ERIE, Pa. — Josh Richards captured his 16th World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series win of the season Sunday night at Eriez Speedway.
The victory capped off a dominant week for the Shinnston, W.V. driver.
The series travelled to four different states in four consecutive days for events at Delaware Int’l Speedway (Del.), Potomac Speedway (Md.), Winchester Speedway (Va.) and Eriez Speedway (Pa.). Richards won three of four races. Last season he managed to win three of those four shows as well. Incorporating the previous week, Richards won five of the last six, and broken Darrell Lanigan’s all-time wins record. With his win at Eriez, he increased that number to 74.
“The season has been a dream,” said Richards, who won the $10,000 purse. “I’m very fortunate to have the crew I have. Hopefully, we can continue [the dream season] into Michigan.”
Earlier in the night, Richards picked up his eighth fast time award, 24th heat race win and was the fastest driver in hot laps. Richards pulled the eighth spot in the night’s redraw, which did not make the feature an easy endeavor. The two local drivers and five fellow full-timers ahead of him made his climb to the top treacherous.
“I knew when we drew the eight it was going to be tough,” said Richards. “I always enjoy racing in this region. It’s closer to home, and we’ve raced these tracks for quite a while, and having success here before gives you a little more information on what to do. It definitely gives you confidence.”
Steve Casebolt on the other hand led the 25-car feature into the green flag by virtue of the redraw. This was Casebolt’s first time this season drawing the Craftsman No. 1 wrench at the redraw, and in the first lap, he took advantage of it. He opened-up a .520 lead until a caution regrouped the field in the same lap. On the restart, Casebolt rebuilt his lead while Richards began to weave his way through the drivers separating him from the top five.
Richards made his way up to a podium position by lap seven in his No. 1 Valvoline/ Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket car. The caution flag waved one lap later, leaving Casebolt, Jared Miley and Richards at the hands of the restart. On the restart, Richards overtook Miley exiting turn three for sole possession of second. Richards next challenge was overtaking the strong No. C9 Lias Tire/ Sudz Car Wash Rocket car of Casebolt.
“We got up to third really quickly,” Richards said. “We were all at the same speed and nothing was happening. Casebolt was setting a really good pace, and I had to work hard on him for the lead.”
Richards ran Casebolt’s lead down to as narrow as a .318 margin on lap 16, but Casebolt protected potentially his first win of the season. He rebuilt his lead back to .786 in a three-lap span. Back-and-forth, Richards took his lead back down to .225 one lap later, only for Casebolt fight back to a .680 spread until a caution on lap 23. Casebolt’s last win was on February 6, 2015.
Two laps later, Richards made his move on Casebolt. Maneuvering his car high-and-low, Richards made the pass for the lead in turn two on lap 29. Though a caution within 10 laps left instantly compromised Richards’ 2.374 lead — also renewing Casebolt’s chances — he went on to win by a 2.622 margin.
When Casebolt met Richards in victory lane, the two talked about where the track’s fastest points were. Casebolt said that “he had nothing” for Josh, who has been on a hot streak all season.
“I’m as happy as I can be finishing second,” Casebolt said. “I had a very good car. I knew Josh was back there but there was nothing I could do. With the season that we’ve had, we’re definitely happy to finish second and lead some laps.”
Miley and his No. H1 Colussy Chevrolet/ Brougher’s Machine Shop Rocket car held his ground since Richards passed him on lap eight, finishing the feature in third.
Josh Richards, Steve Casebolt, Jared Miley, Max Blair, Shane Clanton, Robbie Blair, Rick Eckert, Eric Wells, Tyler Erb, Chub Frank, Brandon Overton, Brian Shirley, Boom Briggs, Billy Moyer Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Dave Hess, David Scott, Chris Hackett, Greg Oakes, Joey Coulter, John Lobb, Morgan Bagley, Bump Hedman, Darrell Bossard, Steve Kania.