Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Curious Case of Josh Richards

I recall a line from the movie The Waterboy in which Momma said "Josh Richards is the devil." Well Momma never said that, but if you would happen to be around the Winchester Speedway on any given night in which Richards is running an event there, you would be lead to believe that there are many people who have feelings very harsh towards Richards and his driving ability, and who may in theory believe that Josh Richards is the devil. Yes i said his driving ability. I know there are plenty of people on the VA Dirt Lovers board, and various other boards who consider Richards to be a silver-spooned racer who has been given everything without earning anything, or who believe that Richards should not run the local shows at Winchester or Hagerstown, but those people are wrong. I feel like Richards should be encouraged to run against the locals. The local racing scene may not be as tough as it was in the mid-80's, but it's still pretty tough with numerous regional drivers who are capable of running well against top level competition on their home turf. Let's examine the facts here. People can say whatever they want about Richards being handed everything because his father is Mark Richards who happens to be the man who builds Rocket Chassis, but the fact of the matter is no matter how you shake it down the kid still has to be able to drive the car, and he drives the car as hard as anyone out there.

There is also no arguing that Richards is a winner. He may not be at the level of a Bloomquist or an Owens, but Richards, especially every time he enters an event at Winchester or Hagerstown in the Ernie Davis owned #25 car is very tough to beat, and the truth is that most people root for underdogs and do not like winners. Plus people don't like to see the same guy win all the time, and most of the time when Richards enters a race around here, he happens to be the winner when he leaves. Look at his record just this year alone, he has won almost every time he has been at Winchester, and he won the Appalachian Speedweek shows at Winchester and Roaring Knob which just so happened to be the only ones he entered. The whole argument that Richards is a cherry picker for running the local events makes no sense whatsoever. Richards is a regular on the WoO tour winning the past two series championships, but when his schedule allows him too I don't see anything wrong with him running Davis' car at special shows at Winchester and Hagerstown. The fact of the matter is that Richards is a racer, and he chooses to race even when the WoO does not have an event scheduled. I don't see a problem with him coming in to run a regional event at Winchester and Hagerstown to add a little competition to the field, and I don't see why fans in this area have a problem with that.

I hear the argument that many people don't like Richards because they say he runs over people to win. Personally I've only seen one instance recently in which Richards drove hard to win. He did run Jamie Lathroum up the track to keep the lead in a WoO race at Winchester, but contact wasn't made and Lathroum said later he probably should have gotten out of it and waited for another shot because he did indeed have a faster car. With that being said, Richards probably could have given him a little more room, but if you don't like Richards simply because he drives a little hard sometimes, then you must not like numerous guys in the Mid-Atlantic area that drive the same way, especially while racing for the lead. I don't really see anything wrong with hard racing for the lead. I mean I thought the point of showing up was to win the race.

So what we have to ask ourselves as fans in the Mid-Atlantic area is this. Is having Josh Richards running bigger paying events in our area really a bad thing? I mean in our free country Richards is obviously allowed to run wherever he chooses, but why all the hatred towards Richards running in this area? There are obviously plenty of guys who have hung with him this year, but came up a little short in beating him like D.J. Myers, Jason Covert, Jeremy Miller, Jamie Lathroum, and J.T. Spence to name a few. The only exceptions I can think of was when Miller passed Richards late to win at Hagerstown, and when Myers won a TSF race at Winchester after starting 9th, but Richards started 17th in that race and was never up front. On any given night any of those guys and a number of others could most likely beat Richards at Winchester or Hagerstown, but they need to be a little faster consistently to do so. Some people may disagree with me, but I feel like people need to embrace the fact that Richards runs races in this area, and that he's very tough to beat when he does, but it's not a bad thing for area racing. There's nothing wrong with adding a little competition to the field.

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