BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Josh Richards’s Saturday at Golden Isles Speedway was hardly perfect. His Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series record through two 2018 starts remained perfect, however.
After failing to complete either his heat race or consolation race, Richards, of Shinnston, W.Va., capped a hard day at the office with an improbable rally from the 26th position to complete a sweep of the Rhino Ag Super Bowl of Racing.
Richards took the lead from Tyler Erb of New Waverley, Texas, in turn four on lap 23. He led all but one of the remaining 37 laps and beat Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., to the finish by 2.163 seconds. Erb, who slipped back ahead of Richards briefly on lap 46, finished third, while 11th-starting Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., finished fourth. Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who started 12th, completed the top five. The 60-lap Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event paid Richards $12,000.
While the victory — his 28th in Georgia-Florida Speedweeks action — was convincing, Richards and his Best Performance Motorsports team had to thrash just to get to the starting grid. After the engine woes in his heat, Richards unloaded a backup Rocket XR1 machine, but while trying make a few laps in the consolation race, he had even more trouble, forcing him to take a provisional starting spot for the main event.
“This is the car we ran at Portsmouth (Raceway Park's series finale) last year. We rolled it out in a hurry and we broke a power steering line just trying to run a lap in the B-main so it’s a good thing we tried to make it out,” Richards said. “Then Danny (White) and everyone from my dad’s crew pitched in and helped us get this thing tuned up. We just (barely) made it on the racetrack.”
Richards was slated to start the main event from the 23rd spot, but when he didn’t make it to the track by the time drivers fanned out for the four-wide parade lap, he was bumped even further down in the starting lineup, eventually falling in at the 26th position. With only the intention of making laps to gain as many Lucas Oil Series points as possible, Richards was pleasantly surprised when he began picking off competitors in bulk.
“We just threw some stuff on (the car) just trying to ride around,” Richards said. “I didn’t expect to come out with a win, (I was) just hoping to finish. With the (cool, damp) air we were worried about blowing up another motor. I was trying to ride and take it easy, but we were also going forward.”
Richards was up to eighth by lap 15. He cracked the top-five two laps later on a restart following a caution for Jason Fitzgerald and Gregg Satterlee, who tangled in turn two. When drivers were allowed to get a clean helmet from a crew member during a red flag on lap 22 — the track remained heavy all night after lack of sunshine and cooler temperatures kept moisture locked in the ground — Richards was in second. He blew by Tyler Erb a lap later and set sail, pulling away by more than a full straightaway.
Seeking his first career Lucas Oil Series victory, Erb never gave up. With Richards trying to protect his equipment, Erb snuck by on lap 46. Richards easily regained the lead and pulled away though.
“I was just trying to ride and save the tires and the motor there and run the bottom,” Richards said. “By the time I looked and saw my guys had (the signaling) sticks I saw (Tyler Erb) and moved back up in (turns) three and four and felt like I got some speed built back up. We weren’t able to get by Earl (Pearson Jr.) but I guess we opened up enough distance there to finish it off.”
Erb, who took the lead from polesitter Mason Zeigler in turn two on lap six, simply couldn’t keep the defending series champion at bay either time.
“Once he passed me there on that restart they told me he was running the bottom and I tried to protect there and I just wasn’t no good there,” Erb said. “I just went back to my line and kinda ran it in and let it float out to the top and I got better and then the top got faster and faster there and he never moved up. We got right to him and I … man, if I could do anything to just get the 50 car (Shanon Buckingham) out of the way I think me and Kyle (Bronson) would’ve had a really good shot there.”
Bronson started fourth and hung around the top five throughout. He ran second behind Erb until Richards went by. The Floridian finally managed to get around Erb in the waning laps, but wasn’t close enough to Richards to make a bid for the lead.
“I was kinda biding my time there at the beginning of the race,” Bronson said. “I was a little too snug, but as the racetrack came to me there at the end I felt like I was pretty good. (Richards) was so good around the bottom there early, he wasn’t even close enough for me to have a shot a the end.”
