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'Commonwealth 100' Preview On April 16-17 At Virginia Motor Sp


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World of Outlaws Late Model Series News & Notes: Previewing The Inaugural 'Commonwealth 100' On April 16-17 At Virginia Motor Speedway


JAMAICA, VA - April 15, 2010 -


BREAKTHROUGH?: At 22, Josh Richards already has a coveted World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship under his belt and is bidding for two in-a-row in 2010.


But the young sensation from Shinnston, W.Va., knows his resume is still missing something – and if he has his way, he'll fill that gap this weekend.


Yes, Richards would love to put an end to the question that dogs him – "When will you win a big 100-lap event?" – by capturing the inaugural 'Commonwealth 100' on Saturday night (April 17) at Virginia Motor Speedway.


"We've won a lot of stuff," said Richards, "but we haven't won any majorly big races yet, no 100-lappers. I think 60 laps is the longest race I've won, so it would be a huge accomplishment for us to finally win (a 100) – especially a brand-new race at a great facility like Virginia."


Victory in a high-dollar, long-distance show has been elusive to Richards. He's been a serious contender for a checkered flag in numerous 100-lappers during his seven-year career – including some of the division's most prestigious events, such as the World 100 and Dirt Track World Championship – but has yet to break through.


Richards will actually have to fight history on two counts during the Commonwealth 100 weekend, which begins with time trials and heat races on Friday night (April 16) and concludes with B-Mains, a $3,000-to-win Non-Qualifiers' Race and the 100-lap A-Main paying $25,000 to win on Saturday evening (April 17). Not only is he winless in 100-lappers, he's also never won a WoO LMS event at VMS.


"That's one place where in the past we've struggled a little bit," Richards said of Bill Sawyer's spectacular half-mile oval. "But we gotta keep our heads up and go there open-minded, take it as just another race. I know we can do it."


In the six WoO LMS A-Mains contested at VMS since 2005, Richards has a top finish of third, on April 11, 2008. That's his lone top-five run; his other finishes are sixth (April 2007), seventh (April 2005), 12th (April 2006), 13th (April 2009) and 14th (July 2007). What's more, he's never led a WoO LMS lap at VMS – he did, however, lead eight circuits there in 2008 during the only Super DIRTcar Series big-block Modified start of his career – and last year the only WoO LMS A-Main he didn't qualify for through a heat race was at VMS (he time-trialed poorly and was involved in a heat incident).


"We've been decent (at VMS) and had some decent runs, but I've never felt we've had a really great car there," said Richards, who started last year's WoO LMS headliner at VMS thanks to the only provisional spot he used all season. "Every time we go back the dirt seems to be a little bit different, so maybe that's something that we've struggled with a little bit."


Nevertheless, Richards is looking forward to a race that has the potential to develop into a can't-miss stop on every dirt Late Model driver's schedule.


"It's one of the nicest facilities we go to all year long and the Sawyers are great people," said Richards. "Any time there's a big race it's good for the sport. It's more money for us to race for, and it gets all the best guys racing together for the fans.


"I think (the Commonwealth 100) could definitely be huge. There's not a ton of big races on the East Coast other than Lernerville (Speedway's Firecracker 100), so this will really become a big early-season show."


BACK ON TOP: Tim McCreadie rolls into the Commonwealth 100 in rarified air, leading the WoO LMS points standings for the first time since he completed his championship season in 2006.


And considering his track record at Virginia Motor Speedway, he has to be rated as a favorite to pad his points edge with his first victory of 2010.


McCreadie, who turned 36 on April 12, has flashed plenty of speed in past appearances at VMS. He experienced an awful night in his first WoO LMS start there in 2005 – after timing fifth-fastest, he returned to the pits with a blown motor, missed his heat while installing a backup and then finished 14th in the A-Main – but came back with a second-place finish in 2006 and a third-place run in April 2007. McCreadie also won an unsanctioned 40-lap feature at VMS in May 2007.


HOMETRACK HERO: The Commonwealth 100 will serve as a grand homecoming for Seaford, Del.'s Austin Hubbard, the 18-year-old WoO LMS rookie sensation who started his dirt Late Model career five years ago at VMS and won the track title in 2007.


Hubbard has winning his hometrack's biggest race ever at the very top of his list of goals for the 2010 season, but he's not entering the weekend riding a wave of momentum. After impressing with his first career win (on March 20 at Georgia's Screven Motor Speedway) and a pair of third-place finishes in consecutive races, Hubbard has struggled in his last two starts behind the wheel of Dale Beitler's No. 19. He finished 11th on March 27 at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, and 22nd on April 10 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway, using a provisional to gain entry to both events.


The teenager has qualified for the last four WoO LMS A-Mains held at VMS, registering finishes of seventh (2009), 14th (April 2007), 20th (2008) and 23rd (July 2007).


HE'S DUE: Virginia Motor Speedway is one track where victory has eluded 2007 WoO LMS champion Steve Francis, but he appears to be on the verge of reaching the Promised Land.


Since finishing 20th in the track's first WoO LMS event in 2005 and 17th in the 2006 edition, Francis hasn't run outside the top five in his last four starts – including runner-up finishes in both 2008 and 2009.


