By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
SARVER, PA – June 29, 2013 – Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., put the finishing touch on a perfect weekend with a victory in Saturday night’s seventh annual Firecracker 100 Presented by GottaRace.com at Lernerville Speedway.
By adding a $30,650 triumph in the marquee World of Outlaws Late Model Series event to his 30-lap preliminary A-Main wins on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon, the 25-year-old superstar became the first driver to sweep the Firecracker 100 weekend since it was expanded to three full nights of racing in 2012.
“It means a lot to me to win a race of this much prestige – as well as (the fact that) this is the place I ran my first Outlaw race (in 2004),” said Richards, who added a Firecracker 100 victory to his previous WoO LMS century-grind scores at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis. (2011 USA Nationals) and Mohawk International Raceway in Akwesasne, N.Y. (2010 Battle At Eastern Door). “This track means a lot to me and to get a crown-jewel (event win) here is huge. There are a lot of great cars here and just to be able to win one of the (weekend) races means a lot – and to win all three is unreal.”
Richards, who started second, passed polesitter and defending Firecracker 100 winner and Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., for the lead on lap 16 and never relinquished the top spot, but his march to the checkered flag was far from easy. He turned back challenges from several drivers over the remaining distance to cross the finish line first in a rough-and-tumble race that was slowed by 11 caution flags and two reds and stretched into the early-morning hours of Sunday after rain delayed the start of Saturday night’s program by two hours.
Rick Eckert of York, Pa., provided the stiffest test for Richards after rallying from a mid-race pit stop to make a run at the lead in the final circuits, but a broken rearend on lap 96 ended Eckert’s bid. That left ninth-starter Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., to take up the chase, but Richards pulled away on the final restart with four laps left to beat T-Mac by 0.976 of a second.
Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. – the runner-up in four of the last five Firecracker 100s – fell short of both a win and another bridesmaid, settling for third place after starting eighth. Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., recovered from a trip over the third- and fourth-turn bank at the start of his heat and a lap-51 pit stop to change a flat left-rear tire to finish a Firecracker 100 career-best fourth after starting 20th and third-starter Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., finished fifth after slipping out of the top 10 during the race’s first half.
Richards third win in as many days – and sixth overall of the 2013 WoO LMS campaign – left him “exhausted but extremely happy.”
“It was nerve-wracking there for a little bit, but I just had to try to stay focused and race smart,” Richards said of his road to Victory Lane. “I’ve been the guy who can go out there and run really fast laps and then tear the car up or come up short at the end, so we just had to try to harness it all and be fast but not get out of control. You have to just stay smooth, and when guys pressure you still gotta stay focused and do your thing.”
Richards had plenty of opportunities to lose his cool. After he disposed of Bloomquist to assume command early in the Firecracker, he faced serious tests from Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., and Eckert – but none of the challengers were able to shake Richards from his rhythm before experiencing problems that dashed their hopes.
Clanton, who won the Firecracker 100 in 2010, was the first to fall. He grabbed second from Bloomquist on a lap-38 restart and almost immediately drew close enough to nose under Richards’s Rocket Chassis house car, but on lap 46 Clanton lost ground when he jumped the track’s ample cushion in turn four and one circuit later he blew a right-rear tire to bring out a caution flag. Clanton pitted and returned, but he was never a factor again and finished eighth.
Blankenship moved to second following Clanton’s misfortune and after charging forward from the 16th starting spot appeared primed to threaten Richards, but he also contacted the cushion in turn four on lap 49. The misstep crushed the nosepiece of Blankenship’s car, causing him to bring out a caution flag on lap 51 and retire two circuits later.
Richards had first-hand knowledge about unforgiving Lernerville’s turn-four cushion could be. He was just fortunate enough to survive his encounter with the ledge of clay.
“In (turns) three and four the cushion was fast but it was like hitting the wall,” said Richards, who recorded his 44th career WoO LMS A-Main win. “I went in there one lap and actually knocked the panhard bar out of the car and slid all the way up on the frame. It changed the handling drastically – and not for the good. It was a handful toward the end of the race. I just had to not think about anything and just try to hold ‘em off.”
That became a difficult task with the emergence of Eckert, who roared from the rear of the field after slowing with a flat right-rear tire and pitting on lap 58. Seeking to become the first Pennsylvania driver to win the Firecracker 100, Eckert reached second with a lap-83 pass of McCreadie and was on Richards’s rear bumper two laps later.
The 47-year-old Eckert ducked underneath Richards several times in the corners before a red flag was thrown on lap 94 for WoO LMS rookie Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., whose car awkwardly dug into the turn-three cushion and flipped wildly off the track. Wells, whose car landed on its wheels in front of the pit grandstand, climbed out but reported later that his right arm felt sore enough that he would likely visit a doctor for further evaluation when he returns home.
Eckert attempted to resume his bid after the clean-up of Wells’s crash, but his car’s rearend failed on lap 96 and he stopped on the track to bring out the race’s final caution flag. With his departure, Richards could breathe a little easier.
