BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 19) — Josh Richards has earned many victories by getting his elbows up and driving his car to its absolute limit. None came in more spectacular fashion than his triumph in Friday night’s 50-lap World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series A-Main at Volusia Speedway Park.
In an absolutely scintillating performance, the 27-year-old superstar from Shinnston, W.Va., charged from the 14th starting spot to overtake Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., for the lead on lap 46 and then held off 2015's hottest driver on a wild final circuit for an unforgettable $10,000 victory.
It was the second straight WoO score and third triumph in five DIRTcar Nationals events for Richards, who positioned himself to become the second driver to sweep all three WoO features during the half-mile oval’s mid-winter motorsports meet. Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., pulled off the hat trick last year.
What’s more, Richards recorded his eighth overall win of Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, including a pair of Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga., and East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla., and a Crate Late Model score at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.
“It’s been an unbelievable Speedweeks,” said Richards, whose 10th career DIRTcar Nationals victory ranks him behind only Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark. (19 wins) and Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn. (11) on the event’s all-time win list. “I wouldn’t have expected to win that one, but we got up through there and made it work.”
Richards steered his Rocket Chassis house car across the finish line 1.332 seconds ahead of Davenport, who started from the outside pole in the K&L Rumley Longhorn Race Car and led the race’s first 45 laps. The 31-year-old Davenport, who has never won at Volusia, settled for his second runner-up and fourth podium finish of the week after his bid to reclaim the lead on the final lap was stymied by trouble with a lapped car off turn four heading to the white flag and again moments later in turn two.
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., was over four seconds behind the winner in third place at the checkered flag, but the race’s eighth starter was a major player in the event. The veteran driver reached second place just before the halfway point and was in position to challenge Davenport for the lead with less than 20 laps remaining when Richards moved in to create a three-car battle for the lead. Lloyd lost second to Richards on lap 34, regained the spot three circuits later and held it until Richards began his dramatic winning surge by grabbing the bridesmaid position for a second time on lap 44.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., finished fourth in the Sweeteners Plus Longhorn and Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind., placed fifth in Tye Twarog’s Rocket for his best outing of the DIRTcar Nationals.
Richards began the race uncertain about his chances of winning from the seventh row, but he soon realized that he could drive into contention. When he cracked the top five after a lap-13 restart, he was in position to pull off a memorable come-from-behind run.
“I didn’t know what the track was gonna do and it got dirty enough where you could move around a little bit,” Richards said. “They were throwing enough crumbs out there in (turns) three and four where you could kind of maintain and get a run back into (turn) one. In one you could make up a lot of ground if you hit it right, but otherwise you would go across the racetrack.
“The track, it’s just so technical out there that you don’t ever feel good two laps in a row. Even when we got up through there, you hit it right one lap and the next lap you’d slide. But that’s what makes racing good — you could move around.”
Richards turned up the wick midway through the race, passing McCreadie for fourth on lap 24 and Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., for third on lap 28. He sailed around the outside of Lloyd to snare second for the first time on lap 34 and the next circuit powered to Davenport’s outside on the backstretch, but he couldn’t complete a pass and on lap 37 ceded the runner-up spot back to Lloyd. By lap 40 Richards had fallen nearly two seconds behind Davenport and appeared headed toward a third-place finish.
But Richards refused to give up. He caught Lloyd on lap 43, used the outside groove off turn two to passed the home-state driver the next lap and one circuit later was challenging Davenport. Richards vaulted in front on lap 46, firing by Davenport off the outside of turn four.
“It was one of those things where I either rode around or tried to make something happen,” Richards said. “I was just trying to roll that outside and if they slipped up I would have a run, but I didn’t think we’d run him back down with seven or eight to go. I wasn’t gonna lose for trying.”
