CONCORD, N.C. – When Josh Richards drew the pole position in the redraw for Friday night’s World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series feature at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, everyone assumed it would be lights out for the driver known as ‘Kid Rocket’.
Instead, it took him all race long to accomplish the feat that seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Richards lost the lead to outside polesitter Chris ‘Smoky’ Madden on the initial green flag and spent 46 laps chasing Madden’s No. 44 before charging to the lead with four to go, taking the lead off the outside of turn two and setting sail towards home from there.
Though Madden worked the bottom in the final two laps and pulled alongside Richards at the exit of turn four each time, the Shinnston, W.Va. veteran was too strong and ultimately cruised to his 76th career victory by a half-second at the twin checkers.
The win was Richards’ series-record 18th of the season, eclipsing Darrell Lanigan’s record set in 2014; his third during the World Finals and first at Charlotte in three years.
“I just wanted to win that one,” said Richards, who also clinched his fourth series championship simply by signing in for the night’s festivities. “We’ve had a phenomenal season. I know we had this (race) today and then we’ve got tomorrow before we’re off for the winter, so I wanted to give it all I had and see if we could do it.”
“Chris ran a really good race and I was a little too free most of the race. I thought we’d settled in there for second or third and I thought if we just tried something, you know … make it or break it. We didn’t have anything to lose. It worked out.”
Richards’ climb to the win was initially aided by a caution with nine laps to go for a spinning Frank Heckenast Jr. in turn four. That put him on Madden’s bumper for the restart, and Richards wasted no time in going to the top lane of the race track to try and build up enough momentum to get by.
It worked on lap 46, when Richards crossed underneath Madden down the backstretch, but Madden used a similar maneuver to lead by inches at the start-finish line.
Undeterred, Richards kept his foot in the gas and cleared Madden off turn two, leaving the South Carolina veteran and eight-time series winner to settle for second in the end.
Madden was hoping to break a four-year winless drought dating back to 2012, but said he “just didn’t get the job done.”
“I just didn’t need that caution, man. We were so good on long runs tonight and it just didn’t work out. I was giving it all I had (after he got through for the lead) and like I said … just didn’t get the job done. That’s all I can say.”
Lanigan completed the podium in third for Clint Bowyer Racing, followed by Brandon Overton and 2015 series champion Shane Clanton.
After setting quick time for the night, Tim McCreadie struggled on restarts in the main event and faded from fourth on the grid to a seventh-place finish.
The Bad Boy Off Road World Finals conclude Saturday night, with racing kicking off at 4:45 p.m.
Richards will conclude his championship-winning season, while the rest of the 69-car field will search for one final feature victory to close the year.
Audio with race winner Josh Richards:
Audio with runner-up Chris Madden:
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as both the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series and the co-track announcer at Millbridge Speedway.
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