|Date: 8/9/2010 6:09:52 PM|
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THUNDER ON THE HILL RACING SERIES GRANDVIEW SPEEDWAY
Richards Excited To Go Racing In Northeast Modified Country Again On Wednesday, Aug. 18 Grandview Speedway
Defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series Champion Has Seen Interest In Tour Explode Among Modified Fans
BECHTELSVILLE, PA - Aug. 9, 2010 - Josh Richards remembers how he and his full-fender brethren were viewed by the locals when the World of Outlaws Late Model Series started visiting tracks in the heart of DIRTcar Northeast Modified country.
"The first couple times we ran up there everybody kind of looked at us as the outsiders, the strangers," said Richards, who was a 16-year-old in his first year behind the wheel of a dirt Late Model when the national tour began penetrating big-block and 358-Modified facilities in 2004. "The Modified fans weren't too familiar with us."
Now it's a completely different story each time the WoO LMS pulls into a Modified track - a track like Grandview Speedway, a stalwart 358-Modified oval in eastern Pennsylvania that will host the tour for the second straight year on Wed., Aug. 18. A 40-lap A-Main paying $8,000 to win will top Grandview's NAPA Auto Parts Thunder on the Hill Racing Series program, which also includes a 30-lap feature for the 358-Modified class.
"It seems like when we go to Modified tracks the fans know about what we've done and where we come from," said Richards, a resident of Shinnston, W.Va., who has become one of the country's top dirt Late Model stars at the ripe age of 22. "More and more fans come up and say, 'Hey, we watched you last year and we've been looking forward to you guys coming back.'"
The popularity of the WoO LMS is soaring at Modified hotbeds such as Grandview, a high-banked, one-third-mile bullring that drew 41 cars and a big crowd for its inaugural tour event last year. Richards attributes the surge to the success DIRTcar big-block Modified superstars like Tim McCreadie and Tim Fuller, among others, have enjoyed on the national dirt Late Model stage since they shifted their focus to the division in recent seasons.
McCreadie debuted on the WoO LMS in 2004 and was its champion just two years later, while Fuller captured the tour's Rookie of the Year title in 2007 and developed into a seven-time series winner in 2009. The two drivers from Watertown, N.Y., head a growing list of Modified racers who have infiltrated the dirt Late Models ranks, including Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y. (a DIRTcar big-block standout who runs selected Late Model shows as Fuller's Gypsum Racing teammate), Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y. (2008 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year), Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio (the tour's top rookie in 2009), Ricky Elliott of Seaford, Del. (a perennial contender in regional events) and teenager Larry Wight of Baldwinsville, N.Y. (the son of Gypsum Racing owner John Wight).
McCreadie, Fuller and King are regulars on this year's WoO LMS, and Decker, Coffey, Elliott and Wight are likely to join them in Grandview's field. Both McCreadie and Fuller have celebrated Super DIRTcar Series big-block Modified wins at Grandview; Fuller was also unstoppable in winning last year's inaugural WoO LMS A-Main there, while McCreadie did not enter Grandview's '09 Outlaw program.
"There's definitely been way more Modified fans who have become Late Model fans because of guys like McCreadie and Fuller especially," said Richards, who acknowledged that the arrival of the Modified drivers has, in turn, made him more aware of Modified racing ("Being honest, before 2004 I didn't even know who Tim McCreadie was"). "They've made more Modified fans start paying more attention to Late Model racing and that's helped create fans in new areas for us. They've helped expand our fanbase."
Richards's Q-rating has certainly benefitted from the increased interest in dirt Late Model racing among Modified fans. His name regularly appears in the headlines of stories about the division, and he's impressed many Modified fans in person by winning WoO LMS A-Mains at Modified tracks such as Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. (his first career tour win in 2005), Cornwall (Ont.) Motor Speedway, Canandaigua (N.Y.) Speedway and Big Diamond Raceway in Minersville, Pa.
A victory on Aug. 18 at Grandview - a track known for its rabid fans - would help him put even more of his 'Rocket Man' t-shirts on the backs of Modified aficionados. He's hoping to improve upon his performance in last year's WoO LMS event, which began positively when he set fast time in qualifying but ended with a quiet sixth-place finish that cost him the points lead to Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky. - though he did, of course, rally to win his first points crown.
"It's a cool track," Richards said of Grandview. "We missed (the setup) a little bit in the feature last year so I'm looking forward to going back. I enjoy racing at different types of tracks and Grandview is definitely different, which is what makes it fun.
"And I noticed last year that there were some real hard-core fans there, fans that really get into the races. That's the kind of place you like to go to as a driver."
Richards will carry the WoO LMS points lead into Grandview action for the second consecutive year. He leads 2008 champ Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who finished eighth last year at Grandview, by 36 points and McCreadie by 48 after 35 of 47 events. Richards is also the tour's winningest driver this season, with six victories to his credit.
Grandview's Wednesday-night show kicks off a flurry of late-summer activity for the tour - a total of five races in seven nights spanning Pennsylvania, upstate New York and the Canadian province of Quebec. Richards and his father Mark's Seubert Calf Ranches/Rocket Chassis team have not raced since the USA Nationals on Aug. 7 at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., to make sure they're primed and ready for the beginning of the stretch run to the $100,000 points crown.
"We (took time off) to get our stuff together and gear up for the (Northeast) swing," said Richards. "This is last big week of racing we'll have so want to be prepared as we can be. Darrell's been good and Timmy's been good, so we gotta do everything we can to stay ahead of them."
The star-studded roster of WoO LMS drivers that will join the championship contenders and defending race winner Fuller at Grandview includes Francis (finished second in last year's event), Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga. (third), rookie Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del. (fifth), Rick Eckert of York, Pa. (seventh), Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga. (11th), Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. (12th), King (19th), Brent Robinson of Smithfield, Va. (20th) and rookie Jill George of Cedar Falls, Iowa (first Grandview appearance).
Other drivers expected to take on the Outlaws at Grandview include D.J. Myers of Greencastle, Pa., who scored a career-best WoO LMS finish of fourth in last year's event, Jeremy Miller of Gettysburg, Pa., Rick 'Boom' Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., Scott Haus of Hamburg, Pa., and Grandview regular Chuck Schutz of Pottstown, Pa.
Gates are scheduled to open on Wed., Aug. 18, at 5 p.m. with racing getting the green flag at 7:30 p.m.
Advance tickets are now on sale at a cost of $30 for adults. Tickets for children 6-11 are $10 and kids under the age of six will be admitted free of charge, and pit passes will cost $35.
Advance ticket-holders may enter the grandstand at 4:30 p.m. to reserve their seats for the evening's action.
More information is available by logging on to www.thunderonthehillracingseries.com and www.grandviewspeedway.com or calling 610-754-7688.
Following Wednesday's action the WoO LMS will continue barnstorming the Northeast with events on Thurs., Aug. 19, at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, N.Y.; Aug. 20-21 at Mohawk International Raceway in Hogansburg, N.Y. (the 100-lap, $20,000-to-win 'Battle at Eastern Door'); Aug. 23 at Autodrome Drummond in Drummondville, Que.; and Aug. 24 at Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and Chizmark Larson Insurance; in addition to contingency sponsors Eibach Springs, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pink Carburetors, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance and Wrisco Aluminum.
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