Delaware International Speedway
Power fades but Richards doesn't in Delaware win
By Kevin KovacWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
DELMAR, Del. (May 13) — Josh Richards had just enough power left under the hood of his Rocket Chassis house car to capture Thursday night's World of Outlaws Late Model Series First State 50 at Delaware International Speedway.
Running more than half the race on what he said was seven cylinders, Richards managed to turn back a furious late-race challenge from Brady Smith to record his series-leading third victory of the 2010 WoO campaign. He is the only driver who has won more than once in the national tour's 13 events. | Video
Richards, 22, of Shinnston, W.Va., led the rough-and-tumble 50-lapper from start-to-finish, never faltering on the restarts that followed the race's nine caution flags. The defending WoO champion crossed the line 0.244 of a second ahead of Solon Springs, Wis.'s Smith, whose runner-up finish was his best since he won the tour's second event Feb. 13 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
The victory also moved Richards back into the WoO points lead by 22 points over Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who fell from the catbird's seat following a dismal 16th-place finish. McCreadie cut a right-rear tire while running fifth on lap 23 and later retired on lap 43 with apparent jackshaft problems after climbing back to 10th place.
"Luck was definitely on our side tonight," said Richards, who earned $10,675 for his 23rd career triumph on the WoO. "We ran good in our heat, drew the outside pole, were able to run up front and keep in clean air the whole way in the feature, and survived an engine problem. I guess it was just meant to be tonight."
Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., lost second place to Smith on a lap-23 restart and battled an overheating engine for much of the distance, but he held on to finish third. Teenage rookie contender Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., racing at a track just minutes from his home, advanced from the 19th starting spot to finish fourth while 11th-starting Dale McDowell of Rossville, Ga., completed the top five after ceding fourth to Hubbard on a lap-48 restart.
The road to victory was certainly nerve-racking for Richards, who thought his tough luck in WoO action at the half-mile oval was about to continue when his Cornett engine began to sour as he set the pace. His previous disappointments at Delaware included a tangle with a lapped car after leading the first 20 laps of the 2007 event and a first-lap incident in 2009 that forced him to run the remainder of the distance one lap down in an extremely beat-up machine.
"I don't know what happened exactly, but I felt something change in the engine just before halfway," Richards said. "When it happened I thought we were done, because we were definitely down huge on power all of a sudden. But after 10 or 15 laps I was still leading and I really hadn't heard anybody, so I was like, 'I must be OK.'
"Actually, being down on power might have helped because I could roll through the corner, run wide open and the car stuck. I could keep all my momentum up."
Richards was chased throughout the race's second half by Smith, who started fourth. Smith closed right up on the rear bumper of Richards's car exiting turn two several times during the final laps and stuck his machine's nose under Richards after a lap-48 restart, but he couldn't pull off a pass.
"I saw (Smith) with like two (laps) to go," said Richards. "I slipped in three and four and I saw him flash under me for a second, but I had enough momentum to pull him off the corner. Then I just tried to hold on for the last lap. This track bit us a couple times in the past, so it's nice to come out here and finally get a win."
Smith, who turns 33 on May 31, wore a satisfied smile despite falling short of victory.
"I gave it all I had, and I'm sure (Richards) was giving it all he had," said Smith. "It was a good race. It was fun.
"I really thought I was gonna be able to run under him coming through (turns) three and four on that last lap, but I just over-charged the corner because I was trying not to leave anything on the racetrack and do everything I could to win.
"We'll take second," he added. "Oh my god, we needed a paycheck worse than you could ever imagine. We've had a great race car and my guys have been working hard, but we just haven't had things fall into place this year."
Among the WoO stars who ran into trouble during the event were Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. Both drivers brought out caution flags after their cars' noses were bent under from digging into the racetrack — Smith on lap nine after he had started from the pole position and held second for laps 1-8, and Fuller on lap 48 when slid off the track in turn one while holding 11th place.
Notes: Richards drives a Cornett-powered Rocket Chassis sponsored by Seubert Calf Ranches, Ernie D's Enterprises and Ace Metal Works. ... DIS regular Donald Lingo Jr. of Millsboro, Del., who finished 12th, received a $500 bonus for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn't won a WoO event and isn't ranked among the top 12 in the points standings. ... Millsboro, Del.'s Amanda Whaley, a 15-year-old Late Model rookie, finished third in the second consolation to qualify for a WoO feature in her first-ever appearance on the tour. She placed 19th in the 50-lapper, completing 33 laps before retiring. She's just the third female driver to start a WoO feature. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature: Jason Covert (seventh quick in qualifying), Staci Warrington, Darryl Hills, Kirk Ryan Jr. (last year's Delaware State Championship winner), David Hill (the track's all-time winningest driver) and G.R. Smith (scratched from qualifying). ... WoO competitors head to Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway on Saturday for the $10,000-to-win Conococheague 50.
First State 50: (1) Josh Richards (2) Brady Smith, (3) Steve Francis, (4) Austin Hubbard, (5) Dale McDowell, (6) Rick Eckert, (7) Shane Clanton, (8) Darrell Lanigan, (9) Chub Frank, (10) Russ King, (11) Clint Smith, (12) Donald Lingo Jr., (13) Brent Robinson, (14) Mark Byram, (15) Tim Fuller, (16) Tim McCreadie, (17) Kenny Pettyjohn, (18) Jamie Lathroum, (19) Amanda Whaley, (20) Jeremy Miller, (21) Ross Robinson, (22) Vic Coffey, (23) Jill George, (24) Ricky Elliott. Fast qualifier (among 40 cars): Eckert, 18.377 seconds. Heat race winners: Eckert, Francis, McCreadie, B. Smith.Consolation winners: Frank, Byram. Provisional starters: George, Robinson.
Correction: FIxes fourth- and fifth-place finishing order.