Hot off of his huge $50,000 win in he "USA Nationals",
Josh Richards rumbles towards his second straight World of Outlaws sanctioned win at Independence (Ia.) Motor
Speedway on Monday night. (Mike
Outlaws: Richards Roars Through Midwest With Second Straight
at Independence Motor Speedway
By Kevin Kovac, WoO P.R.
INDEPENDENCE, Ia. – Aug. 8. Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., backed up his USA Nationals
triumph in fine fashion, closing a three-race World of Outlaws Late Model Series swing through the Upper Midwest
with a victory in Monday's 50-lap A-Main at Independence Motor Speedway.
The two-time defending series champion's sixth win of 2011 came just two days after he pocketed $50,000 for
capturing his first-ever crown-jewel dirt Late Model event at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis.
Richards, 23, survived a late-race scare to top the inaugural WoO LMS event at the three-eighths-mile Independence
oval. After pacing the race from the initial green flag, he slipped out of the groove off turn four on lap 36,
allowing WoO LMS points leader Rick Eckert of York, Pa., to dive underneath and lead the circuit.
Rebounding well from an incident at Cedar Lake Speedway that landed him on his lid,
Clint Smith races #21 Billy Moyer before posting a strong third place at Indy. (Mike Ruefer)
But Richards managed to turn back Eckert's bid, sliding ahead through turns one and two and then maintaining a
steady edge for the remainder of the distance. He drove his father Mark's Rocket Chassis house car under the
checkered flag 0.611 of a second in front of Eckert.
Eckert, 45, settled for his fourth runner-up finish in the last six WoO LMS events and sixth overall of the season.
He maintained a healthy 56-point lead over Richards in the circuit's standings with 11 A-Mains remaining on the
Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., finished third after advancing from the 10th starting spot in the same Rocket car that
he flipped onto its roof during a USA Nationals B-Main on Saturday. It was his third top-five finish of the
Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, started and finish fourth – though he ran third until being overtaken by Smith
on lap 25. Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., was fifth, his first top-five finish since July 15th.
Driving his newly redesigned #32, Chris Simpson races #21 Chip Brindle before
making an early exit. Brindle went on to finish 12th. (Mike Ruefer)
Richards, who started second and outgunned polesitter Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., for the lead at the start,
knew he was fortunate to escape with the checkered flag after leaving the door open for Eckert on lap 36.
"Once we found the groove (of rubber) low I was just trying to get through lapped traffic and I slipped (high off
turn four)," said Richards, who made his third straight start with a Roush-Yates Ford engine under the hood of his
familiar No. 1. "I pretty much almost gave the race away. If I would've run second I would've deserved to just
because I slipped up out of the groove.
"Eckert came down (to the inside on the homestretch) and I knew the only shot I had was to pinch him down into one
– he said he would've done the same thing. The track just had so much grip in the bottom (lane) from the middle to
the end (of the race), and luckily we were able to get back to it and hold on for the win."
Eckert wasn't quite in position to take advantage of Richards's slip.
"I was pretty good before (the surface) rubbered," said Eckert, who started fifth. "I got right up through there to
second, and then it started rubbering. I would've liked to have a shot there at Josh before it did."
With his new Air Force scheme, Illinois' Jason Feger battles Delaware's Austin
Hubbard, who put some put some bad luck behind him to finish fifth at Indy. Feger completed the race with a strong
seventh. (Mike Ruefer)
"After it rubbered I was running right there on him on, just trying to stay close in case he slipped, and then
one lap I come off four and the oil pressure went to zero and the red light came on. I just eased over and left off
(the gas), and then it popped back up and I wheeled back out there.
"That just happened to be the lap he drove out of the rubber off (turn) four, so I was back too far," he continued.
"If I'd have been close to him, I could've just drove right by him."
Eckert still was able to charge up the inside of the homestretch and nip Richards at the start/finish line to lead
lap 36, but he couldn't pull completely ahead.
"He come left into one to get back in the rubber," said Eckert. "I was past his number, but if I was leading I'd
have come left too. I guess it would've been nice if the straightaway was a little longer."