To clinch his milestone 60th career WoO win, however, Richards had to survive a frenetic last lap. Davenport slid inside Richards through turns three and four with the white flag flying but had his momentum killed off the corner by the lapped Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill.; at the other end of the track, Davenport once again drove inside of Richards, but the lapped Rick Eckert of York, Pa., momentarily slipped into Davenport’s path in turn two and Richards steamed away on the outside of the track with sufficient cushion to carry him home.
“It was so much fun out there,” Richards said. “I’m very blessed to get to do what I love to do. Just to race and get to compete for wins, you couldn’t ask for more.”
Davenport was disappointed over once again falling short of victory lane at Volusia, but he expressed surprise that he came as close to the top prize as he did. He didn’t feel that he a winning car.
“If we had started anywhere but the front row and gotten the lead we probably would’ve finished 30th or something,” Davenport said. “We were just terrible. We gotta find something. I could keep it loaded with my speed up, but once we slowed down it would sit down on the left-rear, come up on the right-front and just lay over on the right-rear and pick the left-front up. I felt like I was on … I don’t know, Monroes (shocks) or something. I don’t know what the deal was.
“I don’t see how we led as long as we did or even had a shot to win really.”
Davenport was able to survive Richards’s initial challenge with 15 laps remaining, but he couldn’t change his line to resist the eventual winner’s final charge.
“I heard him up there one time and I thought I saw a blue nose,” Davenport said of Richards’s first threat. “I kept looking up on the scoreboard and I thought I kept seeing ’21’ (Lloyd) in second and then I saw the ‘1’ (Richards) up there. I knew the bottom was the place to be, but the lapped cars knew that too so that’s where they was. It was definitely the fastest way around, and I wasn’t in a place to be able to try and go to the outside of ‘em because then I knew I’d just leave the bottom open so they could shoot right by.”
Davenport was unable to beat back Richards’s second assault, but he nearly stole the race back on the last lap anyway.
“It was crazy, I guess,” Davenport said of the last circuit. “Josh went on the outside of a couple cars going in three and four and I went to the bottom and I got a good run through there. Then Heckenast slid up out of the groove just a little bit (in turn four) and I was gonna go through there, but he started coming back down and I didn’t want to hit that uke tire coming off there so I had to back off or I believe I could’ve just went ahead and went on by (Richards).
“Then we got into one down here and Eckert went in there and I went in under him. He pushed just a little bit and I tried to go between him and the (inside) wall and ended up hitting him, and that let Josh get on by (on the outside) and get away.
“He was up on the wheel and I was too,” he added. “Once I lost the lead I was just trying anything I could to stay up. He done a good job … my guys been working hard too, but just something’s off with the car and we got find out what for tomorrow.”
Lloyd, 49, was right in the mix at the front of the pack in the race’s closing stages.
“We’ve been struggling with some brake problems, but the car’s been good,” Lloyd said. “We’ve been good qualifying and good in the heat race. Tonight the brakes lasted long enough to get us to the end of the feature. They started fading right there at the end and I tried to stay on that bottom, and Jonathan got boxed up in that lapped traffic I was able to get to him.
“He looked like he was committed to that bottom like I was. I figured I’d make that big run and just see if something happened. I figured if I could’ve got by him and got in them holes and got some traction I might could have beat him to that other end and got back to that bottom, but it just didn’t work out that way.”
Two caution flags and one red flag dotted the race. The cautions flew on lap 10 for Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., who slowed while running eighth, and lap 16 for Donny Schatz of Fargo, N.D., who slid softly nose-first into the turn-four wall.
The race’s biggest crash came on lap 13 when Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., spun between turns three and four, triggering a multi-car stack up that collected Clanton, Michael Norris of Sarver, Pa., Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., and Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa. A red flag was put out to clean up the mess.
Clanton, who switched to a back car for the feature after the machine he started the night in was sidelined by mechanical trouble in his heat, was credited with a 29th-place finish after being towed to the pit area. The defending WoO champion ended the night sixth in the series standings, 90 points behind leader Richards.
