Richards Targets WVMS WoO LMS Run
MINERAL WELLS, W. Va. — The last time the World of Outlaws Late Model Series stopped at West Virginia Motor Speedway, the three-decade-old track was one of the biggest, fastest dirt ovals in the country.
But when the stars of the national tour return to WVMS on Friday night (Aug. 30) after a three-year absence for a 50-lap, $10,000-to-win event that closes out the facility’s 2013 RaceFest, they will find a different race track staring them in the face.
The place is still fast, of course, but it’s not quite so big anymore.
Friday night’s program will mark the first WoO LMS’s first appearance at WVMS since the speedway was shortened in 2012 to four-tenths of a mile from its former sprawling five-eighths-mile layout.
It will be just the fourth dirt late model event overall contested on the new configuration, which debuted last September.
Just two WoO LMS regulars enter the circuit’s Labor Day holiday weekend kickoff having turned laps on the shorter West Virginia speedplant —– and only one of those racers has a full feature worth of experience under his belt. That particular Outlaw is two-time series champion and point leader Josh Richards, who on April 21 finished a hard-charging second in the track’s 50-lap Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event.
Richards, 25, came away impressed by the changes made to WVMS after his springtime visit.
“Shortening the track up was definitely what that place needed,” said Richards, who lives about an hour-and-a-half to the east of WVMS. “Anytime you get to a track that’s overly big, it’s hard to get the racing good and close just because of the aerodynamics of the cars and just how good the cars are now. Smaller tracks just tend to race better.
“I went there when I was little and I ran there a handful of times over the years,” he continued. “The big track, I didn’t care for as much. But now, it’s a different story. When we were there in April, it raced real well. It was one of the better tracks we’ve been on all year.”
Richards’s performance on April 21 proved that passing certainly isn’t at a premium at WVMS. He had to restart at the rear of the field after slapping the turn-three wall on the opening lap and pitting one circuit later for repairs – and then, even with his father Mark’s Valvoline-sponsored Rocket Chassis house car not 100 percent, he worked his way through the solid field to finish a fast-closing second behind winner Eddie Carrier Jr.
“You can move around there,” said Richards. “When we were there it was a little dry so the groove was mostly middle-low, but it was wide enough to where you could race. We came from the back to run second with a car that was a little beat up, so I think that showed how racy it was.”
Richards said he’s “expecting a pretty good race for the fans” when the WoO LMS invades on Friday night. He believes that the track lends itself to exciting competition.
“It’s really unique now,” Richards said of WVMS. “They’ve shortened it up (bringing in turns three and four), but it’s still sort of got a big-track feel to it. (Turns) one and two are still the same, but you’re just not carrying near as much speed through there so you can race a little bit better at that end than you could before. And (turns) three and four aren’t symmetrical, so it’s got some character to it.
“I think three and four is where most of the passing happens because it’s not a ‘perfect’ corner. That’s usually better for a racetrack. You get a track that’s real symmetrical and that’s when the lines get very similar so you just stand on it and carry speed around, which makes it harder to pass.
“There’s gonna be a lot of good cars there (on Friday night) and it will definitely be leaps and bounds better than it was before,” he added. “The big track was just so hard to actually race on. It was fun to drive on because you were going fast, but it was hard to race on. I think the smaller track is perfect for giving fans the best racing possible.”
The WoO LMS competition will headline a big night of racing on Friday at WVMS. Also on the card will be the Ohio Valley Sprint Car Ass’n 410 sprint cars, the Renegades of Dirt Traveling Modifieds, front-wheel-drive 4-cylinders and the EDGE HotMods.
RaceFest will begin Aug. 29 with a program that includes a $4,000-to-win ADRA Super Late Model feature plus events for the OVSCA 410 sprint cars, the Renegades of Dirt Traveling Modifieds and the front-wheel-drive 4-cylinders.