Notes: Richards's 24th Lucas Oil Series victory moved him into a tie with Hall of Famer Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., for sixth all-time with the series. Richards now has 100 combined victories between the Lucas Oil tour and the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series. … Thirteen of the 26 starters finished the race, with a dozen still on the lead lap. … The race was slowed by four cautions. … Outside front row starter Jonathan Davenport jumped the cushion in turn one on the opening lap, damaging the nose on his Longhorn Chassis in the thick, muddy cushion. “It about stopped me pretty much,” he said. “I think it actually made my seatbelt come loose, ‘cause I had to tighten back up. I just screwed us right there pretty much.” … After seeing Richards struggle, yet still win, Bronson wondered allowed what it would take to slow his roll. “I don’t know what (Richards) has to do to not win a race. He broke everything in his trailer today and still won,” Bronson joked. … Fourth-place finisher Dennis Erb Jr., who said his car gave up on the bottom late in the race, was already looking forward to getting to East Bay Raceway Park on Monday. “It’s definitely one of my favorite (tracks), especially down here,” Erb said. “Hopefully we’ll get this car running good over there.” … Bobby Pierce improved Saturday after going to a backup car. He said he struggled seeing though. “I ran out of tearoffs on I think lap 14,” Pierce said. “I had 30 tearoffs on that thing. I thought it would be enough but the track was just so muddy. They couldn’t do anything about it. That’s how the track was all day.” … Three-time series champion Scott Bloomquist left Golden Isles with finishes of 17th (Friday) and 25th (Saturday). He exited Saturday’s race on lap nine with water pump issues.
Row 1: Mason Zeigler, Jonathan Davenport
Row 2: Tyler Erb, Kyle Bronson
Row 3: Brent Larson, Bobby Pierce
Row 4: Mike Benedum, Scott Bloomquist
Row 5: Brandon Overton, Timothy Culp
Row 6: Dennis Erb Jr., Brandon Sheppard
Row 7: Tim McCreadie, Morgan Bailey
Row 8: Boom Briggs, Jason Fitzgerald
Row 9: Gregg Satterlee, Don O’Neal
Row 10: Brian Connor, Shanon Buckingham
Row 11: Billy Moyer Jr., Coleby Frye
Row 12: Josh Richards, Jimmy Owens
Row 13: Darrell Lanigan, Earl Pearson Jr.
Officials gave the 10-minute call for feature starters at 8:50 p.m. Eastern. ... Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., was forced to start on the tail of his heat race after failing to go to the scales after time trials. … Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., scratched from the event before qualifying. Suffering a broken fly wheel on his final hot lap circuit, the Blount Motorsports team did not have enough time to make the fix before time trials. ... Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., was running second in the third heat race when he slowed his smoking No. 1 machine on the frontstretch. Losing an engine, the Best Performance Motorsports team was forced to pull out a back up car for the remainder of the program. He again suffered power steering line issues during the consolation, retiring early. … Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., had to be towed off the track during the third heat race when he broke a tie rod. … Among drivers failing to qualify for Friday’s show who are locked in to Saturday’s feature: Mike Benedum of Salem, W.Va., Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, Jason Fitzgerald of Middleburg, Fla., Brian Connor of Augusta, Ga., Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., and Coleby Frye of Dover, Pa. … Saturday’s series provisionals went to Richards, Owens, Darrell Lanigan and Earl Pearson Jr. With the series only giving out two emergency provisionals, last night’s runner-up finisher Hudson O’Neal will not qualify for the main event.
Don O’Neal passed Shanon Buckingham down the backstretch on lap six to take command of the second consolation race. O’Neal ran away to win by .983 seconds. Buckingham finished second, well in front of Coleby Frye, who held off a charge from Chase Junghans on the final lap. O’Neal had to be pushed across the scales and may need a back-up car to start the main event.
Finish (top three transfer): Don O’Neal, Shanon Buckingham, Coleby Frye, Brian Shirley, Earl Pearson Jr., Chase Junghans, Jason Jameson, Hudson O’Neal, Allen Murray, Ryan King, Josh Richards. Scratched: Shane Clanton.
Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., led all 12 laps in capturing the first consolation. Satterlee held off Billy Moyer Jr., early before beating Brian Connor to the finish. Moyer Jr. finished third.
Finish (top three transfer): Gregg Satterlee, Brian Connor, Billy Moyer Jr., Darrell Lanigan, Jonathan Rowan, Donald McIntosh, Carder Miller, Steven Roberts, Blake Spencer. Scratched: Casey Roberts, Shane Tankersley, Jimmy Owens, Jeff Mathews.