Preliminary results and notes:
First B-Main finish (top two transfer): Mark Whitener, Eric Wells, Frank Heckenast Jr., Paul Wilmoth Jr., Rick Eckert, Brandon Overton, Tyler Erb, Rodney Sanders, Freddie Carpenter, Austin Smith, Boom Briggs, Tyler Clem.
Second B-Main finish (top two transfer): Kyle Bronson, Jimmy Owens, Steve Francis, Shane Clanton, Jason Feger, Darrell Lanigan, Coleby Frye, Pancho Lawler, Reid Millard, Jordan Yaggy (DNS) Matt Sponaugle, Dennis Erb Jr.
Third B-Main finish (top two transfer): Don O'Neal, Dennis Franklin, Joey Coulter, Tyler Bruening, Dillon Wood, Chris Ferguson, Chase Junghans, Chad Hollenbeck, Charles LaPlant, Chuck Julien, Mike Hammerle.
(10 laps; top 2 transfer)
Row 1: Mark Whitener, Tyler Erb
Row 2: Eric Wells, Paul Wilmoth Jr.
Row 3: Boom Briggs, Austin Smith
Row 4: Rick Eckert, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 5: Tyler Clem, Brandon Overton
Row 6: Rodney Sanders, Freddie Carpenter
Row 1: Kyle Bronson, Jason Feger
Row 2: Pancho Lawler, Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Darrell Lanigan, Jordan Yaggy
Row 4: Steve Francis, Matt Sponaugle
Row 5: Reid Millard, Shane Clanton
Row 6: Coleby Frye, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 1: Don O’Neal, Dennis Franklin
Row 2: Joey Coulter, Tyler Bruening
Row 3: Chris Ferguson, Chase Junghans
Row 4: Dillon Wood, Charles LaPlant
Row 5: Chad Hollenbeck, Chuck Julien
Row 6: Mike Hammerle
Mason Zeigler led the entire distance, but he had to turn back the furious challenges of WoO Sprint Car ace Donny Schatz. Despite bicycling onto two wheels twice in turn one during the race, Schatz made several inside bids to overtake Zeigler; on the final lap Schatz slid underneath the leader off turn four but Zeigler had enough traction to beat Schatz by a mere 0.080 of a second. Billy Moyer Jr. finished third. A caution flag flew on lap four when Charles LaPlant stopped in turn four.
Finish (top three transfer): Mason Zeigler, Donny Schatz, Billy Moyer Jr., Dennis Franklin, Tyler Bruening, Chase Junghans, Charles LaPlant, Chuck Julien.
Jared Landers rolled to victory, beating Brian Shirley by a convincing margin of 3.056 seconds. Justin Rattliff outran Don O'Neal for the final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Jared Landers, Brian Shirley, Justin Rattliff, Don O'Neal, Joey Coulter, Chris Ferguson, Dillon Wood, Chad Hollenbeck, Mike Hammerle.
Jonathan Davenport led the entire distance, but he had to fight off an inside charge from Scott Bloomquist heading to the white flag to preserve the victory by 0.915 of a second over his arch rival. Michael Norris captured the third and final transfer spot. Caution flags flew on the first lap for Jordan Yaggy's turn-four spin; lap six for Dennis Erb Jr., who stopped in turn four with mechanical trouble while running fourth and had to be pushed back to the pit area; and lap seven when Matt Sponaugle slapped the turn-three wall and spun around. Shane Clanton, meanwhile, pulled off the track during the lap-six caution period while running third.
Finish (top three transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Scott Bloomquist, Michael Norris, Jason Feger, Jimmy Owens, Jordan Yaggy, Matt Sponaugle, Shane Clanton, Dennis Erb Jr.
