Ricky Thornton Jr. topped off his first full-year running with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series as he snuck by race leader Brandon Overton on a lap 83 restart on Saturday Night at Portsmouth Raceway Park. The 2021 Eibach Springs Rookie-of-the-Year winner went on to score the biggest win of his racing career by capturing the 41st Annual General Tire Dirt Track World Championship presented by Optima Batteries.
Thornton pulled away from Overton and Jonathan Davenport in the final laps to record a 2.145 second advantage over Overton for the $100,000 victory. Thornton’s previous career high late model wins were both $20,000.
Devin Moran was in charge the first 35 circuits, Overton led laps 36-82. Overton and Davenport rounded out the podium. Mike Marlar and 2021 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National Champion, Tim McCreadie completed the top five.
In Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the first time since winning at Bubba Raceway Park in February, Thornton’s win was impressive over a stout field of cars. “I was kind of worried. I didn’t want those yellows, but then I could get a run off of four on the restart and go half a lane better into one. I finally stayed with him (Overton) on the front straightaway, and I thought it’s now or never. It’s 100 grand, I would have wrecked my mom to win.”
Thornton became the 26th different driver to win the crown jewel event that started in 1981. “It’s wild. I can’t really explain it. We were lucky enough to run second last year. To win it this year is amazing. We gambled on tires. This is awesome, I have always wanted to be a late model driver and I think this kind of solidifies it. We have been so excited to run the Lucas Oil series and we look forward to doing it again next year.”
Overton was looking for his first win in the event and his 29th overall this season but lost ground to Thornton in the waning laps. “I guess I just didn’t get going enough on that restart. He had a head full of steam going down in there. It is what it is. Sometimes you just run second. Congrats to those guys, they did a good job. They gambled on tires, and it paid off. Nobody needs to feel bad for me for running second, we have had a great year. We will take our second place and head to the house.”
Davenport, like the top two ahead of him at the finish, was looking for his first win in the richest race on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series schedule. Davenport tried his best to make the top side work in turns three and four. “Me and Brandon pretty much had the thing as far as tires. Ricky went a little different, so he was definitely better late in the race. We just wore ours down and didn’t have much tread left. The top of three and four died just a little too early before I could get up there and surprise them.”
The winner’s Todd and Vickie Burns-owned SSI Motorsports Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by Hoker Trucking, Sub-Surface of Indiana, Dyno One, Inc., West Side Tractor Sales, Excel Floor Covering, Certified Inspection Service Co, Inc., D&E Outside Services, Shelby Materials, Penske Racing Shocks, and VP Race Fuels.
Completing the top ten were Tyler Erb, Earl Pearson Jr., Spencer Hughes, Hudson O’Neal, and Jimmy Owens.
Ricky Thornton Jr.
Earl Pearson Jr
Dennis Erb Jr
Check out the full recap at LucasDirt.com: