ST MARYS, Ohio (July 24, 2017) – Josh Richards earned an impressive runner-up finish Tuesday at Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen, S.D., to highlight his week of racing. Richards also scored a hard-fought 13th-place finish at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., on Saturday, after having to pit late in the race for a new right-rear tire.
The Best Performance Motorsports team started their week of racing by heading north to Brown County Speedway on Tuesday. Though it was the first time the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series had visited the South Dakota track, Richards had raced there once before nearly 10 years ago. Richards started the night with qualifying and he ran the third quickest time overall in Group A. His time trial effort lined him up on the outside pole of Heat Race 1. When the green flag flew, Richards slipped to third before he could get to his preferred groove on the bottom of the race track. Once he settled into the bottom on Lap 1, he stayed there for the remainder of the 10-lap event to finish in third. Richards’ heat finish guaranteed him the ninth starting spot for the 50-lap Feature.
Starting on the inside of Row 5, the West Virginia driver advanced to eighth on Lap 1 before the first of three caution flags waved on consecutive restarts. Once the race finally got back underway, Richards gained three spots and was running in sixth on Lap 2. Shortly after, the field spread out single-file and the 29-year-old maintained his position until Lap 36 when he muscled his way to fifth. As the laps wore down and the track conditions changed, Richards’ car became more to his liking and he was up to fourth on Lap 39 and scored in second on Lap 42. Once in second, the young driver began inching closer and closer to the front as he was running lap times faster than the leader. However, with only eight laps remaining Richards ran out of time and was forced to settle for a runner-up finish.
The team then traveled to I-80 speedway for the Silver Dollar Nationals a two-day show with open practice on Thursday. Friday began with hot laps and heat races. 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 lined up in third for his first heat race of the night and advanced one position to finish second in the 13-lap event. Starting in eighth for his second heat, Richards again advanced one spot to finish seventh in the 11-lap event. His passing points from both races combined left him one spot shy of being locked into Saturday’s Feature as he finished in the 19th position.
His passing points from Friday lined him up on the pole of B-Main 1 on Saturday and he easily led flag-to-flag to win the 15-lap event. His B-Main win guaranteed him the 19th starting spot for the 80-lap finale. When the green flag flew, Richards methodically began to make his way forward and was running in 15th on Lap 6 before being squeezed back to 18th when the Caution flag flew on Lap 13. On the ensuing restart, Richards rocketed forward gaining five positions in one Lap to be scored in thirteenth. He continued to make his way forward running in ninth on Lap 22 and making his way to seventh on Lap 44. He maintained that position until a Lap 52 caution period. On the ensuing restart the front of the field got tangled up causing damage to multiple cars including the No. 1 machine. The red flag was displayed until the melee was sorted out and cleaned up. Looking as though the car just received cosmetic damage, Richards and crew elected not to pit under caution to maintain their seventh-place starting spot. Shortly after the green flag flew, Richards began to go backwards ultimately having to pit under a Lap 57 caution for a new right-rear tire. Forced to restart at the tail-end of the lead lap in 18th, Richards knew he had his work cut out for him. With only 22 laps to go, the young driver rallied to bring home a 13th-place finish with a battered racecar.
Richards’ maintained his lead in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series point standings 145 points over second-place Scott Bloomquist.
The Best Performance Motorsports team is scheduled to return to action July 25 at Macon (Ill.) Speedway.
Tuesday Race Results
Qualifying – 3rd Heat Race –3rd Feature Start –9th Feature Finish –2nd
Friday Race Results
Heat 1 Start – 3rd Heat 1 Finish –2nd Heat 2 Start –8th Heat 2 Finish –7th
Saturday Race Results
B-Main Start – 1st B-Main Finish – 1st Feature Start –19th Feature Finish –13th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTES: “I like Brown County (Speedway), but it was a little hairy at the start of the race and everybody was jammed up and the caution flag kept flying. In the opening laps, it looked like it was going to be one-lane on the bottom, but the groove moved up fortunately for us. If we could have gotten another restart near the end of the race, I think we could have had a shot at the win. The car really came to me in the closing laps.
“I-80 (Speedway) is a tough track when the format doesn’t allow for qualifying and you are lined up in the heats by the luck of the draw. I’m not a big fan of that kind of racing, but we tried to do the best we could with the hand we were dealt. I was able to advance in both races, but it wasn’t enough passing points to lock me into the show, so I had to run a B-Main. The car was really good in the B-Main and I thought we might have a shot to get up through the field in the Feature.
“About 15 laps into the race, my car really came to me and I was able to move around on the track and do some passing. That late race restart really jammed the whole field up and I got hit pretty hard in the front and the rear of the car. I thought it was just sheet metal damage, but after the restart it felt like something was broken and I had a tire going down. After I pitted for a new right-rear tire, I had to restart so far back it was hard to gain much ground at the end. It’s disappointing because I thought we had a pretty good car before getting jammed up on that restart late in the race.”