WEEDSPORT, N.Y. — World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series points leader Josh Richards dominated Tuesday’s event at Weedsport Speedway like few drivers do in national touring events.
The Shinnston, W.Va., driver took the checkers more than 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., with only four competitors staying on the lead lap in the Finger Lakes 40 as Richards clicked off his series-leading seventh victory of 2016.
“I can’t thank my guys enough,” Richards said. “They worked their butts off, and I’m just glad I can put (the Rocket Chassis house car) up front for them.”
Frank Heckenast Jr of Frankfort, Ill., finished third followed by Brandon Overton of Appling, Ga., and former series champion Rick Eckert of York, Pa., as the final driver to complete 40 laps.
While Richards led by five seconds at halfway, he more than doubled that by the finish, leading by as much as 11.116 seconds.
“I really didn’t realize (how many drivers he'd lapped) until at the end when I saw Rick and Overton and glanced up at the board,” Richards said. “I didn’t feel like we were that good, but the track was beautiful. That was the most fun track I’ve run on in a long time. They do a phenomenal job here. This is a beautiful place. I remember coming here 10 years ago as a rookie and it’s really cool to come back here.”
Richards signaled his dominance by winning a heat race by more than three seconds, but he stretched that even further by leading all the way from his pole position in the 40-lap main event.
While Richards controlled the lead, the biggest battle was for spots four through six. Clanton, Eckert and Overton jockeyed for position within the first 10 laps of the feature, nearly spreading three-wide across the 3/8-mile oval. Overton relied on the top groove early, but soon forfeited the high side of the track to the sixth-starting Clanton, who broke into the top five by lap 7.
Clanton and Eckert chased-down the third-running Steve Casebolt by lap 21. The trio bunched up, weaving as a unit through lapped traffic. It took a bold move on lap 17 from Clanton to take third. With Clanton’s fender nearly grazing the wall with every lap, he set his sights on the second-running Heckenast, who started outside the front row.
“We were just trying to bide our time and pick our line, and we needed to get by those guys,” said Clanton, who won WoO’s 2015 visit to Weedsport. “I knew I was better than them biding my time. I knew that Josh was long gone. … we needed a caution there at the end to see if I had anything for him. But overall (a) good night.”
Clanton overtook his fellow Capital Race Cars driver Heckenast using the top groove while Heckenast held on for the third spot.
“We’ve had some good runs but just with bad luck,” said Heckenast, who picked up his first fast time honors of the season. “I’m just trying to get the ball rolling, get some confidence back, make good runs, build the bank up and get confidence for my crew guys. We were definitely a third place car. Shane was better than us. But this place is awesome. I wish we could race at facilities like this every week.”
Notes: WoO competitors get a day off before the three-day Firecracker 100 weekend at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., which features $6,000-to-win preliminary features Thursday and Friday and a $30,000-to-win event Saturday. … Provisional starter Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., who won the 2006 and ’07 WoO visits to Weedsport, started 23rd and finished 12th. … Austin Smith of Cedartown, Ga., entered his first event in the state of New York, finished 11th. … Boom Briggs returned to compete on the series for the first time since an April 3 wreck at Farmer City (Ill.) left him with a severely broken wrist that required multiple surgeries.