(12 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Gregg Satterlee, Brian Connor
Row 2: Steven Roberts, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 3: Jonathan Rowan, Donald McIntosh
Row 4: Carder Miller, Jeff Mathews
Row 5: Darrell Lanigan, Blake Spencer
Row 6: Jimmy Owens, Shane Tankersley
Row 7: Casey Roberts
Row 1: Shanon Buckingham, Allen Murray
Row 2: Coleby Frye, Don O’Neal
Row 3: Josh Richards, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 4: Chase Junghans, Brian Shirley
Row 5: Hudson O’Neal, Ryan King
Row 6: Jason Jameson, Shane Clanton
Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., grabbed the lead early and then held off a late-race charge from Scott Bloomquist to win the final heat by only .333 seconds. Bloomquist broke away from a second-pace battle with Jason Fitzgerald and began to trek down Bronson before running out of laps. Bloomquist settled for second, while Brandon Sheppard moved around Fitzgerald late to take the third spot. Fitzgerald held on to finish fourth.
Finish (top four transfer): Kyle Bronson, Scott Bloomquist, Brandon Sheppard, Jason Fitzgerald, Allen Murray, Don O’Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Brian Shirley, Ryan King, Jason Jameson.
Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., became the first driver to hold serve from the pole as he jumped into the lead ahead of Bobby Pierce on the opening lap. The two made contact in turn one, with Davenport driving away down the backstretch. Pierce gave up second to Josh Richards briefly, but gained the spot back when Richards pitted with trouble. Pierce finished second, with Timothy Culp third and Morgan Bagley finishing fourth. Richards slowed and gave up the second position on lap six with a puff of smoke flowing from under his car. He was pushed back to the pits. Hudson O’Neal retired under the same caution.
Finish (top four transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Bobby Pierce, Timothy Culp, Morgan Bagley, Shanon Buckingham, Coleby Frye, Josh Richards, Chase Junghans, Hudson O’Neal.
Tyler Erb of New Waverley, Texas, used the top side to motor away from polesitter Mike Benedum and ran away with the victory in the second heat. Benedum had to hold off a charging Dennis Erb Jr. for the runner-up spot, while Boom Briggs ran comfortably in fourth.
Finish (top four transfer): Tyler Erb, Mike Benedum, Dennis Erb Jr., Boom Briggs, Brian Connor Billy Moyer Jr., Donald McIntosh, Jeff Mathews, Blake Spencer. Scratched: Casey Roberts.
Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., pulled away from polesitter Brent Larson at the start and cruised to a convincing win in the first heat. Larson held on for second, while Brandon Overton held off Tim McCreadie for third. McCreadie grabbed the final transfer spot ahead of Gregg Satterlee.
Finish (top four transfer): Mason Zeigler, Brent Larson, Brandon Overton, Tim McCreadie, Gregg Satterlee, Steven Roberts, Jonathan Rowan, Carder Miller, Darrell Lanigan, Jimmy Owens.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Brent Larson, Mason Zeigler
Row 2: Brandon Overton, Steven Roberts
Row 3: Tim McCreadie, Gregg Satterlee
Row 4: Shane Tankersley, Jonathan Rowan
Row 5: Darrell Laningan, Carter Miller
Row 6: Jimmy Owens
Row 1: Mike Benedum, Tyler Erb
Row 2: Brian Connor, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 3: Donald McIntosh, Boom Briggs
Row 4: Billy Moyer Jr., Jeff Mathews
Row 5: Blake Spencer, Casey Roberts
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Bobby Pierce
Row 2: Josh Richards, Timothy Culp
Row 3: Morgan Bagley, Shannon Buckingham
Row 4: Hudson O’Neal, Shane Clanton
Row 5: Coleby Frye, Chase Junghans
Row 1: Kyle Bronson, Jason Fitzgerald
Row 2: Scott Bloomquist, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 3: Brandon Sheppard, Don O’Neal
Row 4: Allen Murray, Brian Shirley
Row 5: Jason Jameson, Ryan King
After a dusty Friday night, competitors were greeted Saturday with a track that has been tilled open and generously watered. On an overcast and very breezy afternoon drivers in both the Lucas Oil Series and the GIS Limited Late Model devision were asked to help roll in the track surface. Officials hoped the extra time spent at the front end of the program would save time later in the night by avoiding the necessity to rework the track. ... Should Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., sweep the Super Bowl of Racing with a win in Saturday’s feature, he’ll become the first driver to do so since the Lucas Oil Series started sanctioning the event in 2014. … The car count will remain at 41 on Saturday night, with one car scratching and one newcomer to the field. Allen Murray of San Antonio, Texas, arrived at GIS late Friday evening, while Craig Wolford of St. Louisville, Ohio, has already headed south to East Bay Raceway Park. ... With 41 cars on hand, the car count is down from 52 entries for last year’s GIS finale. … Several drivers were sent back to their trailers to make adjustments to their cars after Friday’s tech inspection. New Lucas Oil Series technical director Steve Francis of Bowling Green, Ky., said one of biggest issues was quarter panel length. Rules state the length should be 49 inches. “That’s what the rules going to be and that’s what we’re going to enforce,” Francis said. ... After