Josh Richards took advantage of Austin Hubbard's misfortune to claim his fifth World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory of the season in Thursday's Fulton Bank 50, earning a $10,725 payday at Delaware International Speedway.
Richards, the three-time WoO LMS champion from Shinnston, W.Va., pressured Hubbard of Seaford, Del., through the second half of the 50-lap race before taking command when Hubbard's overheating engine expired on lap 45. Richards led the final six laps and crossed the finish line with an advantage of 7.756 seconds in scoring his second-career victory at Delaware's half-mile oval.
"This year's been up and down, so we'll definitely take it," said Richards, whose victory came in the opening round of a WoO LMS Mid-Atlantic three-race weekend. "I feel bad for Austin. He did a great job out there. I saw him smoking a few laps before, so I was trying to get in a spot in case he broke something. I figured it was a matter of time, but I feel like we had the best car tonight."
The fourth-starting Richards drove his Valvoline-sponsored Rocket Chassis house car to the 54th WoO LMS victory of his career. He was followed at the finish by polesitter Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., who led early in the race in his Longhorn Chassis before being overtaken by both Hubbard and Richards.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., advanced from the eighth starting spot in his Sweeteners Plus Rocket to finish third while second-starting Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., took fourth in his Longhorn. WoO LMS points leader Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., rallied from the 14th starting spot to round out the top five in his Capital Race Cars house car.
Richards ran third through the race's early laps, while Frank and Hubbard mixed it up at the front. The two leaders swapped the top spot on laps two and three before Hubbard finally pulled ahead of Frank on lap eight. Richards followed suit on a lap-13 restart.
Hubbard enjoyed a comfortable lead until the race's halfway point when traffic became a factor and Richards began to apply pressure. The race's final caution waved on lap-30, giving the two leaders clear track for a final 20-lap green green-flag run. Hubbard initially edged away from Richards, but Richards closed the gap by lap 37 and made multiple bids for the lead before Hubbard's MasterSbilt by Huey machine slowed on lap 45.
"We'll take it," said Richards, whose five WoO LMS victories this season ranks second only to Clanton's nine wins. "The guys have worked really, really hard. I feel like we should have more wins than we do."
Hubbard, a former WoO LMS regular who now follows a more regional schedule, was looking to turn around his plagued 2015 season with what would've been the fourth WoO LMS victory of his career. But the 2010 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year was denied a turnaround triumph when his ailing engine let go just over five laps from the finish.
"We were pretty much a ticking time bomb," said Hubbard, whose most recent WoO LMS victory came at Potomac Speedway in Budds Creek, Md., during last year's Mid Atlantic weekend. "As long as it was going, I was going. It finally gave up and that was the end of it.
"It takes a full picture to win races like this, and apparently this year we don't have the full picture together."
Looking to end his nearly six-year WoO LMS winless streak, Frank led early before slowing his pace in an attempt to save his own overheating engine. While he settled into the third spot around the halfway point, the close racing between Richards and Hubbard ahead of him made Frank believe things might fall his way.
"I won a race here once when Josh crashed, and it was Austin he was lapping," Frank recalled of a 2007 WoO LMS event he won at Delaware. "It was like déjà vu. I was thinking you never know what's gonna happen.
"We were running hot tonight. We were wide open and the thing was like 240 (degrees) right off the bat. I was trying to baby it and trying to make it because we're point racing with Josh. It ended up getting really hot, but it held the water so I don't think it hurt anything."
Kenny Pettyjohn of Millsboro, Del., advanced from the 12th starting spot to finish sixth, just ahead of hometown driver Ricky Elliott, who started and finished seventh. Rick Eckert of York, Pa., finished eighth in a new Longhorn Chassis he debuted at Thursday's race. Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., was ninth with Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., rounding out the top 10.
The race's first caution appeared on the opening lap when a tangle back in the pack left Mark Pettyjohn of Milton, Del., spun on the back straightaway. The second yellow flag waved on lap three when Staci Warrington, also of Milton, slowed. Nick Davis of Millsboro, Del., slowed for a lap-13 caution, and Donald Lingo Jr. of Millsboro, slowed on lap 29. The final caution appeared a lap later after Amanda Whaley, another Millsboro driver, spun in turn four.
WoO LMS rookie competitor Jordan Yaggy of Rochester, Minn., was absent from Thursday's event due to problems with his team's hauler. He received 60 WoO LMS hardship points and plans to join the series for the remainder of the weekend.
