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The Firecracker Story from Lernerville: Richards scores preliminary victory.

Josh Richards continued his strong 2016 World Of Outlaw Craftsman tour campaign with another victory in the Friday night portion of the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway.  The Rocketman advanced to the lead from the tenth starting position by the halfway point in the 30 lap event. After misfortunes in lap traffic, Richards utilized a late race restart to retake the lead away from Brandon Overton.

Daylon Barr Photo

Group Qualifying:

Dale McDowell set overall quicktime in group qualifying
Daylon Barr Photo

Dale McDowell set quicktime in Group A with a lap of 15.251 seconds over Mike Benedum, Austin Hubbard, Billy Moyer Jr. and Frank Heckenast Jr.

Group B saw Scott Bloomquist set quicktime with a lap of 15.335 seconds over Lernerville track points leader Russell King, Brian Shirley, Jonathan Davenport and Eric Wells.


Heats:

Heat 1:
Billy Moyer Jr advanced to the lead from the outside pole over McDowell. Jared Miley cleared Chub Frank for the third and final transfer position. Moyer pulled ahead, while Miley closed on McDowell for 2nd until a lap 8 caution for Joey Coulter slowed the field.  On the restart, Frank drove from 4th to 2nd around both McDowell and Miley on the inside of turn 2. Moyer took the victory and a redraw spot over Frank, while McDowell managed to hold off Miley for third.

Heat 2:
Heckenast Jr. drove to the lead on lap 1 and led all the way to secure the victory. Mike Benedum put some pressure to the inside of the 99JR machine toward halfway, but fell back into the clutches of Jason Covert for a battle for second. Benedum would end up in second with Covert finishing third.

Heat 3:
Shane Clanton took the early lead with Austin Hubbard right on his tail.  On the opening lap, Gregg Satterlee made contact with Tim McCreadie, causing Satterlee to bring out the yellow with a flat tire on the second circuit. The restart saw Clanton again in the lead, but Brandon Overton took the runner up spot away from Hubbard. Lap 6 saw both Clanton and Hubbard suffer problems, as Clanton slowed to an abrupt stop and Hubbard lost the handle coming off turn 4, surrendering several positions. This handed the lead over to Overton, who took advantage of the misfortunes to claim the heat win. McCreadie advanced forward to take the second spot, while Satterlee overcome his early race troubles to take the final transfer spot away from Alex Ferree.

Heat 4:
The fourth heat saw a stout field with Bloomquist, Richards, Davenport and Earl Pearson Jr. making up the top four starting positions. Bloomquist raced out to a big lead while the battle was on for second between Richards and Davenport. The two exchanged slide jobs coming off turn four on several occasions with Richards ultimately getting the advantage on lap 5. Bloomquist took the heat win over Richards and Davenport held on to take the final transfer spot over Pearson and Tyler Erb.

Daylon Barr Photo

Heat 5:
Russ King well represented the contingent of weekly Lernerville drivers with an impressive victory in heat 5. King drove to the lead from the pole, and then had to hold off a late race charge from Mason Zeigler. King kept his momentum around the high side of the speedway to hold off several slide job attempts by Zeigler.   Eric Wells claimed the third position over past Firecracker champion Darrell Lanigan, who failed to transfer in fourth.

Heat 6:
On an early race restart, the final heat race of the night saw the field stack up after contact between Austin Smith and Mike Pegher Jr. The result was  heavy damage for both Rick Eckert and Joe Martin, putting them both out of competition for the heat. When racing resumed, Brian Shirley held the point, while Pegher drove by Smith for second. The rest of the race went caution free with Shirley, Pegher and Smith clinching the final transfer spots.

Last Chance Showdowns:

LCS #1: Jared Miley raced his way into the feature in convincing fashion, while Steve Casebolt charged by Michael Norris and Morgan Bagley for the final transfer spot.

LCS #2: Outlaw Rookie Tyler Erb held off a strong field for the victory with Kenny Pettyjohn also transferring.

LCS #3: Lanigan drove away with the victory in the final shot to make the feature. Dave Hess Jr. held off Bump Hedman to also transfer.

Amain:

Heckenast Jr. and King drew the front row starting spots for the 30 lap preliminary feature.  King drove by Heckenast down the backstretch for the lead on the opening lap, but the action was slowed for Mike Benedum spinning in front of the field before a lap could be completed.

Once racing resumed, it was again King who drove to the lead, while Moyer worked his way around Heckenast for second. The action was aplenty throughout the 28 car field, especially with Bloomquist, Richards and Chub Frank already racing three wide for sixth in the opening laps. Overton then drove into 3rd around Heckenast as well before another caution for Steve Casebolt slowed the field on lap 3.

On the lap 3 restart, King remained out in front with Overton applying pressure. By lap 7, Overton was able to clear King for the lead. Behind the lead duo, all eyes were on Richards who drove all the way to the third position by lap 8. Richards and King begun to battle for the runner up spot in the following laps, and in the meantime, both were making up ground on leader Overton, who began to hit lap traffic.

Richards made his way around King for 2nd on lap 11 and then made quick work of Overton for the lead by lap 13. On lap 18, Richards got held up by Austin Smith heading into turn 3, which allowed Overton to retake the lead at the flagstand. A well timed caution for the slowing car of Morgan Bagley on the same lap allowed Overton to remain in front.

Looking for his first victory in his Outlaw career, Overton raced to the lead again on the Delaware double file restart.  Shirley momentarily took second away from Richards, but slid high off turn two allowing Richards to set his sights on retaking the lead.  Another caution for Benedum on lap 21 slowed the pace.

Daylon Barr Photo

This time, on a single file restart, Richards retook the point with a pass to the inside of Overton in turns 1 and 2. One final caution was displayed on lap 23 for Bloomquist, who retired from the event after coming to a stop off turn 2.

Daylon Barr Photo

Richards quickly stretched his advantage on the lap 23 restart, while Overton and Shirley battled for 2nd.  Seemingly out of nowhere, Davenport charged through the field following the restart, as his #116 machine was glued to the very top of the speedway. He advanced from 7th on the restart to take 2nd on lap 27 and then began to make up significant time on Richards as well.

However, Davenport would just run out of laps and could not catch Richards. “On that last restart, I was able to catch the traction on the bottom of one and two and I was able to get by Overton and hold on for the win”, remarked Richards in victory lane. “I didn’t realize Davenport was coming on the top. I knew it was really good up there but I didn’t want to gamble and go up there.”

 Overton took the final podium spot, while Shirley and King made up the rest of the top five. A hard charging Jared Miley passed both McCreadie and Moyer in the closing laps to finish 6th from the 19th starting position.

Thursday’s rained out event will be made up early Saturday afternoon prior to the Saturday evening Firecracker 100 event.  “We just want to see what the track does. It’ll be daytime and it’ll dry out, that’s inevitable and as wet as it is, it could get really dusty but I know the track guys are going to work hard to get it to the best show that they can”, Richards remarked regarding the Saturday afternoon event.

Top 10 Finish:
1. Josh Richards
2. Jonathan Davenport
3. Brandon Overton
4. Brian Shirley
5. Russ King
6. Jared Miley
7. Tim McCreadie
8. Billy Moyer Jr.
9. Frank Heckenast Jr.
10. Mason Zeigler

Complete Friday Night Results

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