GASTONIA, N.C. — Josh Richards battled from an eighth place starting position and through tough track conditions and cautions on Friday night at Carolina Speedway as he claimed the inaugural World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series win at the track.
“We were able to survive,” said Richards, who took home the $10,000 purse. “We had a great car there. It was starting to get rough off Turn 4, but I want to thank all the fans for coming out. It’s great to come out with a win.”
Challenging track conditions proved to be a test for the 24 drivers that started the A-Main – in the 50-lap feature, there were 12 cautions with eight drivers finishing on the lead lap. A caution on Lap 24 allowed drivers to replenish their tear-off visor sheets, making track visibility less of a struggle through the remainder of the race.
Some of those earlier cautions however, made way for Richards to eventually claim the lead position on the restarts. Richards started eighth.
“That was the biggest thing: trying to find a clean spot,” said Richards about finding a favorable groove. “Once you got up on somebody, you couldn’t see anything. It was just a matter of trying to be smooth. You were forced to move around a little bit.”
Following the race’s first caution on Lap 5, Richards’ strong restart catapulted him into third position. Less than 10 laps later, Richards took over the second spot in turn 2 from Frank Heckenast Jr., who drifted up the track. Heckenast wheeled his car to a season-best fourth-place finish.
Richards claimed the lead on lap 16 after Johnny Pursley, who started the race in the top spot, lost a right rear tire. There on, Richards never looked back.
Chub Frank’s No. 1* Cory Rubber Corporation machine followed behind Richards for the latter-half of the race, recording his best finish in not only 2016, but also since his second-place finish at Delaware International Speedway in August 2015. The Bear Lake, Penn.-native said he’d rather be in victory lane, but rebounding from qualifying 14th earlier in the night made it a successful night.
“The track was choppy, but you could at least race on it,” Frank said. “It was definitely a handful. I never knew which way my car was going. I don’t think my car was bad, but [Richards’] car ran through all the rough stuff better than mine. He was more consistent.”
Rounding-out the podium was York, Penn.-native Rick Eckert, who also took advantage of the lower groove earlier in the race. Eckert’s No. 7 Paul Crowl Racing car claimed the third spot on Lap 17, passing Heckenast in Turn 2 like Richards did earlier.
“It’s about time,” Eckert said. “At least we made it on the inside, but got beat on the outside. In the middle of the race right before the track started getting rough, we had a good car. Everyone was in there, starting to rip it up. I couldn’t maneuver through the holes and everyone else couldn’t too. But Josh’s seemed to maneuver through the holes. He earned it.”
Richard’s win Friday night was his fifth of the season and 63rd-career series win which moves him one step closer to surpassing Darrell Lanigan on the all-time wins list for A-Mains. Lanigan has a record 72 wins in the series.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series returns to action Saturday night at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway as the series completes its Carolina Swing. Tickets remain for the Tar Heel 100. For more information and to learn how to purchase tickets, visit FayettevilleMotorSpeedway.com.
To learn more about the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series visit WoOLMS.com. Follow the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series on Twitter at Twitter.com/WoOLateModels, like it on Facebook atFacebook.com/WorldofOutlawsLateModelSeries, or check out the latest videos on YouTube atYoutube.com/WorldofOutlaws.
World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series Statistical Report; April 29, 2016; Carolina Speedway; Gastonia, N.C.
A-Main (50-laps): 1. 1- Josh Richards [$10,875], 2. 1*- Chub Frank [$5,700], 3. 7- Rick Eckert [$3,800], 4. 99jr- Frank Heckenast Jr. [$3,200], 5. 25- Shane Clanton [$2,800], 6. 3s- Brian Shirley [$2,250], 7. 21JR- Billy Moyer Jr. [$2,250], 8. 18- Eric Wells [$1,800], 9. 14M- Morgan Bagley [$1,750], 10. 91- Tyler Erb [$1,700], 11. C9- Steve Casebolt [$1,600], 12. 18c- Chase Junghans [$1,550], 13. 76- Brandon Overton [$1,500], 14. 2F- Dennis Franklin [$1,100], 15. 72- Jason Covert [$850], 16. ’09- Johnny Pursley [$800], 17. 2c- Joey Coulter [$770], 18. 7L- Josh Langley [$750], 19. 93- Donald Bradsher [$730], 20. 77- Jordan Yaggy [$700], 21. 22*- G.R. Smith [$700], 22. 42- Doug Sanders [$700], 23. 1w- Ricky Weeks [$700], 24. 22- Chris Ferguson [$700]
-World of Outlaws Press Release & Photo