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Richards quietly drives off into sunset, sets sights on pit row

Without much fanfare, Newman Lake’s Kevin Richards may have just called it a career when it comes to the driving portion of his circle track experiences. Known as a tremendous talent on the pit box, Richards jumped behind the wheel after leading teams to championships as a crew chief and giving car owner Gene Monaco some of his greatest success on what was then known as the NASCAR Winston West Series.

Victories in the Idaho 200, top-5 finishes in the NASCAR drivers’ points standings, wins at Evergreen Speedway on the NASCAR circuit and so many more memories are what most fans will think of when talking about Richards.

But his new endeavor may be his greatest work yet.

Leading up-and-coming driver Blake Williams as his crew chief has also opened doors for Richards to work with the McClintock and Turk Racing team to build cars for other drivers to try their talents. The team will debut an ICAR for modified champion Tim Sawyer’s son, prepare a car for John Gamble to run in selected races this summer and focus on a growing fleet of cars for Williams.

To see the smile on Richards’ face this week as he described his new adventures was interesting. Not one to mince words, Richards laid out where the team was heading and that it was time for him to move toward a stronger crew chief role. No celebrations or highlight reels to watch, but just a simple explanation was the course of our conversation.

I have followed Richards for many years and view him as one of the region’s best drivers in either a late model or West Series car. It would be nice to have Richards out one more time so the fans could give him a proper send-off, but after talking this week I believe he’s content to stay behind the scenes and guide Williams to race wins.

Either way it will be quieter when the next big late model race rolls around. Whether you were a Richards fan or someone who rooted against him, the grandstands always had plenty who knew where he was on the racetrack.

A win for Stateline

Stateline Speedway finally picked up a win this week as its Wednesday program was run without weather being a factor.

The night was caution-free for much of the racing action, with rookie Bryce Rupert picking up a trophy dash win in the Fever 4 division. KC Garber led all qualifiers with a 15.618-second lap to outrun Rich Hatton and Nicole Behar. Behar was making her first career start in the Fever 4 division. She sets out to run the Stateline Baby Grand Series on the weekends and the Fever 4 class on Wednesday nights.

Garber ran strong in the 25-lap main event to pick up his first win of the season, with Derek Almy and Harry Hatton rounding out the top 3.

Several new drivers showed their strength in the Road Runner division, but it was Eric Chaney who had the hot hand. Leading all qualifiers, the driver of the Hatton Racing Mustang made the most of a fast race car all night en route to the 25-lap main event victory. Darin Meeks, Ron Hunter, Dylan Kane and Vern Vanderhoef rounded out the top 5.

One of the more popular Wednesday divisions is the Bump to Pass group, with hard-hitting action at every corner just to gain a position on the race track. This week it was Joel Schrader dominating with a fast-time award, a victory in the trophy dash, a second-place finish in the heat race and a main-event victory over Yvonne Lifsey.

Dave Johnson, Monty Dobson and Keith Williams rounded out the top 5.

The Post Falls facility continues its 2011 season Saturday night with the Early Stocks, the Stateline Speedway Hobbys and the debut of the Super 4 Modified Series.

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