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Tough ‘March Through Dixie’ Doesn’t Get Josh Richards Down
Apr 1, 2007 - updated Apr 1st, 2007 3:35pm
Web posted by J.R. Racing PR.

--

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:March 28, 2007

Josh Richards was hoping that last weekend’s three-state, three-night 360 OTC World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘March Through Dixie’ would provide him a memorable birthday present.

Alas, things didn’t quite go according to plan for the rising young star known as ‘Kid Rocket,’ who turned 19 on March 22. But even after scoring just one top-10 finish and losing the tour points lead that he carried into the swing, Josh remained upbeat about the remainder of a season that figures to be the busiest of his career.

“It wasn’t a very good weekend for us,” said Josh, who won the 360 OTC WoO LMS Rookie of the Year award in 2005. “It seemed like my Dad and I really weren’t working together on stuff like we should have been, and it made for a rough weekend.

“You’re going to have weekends like that, though. We just have to put everything behind us and get ready for the next races.”

Josh was riding high entering the ‘March Through Dixie,’ which visited Baton Rouge Raceway in Baker, La., on Friday (March 23); Columbus (Miss.) Speedway on Saturday (March 24); and North Alabama Speedway in Tuscumbia, Ala., on Sunday (March 25). He won the 360 OTC WoO LMS season opener on Feb. 17 at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park and thus sat atop the point standings throughout the tour’s one-month break from action.

The good vibe continued when Josh celebrated his 19th birthday before heading south last Thursday; he ate cake baked by his mother at a family gathering that also included his uncle (dirt Late Model racer Robbie Scott) and aunt (Scott’s wife), both of whom celebrated birthdays last week.

But the party didn’t press on at Baton Rouge Raceway, where Josh fell short of duplicating his sterling performance last month in Florida.

Driving a Mark Richards Racing-owned Seubert Calf Ranches/Ace Metal Works/TSR-Tony Stewart Racing/Petroff Towing/MCB Motorsports Rocket Chassis No. 1 that had not seen action since Josh flipped it on Aug. 4, 2006, at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., the Shinnston, W.Va., native struggled to get on track. He timed 24th-fastest in the 40-car qualifying session, then missed transferring to the A-Main through his heat by one spot.

A B-Main victory earned Josh the 18th starting spot for the ‘Battle on the Bayou 50.’ He moved forward in the feature event to finish a respectable eighth, but he had to fight hard to get there.

“We got ourselves behind in qualifying,” said Josh. “We recovered pretty well, but we had a big hole to climb out of.”

Josh maintained a share of the 360 OTC WoO LMS points lead after Baton Rouge, heading out the pit gate for the 350-mile trek to Columbus Speedway tied atop the standings with Clint Smith and Steve Francis.

Columbus, of course, held special promise for Josh, whose second career 360 OTC WoO LMS victory came there on Aug. 26, 2006. But another subpar time-trial effort on Saturday night (33rd among 48 drivers) led to a B-Main qualification, putting him 21st on the grid for the ‘Battle at the Bullring 50.’

The feature was rough going for Josh, who was involved in a turn-two tangle on lap four and pitted during caution periods on laps nine and 11. Perseverance got him into the top 10 as the race wound down, but a flat left-rear tire with two laps to go slowed his pace and left him with a 15th-place finish, one lap down to winner Billy Moyer.

In his first-ever start at North Alabama Speedway on Sunday night, Josh enjoyed his best time-trial effort of the weekend (ninth among 44 cars) and made the cut for the A-Main with a fourth-place finish in the first heat. But things went downhill in the ‘Alabama Assault 40’ headliner, during which Josh never got up to speed en route to a 15th-place finish, one lap down to winner Earl Pearson Jr.

“I hit a uke tire early and the (car’s) nose was dragging the whole race because of it,” said Josh, who also spun in turn two on lap 34 and made a quick pit stop. “It was one of those nights.”

Josh ended the ‘March Through Dixie’ ranked sixth in the 360 OTC WoO LMS point standings, trailing leader Clint Smith by 34 points. He will return to tour action on Fri., April 13, at New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway, followed by visits to Virginia Motor Speedway on Sat., April 14, and Lernerville Speedway on Tues., April 17.

“I didn’t feel as comfortable as I should have in the car all weekend,” said Josh, “so we have to take some time to get back to where we want before the next races.”

Josh’s next competitive action will come this Saturday night (March 31) at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway in the $10,000-to-win ‘Icebreaker,’ which is sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.


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