DELMAR, Del. – Josh Richards pulled away from the field Thursday night, winning the Fulton Bank 50 at Delaware Int’l Speedway by more than four seconds.
The victory was Richards’ 14th with the series this year, and with it he earned a $10,000 winner’s check.
Richards’ season wins total now stands three shy of tying Darrell Lanigan for most wins in a single season (17), and not only that, Richards tied Lanigan for most series wins all-time on Thursday with the 72nd of his storied career.
The win was Richards’ second consecutive series trip to victory lane.
“That’s wild,” said Richards about tying the record, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. “It’s been an incredible season. We’ve had so much fun. You see guys get on these rolls and when you get on one yourself, you just don’t want to mess it up. I’m so blessed to be able to do what I do.”
Kenny Pettyjohn and Amanda Whaley, two Delaware natives, led the 24-car field into the green flag of the 50-lap feature. Though Pettyjohn drew the No. 1 spot earlier in the night, Whaley overtook him within the first few laps; Pettyjohn fell out of the top five. She thereon built a two-second buffer from the field, and she was consistently quicker than the rest of the field by two-tenths of a second.
Richards on the other hand found himself in an early battle with 2015 Rookie of the Year Brandon Overton, who eventually passed him six laps into the race. In a three-lap sequence, Richards butted fenders with Overton. The two were side-by-side, neither willing to surrender their track position. Richards soon redeemed his spot in his No. 1 Valvoline/ Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket racecar and moved to the outside to challenge series veteran Rick Eckert for the runner-up position.
Within the first 10 laps, Richards overcame the two-second deficit set by Whaley eight laps into the race. He thereon built his lead by three to four-tenths of a second per lap. Meanwhile, Overton’s powerful No. 76 Budweiser/ C-H Paving Moyer/ Victory machine moved passed Eckert into third.
The top three began to separate themselves from the rest of the field by eight-tenths of a second. But Richards built one of his own from those on the podium – more than a three second cushion. Whaley, Overton and Eckert soon found themselves in a game of musical chairs for second and third place.
Before the third caution on lap 24, Whaley and Overton simultaneously steam-rolled down the front-stretch. Whaley held her ground at the bottom of the track while Overton swept through the top. Exiting turn four, Overton carried enough momentum to make the pass for second.
“We’re getting better,” Overton said. “We’re more consistent. I can’t thank Fulton Bank, the World of Outlaws and Craftsman for having us here.”
The caution on lap 24 gave defending series champion Shane Clanton a window of opportunity to break into the podium. On the restart, Clanton used the outside – his go-to route for half-mile tracks – to contest for third. Whaley and Clanton were neck-and-neck for three laps, until Clanton cleared his No. 25 Weldbank Energy/ Coopers Meat Packers Capital car for the spot entering turn three. Whaley finished fifth on the night.
The top three crossed the start/finish line in two-second intervals with less than 20 laps remaining. With 10 laps remaining, the podium was separated from the field by four seconds – a similar margin Richards would eventually win by. Overton finished in the runner-up position, while Clanton rounded-out the podium.
“If anyone would’ve told me I was going to be on the podium at Delaware I’d be surprised,” Clanton said. “Tonight showed that we put our head down and got where we needed to be. We just needed to be a little better to catch the No. 1 car, but we’re still working. We have some more races this season, so hopefully we can win all of them.”
RESULTS: World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models; Fulton Bank 50; Delaware Int’l Speedway; Aug. 11, 2016
A-Main (50 laps): 1. Josh Richards, 2. Brandon Overton, 3. Shane Clanton, 4. Kenny Pettyjohn, 5. Amanda Whaley, 6. Jason Covert, 7. Chub Frank, 8. Brian Shirley, 9. Frank Heckenast Jr., 10. Ricky Elliott, 11. Donald Lingo Jr., 12. Tyler Erb, 13. Morgan Bagley, 14. Rick Eckert, 15. Eric Wells, 16. Joey Coulter, 17. Billy Moyer Jr., 18. Donald Bradsher, 19. Dale Hollidge, 20. Dan Stone, 21. Mark Pettyjohn, 22. Boom Briggs, 23. Ross Robinson, 24. Steve Casebolt.
CREDIT: World of Outlaws