ST MARYS, Ohio (Aug. 14, 2017) – Consistency was key for Josh Richards as he earned a pair of top-10 finishes during Florence (Ky.) Speedway’s weekend of racing. Richards brought home a ninth-place finish in Thursday’s North/South Shootout and an eighth-place finish in Saturday’s North/South 100.
The weekend’s festivities began on Thursday with the North/South Shootout. Richards took to the track for qualifying and ran the fourth quickest lap in Group A. His time trial result lined him up on the outside-pole for Heat Race 1. At the drop of the green flag, Richards gave it all he had in the 10-lap event to take over the point position but he was unable to complete the pass, remaining in second for the duration. His second-place finish guaranteed him the seventh starting spot for the 50-lap Feature.
Starting on the inside of Row 4, Richards slipped back one position on the initial lap, but regained command of the seventh spot on Lap 8 while working the low side of the track. With not much movement among the top-10, Richards remained in seventh as he began working lapped traffic on Lap 18. He continued battling lapped traffic for the remainder of the event and on Lap 38 he made slight contact with the outside-wall coming out of Turn 4 causing Richards to slip to ninth. With 12 laps to go, the Best Performance Motorsports driver gave it all he had, but was unable to advance in the caution-free race that saw little passing. Richards’ ninth-place finish marks his 30th top-10 finish of the season.
Friday began the North/South 100 two-day show. With no qualifying in the format, teams had to draw to set their heat race lineup for the first of two races each team would participate in. The second session of heat races were lined up in inverse order of the first. Passing points were awarded in each heat and the accumulation of points would set the field for Saturday’s Feature and B-Mains.
Richards began Friday by running the fastest circuit overall in hot laps. He then lined up in the second spot for his first heat race of the night. Richards quickly took command of the race leading flag-to-flag in the 13-lap event. Starting in 10th for his second heat, Richards was on a mission. The 29-year-old driver advanced six spots to finish fourth in Heat Race 2. Earning valuable passing points in both races, Richards accumulated enough points to guarantee him the third starting spot in Saturday’s 100-lap Feature.
Starting in third, Richards slipped back to fourth at the drop of the green flag before he could make it to his preferred line on the bottom of the track. The field quickly spread out single-file and the West Virginia native remained in fourth until encountering lapped traffic on Lap 19 causing him to slip back to fifth. A caution on Lap 34 restacked the field for the ensuing restart and Richards capitalized when the green flag flew, muscling his way back to fourth. Richards endured another caution period on Lap 38 while continuing to run in fourth. Just prior to the halfway point of the race, Richards began fighting a loose-condition on his No. 1 machine. He slipped back to sixth on Lap 47 and maintained that position until Lap 87 as the loose-condition began to get worse and he fell to seventh. With a never-give-up attitude, Richards moved all over the track trying to gain any bit of traction he could, but it was to no avail. On Lap 98 he slipped to eighth and he was able to hold on for the remaining three laps to earn a hard-fought top-10 finish.
Richards’ maintained his lead in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series point standings 135 points over second-place Tim McCreadie.
The Best Performance Motorsports team is scheduled to return to action Aug. 17-19 at Batesville (Ark.) Motor Speedway for the 25th Annual COMP Cams Topless 100.
Thursday Race Results
Qualifying – 4th Heat Race –2nd Feature Start –7th Feature Finish –9th
Friday Race Results
Heat 1 Start – 2nd Heat 1 Finish –1st Heat 2 Start –10th Heat 2 Finish –4th
Saturday Race Results
Feature Start –3rd Feature Finish –8th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: “We were pretty good here (Florence Speedway) in the spring so we went in that same direction Thursday. The track was different and we were a little bit off. I don’t have a lot of experience here at Florence, so I’ve still got some things to figure out.
“Friday, we went in a whole different direction and the Best Performance Motorsports car was pretty good. I think we still need to tweak it a little bit for tomorrow (Saturday) and the long runs. This place is tough. There isn’t a lot of passing and the car has to be really balanced on the long runs. We need to be really maneuverable.
“We started off pretty good on Saturday. I thought in the beginning that I might be able to get up through there, but our car just started to get too loose. As the track slicked off and the grip went away, I just couldn’t make it stick and started losing ground. My whole team worked really hard and I gave it all I had and we were able to bring home a top-10 finish. We’ll regroup and go at it again this weekend for the Topless 100 at Batesville (Motor Speedway).”