Josh Richards Caps Busy Week with Career Best Finish in Dream XVI at Eldora Speedway
SHINNSTON, W. Va. - June 14, 2010 - A busy week ended in satisfactory fashion for Josh Richards. Capping a stretch that saw him shuttle between dirt and asphalt racing, the 22 year-old sensation from Shinnston, W.Va., scored a quiet but still career-best finish in the prestigious Dirt Late Model Dream XVI at Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on Sunday afternoon.
Though Richards would have liked to place higher than sixth in the postponed 100-lap Dream event, it did surpass his previous top finish of seventh (in 2005) - and considering that he started the huge weekend at the 'Big E' in a significant hole, he wasn't disappointed with his performance.
"I was hoping for at least a top five, but we can't complain about finishing sixth," said Richards, who started 16th and steadily inched his way forward in a rough and tumble race that was postponed from its originally scheduled Saturday night date. "After (qualifying) on Friday night I didn't know if we'd even be able to make the show."
Indeed, Richards had to come from behind to gain a starting berth in the $100,000 to-win Dream for the fifth time in his young career. He missed his qualifying spot in the first round of Friday night's 104 car time-trial session arriving late from Michigan International Speedway's rain delayed ARCA Series race where he qualified 11th but ended the race early at lap 37 with heavy damage from a blown right front tire. During the second round of qualifying for the Dream his lap of 16.731 seconds around the half-mile oval was good only for 64th in the final qualifying order, he was left with an 11th place starting spot in Saturday night's fourth 15-lap heat race, a difficult position since only the top three would transfer to the A-Main.
But Richards came on strong in his preliminary, making one of the biggest charges of the evening to finish third and earn the 16th starting spot in the Dream XVI. He went on to advance 10 positions in the 100 lap race when it was run on Sunday afternoon, but he knows he could have taken his Mark Richards Racing Enterprises/Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket No. 1 higher if he had made just a few more tweaks to its setup.
"We were just too free (handling) the whole race," said Richards, who got as high as fifth before settling for a sixth place finish. "It was actually a fun racetrack if we would've been a little bit better. It was so slick out there, so slow, nobody could get a hold of anything."
Richards arrived at Eldora on Wednesday (June 9) after driving the Ernie Davis owned No. 25 to a second place finish in the 40 lap CenturyLink Appalachian Mountain Speedweek event on June 7 at Winchester (Va.) Speedway. His first day in the Buckeye State was spent as crew chief for NASCAR star Tony Stewart, who finished 6th, in the annual Gillette Fusion ProGlide Prelude to the Dream charity race.
Richards has little time for rest with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Great Northern Tour kicking off on Tues., June 15, at Can-Am Motorsports Park in Lafargeville, N.Y. He leads the national tour's points standings entering the swing through the Northeast, which also visits Merrittville Speedway in Thorold, Ont., on June 17; Quebec's Autodrome Drummond on June 19; Cornwall (Ont.) Motor Speedway on June 20 (Richards has won the two previous WoO LMS events there); and Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway on June 22 before concluding with on June 24-26 with the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.