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Spectacular Week For ‘Kid Rocket’ Ends With Victory In 360 OTC World of Outlaws Late Model Series Season Opener At Volusia
Feb 20, 2007 - updated Feb 20th, 2007 10:20am
Web posted by J.R. Racing PR.

Shinnston, WV. --

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:February 20, 2007

Josh Richards wasn’t kidding when he said he was confident heading into the 2007 season for the 360 OTC World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Pumped up for the campaign after running so well during the second half of the tour’s 2006 schedule, Richards continued his rise as a WoO contender on Saturday night by winning the series’s season-opening Florida DIRTcar Nationals 50 at Volusia Speedway Park.

The $10,000 victory also culminated a spectacular week of action for the 18-year-old Josh, who was awarded the UMP DIRTcar Racing Late Model points championship of the 36th annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals. He scored progressively better finishes of seventh (Mon., Feb. 12), fifth (Wed., Feb. 14) and second (Fri., Feb. 16) in the week’s three UMP Late Model features before closing the deal in Saturday’s 360 OTC WoO LMS event, which offered points toward the week-long UMP title because the UMP Hoosier 20/40 tire rule was in effect for the event.

“This is pretty awesome,” Shinnston, W.Va.’s Josh said after receiving a pair of distinctive eagle-shaped trophies in Victory Lane following Saturday night’s feature. “To come down here and win during Speedweek is pretty cool, especially since it’s only my third time here.

“The first year I was here we ran well, but last year we struggled a little bit so it feels great to go good here and win a race against so much great competition.”

Already the youngest feature winner in the history of the 360 OTC WoO LMS thanks to his first career triumph on Aug. 15, 2005, at Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y., when he was 17 years, four months and 24 days old, Josh is now also the tour’s youngest points leader ever after scoring his third career series win.

“To actually be the World of Outlaws points leader is pretty awesome,” said Josh, who was the 2005 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year and finished ninth in the 2006 series standings. “There’s still a long season ahead of us, but we’re off to a great start.”

Josh demonstrated a veteran’s poise en route to registering a flag-to-flag win in Saturday’s A-Main. Starting from the pole position in his Mark Richards Racing-owned Seubert Calf Ranches/Ace Metal Works/TSR-Tony Stewart Racing/Petroff Towing/MCB Motorsports Rocket Chassis No. 1, he turned back an early challenge from Wisconsin superstar Dan Schlieper and mastered lapped traffic to reach the finish line first.

On Josh’s mind throughout the distance was his disappointing loss in the previous night’s 40-lap UMP Late Model feature. In that race he slipped high in turn four while working lapped traffic on lap 18, allowing fellow 360 OTC WoO LMS regular Darrell Lanigan to slip by for the lead and eventual win.

“Oh, yeah, I learned my lesson last night,” said Josh, who settled for a runner-up finish to Lanigan. “I knew I was starting on the pole tonight and we had a good car, so I was like, ‘If we get in the lead, I don’t want to screw this up.’”

Josh felt the pressure from Schlieper, but he didn’t wilt under it.

“I tried not to let that bother me and just run my own pace, and it paid off,” said Josh. “If this was a year or two ago, that (Schlieper’s challenge) probably would’ve startled me, and I might have tried to go to the top or change what I was doing. But I just stayed on the bottom and ran my own race.”

The win topped off a week that saw Josh steadily improve each time he drove his Cornett-powered car on the half-mile oval. He won his heat race all four nights (Tuesday’s UMP Late Model show and Thursday’s scheduled 360 OTC WoO LMS event were rained out), and he scored a better feature finish each evening.

It all adds up to another boost in confidence for ‘Kid Rocket,’ who began coming of age last year by accumulating more points than any other driver during the second half of the 360 OTC WoO LMS season.

“After the way we ended last year, I was pretty confident,” said Josh, who participated in a press conference at Volusia on Wednesday afternoon that announced the ’07 360 OTC WoO LMS regulars. “But this takes it up a notch. We’ve come out and run real well.

“If I would’ve run fifth tonight, I would’ve been more than happy for the first points night. But winning this just builds the momentum that much more. It builds the confidence of the whole team – they wanna be there and help that much more. It just helps everything out.”

Josh now has a month off from 360 OTC WoO LMS competition. The tour’s next action is the ‘World of Outlaws March Through Dixie’ that will visit Baton Rouge Raceway in Baker, La., on Fri., March 23; Columbus (Miss.) Speedway on Sat., March 24; and North Alabama Speedway in Tuscumbia, Ala., on Sun., March 25.

But that doesn’t mean Josh will sit idle.

After spending a few days at home and in the Rocket shop this week, Josh will fly west to be a special guest speaker at the fifth annual Roadrunner Fabrications Racewise Seminar in Denver, Colo. The seminar is produced by Colorado dirt Late Model star Kelly Boen, who will also field a Late Model for Josh to drive in the March 8-9 Western All-Stars Series portion of the inaugural ‘Las Vegas Dirt Classic’ at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway.


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