By Lyndal Scranton – WHEATLAND, Missouri (July 15, 2017) – Josh Richards’ summertime roll continued Saturday night on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Taking command late after Jimmy Owens had dominated most of the race, Richards captured the 11th annual CMH Diamond Nationals at Lucas Oil Speedway. It was the series points leader’s seventh win of the season.
“We just have to try and focus on being fast,” said Richards, who also won Friday night’s tour stop at Tri-City Speedway. “The last two nights definitely helps a lot. It can turn around in a heartbeat, but we’ll try to enjoy it while we can.”
Richards, of Shinnston, West Virginia, earned $12,000 and extended his series points lead over Scott Bloomquist, who finished 12th.
Veteran Don O’Neal wound up second and Darrell Lanigan was third in front of a big crowd in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series’ final visit this season to the speedway.
Matt Johnson prevailed over Jeff Cutshaw in the Pitts Homes USRA Modified feature. Johnson took home $750 courtesy of Clearlight Inn plus an additional $500 in bonus money in memory of Ron Jenkins, the original builder of Wheatland Raceway which held its first race on July 15, 2000.
The Late Model feature, co-sanctioned by the Lucas Oil MLRA, appeared to belong to Owens who started on the pole and dominated the first 51 laps. Already with seven feature wins at Lucas Oil Speedway over the last seven seasons, Owens led by as much as a straightaway’s margin midway through the race.
But Richards, who started eighth, maintained a steady advance and moved past 16-year-old Hudson O’Neal and into second on lap 37. Richards kept closing the gap on Owens as the two weaved through lapped traffic.
“I think it helped,” Richards said of the long green-flag run. “The track changed so much. The top was pretty good early. Then it got pushed so far out there. There were some wet crumbs in the middle. It’s really fun as a driver because you can move around and hit and miss a bunch of different spots.”
Richards, in his Rocket race car, made the winning pass coming out of turn two on lap 52. Owens, seeking his fourth Diamond Nationals win, attempted to regroup and made one more run at Richards.
But with three laps to go, Owens brought out the race’s lone caution when he jumped the cushion, grazed the wall and came to a stop in turn four.
“I hate it for Jimmy,” Richards said. “He tried to get back by me and got up into the wall. But we’ll definitely take it.
“We definitely didn’t have the speed we needed early, in hot laps or qualifying. We were chasing ourselves a little bit and went in a direction for the heat race and felt a little better. In the feature we didn’t really feel that great at the beginning. The longer the race went, the track got to where you lost your front tires and the car felt really good then.”
Owens’ miscue not only only dropped him to the back of the field with only a sprint to the finish remaining, it relegated him to 15th place finish.
Richards was able to easily pull away once the race went back green to capture his first career victory at Lucas Oil Speedway. Don O’Neal was second with Darrell Lanigan third, Hudson O’Neal fourth and Ozarks-area driver Jesse Stovall fifth.
“We were third last night and second tonight. We’re getting close to getting this car into victory lane,” Don O’Neal said. “We just have to keep digging. Everybody’s working hard.”
Don O’Neal set Miller Welders Fast Time overall with a 15.505-second qualifying lap, in Group B. Will Vaught has fast time in Group A at 15.555.
Heat-race winners were Hudson O’Neal, Owens, Steve Francis and Lanigan. Hudson O’Neal won his with a last-lap slide job over his dad, Don, who had led the first nine laps.
Johnson earns USRA Mod win: Matt Johnson of Archie, Mo., took the lead from speedway points leader Jeff Cutshaw on the backstretch on lap six and went on to win the 20-lap Pitts Homes USRA Modified feature.
Cutshaw, starting outside on the front row, grabbed the lead after the start. Following four early cautions, he maintained the lead through five laps before Johnson started to pressure him, making making the pass coming out of turn two.
“These fans are great and it’s a beautiful night for racing,” Johnson said. “These guys we race against are good. I can’t say enough about this MB Custom (car) and Scott Bailey engine. We’ve been thrashing this thing all night, having some issues. But it was top notch in the feature.”
Cutshaw hung on for second, well ahead of Tracy Wolff in third. Terry Schultz was fourth and Scott Drake finished fifth.
“The yellows kind of messed up my groove a little bit,” Cutshaw said. “The car was good; it was a little tight in (turns) one and two. But (Johnson) ran a great race.”
LUCAS OIL SPEEDWAY RESULTS (July 15, 2017)
11th ANNUAL CMH DIAMOND NATIONALS
Lucas Oil Late Models/Lucas Oil MLRA Late Models
Feature – 1, Josh Richards, Shinnston, W. Va. 2, Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind. 3, Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky. 4, Hudson O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind. 5, Jesse Stovall, Billings, Mo. 6, Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y. 7, Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, Ill. 8, Jake O’Neil, Tucson, Ariz. 9, Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla. 10, Steve Francis, Bowling Green, Ky. 11, Will Vaught, Crane, Mo. 12, Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn. 13, Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, 14, Payton Looney, Republic, Mo. 15, Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn. 16, Brian Shirley, Chatham, Ill. 17, Clay Daly, Watsonville, Calif. 18, Logan Martin, West Plains, Mo. 19, Randy Timms, Wheatland, Okla. 20, Greg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, Pa. 21, Boom Briggs, Bear Lake, Pa. 22, Jason Papich. Nipomo, Calif. 23, Jacob Magee, Caney, Kan. 24, Jeremy Grady, Ames, Iowa. 25, Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo. 26, Tony Jackson Jr., Lebanon, Mo.
