Paducah, Kentucky — On a cool April evening the National Dirt Racing League came to fruition as the series hosted their inaugural event at Paducah International Raceway (Paducah, Kentucky). A near capacity crowd and a pit area that saw the
overflow parking overflowing with drivers from approximately twenty states set the tone for the night.
The night began with Shannon Babb claiming the Keyser Manufacturing Fast Qualifier honor by registering a lap of 14.531 seconds around the 3/8 mile oval over the fifty-five car field. Heat race action was topped by Eric Wells, Josh Richards, Don O’Neal, Steve Francis, Jared Landers, and Scott Bloomquist, and the redraw for the feature positioned Landers and Richards on the front row for the 75 lap finale.
Landers blazed to the lead at the drop of the green flag and held down the top spot until turn one on the fourth lap, when Richards used a slide job to take over the lead. Once out front Richards motored away from the field as Landers, Don O’Neal, and Scott Bloomquist mixed it up in the top five. By lap 10 O’Neal and Landers were side by side for second, while Richards maintained a comfortable lead until caution flew on lap 12 for a slowing Craig Smith.. The race returned to green flag conditions briefly until lap 15 when Smith slowed again with mechanical issues.
A few laps later the race’s complexion took another dramatic change when fourth running John Blankenship (started seventeenth) retired abruptly from the race on lap 29, and two laps later Don O’Neal saw his night come to a sudden end with his own issues as he drew the yellow flag.
At the time of the caution the top five running order consisted of Richards, Babb, Owens, Moyer, and Bloomquist. On the ensuing restart Owens shot to second on the restart, and over the next several laps began to pressure Richards for the lead. The battle for the lead would continue to rage for the next several laps before Richards began to stretch his advantage over the final twenty laps.
Despite a handful of cautions in the final laps Richards pulled away to a straightaway win over Jimmy Owens, Jimmy Mars, Billy Moyer, and Scott Bloomquist.
In victory lane Richards commented on the hard work of the track staff. “This race was really fun tonight, and while the track was a little rough in some areas, the track crew did a great job after the monsoons that fell here yesterday.”
He was quick to note how fun the racing was with his competitors. “O’Neal and Owens really drove me clean tonight, and I’ve got to thank them for that.” He concluded by noting, “This car was awesome tonight, and I have to give so much credit to my crew. They really made my job easier tonight.”
In the UMP Open Wheel Modifieds a talented field of thirty-seven competitors were on hand, and Mike Harrison charged from his third starting spot to take the lead on lap five from Josh Harris. Once out front he checked out from the field in
the caution-free event to claim the win over Ken Schrader, Chad Kinder, Jason Krohn, and Matt Mevert.