GIBSONTON, Fla. — You don't often hear racers saying they were glad to wreck a race car. But that's exactly how Josh Richards felt standing in victory lane of Thursday's Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series nightcap at East Bay Raceway Park.
Forced to a brand new car after crashing his primary ride in the evening's earlier feature, the Shinnston, W.Va., driver found the new Clint Bowyer Racing Rocket Chassis was just the ticket to grab his eighth career Wrisco Winternationals victory.
"It's been up and down this week for us," Richards said after thanking his crew, "but we'll certainly enjoy this one."
In a 40-lapper plagued by multicar accidents and flat tires, Richards endured for his 32nd career Lucas Oil victory in taking the checkers 1.115 seconds ahead of series points leader Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga. Monday's Winternationals winner Hudson O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., was third with 17th-starting Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., and Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, rounding out the top five finishers.
Home-state standout Mark Whitener of Middleburg led the first six laps before Richards took command on a restart, and Whitener lost the third position when he had a flat tire with five laps remaining.
The race was a makeup of Wednesday's rainout with the 40-lapper run at the conclusion of Thursday's regularly scheduled main event won by Stormy Scott of Las Cruces, N.M., who grabbed his first career Lucas Oil Series victory.
Richards had to scramble to get ready for the second feature in preparing a car that had never hit the racetrack.
"I was so frustrated in that first race. I felt like we had a really good car and we had to take a provisional and got up through there a little bit, and we just ended up destroying our primary car," he said. "This car, it's the first laps that it's made right now. I can't thank the (Mason) Zeigler crew enough, Bryan (Liverman) and everybody on that crew, Buck (James Buckley), for helping us out to get this thing thrashed and changed back over for tonight. This is the first laps it's made — I'm actually kind of glad we crashed the other one. It feels really good."
Whitener got the jump on polesitter Brandon Sheppard to take the early lead with the ninth-starting Richards grabbing second spot by the third lap. He was in a hurry to get to the front in a race where virtually everyone was running low groove most of the distance.
"The track I know was a little narrow there," Richards said. "I knew the first couple of laps that I felt like I had a really good car, and I was able to run out in the racetrack. I knew it was going to be really critical to try and get the lead early. I picked the bottom on the early restart, and Overton kind of pulled me, and luckily he slipped up down in (turn) one a little bit so I was able to get back under him in three and four. So the next restart I picked the top and got a good run and was able to get by Whitener."
Overton knew he'd missed a big opportunity when he lost the position to Richards.
"He just beat me to the point there, and by the time we got into second (the track) was kind of laned up," Overton said. "You just try not to make any mistakes and make sure you've got aired up tires at the end.
"On the Raceceiver, they kept calling and saying 'left-rear flat,' and that was the softest one we had on. So I was just scared to death. I'd just take off and ease into it and I don't think nobody was going to pass one another unless we had a flat.
"Every day we've been on the podium except one, and we'll take it and roll into tomorrow."
O'Neal, who started alongside Richards in the fifth row, lost a few positions early but then picked his way into contention.
"I tried to drive straight and keep my tires underneath of me there for the (last) part of that race," he said. "We were pretty good before it rubbered up. We were just able to take advantage of some flat tires and getting under a couple of guys. We didn't have a very good first round, but we rebounded here in the second (race) with a nice podium and something we can build off of the rest the week."
The feature was slowed by nine cautions, several for multicar incidents.
On the third lap, Brandon Overton clipped the rear of polesitter Brandon Sheppard's car, sending Sheppard around in turn one and knocking him out of the fourth spot with Tanner English, Tony Jackson Jr., Billy Moyer Jr. and Kyle Strickler coming together trying to avoid the mess.
Even more cars were involved in a six-lap incident exiting turn four when a Boom Briggs-Hudson O'Neal tangle triggered a wreck including Strickler, English, Bobby Pierce, Devin Moran, Tyler Erb, Wil Herrington and Chase Junghans.
Jonathan Davenport, Rick Eckert and Pierce — who spun on the first lap to trigger a complete restart — were involved in a lap-seven scrape in turn three while another caution flew on lap nine for a Jackson-Strickler incident.
Late cautions appeared for flat tires for fourth-running Tim McCreadie (lap 30) and the third-running Whitener (lap 36).
The final yellows came out on the 38th lap for yet another multicar pileup when bumper tag resulted in a scramble involving John Baker, Erb, Junghans and others, and on the white-flag lap when English backed into the turn-one gate after a frontstretch tangle. He tossed his steering wheel out of the car in frustration that no doubt many of the drivers felt after a rough and tumble affair.
