Josh Richards Tops Thaw Brawl Opener

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Josh Richards banked $7,000 for winning Friday's Thaw Brawl opener at LaSalle (Ill.) Speedway. (Gary Gasper photo)

LASALLE, Ill. — Josh Richards battled through lapped traffic and captured the $7,000-to-win 40-lap feature race on the opening evening of the two-day, sixth annual Thaw Brawl late model dirt track special at the LaSalle Speedway Friday night.

Richards, the 29-year-old racer from Shinnston, W.Va., wheeled his Best Performance Motorsports Rocket Chassis No. 1 late model to the victory at the quarter-mile, high-banked, speed plant.  Richards, a four-time World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion, including winning the title last year, was chased most of the way by Bobby Pierce in the non-stop to the checkered flag event.

Richards started on the outside of the front row alongside Pierce in the 25-car field.  Running the lower groove, Richards held the top spot throughout the contest with Pierce putting on the pressure as he looked to get by the leader.  As the race wore on, Richards came upon several lapped cars that he was challenged to get by as positions changed behind him.

Fastest qualifier among a field of 35 entries, Chris Simpson eventually took second place with Tim McCreadie getting by Pierce as well for the third position.  Pierce, Dennis Erb Jr. and Tony Jackson Jr. rounded out the top six.

“The lapped traffic was tough,” said Richards. “With guys on your bumper, I tried to get clear of the lapped cars and get down to the bottom (groove) as quickly as I could.”

Last year’s DIRTcar UMP modified national champion, Mike Harrison was the winner of the 30-lap modified headliner that paid $1,700 to win.  Four caution periods slowed the action with the final yellow setting up a two-lap dash to the finish.

Chasing Harrison at the end were Allen Weisser, Jamie Lomax, A.J. Fike, Jeffery Ledford and Mike Learman.

Joe Hillman claimed top honors in the 20-lap street stock feature, besting Michael Clark.

The finish:

Josh Richards, Chris Simpson, Tim McCreadie, Bobby Pierce, Dennis Erb Jr., Tony Jackson Jr., Rob Toland, Brent Larson, Scott Schmitt, Ryan Unzicker, Spencer Diercks, Mason Oberkramer, Payton Looney, Austin Rettig, Shannon Babb, Kolby Vandenbergh, Hudson O’Neal, Jeff Roth, Rich Bell, Joe Godsey, Shannon Scott, Kevin Weaver, Jason Feger, Michael Kloos, Mike Mataragas.