SARVER, Pa. — Josh Richards was a man on a mission Thursday night at Lernerville Speedway.
Rebounding from a frustrating subpar performance two nights earlier, the 25-year-old grabbed the lead from Steve Shaver on lap 18 and marched on to win the first 30-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series preliminary A-Main of the Firecracker 100 Presented by GottaRace.com weekend.
The $6,150 victory was Richards’s fourth of the 2013 WoO LMS season and marked the third time in the last four years that he has captured the opening-night feature of the Firecracker 100 extravaganza. It also got him back on track after a winless four-race swing through New York and Canada that he ended with an uncharacteristic 13th-place finish on June 25 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.
“We struggled a lot this past week,” said Richards, who scored just one top-five finish during the northern trip with his father Mark’s Valvoline-sponsored Rocket Chassis house car operation. “It was actually kind of embarrassing. It wasn’t common for this team to be running the way we were, so we made some changes, swapped cars today and tried to get our heads together to make the right decisions.
“We were good tonight, but we still have a long weekend ahead of us and I’m sure everybody is gonna work on their stuff.”
Shaver settled for a runner-up finish after leading laps 1-17, flashing under the checkered flag 1.113 seconds behind Richards. WoO LMS rookie Eric Wells finished third after starting from the pole position – earning him a career-best finish at Lernerville in just his second visit to the track – while eighth-starter Davey Johnson challenged Wells late in the distance but placed fourth.
Defending WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan took fifth after coming out on top of a last-lap battle with Dale McDowell and Dan Stone, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
Richards, who has recorded four of his 43 career WoO LMS victories at Lernerville, mastered the four-tenths-mile oval that was tacky and fast after being doused by heavy rain earlier in the day.