Notes: First-race winner Stormy Scott wasn't in the nightcap. ... Heat winner Wil Herrington gave up the fifth spot to change a flat tire on a lap-three caution and another heat winner, Jimmy Owens, also pitted for an early flat. ... Kyle Strickler took a provisional and drove Rob Anderzack's car (still with the No. 8). Strickler was involved in three cautions.
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Mark Whitener
Row 2: Bobby Pierce, Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Wil Herrington, Brandon Overton
Row 4: Dennis Erb Jr., Kyle Bronson
Row 5: Josh Richards, Hudson O’Neal
Row 6: Boom Briggs, Tyler Erb
Row 7: Tim McCreadie, Devin Moran
Row 8: Frank Heckenast Jr., Chase Junghans
Row 9: Brian Shirley, Jonathan Davenport
Row 10: Tony Jackson Jr., Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 11: Tanner English, Rick Eckert
Row 12: John Baker, Blair Nothdurft
Row 13: Earl Pearson Jr., Kyle Strickler
Row 14: Mike Marlar, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Rain that began about 7:45 p.m. halted the second consolation race and forced the remainder of Wednesday’s program to be concluded following Thursday’s originally scheduled program. The postponement sets up a doubleheader for $7,000-to-win features. After the first full program is complete, there will be a short break and then the remainder of Wednesday’s program will pick up with John Baker leading Billy Moyer Jr., with four laps remaining in the second consolation race.
Consolation race results
(10 laps: top two transfer)
First consolation: Tony Jackson Jr., Rick Eckert, Gregg Satterlee, Spencer Hughes, Stormy Scott, Jason Riggs, Doug Drown, Blake Spencer, Tyler Bruening, David Seibers, Joe Denby, Joe Godsey, Deshawn Gingerich, Brennon Willard, Joel Callahan, Johnny Scott, Jason Miller. Scratched: Kyle Strickler.
Second consolation: Billy Moyer Jr., John Baker (complete results unavailable).
Third consolation: Tanner English, Blair Nothdurft, Jesse Stovall, Colton Flinner, Matt Lux, Ross Robinson, Todd Brennan, Danny Snyder, Matt Irey, Rob Anderzack, Richie Edwards. Scratched: Ryan Gustin, Matt Cosner, Manny Falcon, Larry Grube, Josh Putnam, Kerry King.
Heat race results
(Eight laps; top three transfer)
First heat: Brandon Sheppard, Dennis Erb Jr., Tim McCreadie, Rick Eckert, Doug Drown, Gregg Satterlee, Tony Jackson Jr., Joe Godsey, Blake Spencer, Joe Denby, Deshawn Gingerich. Scratched: Brennon Willard.
Second heat: Bobby Pierce, Josh Richards, Frank Heckenast Jr., Johnny Scott, Spencer Hughes, Stormy Scott, Tyler Bruening, Jason Riggs, Jason Miller, Joel Callahan, David Seibers, Kyle Strickler.
Third heat: Wil Herrington, Boom Briggs, Brian Shirley, John Baker, Ashton Winger, David Breazeale, Mike Marlar, Michael Brown, Dan Stone, Ryan King, Jeff Roth, Zack Dohm.
Fourth heat: Mark Whitener, Kyle Bronson, Devin Moran, Billy Moyer Jr., Steven Roberts, Dean Carpenter, Ken Monahan, Jadon Frame, Earl Pearson Jr., Mason Zeigler, Ricky Thornton Jr., Brandon Carpenter.
Fifth heat: Jimmy Owens, Hudson O’Neal, Chase Junghans, Tanner English, Matt Lux, Ryan Gustin, Todd Brennan, Matt Cosner, Manny Falcon, Richie Edwards, Larry Grube. Scratched: Kerry King.
Sixth heat: Brandon Overton, Tyler Erb, Jonathan Davenport, Ross Robinson, Jesse Stovall, Blair Nothdurft, Rob Anderzack, Matt Irey, Danny Snyder, Colton Flinner. Scratched: Josh Putnam.