World of Outlaws points leader Rick Eckert's recent consistency and #15 Brian
Birkhofer's late-season surge came together to battle for awhile before Eckert advanced to second at Indy, and
Birkhofer put in a strong fourth place. (Mike
Another bridesmaid finish didn't disappoint Eckert, who continues to march toward his first-ever WoO LMS points
"If we could've beat him to the front, maybe we could've won the race," said Eckert, whose "But I'll take a second
every race to the end of the year if I have to. When you're paying your own bills, second pays better than
"I come to the race to win – it isn't like we get to second and give up. I was trying hard and really wanted to
win, but tonight we just we didn't have a whole lot of racetrack left once we got to second."
Richards, meanwhile, hopes his hot streak – two straight wins and three in his last five starts – will continue,
giving him at least a shot at catching Eckert in the points standings.
"It's obviously hard to gain points when he's running second," Richards said of Eckert. "He's really running good
this year, but so are we. We're not going to give up. We're gonna keep chasing that orange car and see what
The last few races have yielded little to cheer about for Tim McCreadie, who was
caught up in a wreck at Indy that put him in the pits early. (Mike Ruefer)
Smith, 46, enjoyed a solid comeback from his weekend-ending rollover at Cedar Lake, ending his trip on a high
"We like the rubber better than anybody here, but we were actually better in the slick condition early in the
race," said Smith. "I was rolling when it was slick and got right up to third behind those guys (Richards and
Eckert). We were just too tight there at the end and rolling over too much. I still could've run them hard, but I
was afraid I would blow my right-rear tire.
"After barely getting this car we flipped ready to go on the racetrack today and starting 10th, we'll take a
Three caution flags slowed the race, all for incidents involving WoO LMS standouts. Shane Clanton of Fayetteville,
Ga., slowed with a dead battery on lap four and did not continue; Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., got the worst
of a lap-21 accident in turn one; and Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., slowed with a cut left-rear tire on lap
Josh Richards had reason to celebrate after his World of
Outlaws win at Independence Motor Speedway put the icing on the cake that he earned in Saturday's "USA
The incident that swept up McCreadie was the worst of the night. He was running ninth when the lapped car driven
by WoO LMS rookie John Lobb of Frewsburg, N.Y., was sent spinning in turn one directly in front of McCreadie, who
slammed Lobb's car hard. McCreadie's machine came to rest backwards in turn one, its right side sporting
McCreadie, who was sore but otherwise uninjured after the wreck, was eliminated from further action. Also forced
out due to the wreck was Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, whose car was hit in its left side by Tim Fuller of
Watertown, N.Y. Simpson retired immediately while Fuller ran five more laps before calling it a night.
Moyer, who ran second for the race's first 13 laps, tumbled to sixth by lap 24 and finished in the position. Jason
Feger of Bloomington, Ill., placed seventh, followed by 20th-starter Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., who was the
event's highest-finishing WoO LMS rookie; 19th-starter Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., who passed Fuller for ninth
in the tour points standings; and Lanigan, who rallied after his mid-race pit stop.
Josh Richards takes his second checkered flag in three nights at Independence Motor
Speedway. (Mike Ruefer)
WoO - Independence Motor
1) Josh Richards, 2) Rick Eckert, 3) Clint Smith, 4) Brian
Birkhofer, 5) Austin Hubbard, 6) Billy Moyer, 7) Jason Feger, 8) Pat Doar, 9) Vic Coffey, 10) Darrell
Lanigan, 11) Chub Frank, 12) Chip Brindle, 13) Dennis Erb, Jr., 14) Ron Davies, 15) Jill George
(prov.), 16) Jason Rauen, 17) Frankie Heckenast, Jr., 18) Tim Fuller, 19) Tim McCreadie, 20) Chad
Simpson, 21) Jason Utter, 22) John Lobb (prov.), 23) Chris Simpson, 24) Shane Clanton
Time (34 entries): Chad Simpson (14.665 - NTR); Heat winners: Hubbard, Eckert, Richards, Feger. B-Main
winners: Heckenast, Frank.
Chris Dolack photo