One race remains on the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series schedule, and there's lot on the line. On October 20-21, the series rolls into Portsmouth (OH) Raceway Park to compete for a $100,000 paycheck and championship points.
If last year’s race is an indication, this week could prove to be pivotal for the top three in the standings.
In the 2016 edition of the Dirt Track World Championship, Brandon Sheppard needed 72 laps to take the lead for the first time. For the next five laps, he engaged in a battle with Josh Richards until he finally took control on lap 77. Sheppard led the rest of the way and pocketed a check in excess of $100,000.
Sheppard chose to run with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series this year and the decision has been great for the driver. He currently leads the Outlaw points standings and is closing in a record for the most wins in a season for that series — a record set just last year by none other than Richards.
In fact, the drivers swapped primary series and it has been beneficial to both. Richards held the Lucas Oil points lead until a couple of weeks when Tim McCreadie overtook him, but “Kid Rocket” has managed to stay within striking distance as the differential is only 40 markers.
Now there is only one remaining chance for Richards to earn Lucas Oil points and close the distance.
In the 2016 Dirt Track World Championship, Richards was also passed by Earl Pearson Jr. — who finished second. But Richards’ third-place finish was six spots ahead of McCreadie, however, and eight above Scott Bloomquist, who currently sits third in the standings.
Richards might have been able to hold onto the lead until then end if not for damage to the car.
“It was definitely the nosepiece that cost us this race,” Richards said from the bottom step of the podium. “Once it folded back I knew we were in trouble.”
This year, problems for any of the top three drivers could eliminate them from competition, but great drivers tend to step up in high-visibility races.