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Sanders Wins USMTS Opener at Shady Oaks Speedway February 11, 2016

Sanders Wins USMTS Opener at Shady Oaks Speedway

GOLIAD, Texas—The United States Modified Touring Series kicked off its 18th season Thursday at the Shady Oaks Speedway in Goliad, Texas, with another fierce battle ending with a near photo-finish.

Rodney Sanders and Jason Hughes have captured the last three USMTS national championships, and the pair slugged it out in last year’s Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup with Hughes scoring his second title in dramatic fashion.

Although they haven’t slugged it out for more than three months, Thursday’s 30-lap feature race wound up looking like a replay of last year’s highlight reel between the two.

The front row of the main event saw geographical opposites Casey Arneson of Fargo, N.D., and Steve Whiteaker Jr. of Corpus Christi, Texas, lead the 25-car field to the green. Arneson slid up in front of Whiteaker as they drove into the first turn, but Whiteaker crossed underneath Arneson to gain control of the race on lap 1.

The next time around the 3/8-mile dirt oval, Austin Arneson tucked in behind his brother and followed in Whiteaker’s tire tracks for the next dozen laps while Sanders, who started eighth, Cade Dillard and 12th-starting Hughes were on the charge and chasing the lead pack.

Dillard slipped underneath Sanders on lap 15, but Sanders returned the favor one lap later and then briefly raced three-wide with the Arneson brothers for second before securing the second spot with 18 laps complete.

The yellow flag made its first appearance of the 2016 campaign on lap 19 when Casey Arneson tagged the yoke tire on the inside of turn 4 and brought his strong run to an end early.

When the green flag returned, Whiteaker, Sanders and Austin Arneson powered through turn 2 side by side, but a tangle deep in the pack negated the start.

Whiteaker, who claimed last year’s season opener here, kept his advantage on the next start but Sanders was too strong and powered past the local favorite to lead the 22nd circuit.

Three laps later, Austin Arneson made contact with Whiteaker and Ryan Gustin, who had clawed his way into the top five from the eighth row, was forced to take evasive action and steer over the embankment to avoid a collision.

Both Whiteaker and Arneson found themselves at the rear of the field for the start of the final five-lap dash to the checkered flag while Gustin suffered damage from the maneuver and retired to the pit area.

Sanders nailed the restart and got a big jump on Dillard and Hughes, who found a fast line around the top of the racing surface to facilitate his late-race charge.

Hughes blew past Dillard with two laps to go and quickly pulled up to Sanders’s rear bumper as the duo raced to the white flag.

Sanders maintained the lead through the first corner while Hughes stayed tucked in behind as they raced down the back-stretch for the final time. With Sanders rolling around the inside, Hughes took the high line through the final set of turns and closed quickly on Sanders as they raced to the flagstand.

Crossing the finish line virtually side by side, Sanders was able to nip Hughes by a nose to claim the first USMTS checkered flag of the season and the $2,000 paycheck that accompanied it.

“The track was really good tonight,” said Sanders, who got the win in his first-ever visit to the Shady Oaks Speedway. “It's a pretty tight track, but it races really well. At some tracks we go to we try to compare notes from like tracks, but we were in our own little world here.”

Hughes settled for second but he and crew chief Steve Karver appeared pleased with the result after struggling in their heat race.

Dillard held on for third while Joe Duvall made a late charge to claim the fourth spot ahead of Ben Kates. Tyler Wolff, Philip Houston, Zack VanderBeek, Brock Bauman and Jesse Sobbing rounded out the top ten in the season’s first points race in the Production Jars Southern Region presented by Day Motor Sports.

For additional news visit www.usmts.com

Photo courtesy of www.usmts.com

Richards Keeps Rolling at East Bay Winternationals February 9, 2016

Richards Keeps Rolling at East Bay Winternationals

TAMPA, FL (February 9, 2016) - Josh Richards continued to dominate the competition on Tuesday Night at East Bay Raceway Park, winning his fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event of 2016. Richards took the lead from Jared Landers on lap nine after Landers jumped the turn four cushion.

