Richards’ Dominant Weekend Ends in Heartbreak Saturday at Knoxville Raceway

From the BPM #1 Team...

Richards’ Dominant Weekend Ends in Heartbreak Saturday at Knoxville Raceway

Richards’ Dominant Weekend Ends in Heartbreak Saturday at Knoxville Raceway

ST MARYS, Ohio (Sept. 18, 2017) – Josh Richards’ dominant weekend turned into heartbreak late Saturday night when he blew a tire after leading 74 laps of the Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.  Richards also won Thursday night’s preliminary event and brought home a podium-finish in Friday’s 25-lap Feature.  

Returning to one of his favorite racetracks, Richards was eager to get underway on Thursday. He began the evening by qualifying ninth quickest in Group A. With the top-eight cars in each heat race forced to invert, Richards lined up sixth in Heat 3. The Best Performance Motorsports driver quickly advanced, taking the lead on Lap 2. Once in command, he never looked back, winning his heat by over five seconds. The top-three cars in each heat race transferred to the Feature, so Richards was guaranteed a starting spot. With the top-eight cars in points for the evening having to invert, Richards started ninth in the 25-lap Feature. Having a fast car all night, Richards didn’t waste any time making his way toward the front. At Lap 5 he was up to eighth and at Lap 10, he was scored in fifth. Continuing his march forward he took over the point position on Lap 16. Once out front, Richards easily led the remainder of the A-Main to collect the win.

Friday, Richards clicked off the second fasted qualifying lap in Group B. His time trial result lined him up in eighth for the fifth heat race after the eight-car invert. The West Virginia native showed no mercy as he went from eighth to first to collect the heat race win. His heat victory guaranteed him a starting spot in the night’s Feature event. This time, Richards would start eighth after the invert. When the green flag waved on the 25-lap event, the 29-year-old driver began to methodically make his way forward. He was scored in seventh at Lap 10 and was up to sixth on Lap 15. On Lap 18 the caution flag flew and restacked the field for the ensuing restart. Richards took advantage and rocketed to third on Lap 19. Although he was running fast lap times he was unable to gain any more ground in the remaining six circuits and crossed the line in third to collect a podium-finish.  

With each of the teams accruing points for their respective qualifying, heat race and Feature efforts Thursday and Friday, this eliminated qualifying and heat races on Saturday and set the Feature lineup. Richards accrued the third most points, setting him up to start third for the 100-lap finale. With rain showers threating to end the race early, Richards knew he needed to make his way to the lead as quickly as possible. When the green flag flew, he took over the second spot on Lap 1 and remained there until a Lap 17 caution restacked the field. On the ensuing restart, he muscled his way to the point position and took command of the field on Lap 18. Richards remained out front through numerous caution periods, including a mandatory fuel stop on Lap 50. Appearing to be the class of the field, disaster struck on Lap 91 when Richards began to have a tire going down as he slipped to second. Just three laps later his right-front tire gave out causing him to slam into the Turn 4 wall, ending his night just five laps shy of the checkered flag. Richards was ultimately credited with an 18th-place finish. 

Richards remains first in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series point standings, 90 points ahead of second-place Tim McCreadie.

The Best Performance Motorsports team is scheduled to return to action Sept. 22-23 at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway.

Thursday Results

Qualifying – 9th       Heat Race – 1st       Feature Start – 9th      Feature Finish – 1st    

Friday Results

Qualifying – 2nd       Heat Race -1st        Feature Start – 8th      Feature Finish -3rd  

Saturday Results

Qualifying – N/A    Heat Race -N/A    Feature Start – 3rd         Feature Finish- 18th       

JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: “I want to win the 100-lapper at Knoxville (Raceway) so badly and every year we get so close and it seems to just slip away at the end. It’s frustrating, but we can’t just have it handed to us. I had a great car, I just didn’t make it to the end.

“I ran a harder pace than I wanted to early in the race with the unpredictable weather in the area. I knew I just had to get up front in case the rain came. Toward the end, I felt like I still had a pretty good pace, but I was starting to get tight. Shortly after, my right-front tire blistered and then blew.

“Knoxville is one of the nicest facilities and racing surface in the country. I still love going there. It’s so much fun to race. We just have to keep digging and try again next year.

“I can’t thank my crew enough for all their hard work this weekend. We came so close, it just wasn’t our year.”