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‘Kid Rocket’ Ends Busy Stretch With Strong Performances At The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Mar 13, 2007 - updated Mar 13th, 2007 7:03am
Web posted by

Shinnston, W.Va. --

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:March 12, 2007

Break? What break?

Teenage sensation Josh Richards hasn’t sat idle during a one-month lull in action for the 360 OTC World of Outlaws Late Model Series. He’s actually been busier than ever.

The 18-year-old from Shinnston, W.Va., closed out his frenetic early-season stretch last weekend, traveling across the country to compete in a pair of 30-lap Western All-Stars Late Model Series events at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He was a major contender both nights, finishing third in the Thursday (March 8) A-Main and running second in the Friday (March 9) headliner until a blown right-rear tire ended his bid just a couple laps shy of the checkered flag.

Driving a Cornett Chevy-powered Rocket Chassis car from the 07 Motorsports stable of Colorado dirt Late Model standout Kelly Boen, Josh fell short of capturing a feature but certainly enjoyed his first-ever appearance at the immaculate half-mile oval.

“We didn’t quite get the results we wanted, but it was a fun trip,” said the popular youngster known as ‘Kid Rocket.’ “I had only driven by The Dirt Track one time before this weekend, so it was exciting to get a chance to race there. It’s such a nice facility, and having the (NASCAR) Nextel Cup race in town (at the adjoining superspeedway) gave the weekend a real good atmosphere.”

Still riding high from his victory in the 360 OTC WoO LMS season opener on Feb. 17 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., Josh was hopeful of carrying his momentum to Vegas. He did that during the first night of the Western All-Stars meet, charging from the 13th starting spot to finish third in the 30-lap A-Main – despite unwittingly running the entire program with a suspension problem.

“We found out later that the right-rear shock was bound up all night,” said Josh, who crossed the finish line behind winner Jimmy Mars and Boen. “That made the car real loose.”

With the problem corrected and additional changes made to get Josh more comfortable in the car, the Mountaineer State racer had his eyes focused on winning Friday night’s feature. He stamped himself as a favorite by topping the fifth qualifying heat, then finished third (from the sixth starting spot) in the dash to earn an inside second-row start for the feature.

Josh quickly surged into second place behind Wisconsin’s Mars when the A-Main commenced, but improving one more spot was easier said than done. He made repeated attempts to overtake Mars before his car’s right-rear tire finally blew out with a couple laps remaining, dropping him to 21st in the final rundown as Mars rolled to a sweep of the weekend’s competition.

“I felt like I was as good as Mars was, but it was so hard to pass because the track took rubber and got one-lane,” said Josh. “I got up to his quarter-panel a couple times, but he had the line.

“I ran the car a little harder than I probably should have because I was trying to make something happen, and that wore out the right-rear and it blew out with two to go.”

Josh and his father Mark had no time to see the sights of Sin City during their trip (aside from the ‘Paris Las Vegas’ hotel in which they stayed), but they were able to visit the 1.5 mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday. They made the rounds of the garage area, watched Nextel Cup practice and witnessed the early stages of the Busch Series event before heading to the airport to catch a red-eye flight back to the East Coast.

When Josh finally walked through his family’s front door in West Virginia around noon on Sunday, he wasn’t merely tired from jet lag. He was also at the end of a whirlwind 40-day stretch that saw him constantly on the road. Since heading south at the beginning of February for two straight weeks of racing in Florida, “I think I’ve been home for four days,” said Josh.

In between the end of Florida racing and the Las Vegas events, Josh stayed active doing several radio/internet and television interviews – and in a couple other unique ways.

First, during the weekend of Feb. 23-25, Josh flew to Denver, Col., to be a special guest speaker at the fifth annual Roadrunner Fabrications Racewise Seminar, which was produced by Kelly Boen. The trip also gave Josh an opportunity to visit Boen’s shop and set up the brand-new Rocket car he drove last weekend at Las Vegas.

After a quick day at the race shop, Josh drove to Charlotte on Feb. 27 to work on NASCAR veteran Kenny Schrader’s pair of Rocket Chassis dirt Late Models in advance of the March 2-3 Pro-Cuts Texas World Dirt Track Championship Weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track in Fort Worth. Schrader personally asked Josh to help prepare his cars for the two days of O’Reilly Southern United Professional Racing (SUPR) Series action at the four-tenths-mile oval.

Josh flew to Texas and hot-lapped Schrader’s No. 99 Late Model during an open practice session at the speedway on March 1. He then spent the next two days as a crewman for Schrader, who registered finishes of fourth and eighth in the SUPR events.

“I learned it’s not as much as driving,” Josh joked about his stint turning wrenches with Schrader, “but it was a great experience. Schrader is so knowledgeable, and I saw a different side being on the crew and hearing what he wanted as a driver.”

Now Josh will actually take a slight breather before diving head-long into the 360 OTC WoO LMS schedule, which resumes March 23-25 with the ‘World of Outlaws March Through Dixie’ weekend. The tour 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.

“We’re taking this weekend off to get ready for the Outlaw shows,” said Josh, the current 360 OTC WoO LMS points leader. “Our plan is to run the car that I flipped at (Pa.’s ) Lernerville (Speedway) last August in all three (‘March Through Dixie’) shows. I haven’t run that car since I flipped it, and we have a little more work to do on it.”

For more information on Josh Richards, visit www.joshrichards.com.


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