Heat 1 – 1, Jimmy Owens. 2, Will Vaught. 3, Earl Pearson Jr. 4, Scott Bloomquist. 5, Jeremy Grady. 6, Gregg Saterlee. 7, JC Wyman. 8, Al Humphrey. 9, Austin Rettig.
Heat 2 – 1, Steve Francis. 2, Payton Looney. 3, Jason Papich. 4, Tim McCreadie. 5, Clay Daly. 6, Randy Timms. 7, Brantlee Gotschall. 8, Raymond Merrill. 9, Bob King.
Heat 3 – 1, Hudson O’Neal. 2, Don O’Neal. 3, Jesse Stovall. 4, Brian Shirley. 5, Logan Martin. 6, Scott Crigler. 7, Tony Jackson Jr. 8, Rodney Sanders. 9, Boom Briggs.
Heat 4 – 1, Darrell Lanigan. 2, Josh Richards. 3, Dennis Erb Jr. 4, Jacob Magee. 5, Jake O’Neil. 6, Kolby Vandenbergh. 7, Terry Phillips. 8, Cole Wells. 9, Will McMillen.
B Main 1 – 1, Randy Timms. 2, Gregg Satterlee. 3, Clay Daly. 4, Brantlee Gotschall. 5, JC Wyman. 6, Raymond Merrill. 7, Jeremy Grady. 8, Al Humphrey. 9, Bob King.
B Main 2 – 1, Jake O’Neil. 2, Logan Martin. 3, Terry Phillips. 4, Rodney Sanders. 5, Boom Briggs. 6, Kolby Vanderbergh. 7, Scott Crigler. 8, Cole Wells. 9, Will McMillen.
Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds
Feature – 1, Matt Johnson, Archie, Mo. 2, Jeff Cutshaw, Bolivar, Mo. 3, Tracy Wolf, Buffalo, Mo. 4, Terry Schultz, Sedalia, Mo. 5, Scott Drake, Diamond, Mo. 6, Chase Domer, Nevada, Mo. 7, Mark Dotson, Cameron, Mo. 8, Alan Brown, Alexander, Ark. 9, Jason Pursley, Hermitage, Mo. 10, Kerry Davis, Parkville, Mo. 11, Eric Turner, Hermitage, Mo. 12, Johnny Fennewald, Appleton City, Mo. 13, Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla. 14, Donnie Fellers, Wheatland, Mo. 15, Jeremy Greenwalt, Potosi, Mo. 16, Marc Herd, Wichita, Kan. 17, Daniel Franklin, Berryville, Ark. 18, Jay Arnold, Haskell, Okla. 19, Lucas Gibbs, Udall, Kan. 20, Jon Sheets, Liberal, Mo. 21, Larry Bratti, Springdale, Ark. 22, Lance Town, Wellsville, Mo. 23, Floyd Whitney II, Sturgeon, Mo. 24, John Briggs, Branson, Mo. 25, Daniel Wosoba, El Dorado Springs, Mo. 26, Robby Love, Fort Scott, Kan.
Heat 1 – 1, Alan Brown. 2, Johnny Fennewald. 3, Terry Schultz. 4, Donnie Fellers. 5, Lance Town. 6, Scott Drake. 7, Joe Duvall. 8, Daniel Wosoba. 9, Jon Sheets.
Heat 2 – 1, Jeff Cutshaw. 2, Eric Turner. 3, Mark Dotson. 4, Marc Herd. 5, Jeremy Greenwalt. 6, Floyd Whitney. 7, Lucas Gibbs. 8, Robby Love.
Heat 3 – 1, Chase Domer. 2, Matt Johnson. 3, Tracy Wolff. 4, Jason Pursley. 5, Larry Bratti. 6, Kerry Davis. 7, Daniel Franklin. 8, Jay Arnold.
Up next: One of the biggest weekends of the season is coming up, with the Geico Off Road Shootout Presented by General Tire set for next Saturday and Sunday, July 22-23, on the new Lucas Oil Speedway Off Road track. The venue opens on Friday with a practice day for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, with gates opening at noon that day.
Saturday will be a day-night doubleheader. On the dirt track, the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series fires back up with National Wild Turkey Federation Night, featuring the Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models, the Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds, the Big O Tires Street Stocks and the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods. The Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models will be the evening’s featured class running a special 25-lap, $1,000 to win main event. The American Red Cross will be on hand with the Bloodmobile from 4 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.
For ticket information on either the Geico Off Road Shootout Presented by General Tire or the the Weekly Racing Series, contact admissions director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at nichole@LucasOilSpeedway.com for further information.
For complete Lucas Oil Speedway event information, archived stories, ticket info and schedules, visit www.LucasOilSpeedway.com.
Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With its entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.
Click www.LucasOilSpeedway.com for more information and detailed directions to the speedway or call the Track Hotline at (417) 282-5984.