NEW RICHMOND, WI – Aug. 6, 2011 –
Josh Richards finally has a victory in a crown-jewel dirt Late Model event on his resume. The 23-year-old star’s breakthrough performance came on Saturday night in his Weld Racing wheel equipped Late Model during the 24th annual USA Nationals presented by U.S. Steel at Cedar Lake Speedway, a three-eighths-mile oval that will forever be close to his heart.
“It hasn’t even sunk in yet,” Shinnston, W.Va.’s Richards said when asked to describe his emotions following a 100-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series triumph worth $50,125. “This place has always been really special to me. Back in 2000 whenever Davey Johnson was driving for us (his father Mark’s Rocket Chassis house car) I remember coming here and watching the (USA Nationals). I was just in awe. I just fell in love with this track at a young age. “To finally get (a crown-jewel win) – and here at Cedar Lake – it really means a lot.”
Richards, who witnessed his father’s familiar No. 1 reach Victory Lane in the 2000 USA Nationals with Johnson behind the wheel, returned his dad to the spotlight at Cedar Lake with a savvy performance. He spent more than half the distance chasing polesitter Jason Rauen of Farley, Iowa – a 31-year-old seeking a monumental upset win in his first-ever USA Nationals and WoO LMS starts – before diving underneath the upstart to grab the lead on lap 78.
The remainder of the distance served as a valedictory ride for Richards, who beat two-time USA Nationals winners Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., to the finish line despite driving a car that sported significant left-side body damage from a lap-65 tangle that nearly ended his bid. It was his fifth WoO LMS win of 2011 and the 33rd of his career.
Josh Rchards with the "Eagle"