'KID ROCKET' LAUNCHES ONTO ARCA SCENE WITH STEWART'S HELP SHINNSTON, WV (September 5, 2007) -- Josh Richards, the 19 year-old dirt late model sensation, piloted the No. 20 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy Monte Carlo to an impressive Top-5 ...
'KID ROCKET' LAUNCHES ONTO ARCA SCENE WITH STEWART'S HELP
SHINNSTON, WV (September 5, 2007) -- Josh Richards, the 19 year-old dirt late model sensation, piloted the No. 20 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy Monte Carlo to an impressive Top-5 finish in his ARCA RE/MAX Series' debut at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. Richards made his first career series start on familiar footing -- dirt! The ARCA RE/MAX Series annually departs from their familiar paved venues to compete on the notable one-mile clay ovals of the Illinois State Fairgrounds and DuQuoin (IL) State Fairgrounds.
The 2005 World of Outlaws' Late Model Series (WoOLMS) Rookie of the Year flew to Southern Illinois following a pair of WoOLMS' events in Pennsylvania where he drove his #1 Rocket Chassis mount to a sixth and third place finish. At the historic one-mile oval, Richards met up with his car owner -- two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart. The young Mountain State native and Stewart, who also served as spotter for the 100-lap "Southern Illinois 100", are familiar teammates but often in different roles. Stewart supplements his hectic NASCAR and demanding appearance schedule with selective dirt late model special events. It is often Stewart behind the wheel of a Rocket Chassis tuned by Josh Richards. DuQuoin marked Richards' turn to get behind the wheel of a Tony Stewart owned entry that was recently purchased from Joe Gibbs Racing and received final assembly from Ken Schrader Racing.
"I don't know if Tony has anything else planned for us, but I have to thank him for putting this deal together for me," said the grateful (but exhausted) driver. "I also appreciate all of the help I got from the crew. Several of them flew in with Tony from California (following Saturday night's Nextel Cup race) and didn't get much sleep and then worked hard all day in the heat."
Josh turned the fourth fastest lap with an average speed of 103.22 mph during SIM Factory Pole Qualifying and quickly maneuvered his Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats emblazoned Chevy into a podium position before utilizing an early race caution to complete a mandatory pit stop replacing four Hoosier tires and topping the tank with Sunoco Race Fuel. After restarting 18th, Josh quickly regained standing in the Top-10 with eventual race winner Ken Schrader in tow and climbed as high as second before tire wear slowed advancement during multiple late-race restarts. The talented young throttle-stomper impressed ARS' veterans and officials with a strong third place finish in his series' debut.
"For awhile I thought we might have something for them," noted Richards. "But my right-rear tire got used up and I was a little too tight in the center of the corner. We were a solid top-five car, though. Tony seemed like he was really happy and we were able to get some laps in a heavier (stock) car, so it was a good day."
Richards now turns his focus to the most prestigious dirt late model event of the season -- this weekend's 37th Annual "World 100" held at Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway. 'Kid Rocket' is returning to the mecca of dirt late model racing with hopes to improve on his fourth place performance in the 2006 installment of the marquee race.