CONCORD, N.C. – Josh Richards’s triumphant return to the World of Outlaws Late Model Series reached its zenith on Sunday night.
The 25-year-old ace from Shinnston, W.Va., was crowned the champion of the renowned national tour for a record third time – and accepted a $100,000 points-fund check – during Sunday’s annual WoO LMS ‘Night of Champions’ Awards Banquet at the Great Wolf Lodge.
Just 24 hours after capping his 2013 championship season with a triumph in the 50-lap World Finals finale down the street at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Richards was saluted for becoming the first three-time titlist since the series was restarted in 2004 under the World Racing Group banner.
“Nothing will be like the first championship,” said Richards, whose previous titles came in 2009 and 2010. “But if there wasn’t a first one, we couldn’t have a second or a third.
“And this one is definitely special. To take a break (from WoO LMS traveling) like we did (in 2012) to pursue other opportunities and come back and win it this year is pretty unreal. I’m just proud to represent the World of Outlaws this year and hopefully we can do it again.”
Richards left the WoO LMS early in the 2012 season to move south and concentrate on NASCAR Nationwide Series racing. He was unable to land a fulltime NASCAR ride for 2013, however, so he reclaimed the seat in his father Mark’s Valvoline-sponsored Rocket Chassis house car and embarked on a relentless march to another World of Outlaws crown.
After seizing sole possession of the points lead in the third race of the ’13 campaign, Richards never looked back. He sat atop the standings for the remainder of the 46-event schedule, rolling up a career-high 10 wins, 32 top-five and 41 top-10 finishes en route to capturing the championship by a resounding 150-point margin over defending champ Darrell Lanigan.
Richards acknowledged that his championship season wasn’t without its share of obstacles, but he fought through it all with his trademark perseverance and plenty of support from his family and crew. He proudly pointed out that despite some struggles he managed to register podium finishes in fully half of his WoO LMS starts.
“When things are going smoothly, that’s the easy part,” said Richards, who ended the 2013 season with 49 career WoO LMS wins on his ledger. “When everything’s clicking together, you can just keep racing and going smoothly. It’s when you fall that you have to try and pick yourself back up. We did that this year.”