a standout performance in January’s Wild West Shootout, Canadian driver Ricky Weiss is in the pits at GIS assisting Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn. … Finishing a quiet 18th on Friday night, Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., and his Dunn-Benson Motorsports team unloaded a new car for Saturday’s show. Pierce said the team was hopeful the engine in the backup car would be more favorable to track conditions. ... While Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., had two of his G.R. Smith-owned cars unloaded in the pits on Saturday afternoon, he will not be going to a backup car for the night’s event. Shirley scratched from Friday’s program after fighting oil pump issues. “We’re just behind,” Shirley said. … Jason Fitzgerald of Middleburg, Fla., is pulling double-duty at GIS this weekend, piloting a Limited Late Model along with his Super car. … Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., was the winner of last year’s GIS opener. But the Dream Team driver struggled on Friday night after experiencing engine problems during Thursday’s practice. He’s feeling a bit more confident heading into Saturday’s show. “I’m sure today we’ll get it all figured out,” Overton said. “We’ve kind of been through messing up everything, so I think now we’ll probably be alright.” … Kyle Bronson’s Friday performance was the best of the drivers vying for the 2018 Lucas Oil Series Rookie of the Year title. Posting an eighth-place finish, Bronson is hoping to carry that momentum into Saturday night. “Hopefully we learned a little bit last night to know what to do today,” Bronson said. “I think we’ll be pretty good today." ... Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., was forced to go to a back up car after sustaining damage to his primary car during hot laps.
Time trial results
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 15.319
Mason Ziegler (25Z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.15.423
Mike Benedum (25B), Salem, W.Va., 15.423
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 15.488
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.560
Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., 15.589
Brian Connor (77), Augusta, Ga., 15.658
Steven Roberts (111), Sylvester, Ga., 15.680
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.689
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.689
Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., 15.691
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 15.697
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.742
Shane Tankersley (T31), Morganton, Ga., 15.921
Billy Moyer Jr. (21JR), Batesville, Ark., 15.986
Jonathan Rowan (56), Jackson, Tenn., 16.093
Jeff Mathews (33), Apollo Beach, Fla., 16.164
Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 16.169
Blake Spencer (6), St. Augustine, Fla., 16.297
Carder Miller (69), Salem, Va., 16.369
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., no time
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.168
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.358
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.420
Jason Fitzgerald (7F), Middleburg, Fla., 15.653
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.660
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.675
Timothy Culp (C8), Prattville, Ark., 15.728
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.752
Morgan Bagley (14M), Longview, Texas, 15.757
Brandon Sheppard (1S), New Berlin, Ill., 15.786
Shannon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., 15.795
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 15.813
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 15.820
Allen Murray (2M), San Antonio, Texas, 15.833
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.945
Brian Shirley (22*) Chatham, Ill., 16.073
Coleby Frye (0F1), Dover. Pa., 16.100
Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 16.140
Chase Junghans (18J), Manhattan, Kan., 16.230
Ryan King (1G), Seymour, Tenn., 16.667
The Rhino Ag Super Bowl of Racing wraps up tonight with the second of two Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events. The 60-lap main event pays $12,000-to-win.
Defending Lucas Oil Series champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., will aim to sweep the weekend after outrunning second-generation driver Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., as well as Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens and Brandon Sheppard.
Saturday’s program will include time trials, heat races, consolations and the main event. The top four finishers from each heat and top two finishers from each consolation will transfer to the feature. Provisionals will set the remainder of the field.
11 a.m.: Pit gates open
3 p.m.: Grandstands open
3:30-4:15 p.m.: Autograph session
4:30 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
5 p.m.: Hot laps
- Lucas Oil Late Models
- GIS Late Models
- Street stocks
- Lucas Oil Late Models
- GIS Thunder Late Models
- Lucas Oil Late Model heats (10 laps)
- Street stock heats (6 laps)
- GIS Late Model consolation (10 laps)
- Lucas Oil Late Model consolations (12 laps)
- E-mod heats (6 laps)
- Lucas Oil Late Models (60 laps)
- Street stocks (15 laps)
- GIS Late Models (35 laps)
- E-mods (20 laps)