The WoO LMS continues its Mid-Atlantic tripleheader on Friday with a visit to Potomac Speedway in Budds Creek, Md. Pit gates open at 3 p.m. with general admission gates opening at 4. Visit www.potomacspeedway.com for more information. The weekend wraps up at Winchester Speedway on Saturday. Gates open at 3 p.m. with hot laps at 6:15. More information is available at www.winchestervaspeedway.com.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com. Fans can also follow the WoO LMS on Twitter at Twitter.com/WoOLateModels and Facebook at Facebook.com/WorldofOutlawsLateModelSeries.
Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series Fulton Bank 50 at Delaware International Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (4) Josh Richards/50 $10,725
2. (1) Chub Frank/50 $5,550
3. (8) Tim McCreadie/50 $3,650
4. (2) Boom Briggs/50 $3,050
5. (14) Shane Clanton/50 $2,550
6. (12) Kenny Pettyjohn/50 $2,250
7. (7) Ricky Elliott/50 $1,400
8. (5) Rick Eckert/50 $1,950
9. (9) Frank Heckenast Jr./50 $1,750
10. (16) Eric Wells/50 $1,700
11. (22) Pancho Lawler/49 $1,050
12. (17) Amanda Whaley/49 $1,000
13. (18) Chase Junghans/49 $1,500
14. (3) Austin Hubbard/44 $900
15. (15) Brandon Overton/29 $1,100
16. (13) Morgan Bagley/29 $1,350
17. (11) Donald Lingo Jr./28 $770
18. (6) Jason Covert/28 $750
19. (20) Dylan Evans/28 $730
20. (19) Ross Robinson/23 $750
21. (21) Nick Davis/12 $700
22. (23) Chad Hollenbeck/4 $700
23. (10) Staci Warrington/3 $700
24. (24) Mark Pettyjohn/1 $700
Time of Race: 29 Mins., 49 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 7.756 Secs.
Yellow Flags: Five (laps 1, 3, 13, 29, 30)
Lap Leaders: Frank (1, 3-7), Hubbard (2, 8-44), Richards (45-50)
Provisional Starters: Hollenbeck (WoO), M.Pettyjohn (fast time)
Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 1-Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va., 18.614
2. 7v-Rick Eckert, York, Pa., 18.727
3. 99B-Boom Briggs, Bear Lake, Pa., 18.739
4. 1*-Chub Frank, Bear Lake, Pa., 18.793
5. 11H-Austin Hubbard, Seaford, Del., 18.901
6. 38s-Kenny Pettyjohn, Millsboro, Del., 18.903
7. 20-Staci Warrington, Milton, Del., 18.945
8. 39-Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y., 18.995
9. 99jr-Frank Heckenast Jr., Frankfort, Ill., 19.079
10. 88-Ricky Elliott, Seaford, Del., 19.080
11. 25-Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga., 19.099
12. 72-Jason Covert, York Haven, Pa., 19.114
13. 14m-Morgan Bagley, Longview, Texas, 19.130
14. 55L-Donald Lingo Jr., Millsboro, Del., 19.170
15. 76-Brandon Overton, Evans, Ga., 19.208
16. 18-Eric Wells, Hazard, Ky., 19.244
17. 4-Amanda Whaley, Millsboro, Del., 19.244
18. 80-Dylan Evans, Millsboro, Del., 19.289
19. 7-Ross Robinson, Georgetown, Del., 19.413
20. 92-Nick Davis, Millsboro, Del., 19.436
21. 18c-Chase Junghans, Manhattan, Kan., 19.467
22. 4DS-Chad Hollenbeck, Montrose, Pa., 19.561
23. 93-Pancho Lawler, Glenville, Pa., 19.705
24. 8-Mark Pettyjohn, Milton, Del., 19.724
25. 51-Andrew Mullins, Laurel, Del., 19.731
26. 4s-Daniel Snyder, Green Lane, Pa., 19.825
27. 11-Joe Warren, Georgetown, Del., 19.969
28. 000-Shaun Jones, Shermansdale, Pa., 19.993
29. 99v-Kyle Hardy, Stephens City, Va., 20.075
30. KB-Kerry King, Delmar, Del., no time
Heat No. 1 (10 laps - Top 6 Transfer): Richards, Frank, Elliott, Warrington, Bagley, Wells, Robinson, Mullins, Hollenbeck, Jones.
Heat No. 2 (10 laps - Top 6 Transfer): Eckert, Hubbard, McCreadie, Lingo, Clanton, Whaley, Snyder, Lawler, Hardy. DNS: Davis.
Heat No. 3 (10 laps - Top 6 Transfer): Briggs, Covert, Heckenast, K.Pettyjohn, Overton, Junghans, Evans, M.Pettyjohn. DNS: Warren, King.
Last-Chance Showdown (10 laps - Top 4 Transfer): Robinson, Evans, Davis, Lawler, Hardy, Mullins, Hollenbeck, Snyder, Jones, King. DNS: M.Pettyjohn, Warren.