After breaking into the victory column on April 9 with a flawless 35-lap drive behind the wheel of the Ernie Davis-owned Ernie D’s Enterprises Rocket No. 25, Richards is setting his sights on the $25,000 top prize posted for the winner of this weekend’s second annual World of Outlaws Late Model Series Commonwealth 100 at Virginia Motor Speedway in Jamaica, Va.
The 23-year-old star from Shinnston, W.Va., enters VMS’s two-day show, which includes time trials and heat races on Friday night (April 15) and B-Mains, a non-qualifiers race and the 100-lap A-Main on Saturday evening (April 16), leading the WoO LMS points standings as he bids for an unprecedented third consecutive national title. He will be back in the cockpit of his familiar Mark Richards Racing Enterprises/Kentucky Fuel Corporation/Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket No. 1 for the first time since finishing second in a WoO LMS event on March 25 at Ocala (Fla.) Speedway.
“It feels great to finally get the first win of the season under our belt,” said Richards, who has earned recognition as the Northeast’s winningest dirt Late Model driver in each of the past two years. “We’ve led a lot of laps this year whether it be with the Outlaws or in Ernie’s car, but we just haven’t been able to pull anything off. It was good to finally get the monkey off our back and get a win.
“The car was phenomenal and fun to drive and hopefully we can carry the momentum into Virginia.”
With a stout Roush-Yates Ford engine providing the power, Richards made short work of the field in Saturday’s headliner at the one-third-mile Winchester oval. He advanced from the third starting spot to grab the lead from Jeremy Miller on lap nine and never looked back en route to a $2,000 first-place payoff.
Richards survived a late caution flag to cross the finish line ahead of Miller, who one week earlier snuck by Richards on the final lap to win the season opener at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway.
“I felt like we should have won last weekend but circumstances didn’t work out,” Richards said of his heartbreaking second-place finish in a 25-lap feature on April 2 at Hagerstown. “We were fading on tires and got caught in lapped traffic, and Jeremy made a great move to get by us.”
Richards gained a dose of redemption on Miller at Winchester, a track that has been very good to Richards in recent seasons.
“We’ve had a lot of success there the last three or four years,” Richards said of the Greg Gunter-owned facility. “I really enjoy racing there. It’s well prepared and awesome to race on. They’ve brought it a long way from what it used to be. They’ve done a great job making improvements to it and making it more competitive.”
Now Richards turns his attention to the Commonwealth 100, a growing event at one of the country’s top facilities. He is hoping to record his first-ever win at Bill Sawyer’s half-mile oval outside Richmond.
“We kind of struggled some there in the past, but last year we were good,” said Richards. “We were running second in last year’s 100 (on lap 87) when we blew a tire like everybody else started to. It was disappointing to finish 12th, but I felt like that was the best we’ve ever been there so we’re confident going into this year’s race.
“There’s a lot of good cars coming in this weekend, but with the way our program is going I feel really comfortable and I’m looking forward to going out there to race. Hopefully we can get our car balanced so we don’t have to hustle it and lean on the right-rear tire too much, and then we’ll be there at the end.
For more information on Josh Richards, visit www.joshrichards.com, follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Richards1.
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Josh Richards’ No. 1 team carries support from Rocket Chassis, Kentucky Fuel Corporation, Cornett Racing Engines, Seubert Calf Ranches,Ernie D’s Enterprises, ACE Metal Works, Petroff Towing, Tony Stewart Racing, Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Racing Tires, Integra Shocks, Slavic Custom Decals, Valvoline, AEM, ATL Fuel Cells, Aurora Bearing Company, Autolite, Banshee Graphics, Barnes Systems, Beyea Performance, Brinn Transmissions, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Braswell Carburetion, Butlerbuilt Seat Systems, CV Products, Dohm Cycles, Dyer’s Top Rods, Fram Filters, Frankland Rearends, Howe Racing, LSI, MSD Ignition, Outerwears, Performance Bodies, Performance Friction Brakes, Performance Rod & Custom, Rand, Ringers Gloves, Scott Performance Wire, Simpson Race Products, Sweet Manufacturing, Tel Tech, TWM Racing Products, Trick Carbon Fiber Driveshafts, Jones Racing Products, TurboStart Racing Batteries, Ultra Lite Brakes, US Brake, Weld Racing Wheels, Will Kinzer Foundation, Wehr’s Machine, Wilwood and Wrisco Aluminum.