Richards anxious to return to Kansas with NASCAR Winston West Series.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 27, 2002)-- For Kevin Richards, last year's NASCAR Winston West Series race at Kansas Speedway was indicative of his overall 2001 season-- one of disappointment. After qualifying second quickest and leading the initial laps of the inaugural race at the new superspeedway, Richards dropped out of contention with mechanical trouble.

Although he was bitterly disappointed at last year's outcome, Richards says he is now optimistic about his return with the NASCAR Winston West Series to Kansas City, Kan., for the KANSAS SPEEDWAY.COM 150 on June 1.

"It was pretty heart breaking at the time, but going back it feels good because we're taking the same car and probably going to unload with the same setup that we had," said Richards, who hails from Spokane, Wash. "I'm sure we'll have to tune on it a little bit, because they (Hoosier) are taking a different tire. But we should unload as one of the faster cars, because we left there with a good base."

Last year's race reflected the kind of disappointing season that Richards experienced overall in 2001. After finishing in the top-five of the final standings his first three full seasons in the series, the 39-year-old competitor ended last year 11th in the standings.

"Last year is something we don't want to even think about anymore," Richards said. "We had more little things happen to us in a season that most guys do in five seasons."

Everything seems to be back on track this year, meanwhile, for Richards and the Monaco Enterprises team. "This year, it's gone a lot better," Richards said. "We're real happy with the way the year has gone so far."

Coming off a runner-up finish at California Speedway-- Richards hopes to continue his momentum at Kansas Speedway, a facility for which he has plenty of praise. "I like the track," he said. "It's a very smooth track and it has a lot of grip. The banking is just right for the size of the race track. You can get around there at a very good speed."

Richards emphasized the need, meanwhile, to have the correct suspension setup at the 1.5-mile superspeedway. "When you've got the car right, it's really a lot of fun," he said. "If it's off a little bit, it's a bad way to be."

Richards enters the Kansas race third in the championship standings, with top-10 finishes in all three races this season. Austin Cameron of El Cajon, Calif., leads the point standings with 530. Eric Norris of Dana Point, Calif., is second with 489-- slightly ahead of Richards with 476. Series rookie Greg Pursley of Newhall, Calif., is fourth overall with 442; while Mike Duncan of Lamont, Calif., is fifth with 405. Rounding out the top 10 are Mike David at 393, Scott Gaylord at 384, Brett Thompson at 374, Tim Woods III at 371 and Johnny Borneman at 370.

Pursley tops the list in the chase for the Stage 8 Locking Fasteners Rookie-of-the-Year Award. He leads 27 points-- followed by David and Thompson with 25 each. G.J. Mennen Jr. trails with 20, followed by Scott Lynch with 17.

The KANSAS SPEEDWAY.COM 150 is the fourth event on this year's schedule for the NASCAR Winston West Series. Practice and qualifying for the $198,701 event is slated for Friday, May 31. The scheduled start time for the race on Saturday, June 1, is noon.

-nascar-