Steve Casebolt led all the way to score his third heat win of the week, beating Chub Frank by 1.554 seconds. Morgan Bagley slipped past Pancho Lawler for third on a lap-five restart and finished there. Coleby Frye's rough week continued when he spun in turn four to bring out a caution flag on lap two and twirled again three circuits later in the same corner; Reid Millard locked up his brakes to avoid hitting Frye during the lap-five incident and ended up nosing softly into the tire barrier protecting the outside wall.
Finish (top three transfer): Steve Casebolt, Chub Frank, Morgan Bagley, Kyle Bronson, Pancho Lawler, Darrell Lanigan, Steve Francis, Reid Millard, Coleby Frye.
Tim McCreadie outdueled Ivedent Lloyd Jr. for the lead with an outside move on lap two and marched on to beat the Florida racer by 0.801 of a second. Josh Richards settled for third after his bid to overtake Lloyd for second on a lap-six restart saw him slide high in turn two. A caution flag flew on lap one for Thursday-night heat winner Austin Smith, who slowed with left-rear bodywork damage, and again lap six when Frank Heckenast Jr. blew a left-rear tire.
Finish (top three transfer): Tim McCreadie, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Josh Richards, Tyler Erb, Paul Wilmoth Jr., Austin Smith, Frank Heckenast Jr., Brandon Overton, Freddie Carpenter.
Turning back an early challenge from Kenny Pettyjohn, Gregg Satterlee pulled away late to defeat the Delaware driver by 1.217 seconds. Dale McDowell claimed the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Gregg Satterlee, Kenny Pettyjohn, Dale McDowell, Mark Whitener, Eric Wells, Boom Briggs, Rick Eckert, Tyler Clem, Rodney Sanders.
Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., topped the qualifying session, recording the overall fastest lap with a clocking of 15.889 seconds. He was the only driver to break into the 15-second bracket.
Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., was the fastest qualifier in Group 2 with a time of 16.234 seconds.
Satterlee and Davenport are among the heat-race polesitters, joined by Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind., Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., and Donny Schatz of Fargo, N.D.
Yet another pleasant day — partly sunny skies with temperatures around 70 — brings the DIRTcar Nationals to the cusp of a completely rain-free 2016 meet. … After Thursday night’s WoO program drew 58 cars — Volusia’s biggest Dirt Late Model field in four years (a span of 20 races) — Friday’s entry list numbers 53 cars. … Ricky Weiss of Headingly, Manitoba, is among the drivers not in action tonight. He slammed the homestretch’s inside wall hard after restart contact with Rick Eckert of York, Pa., during a Thursday-night heat; he wasn’t injured, but his Rocket car suffered frame damage that will likely make it a write-off. Weiss unloaded his backup car — a Club 29 machine owned by J.R. Haley of Baldwin, Wis. — the afternoon but ultimately decided not to compete in the evening’s program. … Drivers who have pulled out of further DIRTcar Nationals action include teammates Stacey Boles of Claxton, Tenn., and Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, Tenn., and Nick Kurtz of Greenville, Mich. … Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., remained upbeat after suffering a tough fate in Thursday night’s WoO 50-lapper. He was running fourth on lap 25 when a cut right-rear tire forced him to pit; he returned to action but retired shortly thereafter because the spare tire his crew bolted on was too hard for the conditions. McCreadie didn’t have the softer-compound tire he needed because he had blistered one earlier in his heat. … Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., was satisfied with his 13th-place finish in Thursday night’s feature — it was, after all, his best run of a frustrating DIRTcar Nationals. He’s struggled all week with a variety of maladies on his new Longhorn Race Car, including a loss of brakes on Tuesday night and other nuisance troubles. “We finally got through a night without having any problems,” Wells said. “We were tight in the feature, but we can definitely build on what we learned last night.” … Morgan Bagley of Tyler, Texas, also enjoyed a turnaround evening on Thursday, finishing ninth after starting 25th thanks to a WoO points provisional. For last night’s program he parked the new Black Diamond-Club 29 car he had been using throughout Speedweeks in favor of his 2015 mount and felt more comfortable come the A-Main.
