We're betting that most of you thought this day would never come. The day that Josh Richards was no longer the Rocket House Car driver, by his own choosing it appears, which at this time presents a strong likelihood that he'll be following the Lucas Oil Series in 2017. And as of this moment, it appears as if he'll be doing just that!
|Pat Miller Photo|
So. With that being said, a Richards/Lucas campaign could mean several things for dirt late model world going forward. It's potentially exciting, but could also have an adverse effect perhaps too!
We like to ponder such things here at TDN, and so we will...
Gary Heeman- Richards to Lucas Is a Game Changer
Quite simply, it's the best versus the best as we know right now. Josh Richards running the Lucas Series could give us what we've always wanted, a chance to see what will happen. Instead of folks rambling on and on via message boards (some sensible folks there, and some that can barely finish a sentence coherently), they'll actually get to watch the two battle side by side, week after week, and at the same crown jewels. (Hopefully the Eldora/WRG situation will play out to include Bloomquist) It will create statistical baseline with data. We'll no longer have to use homemade RPI math rankings to compare the two, it'll be right there in front of our very eyes. This not only makes arguably the deepest series deeper talent wise, it does so with a statement. That every night is a showdown involving a legend, and a legend in the making.
Richards versus Bloomquist might not be a very long rivalry, we don't know what the future holds for the latter, just how many more years we have to watch him. But the time that these two are in the same series will potentially be remembered as a possible torch pass moment in dirt late model history. There's other bonuses for the fans though.
These two drivers are perhaps the most polarizing in not only dirt late model, but perhaps dirt racing. When they win, there's more boos than cheers more often than not. Bloomquist kind of relishes it, booing means that you win a lot and people don't like it when drivers win all the time. It's a good and healthy sign. And I've personally watched Richards kind of coming into that same scenario. They've both got devoted fans, and a good number of detractors. It's Rocket vs Team Zero. It's youth vs age. It's champion versus champion. Hell, for some, it comes down to what they in their minds might think is a good versus evil thing! lol
Should Richards win, it puts a DEFINITIVE end to the "He only wins because of what he drives, or who his father is, or he's got the best of everything handed to him or what tour he races on" comments that literally want to make me pull my damn hair out. Because lord knows, none of the above can buy the foot, or instincts or reaction time, or driver intuition. He'll be in a true class by himself, and given his proper due as truly remarkable driver.
|Pat Miller Photo|
Should Bloomquist win, it gives his fan base one more reason to crow. They'll feel vindicated. They may even feel a bigger sense of pride if he beats Richards than they would if Bloomer goes through with his plans on re filing his lawsuit and winning, which probably won't happen (the winning part but I digress). It'll be another huge moment in a career full of them. And it also means he gets one step closer to leaving the sport on top of his game as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world unless he should choose to enjoy a couple of farewell tours.
Whatever happens, a Hollywood script writer couldn't come up with a better movie. Maybe I'll take a stab, it won't have to be fictional, that's for sure.
Anyhow, there's two sides two every story. This might not be such a great thing after all! You're going to have to judge that for yourselves. And with the other side of the coin, is our own Late Model columnist, Josh Bayko! Have at it Sir!!
Josh Bayko - Richards to Lucas is a Game Changer... For the Wrong Reason
Look, I'm just as intrigued as the rest of the dirt late model world at the prospect of Josh Richards going to run the Lucas series. I mean, his 2016 was insanely good. And it wasn't just good on the World Of Outlaws, where he set a new record for victories in season on his way to a third WoO championship, it was also fantastic in his forays to various Lucas and unsanctioned races during the year, winning five Lucas races (and was the point leader when he left East Bay to hit the WoO races at Volusia), and coming home second at the Dream at Eldora in June. And the races he entered that he didn't manage to win, he generally finished on the podium anyways.
Likewise, Scott Bloomquist also had an amazing year, picking up a big pile of victories on his way to the Lucas title. In the midst all of that, he picked up a pair of WoO victories too, including the 30k Firecraker at Lernerville. There is all that ugliness from the tiregate stuff, but that doesn't detract from the face that even as he grows older (and wider, lol), that he's still very much at the top of his game.
|Pat Miller Photo|
In the final stats on the year between them head to head, Josh won the battle. Meaning that the times they raced on the same track on the same night, Josh won more than Scott did. So that lead to the debate, and it's been the debate all year, who is the top driver, Josh Richards or Scott Bloomquist. And it is such a debate, because they so rarely run against each other, you can only go on stats.
So next year, it appears the debate might actually have teeth because there both on the same tour. You're thinking "Sweet! So what's the problem?"
Well, here's the problem. Between the two of them, they had 39 victories on the national tours. out of 87 possible events. You're thinking "Well, it's not all bad, other guys won over half the other races." And you would be correct. Think about it a little deeper, though. If both had been on the Lucas tour and still won at the same clip, out of 47 Lucas races, Richards and Bloomquist would have won 83% of the races. Eighty three percent.
There's no reason to believe that a significant drop-off of any sort is coming to either guy. It really is entirely possible that the two will combine for 75+% of the wins on the Lucas tour. At what point does another competitor think to themselves "Why the f*ck am I gonna tow all the way out to Nebraska for the Silver Dollar if the absolute best I'm gonna do is third". Sure the guys that get the show up money from Lucas will do it because they got to put food on the table, but for the regional competitors and touring guys who run outlaw schedules, are they really going to show up knowing they only have a sliver of chance of even being in the ballpark?
That is a very realy possibility as the season wears on this year. Is it really a good thing for the Lucas series and racing fans in general if good cars stay home because they know they're really likely to not even be in the ballpark for the win?
No. The answer is no.