sensation will undoubtedly think back to the very memorable night he spent at the track nearly five years ago.
On Aug. 26, 2006, Richards won the first-ever WoO LMS event contested at Columbus. Then a rising 18-year-old talent fresh out of high school and in his second full season as a regular on the national tour, he pulled off a dramatic late-race pass of eventual ’06 series champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., to earn the second WoO LMS triumph of his budding career.
“I remember that race well,” said Richards, who celebrates his 23rd birthday on March 22. “We won our heat and the dash (to earn the pole position for the 50-lap A-Main) and led (the feature) until McCreadie passed us. I had to pass him back and finally got by him with a few laps to go.
“Back at that stage of my career, that was a huge accomplishment for me. To pass a guy like McCreadie for the lead right at the end of the race – man, that was cool.”
The win at Columbus was the second in the first 93 starts of Richards’s WoO LMS career, which he launched in 2004 by running a partial schedule in his father Mark’s Rocket Chassis house car before going fulltime in ’05 and capturing the Rookie of the Year award. Since then he’s won 26 A-Mains in 177 starts – a veritable checkered-flag explosion on the competitive circuit that has him tied with Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., atop the tour’s win list since 2004, at 28 victories.
Columbus’s 2006 show will forever stand as a turning point for Richards, who proved that he had the ability to snatch victory from the throes of defeat. His first career WoO LMS win, on Aug. 15, 2005, at Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y., came after two drivers in front of him experienced mechanical trouble; at Columbus, however, he pulled his seatbelts tight and rallied to steal a victory from one of the division’s biggest names.
Richards led the first 32 laps of that Columbus A-Main before McCreadie slid under him to assume command. But after a caution flag on lap 46 provided a final opportunity, Richards heeded the signals of his father Mark, who was watching the race from the track’s infield, and used the inside groove to regain the lead from McCreadie heading into turn three with two laps remaining.
“The track was kind of rough on the bottom that night,” recalled Mark Richards, 50. “Josh had actually run through the holes for awhile, but then he moved out of them and McCreadie caught up and got by him. Josh just got back up on the wheel, went through the holes and passed him back late in the race for the win.
“That was probably one of Josh’s first lessons in how aggressive you need to be to get the win,” Mark continued. “I’m sure that race showed him that if you want to win, you gotta get up on the wheel and drive a little harder to get it done. That’s been more or less his trademark throughout the last few years – when he has to be aggressive, he’s aggressive.”
Indeed, the younger Richards saw his future come into focus at Columbus. After breaking through with a hard-fought triumph, he went from a ninth-place finish in the 2006 points standings to sixth in 2007, second in 2008 and first in both 2009 and 2010, becoming the first driver in the modern era of the series to win the title twice.
“We kind of struggled from the beginning to the middle of ’06, but towards the end of the year we kind of picked up our program,” said Richards. “Our program had started to get on track, we were racing better together as a team everywhere we went and everything clicked that night (at Columbus). It’s a fast little bullring and I guess it just kind of fit my style. I’ve always liked places where you have to get up on the wheel and run hard.
“It definitely made me realize how hard you have to drive to win,” he continued, analyzing his performance at the ‘Baddest Bullring in the South.’ “Everybody that you race with is so tough and they’re all gonna give a 110 percent, so you just gotta be that person who goes a little harder.”
Richards is hopeful he can convert that extra desire into a big victory in the ‘Cash Cow 100,’ a blockbuster two-day program that brings him – and the WoO LMS – back to Columbus for the first time since March 2007. He captured the long-awaited first 100-lap win of his career last year at Mohawk International Raceway in Akwesasne, N.Y., and he’s ready to chase another at a furious, high-speed track that will present a supreme test to man and machine.
“I think it’s gonna be a real tough race,” said Richards, who struggled to a 15th-place finish in his last WoO LMS start at Columbus, on March 24, 2007. “If the racing is like it was when we were there before, the racing is gonna be so hard it’s gonna be hard to manage your tires and your equipment for a hundred laps – especially if it’s got some traction to it.
“Somehow we’re gonna have to get a gameplan together where we can save our stuff a little. Hopefully that begins with starting up front. With the caliber of the guys that will be out there, if you start back in the pack you’ll have to race so hard early in the race just trying to move up. You might get yourself up to be in position to challenge the last 20 or 30 laps of the race, but by then your stuff is already wore out.
“I guess the key would be to get a good starting spot so we’ll be able to manage our equipment and have something left for the end.”
The trip to Columbus will mark the first action for the WoO LMS since the pair of season-opening events on Feb. 17 at 19 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. Richards, who saw his unprecedented streak of four consecutive wins in the tour’s lidlifter come to an end, recorded finishes of 14th (after losing a wheel on the final lap) and eighth at Volusia to send him into the ‘Cash Cow 100’ ranked eighth in the points standings.
“I’m just ready to go racing again,” said Richards, who sits third in the points standings among drivers who plan to follow the entire WoO LMS schedule. “We’ve been off for a few weeks here and kind of in the snow a little bit, so we’re getting the itch to get back out there.
“I know Columbus is gonna be a cool little racetrack. I’m excited to get back there and I hope we can run up front.”
General admission tickets – both multi- and single-day options – for the ‘Cash Cow 100’ on March 18-19 at Columbus Speedway are now available for purchase on-line at www.worldofoutlaws.com/tickets or by calling the event hotline at 877-395-8606. Fans who buy a two-day weekend pass in advance will receive special perks, including a discounted price and the opportunity to enter the grandstand area 15 minutes prior to the general front-gate opening time for a show that is expected to pack the grandstand of the high-banked, one-third-mile track known as The Bullring.
Advance-sale two-day passes (Friday-Saturday) for the ‘Cash Cow 100’ cost $40 for ages 16-and-over – a savings of $5 from the $45 weekend price at the track.
Time trials and qualifying heat races are scheduled for Fri., March 18, and the B-Mains and 100-lap A-Main headline the featured program on Sat., March 19. An open practice will also be held from 6-9 p.m. CT on Thurs., March 17.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
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), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award), McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award), Chizmark Larson Insurance, Factory Value Parts and RacingJunk.com; in addition to contingency sponsors Comp Cams, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filters and Wrisco Aluminum.