By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
FAYETTEVILLE, NC – Oct. 7, 2008 – Josh Richards didn’t have any good vibes entering Tuesday night’s World of Outlaws Late Model Series event at Fayetteville Motor Speedway.
But after making a stirring drive forward from the 18th starting spot to win the 50-lap A-Main, the 20-year-old sensation from Shinnston, W.Va., suddenly felt a whole lot better about the four-tenths-mile oval.
“I honestly was dreading coming here,” conceded Richards, who had failed to qualify through a heat on Aug. 15 before rain postponed the remainder of Fayetteville’s first-ever WoO LMS to Tuesday night. “I’ll have to take that back now. Everything worked out great.”
Richards put on an electric performance, ripping through the field to grab the lead from the red-hot Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., on lap 31. He survived seven of the marathon race’s 13 total caution flags over the remaining distance to secure a $10,250 payoff.
Clanton finished 1.10 seconds behind Richards in second place, ending his two-race WoO LMS win streak. Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., finished third, followed by top 2008 WoO LMS rookie Vic Coffey of Leicester, N.Y., and 20th-starter Ed Gibbons of Manning, S.C.
WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who led laps 1-4 after starting from the pole position, finished 11th after losing three laps late in the A-Main while repairing a broken right-rear shock mount on his car late. But with his edge in the standings expanding to 150 points over Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who retired with distributor trouble on lap 12 and finished 23rd, he can clinch his first career tour title by entering the final three events on the schedule.
Richards was victorious for the fifth time this season on the WoO LMS – a personal career-high total for the tour’s 2005 Rookie of the Year.
But even more noteworthy, Richards won from the deepest starting spot of any driver on the 2008 WoO LMS. In fact, he became the first B-Main qualifier to win an A-Main this season and just the second driver to capture a feature from a double-digit starting position, joining Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., who won from the 14th spot on July 12 at Estevan (Sask.) Motor Speedway.
“To accomplish something like this is just awesome,” said Richards, whose 11th career WoO LMS triumph was his first since June 24 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Speedway.
Richards made a startling turnaround in his performance at Fayetteville. He struggled mightily before the rain on Aug. 15 – he timed 35th out of 38 qualifiers and finished seventh in his heat – but was clearly the class of the field upon his return Tuesday night.
“This car was just unreal,” Richards said of his Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket, which was powered by a fresh Cornett engine. “It was almost like a video game. I felt like I was in a dream or something. I didn’t feel like I was actually racing out there.
“I was trying to stay on the bottom (at the start), but then I got up on the outside and it just stuck. I passed a couple cars and I thought, Man, I’m going to the front.”
Richards slipped by Lanigan for second on lap 16 and quickly caught Clanton, who had set the pace since the fifth circuit. The young gun took advantage of Clanton’s bobble in turn two to assume command for good on lap 31.
“I knew (Clanton’s) weak spot would be in (turns) one and two because my car stuck real good right off the bottom,” said Richards, whose car wasn’t noticeably hampered by the significant rear bodywork damage it sustained in an early scramble. “It just so happened that when I turned wide to steer off of two (on lap 31), he pushed. I just drove right by him on the inside.”
Richards was never challenged again, leaving Clanton behind on each of the late-race restarts.
“We had a good car and he had a good car,” said Clanton, “but he was a little better.”
The 33-year-old Clanton, who was bidding to become just the fifth driver since 2004 to win three consecutive WoO LMS A-Mains, couldn’t recover after leaving the door open for Richards to take the lead.
“I think I was a little better than him getting in (the corners), but I was a little too tight if I didn’t bend (the car) enough,” said Clanton, who started third in his RSD Enterprises Rocket. “And if I bent it, I slid. That’s what happened when he passed me – I just pushed a little bit and he drove by me.
“He said he had it bent and was aimed for (the bottom), and then I pushed at the same time. It was a perfect opportunity for him.”
Frank, 46, fought off a late-race challenge from Coffey to secure a third-place finish in his Lester Buildings Rocket No. 1* after starting 11th. It was his second consecutive top-three finish.
“I’m happy with that for a brand-new race car,” said Frank, who completed the assembly of his machine on Monday afternoon. “Josh had a little bit different (compound Hoosier) tire on and we were a little bit loose on roll-steer, so I know what I did wrong.”
Coffey, 37, felt fortunate to survive for a fourth-place finish that matched his career-best on the WoO LMS. He also was fourth on June 24, 2007, at Cayuga County Fair Speedway in Weedsport, N.Y.
“I had a couple close calls,” said Coffey, who drove the Sweeteners Plus Rocket. “One time in turn four (on lap 10) I had cars slide sideways in front of me, and (on lap 12) the 25 car (then fourth-place Shawn Beasley of Lumber Bridge, N.C.) spun right in front of me in (turn) one.”
The local hero of the night was Gibbons, a 46-year-old veteran who advanced from the B-Main to place fifth. His run earned him the $500 ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hadn’t won a WoO LMS A-Main since 2004 and wasn’t ranked among the top 12 in the tour points standings.
“I figured if we would be able to get halfway through the field (from the 20th starting spot), it would be a good night,” said Gibbons, who scored his career-best WoO LMS finish with a brand-new Clements engine under the hood of his Rocket car. “I couldn’t be happier to finish in the top five.