Round 5 of the six-night DIRTcar Nationals features a 50-lap World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series A-Main paying $10,000 to win. It’s the middle event of three consecutive WoO programs to conclude the DIRTcar Nationals.
Thursday night’s program includes split-group qualifying, six heat races, B-Mains and the 50-lap headliner. The heat winners will redraw for the top-six starting spots in the feature.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top 3 transfer)
Row 1: Gregg Satterlee, Kenny Pettyjohn
Row 2: Dale McDowell, Rodney Sanders
Row 3: Tyler Clem, Eric Wells
Row 4: Rick Eckert, Mark Whitener
Row 5: Boom Briggs
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Row 2: Josh Richards, Austin Smith
Row 3: Tyler Erb, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 4: Paul Wilmoth Jr., Brandon Overton
Row 5: Freddie Carpenter
Row 1: Steve Casebolt, Pancho Lawler
Row 2: Chub Frank, Kyle Bronson
Row 3: Darrell Lanigan, Coleby Frye
Row 4: Morgan Bagley, Steve Francis
Row 5: Reid Millard
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 3: Michael Norris, Jimmy Owens
Row 4: Jason Feger, Jordan Yaggy
Row 5: Matt Sponaugle
Row 1: Brian Shirley, Jared Landers
Row 2: Justin Rattliff, Chris Ferguson
Row 3: Joey Coulter, Don O’Neal
Row 4: Dillon Wood, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 5: Mike Hammerle
Row 1: Donny Schatz, Mason Zeigler
Row 2: Billy Moyer Jr., Dennis Franklin
Row 3: Chase Junghans, Tyler Bruening
Row 4: Charles LaPlant, Chuck Julien
Time trials order
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 15.889
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.182
Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 16.342
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 16.345
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21L), Ocala, Fla., 16.382
Pancho Lawler (93), Hanover, Pa., 16.394
Dale McDowell (17M), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.432
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 16.494
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.529
Rodney Sanders (20), Happy, Texas, 16.561
Austin Smith (11s), Cedartown, Ga., 16.572
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.63
Tyler Clem (14), St. Petersburg, Fla., 16.668
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 16.678
Darrell Lanigan (15L), Union, Ky., 16.68
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 16.697
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99Jr), Frankfort, Ill., 16.723
Coleby Frye (0F), Dover, Pa., 16.75
Rick Eckert (7), York, Pa., 16.768
Paul Wilmoth Jr. (B1), Clarksburg, W.Va., 16.813
Morgan Bagley (14M), Tyler, Texas, 16.828
Mark Whitener (5W), Middleburg, Fla., 16.843
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 16.881
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 16.903
Boom Briggs (99b), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.944
Freddie Carpenter (K), Parkersburg, W.Va., 17.244
Reid Millard (14), Jefferson City, Mo., 17.883
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 16.234
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 16.364
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 16.432
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.499
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 16.535
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 16.537
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.54
Justin Rattliff (16), Campbellsville, Ky., 16.602
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.684
Dennis Erb Jr. (28e), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.696
Chris Ferguson (22), Mt. Holly, N.C., 16.782
Dennis Franklin (2), Gaffney, S.C., 16.816
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 16.855
Joey Coulter (2c), Charlotte, N.C., 16.925
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 16.932
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 17.026
Don O'Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 17.053
Tyler Bruening (16T), Decorah, Iowa, 17.137
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 17.168
Dillon Wood (1W), New Smyrna Beach, Fla., 17.206
Charles LaPlant (3c), East Prairie, Minn., 17.362
Jordan Yaggy (77), Rochester, Minn., 17.363
Chad Hollenbeck (4Ds), Kingsley, Pa., 17.395
Chuck Julien (57), Apopka, Fla., 17.596
Matt Sponaugle (8), Wiley Ford, W.Va., 17.711
Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo., 18.837