Josh Richards

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Josh Richards

Post  Val on 2010-01-29, 23:24

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Josh Richards started preparing for a stock car auto racing career via an aggressive dirt Late Model schedule in 2003. Seven years, more than 400 races and a World of Outlaws Late Model Series Championship later, he's ready. He'll use the February 6 Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards race to prove to the world that he's set for the next chapter of his racing career. Richards' ARCA superspeedway racing debut is just one stop in a three-week racing tour that begins Thursday night at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Georgia.

He will also compete at East Bay Raceway, Volusia Speedway and, of course, Daytona, in an aggressive race schedule that involves on-track activity nearly every night for the next three weeks.

Richards, a dirt racer at heart, is one of many accomplished drivers using the ARCA Racing Series to transition to full bodied stock cars this season. Much like Nick Igdalsky (road course racing), Ricky Carmichael (former motocross racer), Nelson Piquet Jr (Formula One), Milka Duno (IZOD INDY Car Series) and Danica Patrick (IZOD INDY Car Series), he's spent the better part of his adult life focused on all things racing-and some of his childhood, too.

Richards began racing at 14 years old but has been around the sport his entire life, spending much of his youth at the family business-Rocket Chassis. Successes behind the wheel of his family's dirt Late Model-including close to 40 career wins, a rookie of the year title and a World of Outlaws Dirt Late Model Championship-led to the not-surprising nickname, Kid Rocket.

"Racing is all I know," said Richards. "All day, every day--the only thing I've known my entire life is to race. There are no Saturdays off. We're either at the race shop or racing and I enjoy every second of it."

Richards' transition to stock cars has been steady and methodical. He took advantage of the ARCA Racing Series' diverse schedule and his dirt track racing strengths by making his series debut in 2007 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds-one of two mile-long dirt tracks that are staples on the national stock car tour's schedule. His car owner for the race was his mentor and dirt Late Model teammate, NASCAR's two-time Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart.

"In my first ARCA race in 2007 I learned that even though these cars are different the principles of racing all apply the same," said Richards. "Everything is just slow motion. Not that the cars are slow. You're just way more focused on being smooth and consistent. In a dirt car everything happens much faster and you're more aggressive but you can afford to make more mistakes. Dirt track racers will tell you pavement racing isn't quite as exciting but I find it just as exciting. You need to have good strategy, as well as racing well and racing smart."

Last year he added intermediate speedways to his stock car racing repertoire, partnering with veteran ARCA Racing Series team Venturini Motorsports at Kentucky Speedway. He also began his stock car racing association with Ken Schrader Racing, making three starts in the K&N Pro East Series for the veteran ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Schrader, no stranger to Daytona with two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Shootout victories, will be his car owner for this year's Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.

"Being with Schrader and his people for this race is the best part," said Richards. "We've run a few races with him in the East Series and he has so much knowledge and so much talent it's unbelievable. We've been friends for a long time and as hard as he has worked to get to where he is today you just have to respect him. Donnie Richeson, the crew chief, is just awesome at what he does and so are all of the guys on the team so going to Daytona with Schrader Racing is definitely the most exciting part of going to Daytona."

Richards participated in ARCA's three-day test session at Daytona in December.

"I don't think it matters how much experience you have or how prepared you think you are your first laps at Daytona are impactful," said Richards. "Once you get out on the track it's all out or nothing and when you're looking down the strait-a-way it's just so big-you look down into the corners and almost think that there is no way you can make that but then once you get into the corners you are fine.

"Drafting was good. It's just crazy how much those cars change when you're around other cars. It's all air-knowing how to work around cars and what you're supposed to do. It's just so magnified at a place like Daytona. Just knowing how much the car picks up. That's going to be huge. I'm hoping to pick that up as quickly as possible. I definitely feel more comfortable about going back for the race now that I have tested."

Comfort, it appears, comes easy for Richards any time he's near a racecar. He'll race his Dirt Late Model the next three nights in the O'Reilly Southern All Star Racing Series at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Georgia before heading Gibsonton, Florida's East Bay Raceway for a series of races in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Following the Saturday, February 6 Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, Richards will compete in the DIRT Car Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.

The 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards kicks off with the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona Int'l Speedway on Saturday, February 6, 2010. The race is live on SPEED beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

Josh Richards' Speedweeks Schedule

January 28-30 -Golden Isles Speedway (Brunswick, Georgia)

February 1-3 -East Bay Raceway (Gibsonton, Florida)

February 4-6 -Daytona Int'l Speedway (Daytona Beach, Florida)

February 8-13, Volusia Speedway (Barberville, Florida)
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