latemodelamerica.com - Feb.11 - WoO - Volusia Speedway Park - World of Outlaws Late Model Series Part 1
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Josh Richards

Josh Richards                                                                                                                         (Mike Ruefer)

Richards From 17th to Win Fourth Straight World of Outlaws Opener at Volusia Speedway Park

By: Kevin Kovac

BARBERVILLE, FL - Feb. 11, 2010 - No one was surprised to see Josh Richards win Thursday night's 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series season opener at Volusia Speedway Park.

But from the 17th starting spot? Even Richards couldn't have conjured up a more exciting way to kick off his WoO LMS title defense and capture the national tour's lidlifter for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year.

"I was not expecting that at all," Richards said after putting on the most memorable performance of the 39th annual DIRTcar Nationals by University of Northwestern Ohio. "To have a car that good, and to start so far back and be that dominant in a race against these guys -- it's just very rare. It's an awesome feeling."

Richards, 21, of Shinnston, W.Va., blasted through the field in the Rocket Chassis house car he drove to victory in last year's opener, cracking the top five on a lap-15 restart and then sliding by Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., in succession to reach second on lap 19. He quickly ran down race-long leader Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., and sailed by the homestate driver on lap 27 to assume command for good.

Pearson settled for second place in the Bobby Labonte Motorsports MasterSbilt mount, crossing the finish line 4.320 seconds behind Richards. Brady Smith had his Team Zero by Bloomquist car hot on Pearson's rear deck in the final laps

 Mark and Josh Richards

and finished third, while McCreadie placed fourth in the Sweeteners Plus Rocket and 2007 WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., advanced from the 19th starting spot to finish fifth in his Valvoline Rocket.

Richards pocketed $10,675 for what might have been the most spectacular of his 21 career WoO LMS triumphs. He won from the 18th starting spot on Oct. 7, 2008, at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway, but that race didn't come with the extra significance of extending an amazing win streak.

"To win four openers in a row is just really cool," said Richards, who started from the pole position in 2007 and third in both the 2008 and 2009 opening-night WoO LMS events at the half-mile oval outside Daytona Beach. "There's always the luck factor involved -- and we've been very lucky here. But I feel like we earned this one too.

"To come from the back really shows how strong your team is. Matt (Barnes), Jimmy (Frey), Joe (Pilkenton), Ernie (Davis), my dad (Mark Richards), Steve Baker -- they all did an awesome job."

Richards found himself mired deep in the starting field after finishing third in his heat race, but he began the A-Main confident he could climb forward. It didn't
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