Richards went on to win his sixth career East Bay Winternationals feature event. Scott Bloomquist finished second, followed by Tim McCreadie, Jonathan Davenport, and Eddie Carrier Jr.

"We changed motors today. I was a little nervous about the balance we had in the car, but it worked out well in the feature. The track started off like last night, it was nice and fast. With the weather conditions tonight, you had to get to the front quickly to have a chance to win."

"The car tightened up quite a bit. We were way too tight for the conditions out there. I don't know how many more laps I had in that right rear; probably not many; the way it looks. Jared [Landers] got off to a good start. I just tried to stay under him and then he must have jumped the berm there and we were able to get by him. This place is tricky with the way you move around so much. I want to thank the fans for coming out tonight as well!"

"I would like to thank Valvoline, Ace Metal Works, Seubert Calf Ranches, Sallack Well Services, and everybody else who makes this possible. I can't believe how the season has started! We will be back tomorrow and try to make it three in a row."

Landers led the first eight laps, then fell to second behind Richards and held that spot until contact sent him spinning on lap 23. Bloomquist then moved into second and held off McCreadie for third.

Bloomquist who did not run Monday Night at East Bay said, "We got some rest last night. I have been feeling sick, so we decided to take the night off. The car was just a little bit free in the heat race, and I tightened it up way too much. That's not how I like to drive it," said the 2-time LOLMDS Champion.

"I thought Jared was getting a flat tire or something. I thought I was outside of him enough and I guess I just barely hooked him. I hate that because we are really good friends. We have race together a lot and that's the first time something has happened between us. I apologize for that! It was absolutely my fault."

McCreadie is following the LOLMDS for the first time in his career, and had another solid finish. "It's such a relaxed atmosphere; we have had good starts to a season before, but we just need the consistency for the whole season. We feel like we have a winning combination here. I want to thank Sweeteners Plus, Longhorn Chassis, and Pro Power Engines. We will come back tomorrow night, looking to gain a few more spots."

Completing the top ten were Devin Moran, Dennis Erb Jr., Don O'Neal, Steve Francis, and Mason Zeigler.

For additional news visit www.lucasdirt.com

Josh Richards Captures East Bay Winternationals Opener February 8, 2016

Josh Richards Captures East Bay Winternationals Opener

TAMPA, FL (February 8, 2016) - On Monday Night at East Bay Raceway Park, Josh Richards continued his recent hot streak by winning his third Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event this season. Richards started ninth and charged to the front, taking the lead on lap 20 from Jimmy Owens.

 Owens came home second, followed by Jared Landers, Tim Dohm, and Tim McCreadie.

 "What a great start to the season! I would like to thank everybody on the crew. The track was really good tonight. It was back to the typical East Bay racing. It was slimy to start with and it worked in quite nicely. Starting ninth, I knew it was going to be a chore to get to the front. We had some cautions there early on, but once the race settled down it was really competitive."

 "A big thanks to Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Integra, Sunoco, Ace Metal Works, Petroff Towing, Sallack Well Services, Keyser, Hoosier Tires, and Durham Racing Engines." It was the fifth career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win for the 27-year-old driver at East Bay.

 Owens led the first 19 laps and was looking for the first win for his new team, R&W Motorsports. A classic slide job by Richards for the lead with five laps to go ended those hopes. "We had a really good car here tonight. We had a really good car yesterday at Golden Isles before getting in a mishap. We were pretty much stuck to the top tonight, and that's fine. The track was really racy all night."

 Owens, who entered the event with two career wins at the "Clay by the Bay," thought he could hold on for the win tonight. "Those cautions early on certainly hurt our momentum; just as soon as we were starting to pull away, a yellow would come out. I thought I was going to be ok until Josh got by me in turn four. I want to thank E3 Spark Plugs, Red Line OiI, Sunoco; Lance and Barry Wright; and R&W Racing."

