Josh Richards controlled the top position in his Valvoline/Rocket Chassis house car No. 1 Thursday night as he dominated the 50-lap feature event at Volusia Speedway Park and scored the $10,000-to-win opening night of World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series action at the 45th Annual DIRTcar Nationals.
Richards, who captured a victory on Monday night during the DIRTcar Late Models portion of the DIRTcar Nationals, showed his speed early on Thursday night as he paced his qualifying group with the fast time. Richards fell just short of claiming the overall quick time which went to Brian Shirley in the second qualifying group.
The Shinnston, W.Va. native carried his speed to the heat race, as he easily rocketed his way to victory, placing himself in the redraw for the top six starting positions. Richards utilized speed early in the night, then received some luck as he drew the pole position for the feature event.
Dale McDowell, who finished third Wednesday night, drew the second starting position for his Bad Boy Off Road /UNOH No. 17M. McDowell tried to rattle Richards early in the race, but Richards escaped the challenge from the second place starter and stretched out to a sizeable lead.
Scott Bloomquist, a winner already at the 2016 edition of DIRTcar Nationals, started in the fifth position but quickly made his way into the top three in his Reec Monument/Crop Production Services No. 0. Bloomquist looked to have the speed to catch Richards early in the feature, but was challenged by Jonathan Davenport, who finished second and third on the two previous nights.
Davenport and Bloomquist battled side-by-side for the fourth position, at one point even splitting third place starter Austin Smith. As the battle continued, 2006 World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series champion Tim McCreadie fought his way from a ninth starting position to join the battle for third, eventually passing both drivers for the position.
McCreadie’s top three run was short lived as Bloomquist made his way back around the driver of the No. 39 Sweetner’s Plus machine, just a lap before McCreadie suffered a flat tire, sending him to the tail-end of the field.
At the front of the field, Richards spent most of his night leading the charge through lapped traffic as 29 drivers started the feature event that was slowed by only four cautions. The final caution fell with nine laps to go, bringing McDowell and third placed Davenport, who had finally completed the pass on Bloomquist, to Richards’ rear bumper.
McDowell and Davenport stayed glued to the leader once the green flag fell, but Richards proved to be too strong for his adversaries as he lead flag-to-flag for his first World of Outlaws victory of the season.
“It has been a lot of fun,” Richards said. “We gambled a little bit on tires, so I was kind of nervous and didn’t know how it was going to hold up. We got stuck in lapped traffic and actually moved up [the race track] and gained speed.
“The guys have been giving me great cars every night, it’s been a dream to drive them, and it has been a fun speed weeks…I have had an awesome career, it’s been a lot of fun to race and have a car to compete for wins with.”
McDowell improved on his Wednesday night performance by one position on Thursday, but could never get close enough to steal the Gator trophy from the eventual winner.
“We got better in qualifying tonight then struggled in the heat races,” the 49-year-old veteran said. “Starting position is everything, and we have been fortunate enough to start up front. Our car has been good, so we will keep working at it and hopefully get a win before the end of the weekend.”
Davenport rounded out the top three as he battled all night from the fourth position to maintain his solid performance at DIRTcar Nationals.
“I really want to take one of those Gator trophies home with me,” the Blairsville, Ga. native said. “We’re just missing it by a little bit. Tonight I was a too free going down the back straightaway.
“Congratulations to Josh [Richards], they picked the right tire. I thought me, Dale [McDowell] and Scott [Bloomquist] had the right tire on to get down the back straightaway, but it didn’t seem to matter.”
The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series continue action at the 45th Annual DIRTcar Nationals on Friday and Saturday night.
Great seats remain for DIRTcar Nationals and are available by calling 844-DIRT-TIX (347-8849), or by visiting http://www.DIRTcarNationals.com. Infield parking will be available on a first come, first served basis to all fans with a pit pass. The cost of the infield parking pass is $10 and is available at the pit gate off of turn four.
Visit http://www.DIRTcarNationals.com for the latest news and information from the event. Follow DIRTcar Nationals on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.com/DIRTcarNats and on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DIRTcarNationals.
DIRTcar Nationals Statistical Report; Feb. 18, 2016; Volusia Speedway Park; Barberville, Fla.
A-Main (50-laps): 1. 1-Josh Richards [$10,850], 2. 17M-Dale McDowell [$5,100], 3. 6-Jonathan Davenport [$3,050], 4. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$2,650], 5. 7-Rick Eckert [$2,850], 6. 22s-Gregg Satterlee [$1,700], 7. 5-Don O’Neal [$1,900], 8. 25F-Jason Feger [$1,350], 9. 14M-Morgan Bagley [$1,950], 10. 25-Shane Clanton [$1,950], 11. C9-Steve Casebolt [$1,100], 12. 99B-Boom Briggs [$1,750], 13. 18-Eric Wells [$1,500], 14. 15-Steve Francis [$1,000], 15. 1*-Chub Frank [$1,400], 16. 3s-Brian Shirley [$800], 17. 18c-Chase Junghans [$1,320], 18. 38s-Kenny Pettyjohn [$750], 19. 2F-Dennis Franklin [$780], 20. 77-Jordan Yaggy [$110], 21. 99j-Frank Heckenast Jr. [$660], 22. 76-Brandon Overton [$660], 23. 20-Jimmy Owens [$700], 24. 39-Tim McCreadie [$825], 25. 21-Ivedent Lloyd Jr. [$700], 26. 11-Austin Smith [$700], 27. 28E-Dennis Erb Jr. [$700], 28. 1W-Dillon Wood [$700], 29. 16-Justin Rattliff [$700].
-World of Outlaws Press Release. Photo credit: