WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Josh Richards didn’t take long to master Red River Co-op Speedway.
Making his first start at the four-tenths-mile Canadian oval after missing last year’s inaugural World of Outlaws Late Model Series event while racing on the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Richards rolled off the outside pole to score a wire-to-wire victory in Thursday night’s 50-lap Wild West Tour A-Main.
Richards, 25, used some daring moves in lapped traffic late in the race to turn back a furious challenge from Tim McCreadie, who ducked underneath Richards several times but ultimately crossed the finish line 3.421 seconds behind in the runner-up spot.
Defending WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan, who won last year’s feature at Red River, finished a distant third after starting fourth. But he had to rally after a scramble between turns one and two on the race’s initial start left his car with a flat left-rear tire, forcing him to pit and restart at the rear of the field.
Brady Smith finished fourth after running in third place for much of the distance and Chub Frank placed fifth after bolting into the top five from the eighth starting spot early in the A-Main.
Richards’s $10,650 triumph was his seventh of the 2013 WoO LMS campaign, tying him with Lanigan for the lead in the high-profile category. He also extended his lead in the circuit’s standings to 38 points over Lanigan, who moved past sixth-place finisher Shane Clanton in the championship battle.
It was a perfect evening of competition for Richards, who set fast time and won his heat race before capturing an A-Main that ran non-stop after a caution flag flew on the opening circuit.
“We were fortunate,” said Richards, who won for the first time since sweeping the three-race Firecracker 100 June 27-29 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. “We kind of hit it right from the start. We were good in hot laps — I was a little tight, but the guys said we were fast so we just left it alone and I just tried to focus on driving a little better. Then we were able to set fast time, win our heat, and, obviously draw the number two spot for the feature.
“We had everything going for us, so I just had to do my part and try to get out there and get some open track and get through lapped traffic the best we could.”