“We actually went a little hard on tires and that hurt us. We needed green-flag laps to get going, so we were probably at our best at the end when there was a good stretch of green-flag racing (the final nine circuits).”
Finishing in positions 6-10 was Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., who pitted to change a tire on lap 32 after being collected in a turn-four spin by Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga.; Tim Blackwell of Parkton, N.C.; Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., who continues to drive with a cast on his broken right wrist; Scott Autry of Autryville, N.C.; and David Taylor of Fayetteville, N.C.
WoO LMS regular Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., was behind the wheel of Clint Smith’s backup car, which carried the number 81. Fuller, who kept his own hauler at home to fill it with the DIRTcar big-block Modified equipment he’ll use in this week’s Super DIRT Week activities at the Syracuse (N.Y.) Mile, started fourth and ran in the top five early before retiring on lap 18 due to a lost cylinder.
The program resumed with the completion of the first B-Main, which was red-flagged on Aug. 15 with two laps on the board. G.R. Smith of Cornelius, N.C., captured that event, but a broken rocker arm on his car’s engine forced him to take the A-Main’s green flag in the No. 11 of Seaford, Del.’s Austin Hubbard.
The WoO LMS heads west in North Carolina for a Wednesday night (Oct. 8) date at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord. The Armour Vienna Sausage Showdown Presented by Ferris Commercial Mowers features a 50-lap A-Main that will be run ‘topless’ and could provide a first-place prize of as much as $30,000.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Fayetteville Motor Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (18) Josh Richards/50 $10,250
2. (3) Shane Clanton/50 $5,100
3. (11) Chub Frank/50 $3,000
4. (9) Vic Coffey/50 $2,750
5. (20) Ed Gibbons/50 $2,500
6. (14) Shannon Babb/50 $1,700
7. (12) Tim Blackwell/50 $1,400
8. (19) Clint Smith/50 $1,300
9. (7) Scott Autry/50 $1,200
10. (21) David Taylor/50 $1,100
11. (1) Darrell Lanigan/47 $1,050
12. (13) Rick Eckert/39 $1,000
13. (8) Dean Bowen/38 $950
14. (23) Joe Isabell/38 $900
15. (24) Jeff Isabell Jr./35 $850
16. (2) Jonathan Davenport/34 $800
17. (16) Jeff Smith/31 $770
18. (22) Craig Shuffield/24 $750
19. (10) Chris Blackwell/22 $730
20. (4) Tim Fuller/18 $700
21. (15) Brent Robinson/18 $700
22. (25) Ricky Weeks/13 $700
23. (5) Steve Francis/12 $700
24. (6) Shawn Beasley/12 $700
25. (17) G.R Smith/12 $700
Note: G.R Smith and Craig Shuffield switched cars after qualifying through the B-Main and thus moved to the rear of the field for the start of the A-Main
Margin of Victory: 1.10 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 13 (Laps 10, 12, 12, 18, 22, 25, 31, 32, 34, 35, 38, 38, 41)
Lap Leaders: Lanigan (1-4); Clanton (5-30); Richards (31-50)
Provisional Starters: Joe Isabell, Jeff Isabell Jr. (WoO); Weeks (track)
Rookie of the Race: Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Gibbons ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Jimmy Frey (Richards)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Lanigan (half-off tire warmers)
Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’: Richards ($100)
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): G.R. Smith, Clint Smith, Taylor, Neighbors, Lucas, Joe Isabell, Jeff Isabell Jr., Mason, Tucker, Weeks (DNS) Madden, Fitzgerald
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Richards, Gibbons, Shuffield, L. Blankenship, Hubbard, Chuck Smith Jr. (DNS) Boahn, Mitchell, Labonte, Beardsley
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Oct. 7 – 40 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-25-35-$121,817-5527 (-0)
2. Steve Francis 6-20-32-$169,900-5377 (-150)
3. Shane Clanton 4-21-31-$122,140-5371 (-156)
4. Josh Richards 5-18-27-$120,560-5351 (-176)
5. Chub Frank 1-12-27-$81,280-5287 (-240)
6. Shannon Babb 2-16-26-$102,400-5213 (-314)
7. Rick Eckert 1-12-24-$78,680-5205 (-322)
8. Clint Smith 1-11-23-$67,620-5177 (-350)
9. Tim Fuller 2-7-19-$68,750-5006 (-521)
10. Vic Coffey 0-2-9-$41,320-4327 (-1200)
11. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$34,680-4013 (-1514)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$18,740-3615 (-1912)
13. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$12,520-3070 (-2457)
14. Tim McCreadie 1-9-16-$58,000-2643 (-2884)
15. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$13,620-2187 (-3340)
LISTEN ONLINE: If fans can’t get to a track to see the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, they can experience the excitement of the nation’s premier tour live on DIRTvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network.
To listen to the free audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo.
Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. For technical support or questions, e-mail [email protected]
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including Advance Auto Parts – the official auto parts store of the WoO LMS; Fusion Energy – the official energy boost of the WoO; and contingency sponsors Wrisco Industries, Chicken Hawk Racing, Crane Cams, Ohlins Shocks, Quarter-Master, Eibach Springs, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Qwikliner and Super Clean.