Firecracker 100 at Lernerville goes on despite rain; Satterlee fails to advance
SARVER — Josh Richards was a man on a mission Thursday night at Lernerville Speedway.
Rebounding from a frustrating performance two nights earlier, the 25-year-old driver from Shinnston, W.Va., grabbed the lead from Steve Shaver, of Vienna, W.Va., on lap 18 and marched on to win the first 30-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series preliminary A-Main of the Firecracker 100.
The $6,150 victory was Richards’ fourth of the season and marked the third time in the last four years that he has captured the opening-night feature of the Firecracker 100. It also got him back on track after a winless four-race swing through New York and Canada.
“We struggled a lot this past week,” said Richards, who scored just one top-five finish during the northern trip. “It was actually kind of embarrassing. It wasn’t common for this team to be running the way we were, so we made some changes, swapped cars today and tried to get our heads together to make the right decisions.
“We were good tonight, but we still have a long weekend ahead of us and I’m sure everybody is gonna work on their stuff.”
Shaver settled for a runner-up finish after leading the first 17 laps. Outlaws rookie Eric Wells, of Hazard, Ky., finished third after starting from the pole position, earning a career-best finish at Lernerville in just his second visit to the track. Davey Johnson, of Latrobe, challenged Wells late in the distance but placed fourth.
Defending series champion Darrell Lanigan, of Union, Ky., took fifth after coming out on top of a last-lap battle with Dale McDowell, of Chickamauga, Ga., and Dan Stone, of Thompson, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
Richards, who has recorded four of his 43 career series victories at Lernerville, mastered the four-tenths-mile oval that was tacky and fast after being doused by heavy rain earlier in the day.
After bursting forward from the fifth starting spot to second by lap four, Richards immediately began to challenge Shaver, who started second. They swapped the top spot off turn four on lap nine — without an official lead change at the line — and did the same off turn on lap 17, but Richards slid in front for good as lap 18 was scored.
“I tried to move around to see where I could make the move and where it would be the best place,” said Richards, who claimed a pole position in a Firecracker 100 heat race Saturday night. “I just tried to get where I got a run and could hug the bottom off of (turn) two or slide (Shaver) through three and four. We raced really hard.”
A 57-car field was entered in the event, which started on schedule despite rain that saturated the area through the early afternoon.
Time trials were split into A and B groups. Fuller’s lap of 15.368 seconds in Group B was the quickest.
Gregg Satterlee, of Rochester Mills, posted the 12th-fastest time in the trials at 15.482 but did not advance out of the heats into the 28-car field.
Heat winners were: Stone; Jared Landers, of Batesville, Ark.; Richards; Shaver; Dave Hess Jr., of Waterford,; and Wells. The three 12-lap B-Mains were won by Brady Smith, of Solon Springs, Wis.; John Blankenship, of Williamson, W.Va.; and Davies.
The Firecracker 100 continues tonight with another WoO LMS program topped by a 30-lap A-Main paying $6,000 to win. Saturday night’s headlining Firecracker 100 pays $30,000 to win.
Details can be obtained by logging on to www.lernerville.com.