HE LIKES IT: Of the seven WoO LMS regulars who have competed in the six tour events held at VMS, Shane Clanton stands as the lone driver who never finished outside the top 10.


Yes, VMS has been very good to Clanton, who hit a high point at the track in 2007 when he finished second in the April event and came back to win the 50-lapper in July. His performance record also includes finishes of fifth ('08), eighth ('05 and '09) and 10th ('06).


Clanton entered last year's WoO LMS show at VMS as the tour points leader but ceded the top spot to Darrell Lanigan after the event, commencing an extended slump that left him out of championship contention by mid-summer.


GOOD MEMORIES: Clint Smith will always have a special place in his heart for Virginia Motor Speedway.


The Senoia, Ga., driver won his first-ever WoO LMS A-Main at VMS on April 9, 2005. He now owns 11 career victories on the tour, but he's winless since June 2008 – a span of 77 races entering this weekend's action.


SCRUB: Rick Eckert has enjoyed plenty of success at VMS, which sits less than 200 miles due-south of his home in York, Pa.


But he's hoping his performance this weekend more closely reflects how he ran in WoO LMS events there in 2005 and 2006 rather than in more recent years. He finished third in '05 and won the '06 event, but since then his Outlaw outings have been lackluster: sixth in '08, 11th in April '07 and 12th in July '07 and '09.


OTHER OUTLAWS: The only 2010 WoO LMS traveler who hasn't previously competed at VMS is Rookie of the Year contender Jill George.


Here's the top VMS finishes of Outlaw regulars not previously mentioned in this release: Darrell Lanigan (second in July '07); Tim Fuller (third in July '07); Chub Frank (fourth in '05); Brady Smith (11th in '09); and Russell King (DNQ in '09).


SPREADING THE WEALTH: There hasn't been a repeat winner in the six WoO LMS A-Mains run at VMS – a list of honor that includes Clint Smith ('05), Eckert ('06), Shannon Babb and Clanton ('07), Jeremy Miller ('08) and Chris Madden ('09).


Miller and Madden, of course, have shut WoO LMS regulars out of Victory Lane at VMS for the last two years and are expected to be contenders again this weekend. Miller has started all six tour A-Mains run at VMS, while Madden has been triumphant in his last two visits to the track (he won a non-Outlaw event in 2008 as well).


TEEMING WITH TALENT: More than 60 drivers have pre-registered or are expected to enter the Commonwealth 100, including well-known names such as Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., Brad Neat of Dunnville, Ky., Dan Schlieper of Sullivan, Wis., Jason Covert of York Haven, Pa., Ricky Elliott of Seaford, Del., Eddie Carrier Jr. of Salt Rock, W.Va., and Jamie Lathroum of Mechanicsville, Md.


GOING FOR A RECORD: There has not been a repeat winner over the first seven A-Mains of the 2010 WoO LMS schedule, tying the tour's modern-era (2004-present) record for most different winners to start a season. In 2004 the first repeat winner came in the eighth feature.


BIG BANG: Saturday night's pre- and post-race ceremonies will feature costumed Civil War reenactors in a nod to the rich history of the area surrounding VMS. The soldiers will send off the starting field with piercing cannon blasts and greet the Commonwealth 100 winner a flurry of revolver and rifle fire.


The reenactors are part of a Virginia-based Civil War reenactment group that portrays the 3rd Company Richmond Howitzers, one of the two most famous artillery units on the Southern side of the war. Half of the soldiers will be dressed in Confederate grays and the others will don Union blues representing Company A, 2nd U.S. Artillery under Capt. John C. Tidball, who, ironically, is an ancestor of Virginia Motor Speedway staffer Brian Tidball.


COMMONWEALTH 100 INFORMATION: Competitor gates will open on Fri., April 16, and Sat., April 17, at 3 p.m. and spectator gates will be unlocked at 4 p.m. There will be a BB&T 'Meet and Greet' autograph session with the WoO LMS drivers from 5-6 p.m. on Saturday, and on-track activities will begin both days at about 6:30 p.m. with hot laps.


A raindate of Sun., April 18, has been established for the event.


Fans from 19 states and Canada have ordered tickets for the weekend. Two-day tickets are $50 (adults) and $20 (children 7-12), while Saturday-only general admission is $40 (adults) and $15 (children 7-12). Kids 6-and-under will be admitted free for the weekend, and two-day pit passes will cost $50.


Bill Sawyer’s Virginia Motor Speedway is a half-mile dirt oval located on U.S. Route 17 in Jamaica, Va., eight miles north of Saluda and 25 miles south of Tappahannock. The speedway, which boasts spacious 8,000-seat aluminum grandstand, beautiful sponsor suites, Mucso lighting, a pit area treated with a tar-and-gravel mixture and over 20 acres of parking, is just a short drive from the Richmond, Fredericksburg, southern Maryland and Hampton Roads areas.


For more information about the Commonwealth 100, visit www.vamotorspeedway.com or call the speedway office at 804-758-1VMS.


Additional info on the WoO LMS is available by logging on to www.worldofoutlaws.com.

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