Middlebourne, TN – Josh Richards dominates the first night of The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series Jackpot 100 at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.V. This is the Shinnston ,W.V.-natives sixth win in 2016, and it is not only his local track, but also where he swept the weekend just last season.
It is great [to come home], said Richards to a standing hometown crowd. Theyve done a great job with this race track. You could race all over it… Ive never seen that track like this before. But, it was a lot of fun. I want to thank all the fans for coming out, and well see you tomorrow [for the finale].
With the victory, Richards becomes the first series driver to win back-to-back races at the track since Darrell Lanigan in 2012-13. Not only that, Richards puts himself in the position to sweep the weekend like he had done at this very event last season and what he did for a two-day event at Farmer City Raceway (Ill.) in April.
Richards and his No. 1 Valvoline/ Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket machine were consistent all night, winning the first heat race and leaving as the fast timer by nearly three-tenths of a second. Having capitalized on his consistency within the event, he adds to a year of just the same. Richards has not placed out of the top 10 in all 14 events in 2016.
Richards led the 24-car field to the green flag; he never looked back. Richards held the lead for all 40 laps, first opening-up his lead by nearly a two-second margin within the first 20 laps. On the short 1/4-mile oval, Richards used lapped traffic on lap seven to create the buffer, which comfortably followed him into the second-half of the race.
That was the case until lap 22, when a caution regrouped the field. The caution gave Steve Casebolt and his No. C9 Lias Tire/ Sudz Car Wash Rocket car the opportunity to challenge Richards from third place. Casebolt started eighth in feature.
Richards recovered a two-second margin over the field from a quick restart. However, when Casebolt made the move from the top groove of turn two, he built up enough momentum to make a run at Richards. Casebolt cut the margin in half to just under one second, but it was as close as he got to chasing him down.
Were happy to be here, happy to get second, said Casebolt, who credits his tires for the strong performance. Weve been struggling, and we know were a better team than what our performances have been. I guess thats what has kept us going. We just kept trying.
In the final 17 laps, Richards used the congestion on the track again to open up a 1.671-second lead. This time, Casebolt followed suit, opening-up a 1.216-second margin between he and Derek Dolls No. 87 Racepartstrader.com Rocket machine, which rounded-out the podium.
Whats crazy about it is I shouldnt be disappointed [with the finish] but I kind of do, Doll said. Maybe making the mistake and taking the bottom on the restart… just wasnt sure what to do. You have to be ready: Josh takes off on those restarts and I was lagging back a little I guess.
This is a dream come true. We run here almost locally every week.
When the Richards and Casebolt began to separate themselves from the field, Doll found himself battling last nights winner (Moler Raceway Park) Shane Clanton. Doll said when Clanton is usually in the rear-view, he is lapping drivers. But to be competing for position it was pretty awesome.
Clantons No. 25 Weldbank Energy/ Coopers Meat Packers Capital machine has run consistently the past few races, which has been Clantons goal to recapture a series championship. Notably, Clanton was the only driver in the top five who did not have a Rocket chassis a brand that has been in the Richards family since his father opened the business in 1991.
Im just happy to see these [Rocket] guys up front, as much as I am to be up here winning, Richards said.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series returns to action Sunday night at Tyler County Speedway for the Jackpot 100 finale. Hot laps get underway at 6:45 p.m.
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Story By: WoO LM PR
Photo Credit: Matt Prieur