Richards, who started fifth in his father Mark’s Rocket house car, slid by Simpson for second on lap 13 and two laps later nosed underneath Lanigan off turn two. The 25-year-old superstar stayed within striking distance of Lanigan until the race’s only caution flag, on lap 24 when Bub McCool slowed in turn four, dulled his bid.
Lanigan immediately left Richards behind on the restart, steadily opening an advantage over his friendly rival with every circuit.
“I saw the (number) ‘1’ on the scoreboard so I knew Josh was back there behind me,” said Lanigan, who sits third in the points standings, 12 points behind second-place Clanton and 46 in arrears of Richards. “I just ran as hard as I could after that restart and I never saw him under me the rest of the way so I figured we were in pretty good shape. The car was awesome.”
Richards’s hopes of winning for the fourth time in his last five WoO LMS starts evaporated during the race’s second half.
“We had a real good car and I feel that before the caution came out we definitely had something for Darrell,” said Richards. “I really wasn’t even running 100 percent yet. But after that caution we lost just a little bit and he had clean racetrack and was a little softer on right-front tire, which helped too.
“And with about 15 (laps) to go we broke a rear bleeder off and lost the brakes. It was a handful after that. I’m just I was able to make it around the racetrack without hitting the wall.”
Richards also acknowledged that beating Lanigan at Deer Creek is undoubtedly a tall order.
“They should call this place ‘Darrell’ Creek,” quipped Richards, who won the NAPA Gopher 50 in 2011. “He always runs well here. There’s a pretty good chance he’s gonna win when we come here.”
Darrell Lanigan, Josh Richards, Chris Simpson, Eric Wells, Shane Clanton, Rick Eckert, Tim Fuller, Tim McCreadie, Morgan Bagley, Jimmy Mars, Chub Frank, Brian Birkhofer, Jake Redetzke, Bub McCool, Clint Smith, John Mason, Scott Bloomquist, Lance Matthees, Brady Smith, Pat Doar, Rick Wendling, Jeff Provinzino, Jordan Yaggy, Justin Sass, John Winge.