ST MARYS, Ohio (June 19, 2017) – Josh Richards rebounded to collect a sixth-place finish at Magnolia Speedway in Columbus, Miss., after mechanical issues forced him to a backup car after qualifying on Saturday.
Mother Nature wreaked havoc on what was scheduled to be a full weekend of racing. Strong thunderstorms and heavy rain forced the cancelation of open practice on Thursday and persistent rain on Friday caused the postponement of qualifying and heat races to Saturday.
With the weekend now condensed into a one-day show, Richards first time on the track came during hot laps on Saturday. Richards didn’t let the new track deter him as he clicked off the fastest lap in his hot lap group. Next up was qualifying and Richards had a good pace going through Turns 1 and 2 when suddenly he lost oil pressure on his No. 1 machine and his engine expired. The engine failure forced the Best Performance Motorsports team to unload the backup car and the crew went to work getting it ready for Heat Race 3. Forced to start at the tail-end of his heat, the West Virginia native wasn’t going to let anything stop him from making his way to the front. Passing three cars on the initial lap of the 10-lap event, Richards was on a mission. In an unbelievable display of driving, the 29-year-old made it up to the second spot and was gaining ground on the leader when the checkered flag flew. With the top four cars in each heat transferring into the A-Main, Richards was guaranteed the sixth starting spot for the 60-lap Feature.
Starting on the outside of Row 3, Richards slipped back to eighth at the drop of the green flag until he had a clear path to run his preferred racing groove. At Lap 5 he was up to seventh and he remained there until a Lap 19 caution restacked the field for the ensuing restart. Forced to start in the outside lane, Richards fell back to ninth, before securing a spot around the bottom of the track. He was up to eighth one lap later and had taken over the seventh spot on Lap 26. The young driver continued on in seventh until a Lap 30 caution allowed him to capitalize on the restart and secure the sixth spot. Richards battled back-and-forth with the seventh-place car for the next 20 laps, swapping positons multiple times before finally taking command of the sixth spot on Lap 47. Richards maintained that spot for the final 14 laps, to bring home a hard-fought sixth-place finish.
Richards remains in third position in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series point standings.
The Best Performance Motorsports team is scheduled to return to action Fourth of July Weekend, July 1, at Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park, July 2, at Mansfield (Ohio) Motor Speedway and July 3, and Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio.
Saturday Race Results
Qualifying – N/A Heat Race –2nd Feature Start –6th Feature Finish –6th
JOSH RICHARDS QUOTE: “I’m proud of my Best Performance Motorsports team. They worked really hard to get our backup car ready so I could go out and have a shot in the heat race. Our primary car felt really good in hot laps and in qualifying something just broke. It’s a bummer because I think we had a great car. Thankfully the backup car was good and we were able to make it into the show from our heat race and end up with a solid sixth-place finish in the Feature. We’ll definitely take it considering the circumstances. Again, I can’t thank my crew enough for their hard work and determination to get me back on the track.”