 Landers continues his impressive string of top five finishes coming home in third in the East Bay opener. "We are going to get a win soon. This car [Sweet-Bloomquist] is just a joy to drive. Jason, [Durham] my crew chief, and everybody on the team are working hard to keep us up front. It was a good race, we could run side-by-side out there with anybody.   I would also like to thank Crop Production Services, Mark Martin Automotive, ASC Warranty, and everybody else for all of their support."'

Completing the top ten were Brian Shirley, Steve Francis, Ricky Weiss, Eddie Carrier Jr., and Kyle Bronson.

For additional new visit www.lucasdirt.com

Photo courtesy of 


Richards Grabs Super Bowl of Racing Finale February 7, 2016

Richards Grabs Super Bowl of Racing Finale

BRUNSWICK, GA (February 7, 2016) On Sunday afternoon at Golden Isles Speedway, Josh Richards takes the $15,000 finale of the Georgia Boot Super Bowl of Racing. The event was sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

Jonathan Davenport, the reigning LOLMDS National Champion made a valiant effort on the final lap to pass Richards, but he spun allowing Richards to take the checkers first for the second time this weekend. Jared Landers slipped by Davenport for second, while Davenport re-gained control of his car to cross the line in third. Scott Bloomquist was fourth, followed by Eddie Carrier Jr.

Davenport led the first lap of the 60-lap event before Richards grabbed the lead on lap two. Richards then held the top spot over Davenport until lap 35 when Davenport was able to forge back into the lead. The two then dueled as Richards rallied back into the lead for good on lap 46.

“I kept watching the crew guys that were giving me signals. I knew he [Davenport] was still close when I was leading. He [Davenport] actually helped me when he passed me because he showed me another line. For a day race, the track had plenty of grip to it. I was conserving my tires, I didn’t know if they would last, but they did. The track crew did a great job with the track! To win twice down here, it’s a great start to the season”

“Thanks to Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Integra, Sunoco, Ace Metal Works, Hoosier Tires, Sallack Well Services, Petroff Towing, and Andy Durham of Durham Racing Engines.”

Landers was able to sneak by Davenport in the final corner to nab a second-place finish. “We have had a good car all weekend,” said the race runner-up. For a day race, the track was in really good shape, we could run anywhere on it! We went with a softer compound tire and it held up really well.”

“I’d like to thank everyone at Crop Production Services, Mark Martin Automotive, ASC Warranty, Big Dog Motorsports, Bad Boy Mowers, Sweet-Bloomquist Chassis, and Durham Race Engines. I think this is the best points start we have ever had!”

Davenport gave Richards one final shot heading to the checked flag, but ended up getting sideways. He stopped momentarily and re-gained control as the race stayed green to the finish. “It’s Super Bowl Sunday so I was going for the win! I got in the corner and was already committed and it just turned on me. We were fortunate to finish third. I am glad we didn’t lose any more points than we did.”

“The track crew did a great job with the track today. Turns one and two were a little slick, but we could run into turns three and four pretty hard. I want to thank Kevin and Lee Roy Rumley. Today is Lee Roy’s 80th birthday and like last year, was hoping to bring him home a win.”

Completing the top ten were Tim McCreadie, Dennis Erb Jr., Brandon Sheppard, Devin Moran, and Darrell Lanigan.

For more news visit www.lucasdirt.com

Photo courtesy of www.lucasdirt.com

Richards Wins Opening Night at Golden Isles February 5, 2016

Richards Wins Opening Night at Golden Isles

BRUNSWICK, GA (February 5, 2016) – Josh Richards held off a late race charge from Brandon Sheppard to win on the opening night of the Georgia Boot Super Bowl of Racing at Golden Isles Speedway on Friday Night. Richards led but all but one lap on his way to victory in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event.

Sheppard; the 2015 LOLMDS Rookie of the Year; briefly took the lead from Richards with four laps to go, but Richards regained the top spot moments later and went on for his seventh career LOLMDS win. Sheppard crossed the line a car length and a half behind in second, followed by; last year’s series champion; Jonathan Davenport, Jared Landers, and Chris Madden.

