The week started out Sunday with open practice at the Tampa, Fla., track, where Richards turned some of the fastest laps of the evening. Monday brought the first night of racing. With changing track conditions, Richards qualified 12th in Group B, lining him up in sixth for the start of Heat Race 4. With only the top-four locked into the main event, Richards was on a mission to make his way toward the front in the short 10-lap race. Rolling on the top-side of the track, he was able to advance two positions to finish fourth, guaranteeing him the 16th starting spot in the Feature. Starting on the outside of Row 8, Richards quickly advanced to the 13th position on Lap 1. Again running the high-groove, he continued to methodically make his way toward the front and was scored in ninth by Lap 10. At Lap 20 he was up to seventh, and he remained there for the final five laps to bring home a top-10 finish for the No. 1 team.
Tuesday Richards was fast right out of the truck, running the quickest qualifying time to capture the night’s Fast-Time Award. His qualifying effort lined him up on the pole for Heat 3. The Best Performance Motorsports driver slipped to second on the start, but was able to regain the top spot on Lap 9 to capture the heat win. His Heat Race victory lined him up in second-place for the start of the short 25-lap Feature. Starting on the outside-pole, it didn’t take long for Richards to take over the top spot, capturing the lead on Lap 6. Once out front, the four-time World of Outlaws Late Model Series Champion never looked back, leading the remainder of the race to collect the victory.
After a heavy downpour hit the track late Wednesday afternoon, Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series officials were forced to cancel the night’s race due to inclement weather.
Thursday brought sunny skies, and another quick qualifying lap for the Best Performance Motorsports team. Running the fastest qualifying circuit, Richards again took home the night’s Fast-Time Award. His time trial effort put him on the pole for Heat 1, and the 28-year-old driver led his heat flag-to-flag en route to the win. The victory guaranteed Richards the number one starting spot for the 45-lap A-Main. Starting on the pole, Richards remained out front until a tight condition began to cause problems on Lap 7, where he slipped to second. A Lap 8 caution caused Richards to get shoved high in traffic for the ensuing restart and broke his momentum, costing him several positions. Running in 12th on Lap 12, the young driver was determined to make his way back toward the front. At Lap 20 he was back inside the top-10, scored in eighth. Though he was still fighting a tight condition, Richards continued his march forward, breaking inside the top-five on Lap 35. With the frontrunners now in sight, the West Virginia native muscled his way to third in the closing laps to bring home a podium-finish.
Friday marked the first night of points racing since Golden Isles Speedway and the No. 1 crew was ready. Richards began the evening by qualifying fourth quickest in Group B. His time trial effort put him in the second starting spot for Heat Race 4. Starting on the outside-pole, Richards remained in second throughout the short 10-lap race. His second-place finish lined him up in eighth for the start of the 50-lap Feature. Starting on the outside of Row 4, Richards was shuffled back to 12th at the drop of the green flag. Once the melee in the middle of the track got sorted out, Richards began his march forward. He was up to eighth at Lap 10 and running just outside the top-five in sixth on Lap 20. Making his car work on the outside, the Best Performance Motorsports driver continued to advance taking over the second spot on Lap 26. With his car hooked up, Richards began reeling leader Scott Bloomquist in until he was on his back bumper. The young driver drove low going into Turn 2 and was door to door with Bloomquist, looking as if he was about to take the lead, when a late race caution slowed the field. With five laps remaining, Richards gave it all he had, but was unable to regain his lost momentum, settling for a second-place finish. The podium-finish allowed Richards to take command of the Lucas Oil points heading into Saturday.
Dark skies and the threat of heavy rain, forced the cancelation of Saturday’s $12,000-to-win finale early in the afternoon, allowing teams to make their way to Bubba Raceway Park for Sunday’s scheduled event.
Richards sits atop the leader board in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series point standings after racing East Bay Raceway Park.
Monday Race Results
Qualifying – 12th Heat Race – 4th Feature Start – 16th Feature Finish – 7th
Tuesday Race Results
Qualifying –1st Heat Race – 1st Feature Start -2nd Feature Finish – 1st
Thursday Race Results
Qualifying – 1st Heat Race – 1st Feature Start – 1st Feature Finish – 3rd
Friday Race Results
Qualifying – 4th Heat Race – 2nd Feature Start -8th Feature Finish – 2nd
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: “We had a solid week at East Bay (Raceway Park). The car was a little tight on Monday, but the crew worked hard to make some changes for Tuesday and the car was a lot better. It was awesome to get a win Tuesday at one of my favorite tracks on the schedule. We were able to get two more podium-finishes to end the week, so I’m happy with our performance.
“Thanks to the team for a great job all week. We are still learning each other, but that makes two wins so far with Best Performance Motorsports. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to drive this car. I want to thank all of my sponsors for their help and my fans for their support.”