"Kid Rocket" no more, Josh Richards raced his way to win the World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship in front of a standing-room-only crowd at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Now known as "Rocket Man," the 22-year old Shinnston, W. Va., native was able to clinch the championship by 14 points over Steve Francis. Richards racked up eight wins during the 2009 season. He is the sixth different champion in six years in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.
"It's just been an awesome ride so far. I wouldn't be here without all the race fans. You guys have been awesome. To be the 2009 champion is just a dream come true," said Richards. "We've been in tight battle all year, but man, when it came down to the end, basically tied with Francis in points, it definitely made it well worth it."
Richards and Francis battled for position early in the race, but Francis fell back to finish 12th in the 50-lap late model feature, while Richards hung on to finish seventh.
Jimmy Owens, from Newport, Tenn., returned to Victory Lane for the first time in four years at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Late Model Series feature. Owens came to the front after starting in eighth place.
"The car was great. My hat is off to my crew and all my fans," said Owens. "Congratulations to Josh [Richards]. I'm glad to see him get it and it's a hard fought battle for everyone. I'm just glad to win in front of
Owens battled with Shannon Babb for the lead and finally moved into the point position on lap 34. The only yellow flag of the race came out with 10 laps to go for the No. 4T of Tommy Kerr, who stopped in Turn 4. Jordon Bland also spun as they were coming to the checkers, but did not bring out the caution flag.
Tim McCreadie, who has one win at The Dirt Track, finished second.
"It's a lot of fun. I want to give these [fans] a heck of an applause," said McCreadie. "Thanks for coming out everybody. It's awesome to race in front of a big crowd."
Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 Tony Stewart Racing sprint car, clinched his fourth-consecutive World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championship with a sixth-place finish in Saturday night's sprint car
"Well, Mario Andretti told me when we did this whole STP thing that he doesn't associate himself with losers - he associates himself with winners. So we had a big weight on our shoulders," said Schatz. "We had an awesome car last night. I got very conservative tonight. Tonight was the first night I really thought about the whole points deal and I got nervous about everything."
Jason Meyers finished second in the championship standings after finishing third in the feature race. Schatz posted 12 wins during the 2009 season.
Kasey Kahne Racing's Joey Saldana returned to Victory Lane for his second win at The Dirt Track this year after winning his heat race and starting on the outside pole of the feature. It was his 20th feature win in
Twenty wins these days seems impossible. It's just pretty cool. I never dreamed I'd win 20 in a lifetime, so 20 in one season is pretty neat," said Saldana. "The fans, they come here and support this - definitely a
stand-alone event like this with late models and sprint cars. It's awesome that there's a lot of support for short track, dirt track racing."
Tim McCreadie, Rick Eckert, Clint Smith, Earl Pearson Jr., Darrell Lanigan and Babb came out on top in the 10-lap late model heat races. In the eight-lap Sprint Car Series heat races Terry McCarl, Steve Kinser, Saldana and Meyers were victorious.
Dale Blaney won the Crane Cams Dash to earn the pole position for the sprint car feature race and Cale Conley took the checkered flag in the sprint car B-Main.
In the Late Model Series, Jordan Bland, Jason Feger and Brad Neat grabbed the victories in the B-Mains.
The World Finals concludes the 2009 season at The Dirt Track, but dirt racing fans can reserve their 2010 tickets for The Dirt Track with the Dirt Lovers Season Ticket package. The package includes tickets to all
events at The Dirt Track as well as lots of great benefits. Fans can call 1-800-455-FANS or visit the Lowe's Motor Speedway ticket office to purchase the package.