“We had a pretty decent car the whole race,” said 28-year-old Richards. I was concerned about tire wear tonight; I felt like they were giving up towards the end. When we got into traffic, we were able to run the top around those guys in clean air and a clean track, which sure helped us, because those running behind me didn’t have that advantage.”

“When I saw Brandon get by me, I went into turn one, and I didn’t want to get into him. His car drifted up and I was able to get back around him. Brandon is a great kid. We have been friends for a long-time. What a way to start the New Year with these Rocket XR1 cars finishing first and second.”

“I would like to thank my dad, and all of my crew. I want thank Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Ace Metal Works, and Andy Durham Racing Engines. Thanksto Lucas Oil and the track crew for a great track.”

Richards and Jared Landers started on the front row of the 50-lap main event. Richards took the lead at the start of the race with Landers running in second. Landers held the second-spot until lap 15 when Sheppard got around him.

With seven laps-to-go, a final caution set-up a shootout between the top three of Richards, Sheppard, and Davenport.

“Our car was really good all night! We moved to the top and that helped us,” said Sheppard. “Josh drifted up just enough for me to get by him. When he saw me, he was able to get back to the bottom of the track. I want to thank everybody at Best Performance Motorsports for this opportunity. It was a good race for us and a good points night, and a great way to start the year!”

Davenport recovered from falling all the way to 12th place at one point during the race. “We are really good on the long runs. I hated to see that one caution when we got up to third. We went to the top and car took off and was super good.”

Completing the top ten were Eddie Carrier Jr., Tim McCreadie, Darrell Lanigan, Brian Shirley, and Steve Francis.

For more news visit www.lucasdirt.com

Photo courtesy of www.lucasdirt.com

Richards Blasts To Win at Bubba Raceway Park January 29, 2016

Richards Blasts To Win at Bubba Raceway Park

OCALA, FL – Josh Richards of Shinnston, WV drove the Sallack Well Service Rocket to his first career NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series win on Friday night at Bubba Raceway Park in Round 2 of the RockAuto.com Winter Shootout.  Richards picked up the $2,500 win in the 40-lap main event after a hard fought battle with Kyle Bronson of Brandon, FL. 

In the last half of the race, Bronson tried both high and low in the Brandon Ford Special to get around Richards for the lead.  On two occasions, Bronson looked like he was going to take the lead after getting alongside Richards, only to have caution flags spoil the effort.

“This is only the second time I’ve run a race with a Chevrolet Performance 604 Racing Engine, and it takes a different style of driving that I’m still trying to learn,” Richards said.  “Kyle Bronson and I are both aggressive drivers, and he made me earn this one.  If it wasn’t for Bubba Clem and his track crew, we wouldn’t have had a track to race on tonight.  After all of the rain they’ve had here over the last few days, the track was still pretty wet.”

After leading the first four laps of the race, Bronson finished second, .755 seconds behind Richards.  Walker Arthur of Forest, VA took the checkered flag in third, but he was disqualified in the post-race technical inspection with unapproved suspension components on his Cecil B. Arthur Beef Farms Special. That moved Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, SC up to the third spot in the M&W Transport Special.  Tyler Bare of Rockridge Baths, VA was fourth in the Blue Grass Farm Special, and Justin Williams of Concord, VA drove the Ditch Witch Special to a fifth-place finish.  Keith Nosbisch of Valrico, FL came from the 18th starting spot to finish sixth in the Image Skin Care Rocket. Logan Robertson of Waynesboro, VA took the seventh spot in the Mike’s Tire and Auto Special, and Chase Edge of LaFayette, AL took over the RockAuto.com Winter Shootout point lead with an eighth-place finish in the Edge’s Gas Company Special.  Edge holds a 30-point lead over William Thomas of Phenix City, AL. The ninth spot went to Jimmy Mac of Mooresville, NC in the Lake Norman Motors Special.  Sunoco Young Guns Challenge Series driver, 15-year-old Bryan Marsh of Corinth, MS, rounded out the top ten in the Modern Woodmen Trak-Star after starting 22nd.

For more news visit www.nesmithracing.com

Photo courtesy of www.nesmithracing.com/Bruce Carroll