Barberville,FL — Feb. 1, 2009 — Josh Richards truly came of age on Feb. 17, 2007, when he captured the season-opening World of Outlaws Late Model Series event during the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park.
And on Feb. 14, 2008, the young sensation from Shinnston, W.Va., accentuated his building stardom, winning the national tour’s lidlifter for the second consecutive year at the sweeping half-mile oval outside Daytona Beach.
Can Richards kick off the 2009 WoO LMS campaign with an unprecedented third straight opening-night victory? The question will be answered soon during the Feb. 3-14 Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, which features two WoO LMS events (Feb. 12 and 14) among its six consecutive nights of dirt Late Model action.
Richards, who turns 21 on March 22, made his Volusia and Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH debut as a 16-year-old WoO LMS rookie on Feb. 16, 2005, with a sixth-place finish in a UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned event. Two years later — in his first racing season after graduating from high school the previous year — he announced his status as a championship contender by winning the 2007 WoO LMS season opener.
The 2007 triumph came in dominant fashion. Richards led the 50-lap A-Main from flag-to-flag, holding off a mid-race challenge from Dan Schlieper of Sullivan, Wis., to take the checkered flag by a comfortable margin. The $10,000 win also earned Richards the ’07 Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH points title.
Richards had to sweat a bit more to win last year’s WoO LMS opener. He had to battle hard from start-to-finish to secure a victory that set him off on a 2008 season in which he finished a career-high second in the tour points standings and tied Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., as the campaign’s winningest driver.
Richards started third in the 50-lap A-Main, but he didn’t reach the lead until lap 31. He had just disposed of Newport, Tenn.’s Jimmy Owens for second place and was beginning to challenge Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., for the lead when Clanton pulled up lame on the 31st circuit with a broken right-rear axle tube.
After a lap-46 caution flag put three-time WoO LMS champion Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., on Richards’s rear bumper, Richards flexed his muscle on the restart. He went on to win the event by 1.262 seconds over Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who drove forward from the 24th starting spot to finish second.
Richards is ready for this year’s Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, which he’ll enter with a new blue-and-black color scheme adorning his father Mark’s familiar Rocket Chassis house car No. 1. He’s always carries some extra confidence into races at Volusia Speedway Park.
“Volusia definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite tracks,” said Richards. “I like wide-open places where you can carry a lot of momentum, and that’s how you race there. It just fits my style.”
Thousands of fans are expected to witness Richards make a run at a WoO LMS season-opener ‘threepeat’ at VSP, which will also host four nights of UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Super Late Model competition (Feb. 9, 10, 11 and 13) during the traditional February extravaganza of speed.
Volusia management is offering special ‘Super Ticket’ deals for all the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH events contested by each headline division, including the six-night dirt Late Model meet; the six Sprint Car events (All-Star Circuit of Champions on Feb. 3-5, World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series on Feb. 6-8); eight nights of UMP DIRTcar Modified action (Feb. 3-10); and four Advance Auto Parts DIRTcar big-block Modified dates (Feb. 11-14).
And with infield trailer heights limited to 9 feet, 6 inches, there are no bad seats in the grandstands at Volusia Speedway Park, which sits merely 15 miles inland from Ormond Beach on State Road 40.