“I saw Eckert that one lap,” said Richards, who stretched his WoO LMS points lead over Clanton from eight to 44 points during the Firecracker 100 weekend. “He runs really good on the bottom of the racetrack – and I knew that’s where I needed to be, but I just couldn’t get there. I don’t know if we could’ve held him off or not, but we were gonna give it all we had for sure.”
McCreadie, who inherited second place on lap 69 when Bloomquist limped into the pits with a heavily smoking engine and again with Eckert’s retirement, was unable to mount a serious assault on Richards over the final four laps.
“We were just a little too tight,” said McCreadie, who bettered his career-high Firecracker 100 finish by one spot (he was third in 2012). “I just shouldn’t have tightened up so much. With where we started and all the mud that got on the car, it was so heavy and that affected the handling a lot.
“I’m content I guess,” he added. “You want to win, but the money ($15,650 for second) is nice. We just needed to be better. We had our shot (at Richards), but we couldn’t get it done.”
Finishing in positions 6-9 were Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky.; Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., who pitted on lap 71; Clanton; and Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, who pitted during the race’s last caution period. Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., rounded out the top 10, finishing one lap down.
Among the contenders who retired early were former Firecracker 100 winners Bloomquist, Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis. (stopped to bring out a caution flag on lap one) and Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa (stopped on lap 38); Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., who was running third when he slowed on lap 60; and Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., who was just outside the top five when he fell off the pace on lap 81 with a broken right-rear axle tube and a cut brake line.
The race’s first red flag was put out by officials on lap 33 so drivers could change helmets or replenish their supply of tear-offs because the four-tenths-mile oval’s tacky track surface was creating visibility problems for them. Drivers were also allowed to swap helmets and clean their shields during the lap-94 red flag period for Wells.
With Saturday night’s heat races lined up using each driver’s best finish from the two preliminary programs, no time trials were run on Saturday.
Heat winners were Richards, Clanton, Birkhofer, McDowell, Landers and Bloomquist. The B-Mains were captured by Francis, Satterlee and Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa.
Russ King of Bristolville, Ohio, pocketed $3,000 for winning the Uncle Sam 30 Non-Qualifiers’ Race, which was run after the Firecracker 100.
The WoO LMS has a short break before embarking on the Wild West Tour, which will visit six tracks in five states and one Canadian province from July 5-12. The swing kicks off on Fri., July 5, at Amsoil Speedway in Superior, Wis., before heading to Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn., on July 6; Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D., in July 8; Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway in July 9; Red River Co-op Speedway in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in July 11; and River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., on July 12.
Results of Seventh Annual Firecracker 100 Presented by GottaRace.com at Lernerville Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (2) Josh Richards/100 $30,650
2. (9) Tim McCreadie/100 $15,650
3. (8) Darrell Lanigan/100 $7,650
4. (20) Gregg Satterlee/100 $6,550
5. (3) Jared Landers/100 $5,050
6. (19) Steve Francis/100 $4,100
7. (17) Tim Fuller/100 $3,600
8. (4) Shane Clanton/100 $3,050
9. (23) Morgan Bagley/100 $3,050
10. (26) Clint Smith/99 $2,550
11. (14) Rick Eckert/96 $2,550
12. (25) Eric Wells/93 $2,350
13. (18) Bub McCool/81 $2,250
14. (5) Dale McDowell/73 $1,650
15. (1) Scott Bloomquist/69 $1,600
16. (7) Davey Johnson/56 $1,400
17. (16) John Blankenship/52 $1,300
18. (11) Mike Marlar/50 $ 1,250
19. (12) Austin Hubbard/47 $ 1,100
20. (13) Jonathan Davenport/40 $1,000
21. (6) Brian Birkhofer/38 $1,000
22. (21) Dan Stone/33 $1,000
23. (22) Chub Frank/32 $1,550
24. (27) John Garvin Jr./31 $1,000
25. (15) Steve Shaver/18 $1,000
26. (24) Dave Hess Jr./9 $1,025
27. (10) Jimmy Mars/1 $1,000
28. (28) Alex Ferree/1 $1,000
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 1 Hour, 11 Mins., 35.122 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.976 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 11 (laps 1, 18, 33, 38, 47, 51, 58, 60, 71, 81, 96); 2 Red Flags (laps 33, 94)
Lap Leaders: Bloomquist (1-15); Richards (16-100)
Provisional Starters: Wells, C. Smith (WoO); Garvin, Ferree (track)
Rookie of the Race: Bagley ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Satterlee ($500)
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Josh Richards, 2. Davey Johnson, 3. Jonathan Davenport, 4. Chub Frank, 5. Russ King, 6. Brady Smith, 7. Michael Norris, 8. Tony Burke, 9. Derek Stefanick, 10. Michael Holmes
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Shane Clanton, 2. Darrell Lanigan, 3. Rick Eckert, 4. Steve Francis, 5. Clint Smith, 6. Andrew Reaume, 7. Chris Rhodes, 8. Bump Hedman, 9. Herman Bertolini, 10. Brandon Wearing
