BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Josh Richards was a man on a mission Monday night at Volusia Speedway Park.
Rampaging forward from the 10th starting spot, Richards passed Steve Francis for the lead on lap 18 and marched to a convincing victory in the 30-lap DIRTcar UMP late model feature that opened the full-fender portion of the 42nd UNOH DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment.
Richards, 24, earned $7,000 for his sixth career triumph during the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals but first since 2010 when he captured the World of Outlaws Late Model Series season opener. He won the national tour’s lid lifter held during Volusia’s mid-winter racing meet every year from 2007-2010.
Francis, 45, settled for a runner-up finish in the Bowyer Motorsports Barry Wright car after starting from the pole position and leading laps 1-17. He ended the race trailing Richards’s Valvoline-sponsored Rocket Chassis house car by 1.387 seconds.
Donnie Moran started and finished third in a MasterSbilt machine. Scott Bloomquist also finished in the same position he started, driving his self-built Team Zero car under the checkered flag in fourth place after outdueling Tim McCreadie, who completed the top five in the Sweeteners Plus Rocket.
After falling short of victory lane at Volusia in 2011 and ’12, Richards was excited to reclaim the spotlight.
“I was a little nervous coming in here because we weren’t that good last year,” said Richards. “Even qualifying (on Monday) I didn’t feel great, but we qualified well so I was like, ‘Well, OK, we’re not that far off.’ We made a few changes for the heat race and we kind of got shuffled back and we had some fuel-pressure problems, but we still ran second on Scott (Bloomquist).
“For the feature we made some changes, and it was one of those things where we just went out there and ran hard. It was awesome to get up through there and get a win from 10th.”
Josh Richards, Steve Francis, Donnie Moran, Scott Bloomquist, Tim McCreadie, Don O’Neal, Brady Smith, Ron Davies, Eddie Carrier Jr., Stormy Scott, Brandon Sheppard, Jared Landers, Bobby Pierce, Pat Doar, Earl Pearson Jr., Tim Fuller, Dennis Erb Jr., Eric Jacobsen, Gregg Satterlee, Dan Stone, Todd Frank, Clint Smith, Jason McBride, Mason Zeigler, Scott James, Shane Clanton.