KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader Josh Richards took the lead on lap 16 and then held off Jared Landers to win the opening night of the 14th annual Lucas Oil Knoxville Late Model Nationals at Knoxville Raceway.
Richards started ninth on the grid and darted around leader Jimmy Owens with 10 to go, after Owens pulled out of the race while leading.
Landers — who missed the action at Knoxville Raceway last year due to health issues — finished second in the Larry Moring Motorsports Black Diamond.
Recent World 100 winner Jonathan Davenport finished third in the G.R. Smith Rocket, with Brandon Sheppard and Don O’Neal completing the top five.
The 25-lap race saw four different leaders, with Kyle Bronson, Landers, Owens and Richards each holding the top spot for at least one circuit during the race.
Richards has four second-place finishes in the $40,000 finale on Saturday night, but is still seeking his first-career win in the crown jewel event.
“We had a really good car,” said Richards. “I hate it for Jimmy. He had a good car as well. I am not sure whether an oil line came off or what. Our car felt good on the bottom. We need to work on it some for Saturday’s big one. That cushion up against the wall was a little too treacherous for me. It feels good to get a win tonight. ”
“The car was really fast. This track is tricky. We have never won the big one here at Knoxville so this would be a good weekend to get it done. To get a big night under our belts like tonight means a lot. We will work on it tomorrow and hopefully be even better tomorrow night. ”
Landers charged hard at the end, but couldn’t catch Richards even in traffic.
“Thanks to all the crew guys for their help,” said Landers. “This is a brand-new car … the first-time we have been on the track with it. I am happy right now. We had a good shot to win tonight.”
Davenport took down the third spot after starting seventh.
“I finally found a line I liked out there,” explained Davenport, who leads the preliminary points tally through the first night of racing. “It was tricky through one and two there. We will take some good notes from tonight and be ready for tomorrow night.”
RESULTS: Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series; Lucas Oil Knoxville Late Model Nationals; Sept. 14, 2017
A-Main (25 laps): 1. Josh Richards, 2. Jared Landers, 3. Jonathan Davenport, 4. Brandon Sheppard, 5. Don O’Neal, 6. Jimmy Mars, 7. Dale McDowell, 8. Bobby Pierce, 9. Shannon Babb, 10. Chase Junghans, 11. Chad Simpson, 12. Jesse Stovall, 13. Brian Shirley, 14. Timothy Culp, 15. Scott Bloomquist, 16. Jason Feger, 17. Steve Francis, 18. Spencer Diercks, 19. Hudson O’Neal, 20. Kyle Bronson, 21. Matt Furman, 22. Jimmy Owens, 23. Gregg Satterlee, 24. Mike Marlar.
CREDIT: Lucas Communications