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Brian Birkhofer, 2. Tim McCreadie, 3. Steve Shaver, 4. Gregg Satterlee, 5. Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs, 6. Mike Pegher Jr., 7. Dan Angelicchio, 8. Chris Casner, 9. Jim Rasey (DNS) Ross Camponovo
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Dale McDowell, 2. Jimmy Mars, 3. John Blankenship, 4. Morgan Bagley, 5. Mason Zeigler, 6. Eric Wells, 7. Jared Miley, 8. Tommy Beck, 9. Garrett Krummert (DNS) Justin Kann
Heat No. 5 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Jared Landers, 2. Mike Marlar, 3. Tim Fuller, 4. Brady Smith, 5. Alex Ferree, 6. Dave Hess Jr., 7. Todd Bachman, 8. Jason Rider, 9. Ken Schaltenbrand (DNS) Craig Vosbergen
Heat No. 6 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Scott Bloomquist, 2. Austin Hubbard, 3. Bub McCool, 4. Ron Davies, 5. David Watts, 6. John Garvin Jr., 7. Brian Tavenner, 8. Kevin Wilson, 9. Derrick Casner, 10. Jason Fosnaught
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Steve Francis, 2. Chub Frank, 3. Clint Smith, 4. Russ King, 5. Brady Smith, 6. Andrew Reaume, 7. Michael Norris, 8. Bump Hedman, 9. Tony Burke, 10. Chris Rhodes, 11. Brandon Wearing, 12. Michael Holmes, 13. Herman Bertolini, 14. Derek Stefanick
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Gregg Satterlee, 2. Morgan Bagley, 3. Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs, 4. Eric Wells, 5. Jared Miley, 6. Dan Angelicchio, 7. Mason Zeigler, 8. Justin Kann, 9. Tommy Beck, 10. Garrett Krummert, 11. Chris Casner, 12. Mike Pegher Jr. (DNS) Ross Camponovo, Jim Rasey
B-Main No. 3 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Dan Stone, 2. Dave Hess Jr., 3. David Watts, 4. Brian Tavenner, 5. Derrick Casner, 6. Ken Schaltenbrand, 7. Todd Bachman, 8. Jason Rider, 9. Kevin Wilson, 10. Alex Ferree, 11. Ron Davies, 12. John Garvin Jr., 13. Jason Fosnaught (DNS) Craig Vosbergen
Uncle Same 30 Non-Qualifiers’ Race Finish: Uncle Sam 30 Finish: 1. Russ King ($3,000); 2. Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs ($1,500); 3. Jason Rider ($800); 4. Brian Tavenner ($700); 5. Todd Bachman ($600); 6. Chris Casner ($500); 7. Chris Rhodes ($400); 8. Herman Bertolini ($375); 9. Michael Holmes ($350); 10. Derrick Casner ($325); 11. Bump Hedman ($300); 12. Mason Zeigler ($300); 13. Michael Norris ($270); 14. Ken Schaltenbrand ($260); 15. Tony Burke ($240); 16. Derek Stefanick ($230); 17. Kevin Wilson ($220); 18. Dan Angelicchio ($210); 19. Mike Pegher Jr. ($200); 20. Justin Kann ($200); 21. Tommy Beck ($200); 22. David Watts ($200); 23. Jared Miley ($200); 24. Andrew Reaume ($200)
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners (awards presented to noted finisher/qualifier or next highest displaying decal:
Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash to fast qualifier): none
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner): Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs/Michael Norris/Dan Stone
VP Race Fuels ‘Nice Jugs’ Award: (One VP 5-gallon container to fastest qualifier who misses A-Main): none
Wrisco Aluminum (3 sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner only): Josh Richards
Armor All (One case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main): Dale McDowell
Comp Cams ($50 certificate to A-Main winner): Josh Richards
QuarterMaster ($100 certificate to A-Main winner, $50 certificate to 5th-place finish): Tim McCreadie/Scott Bloomquist
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner): Josh Richards
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main): Tim McCreadie
XS Power ($50 cash to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main): Darrell Lanigan
Roush Yates ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main): Gregg Satterlee
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 5th-place finisher in A-Main): Jared Landers
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main): Tim Fuller
American Race Wheels ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main): Tim Fuller
VP Race Fuels ($50 cash to 8th-place finisher in A-Main): Shane Clanton
Edelbrock Manifolds ($50 cash to 9th-finisher in A-Main): Morgan Bagley
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main): Clint Smith
XS Power ($60 product certificate to 11th-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Wells
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Wells
JRI Shocks ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main): Bub McCool
Super Flow Dynos ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main): Dale McDowell
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 16th-place finisher in A-Main, redeemable w/next purchase of set): Mike Marlar
Klotz Lubricants ($50 cash to 17th-place finisher in A-Main): Mike Marlar
Roush Yates ($50 gift card to 18th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
QuarterMaster ($50 certificate to 19th-place finisher in A-Main): Austin Hubbard
Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 certificate to 20th-place finisher in A-Main): Dan Stone
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher in A-Main, redeemable w/next purchase of set): Chub Frank
Roush Yates ($50 gift card to 22nd-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main): Dave Hess Jr.
XS Power ‘Power Move of the Race’ ($60 product certificate): Gregg Satterlee
Roush Yates ($25 gift card to driver who leads most laps in the A-Main): Josh Richards