Wednesday’s third night of Winternationals action marks the first — and likely only — East Bay racing program that will be threatened by rain. A back end of a line of showers and thunderstorms that has crossed the northern part of the state appears that it could come off the Gulf of Mexico and reach the track this evening; the chance of rain escalates significantly around 9 p.m. … Wednesday’s 73-car field includes newcomers Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., and Kerry King Sr. of Delmar, Del. … Freddie Carpenter of Parkersburg, W.Va., who escaped injury in a wild series of flips during Tuesday’s first heat, found that his 2-race-old Kryptonite Race Car wasn’t as damaged as he initially though and plans to have it repaired to race on Thursday. … Jeff Mathews of Apollo Beach, Fla., who absorbed a hard hit from Carpenter in the Tuesday heat accident, is also sitting out tonight’s action to repair his machine for Thursday. … Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., is in the pit area but not racing this evening. Just a couple weeks removed from the end of his 8-day hospitalization for treatment of Covid-19 and pneumonia, Clanton said the grind of racing and the extra work he put in with his crew today changing an engine after breaking a powerplant in Tuesday’s feature left him run down; he added that his right arm is sore from getting banged around when he slid sideways and was hit by passing cars on the opening lap of Tuesday’s feature and he cut a finger on his left hand while making his motor swap. … Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., has pulled out his second Paylor Motorsports Longhorn house car after his involvement in an opening-lap tangle in Tuesday’s feature left his No. 39 with significant damage. Adding to the frustration of McCreadie’s Tuesday outing, the tow truck that transported his car back to the pit area dropped him in a swampy, muddy spot near his trailer; it took more than two hours for McCreadie’s car to be pulled out of the muck.
Time trial results (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Brandon Sheppard (1S), New Berlin, Ill., 14.385
Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., 14.535
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 14.539
Dennis Erb Jr. (28E), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.572
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 14.595
Wil Herrington (00H), Cochran, Ga., 14.617
Rick Eckert (0E), York, Pa., 14.622
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 14.654
John Baker (14B), Norman Park, Ga., 14.659
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 14.678
Spencer Hughes (11H), Meridian, Miss., 14.686
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 14.748
Doug Drown (12D), Wooster, Ohio, 14.752
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 14.759
Ashton Winger (311A), Hampton, Ga., 14.761
Joe Godsey (14G), Edinburgh, Ind., 14.776
Johnny Scott (1st), Las Cruces, N.M., 14.783
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 14.802
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 14.806
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 14.824
Dan Stone (2D), Thompson, Pa., 14.946
Tony Jackson Jr. (56), Lebanon, Mo., 14.959
Jason Miller (94M), Winchester, Va., 14.999
David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 15.002
Blake Spencer (6s), St. Augustine, Fla., 15.030
Joel Callahan (40c), Dubuque, Iowa, 15.041
Michael Brown (24-D), Pageland, S.C., 15.045
Deshawn Gingerich (0G), Dover, Pa., 15.131
Jason Riggs (81r), Harrisburg, Ill., 15.352
Joe Denby (27J), Tullahoma, Tenn., 15.435
David Seibers (18S), Chapel Hill, Tenn., 15.442
Jeff Roth (14R), Bentonville, Ark., 15.735
Brennon Willard (3w), Lebanon, Mo., 15.816
Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 16.855
Zack Dohm (17D), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 26.504
Ryan King (1G), Seymour, Tenn., no time
Mark Whitener (385), Middleburg, Fla., 14.263
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 14.507
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 14.545
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 14.635
Tanner English (81E), Benton, Ky., 14.685
Ross Robinson (7R), Georgetown, Del., 14.707
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 14.707
Matt Cosner (66C), Ridgeley, W.Va., 14.714
Blair Nothdurft (76B), Sioux Falls, S.D., 14.730
Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 14.733
Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 14.810
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 14.841
Steven Roberts (111), Jesup, Ga., 14.866
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 14.905
Tyler Erb (1T), New Waverly, Texas, 14.955
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 14.963
Richie Edwards (4B), Grayson, Ky., 15.058
Matt Irey (36), Mansfield, Ohio, 15.082
Ken Monahan (311), Lakeland, Fla., 15.154
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 15.206
Rob Anderzack (8), Swanton, Ohio , 15.242
Dean Carpenter (51), Coldwater, Miss., 15.244
Matt Lux (111), Franklin, Pa., 15.250
Josh Putnam (212), Florence, Ala., 15.305
Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 15.344
Todd Brennan (20B), Zanesville, Ohio, 15.357
Jesse Stovall (00S), Billlings, Mo., 15.396
Brandon Carpenter (51B), Coldwater, Miss., 15.426
Larry Grube (29), Mauldin, S.C., 15.430
Danny Snyder (4S), Green Lane, Pa., 15.446
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.452
Manny Falcon (995), Pine Grove, La., 15.492
Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., 15.505
Jadon Frame (J8), Decherd, Tenn., 15.682
Kerry King (0KB), Delmar, Del., 15.741
3-4:45 p.m - Technical inspection and pill draw
5 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting
5:30 p.m. - On-track action begins
- Hot laps
- Time trials (two laps)
7 p.m. - Invocation and national anthem
- Heat races (8 laps)
- Consolation races (12 laps)
- Strawberry Dash (8 laps)
- Main event (40 laps)