ROSSBURG, Ohio — Josh Richards led all 30 laps to win Thursday night’s Intercontinental Classic opener at Eldora Speedway.
The 32-year old driver banked $10,000 for his triumph aboard the Clint Bowyer Racing No. 14 Rocket/Cornett.
For Richards, who now resides less than 20 minutes away from the Rossburg, Ohio half-mile, it was his third career preliminary feature win at Eldora. It was also the third win of his season and first since July for the four-time World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series champion.
“I know there’s no points on the line, but we really want to win at Eldora,” said Richards. “We’ve been so close. To be back up here, even though it’s a preliminary win, there’s still 48 awesome cars here and it’s all of the best drivers in the country. Being on this stage means a lot for me.”
After polesitter Josh Rice had trouble on the initial start, Richards moved to the front and set sail at the green flag, while Brandon Overton passed Ricky Weiss for second.
Held up by a trio of stoppages past the halfway mark, Richards time-and-time again went with the outside lane for double-file restarts, sticking Overton down low on an already narrow track.
A lap-21 caution for Kyle Bronson set the stage for the final restart with nine laps to go, but Josh Richards was simply not to be denied on this Thursday night. He fired off and yanked Overton off the start, running away to the checkered flag with a 1.420-second advantage at the stripe.
“I was just taking it one lap at a time out there; I felt really relaxed tonight,” noted Richards on his feel for the car. “I’ve never doubted my abilities when we come to Eldora, and especially this year with how we’ve been consistently fast. It’s just a matter of putting all the right pieces into the perfect package. I knew clean air and restarts would be big tonight. My biggest concern was with Overton being down low, I knew he would fire off well and charge me into turn one, but this thing was great and we took care of business.”
Settling for a runner-up bid in the feature, Overton was the leading point earner on night one, edging Richards by two points.
“This track was so demanding tonight and it was hard on equipment, but we got our points and survived,” Overton said. “I almost had Josh on one of those restarts, but he pinched me off just enough to hold on. I knew I needed to be smart with two more nights left, so it wasn’t worth risking anything. He could just zing the top so well, I was too tight for that. I tried to get up there and almost junked it a few times, after that I went back down.”
Rounding out the podium was Weiss.
“There was a lot of hard racing out there tonight,” Weiss stated. “We had a great qualifying run, another great heat race, and followed that up with a consistent feature. I can’t thank Vic Hill enough for putting this new motor in earlier this week. Hopefully we can get up there where Josh is at, that’s what we want.”
Tim McCreadie and Chase Junghans rounded out the top five.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 14-Josh Richards ; 2. 76-Brandon Overton ; 3. 7-Ricky Weiss ; 4. 39-Tim McCreadie ; 5. 18-Chase Junghans ; 6. 1C-Chad Simpson ; 7. 1-Brandon Sheppard ; 8. 25-Shane Clanton ; 9. 11H-Spencer Hughes ; 10. 44-Chris Madden ; 11. 28-Dennis Erb Jr. ; 12. 49-Jonathan Davenport ; 13. 25F-Jason Feger ; 14. 20-Jimmy Owens ; 15. 18B-Shannon Babb ; 16. 40B-Kyle Bronson ; 17. 22-Gregg Satterlee ; 18. 111-Steven Roberts ; 19. 22F-Chris Ferguson ; 20. 23-Cory Hedgecock ; 21. 17-Zack Dohm ; 22. 157-Mike Marlar ; 23. 57-Zack Mitchell ; 24. 11R-Josh Rice .