Josh Richards is an incredible talent in the field of Dirt Late Model racing and he has a track record to prove it. At only 29 years of age, the Shinnston, WV native has already amassed more than 150 feature wins in his chosen form of the sport of racing. And of those wins, 76 have come on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series which makes him the all-time leader in career victories on that particular tour.
And keep in mind that all of those wins have come at a relatively young age and in a career that was interrupted on a couple of occasions by brief forays into NASCAR in 2011 and 2012.
But despite his list of achievements(including two USA Nationals wins) compiled in a relatively short period of time, there are some who have been critical of the four-time WoO Late Models champion because he had not won enough of the sport’s so-called crown jewel races. At least they may have been critical up until this past weekend.
During the 2016-17 off-season many in the dirt racing world were shocked to hear that Richards had left his father’s Rocket Chassis house car team to drive for Best Performance Motorsports on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. But this past Saturday night, that move paid huge dividends.
Going into the weekend, which would be the final stop of the Lucas Oil tour, Richards was involved in a tight three-way battle for the series championship with multiple-time champion Scott Bloomquist and former WoO Late Models title winner Tim McCreadie. And not only would the series crown be handed out at Ohio’s Portsmouth Raceway Park, but a check in the amount of $100,000 awaited the winner of the Dirt Track World Championship feature race.
The purse money at stake and the fact that a championship would be decided at the end of the night not only made this a big race, but it was one of the most noteworthy events in Dirt Late Model racing’s recent history.
So almost certainly a driver who “can’t win big races” had no chance, right?
Eventually, however, Richards certainly did get the job done on Saturday night. The No. 1 machine passed by his former ride, now driven by Brandon Sheppard, on lap 46 then led the rest of the way for the victory. All the while, McCreadie and Bloomquist each suffered tire issues that doomed their chances at making a run that would allow them to pass by Richards in the late going.
Granted, Richards’ hard charging style may not always be best suited for the crown jewel races that typically are contested at a distance of 100 laps. Tire management and the ability to click off trouble free laps are often keys to success in those races. Perhaps experience has taught the driver better management skills for the longer events.
When the checkered flag fell on this occasion, Richards had not only won a big race but he had captured the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series title to go along with his four WoO Late Model Series awards.
So yes, Josh Richards can win big races. As a matter of fact, it would be hard to find and instance when this driver had an opportunity to win a bigger race.