CONCORD, N.C. – Josh Richards capped his 2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship with a victory in the season finale during the World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Richards was dominant Saturday night, leading all 50 laps en route to his 10th victory of the season after starting from the pole. The victory was worth $12,000 to the West Virginia native.
“I love coming here. I want to thank all the fans for coming out. This is definitely a really awesome event and definitely icing on the cake,” Richards said.
The initial start of the event was called back when second starter Jimmy Owens jumped the start. He was moved back to row two for the second attempt, moving John Blankenship up to the front row alongside Richards.
Richards quickly grabbed the lead on the second attempt at the start as Blankenship fell in behind him in second. Owens tried to go high in turn one from fourth, but paid for it when he jumped the cushion and dropped through the field.
It only took Richards eight laps to build a massive lead on Blankenship, but on lap nine Friday night winner Darrell Lanigan slowed in turn two resulting in a caution flag. Richards blasted back out into the lead, but the man on the move was Rick Eckert. After starting 12th, Eckert was all the way up to fifth by lap 11.
One lap later the caution flag waved for the stopped machine of Bub McCool on the backstretch. The field returned to racing moments later and Richards again blasted out into the lead as Blankenship battled Steve Francis for second.
Francis overtook Blankenship for second on lap 14 as Richards pulled away from the field, but Blankenship refused to fall in line and on lap 17 took second back from Francis. While that battle was ongoing Eckert had closed moved into fourth and continuing to move forward.
Scott Bloomquist looked to be coming through the field and was up to seventh when he suddenly bounced off the wall in turn four, bringing out another caution flag. Shortly after the restart Eckert dispatched Francis and set his sights on Blankenship. The field was slowed again on lap 23 when Francis got a push from Tyler Reddick in turn one, sending Francis into the outside wall.
Richards used another perfect restart to maintain the race lead as Blankenship and Eckert began to battle for second. The battle didn’t last long because the caution flag waved again on lap 29 when Ryan Gustin bounced off the turn four wall.
The field returned to racing, but the caution flag waved again one lap latter for a melee in turn three involving Duane Chamberlain, Tim McCreadie and Gregg Satterlee. During the next restart Eckert used a big run on the outside to overtake Blankenship for second.
The final 20 laps were clean and green and Eckert was able to stay close to Richards, occasionally looking below Richards to try and take the race lead. It was a futile effort as Richards beat Eckert to the checkers by .941 of a second for the victory.
“My guys did a great job. We were pretty good last night. We felt like we were pretty equal,” Richards said. “We made a few minor changes today. It was definitely in the right direction. We didn’t have to do a whole lot. We went out there and just had fun.
“I just tried to get a pace going and tried to move around. One and two I felt like was our weak point, but I don’t know if it was or not. Just tried to move around. We were trying to guess what tires we needed before they worked the track and we just stuck with what we had last night and it worked out,” Richards said.
Eckert complemented the track workers for creating a racy track surface, which helped him advance from 12th on the starting grid to finish second.
“Hats off to the track crew. The race track was excellent,” Eckert. “Everybody went to the bottom early and thought it was going to be around the bottom and I snuck through that middle and got by a lot of cars there. It was pretty cool.”
Bobby Pierce charged from 17th at the start to finish third, followed by Blankenship and Dan Stone.
Heat races were won by Owens, Richards, Reddick, Blankenship, McCool and Stone. Last Chance Showdown victories went to Lanigan, Kenny Moreland and Brandon Sheppard.
Josh Richards, Rick Eckert, Bobby Pierce, John Blankenship, Dan Stone, Jimmy Owens, Brandon Sheppard, Shane Clanton, Earl Pearson Jr., Clint Smith, Eric Wells, Morgan Bagley, Tim Fuller, B.J. Robinson, Kenny Moreland, Gregg Satterlee, Duane Chamberlain, Tim McCreadie, Ryan Gustin, Chris Ferguson, Tyler Reddick, Steve Francis, Scott Bloomquist, Bub McCool, Darrell Lanigan, Steve Shaver, Jeremy Miller.