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Thornton Takes Down USMTS Victory February 26, 2017

Thornton Takes Down USMTS Victory

Ricky Thornton Jr. may need some new tin on the right side of his USMTS modified after Sunday night’s main event at the Greenville Speedway, but he has a $3,000 winner’s paycheck to help with the cost.

The fastest way around the “fastest track in the south” was the longest way around, but the 26-year-old from Chandler, Ariz., showed no signs of being intimidated by the outer concrete wall of the 1/4-mile dirt oval as he raced to an impressive seven-second win over Kyle Beard in the 40-lapper.

And his margin of victory was built in just seven laps after the last of nine cautions waved on lap 33.

From the outside of the front row, Stormy Scott grabbed the lead when the green flag waved and looked to have a strong car capable of winning his first of the season, but a flurry of seven yellow flags in the first dozen laps kept the field close.

Meanwhile, Thornton, who started 12th on the grid, found his way to Scott’s rear bumper with 16 laps in the books and then wrestled the spot away on lap 18.

Just two more cautions appeared during the final 22 laps, but that may have simply kept Thornton from lapping the entire field as his No. 20rt Gressel Racing Hughes Chassis rocketed away from the field.

The win was Thornton’s second in the young season’s first nine races. In addition to his winnings, last year’s Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year also walked away with awards from BigDeal Car Care, QA1, VP Racing Fuels, Wehrs Machine & Racing Products and a new tire from American Racer.

Dereck Ramirez, who started 10th, got the runner-up paycheck after Beard was disqualified during post-race technical inspection while Zack VanderBeek, 23rd-starting Tyler Wolff and Chris Brown rounded out the top five.

Timothy Culp, Travis Saurer, Joe Duvall, Jon Mitchell and Kyle Pleasant finished sixth through 10th, respectively.

After nine races in the Summit Racing USMTS Southern Region presented by Production Jars, Cade Dillard maintains the top spot in the points with a 27-point cushion (784 to 757) over Brown. Jason Hughes (746), Thornton (736), Stormy Scott (731), Ryan Gustin (706), Saurer (682), Ramirez (679), Johnny Scott (668) and VanderBeek (667) complete the top 10.

For more news visit www.usmts.com

Photo courtesy of www.usmts.com

Haers Is DIRTcar Nationals Victor February 24, 2017

Haers Is DIRTcar Nationals Victor

BARBERVILLE, F.L - Feb. 25, 2017 – The hot shoe out of Phelps, N.Y., Justin Haers, picked up his second career DIRTcar Nationals victory after holding off the 22nd starter, Matt Sheppard in Friday night’s 30-lap Super DIRTcar Series feature event at Volusia Speedway Park.

“We had a really good car from the drop of the green,” Haers said in Victory Lane. “It seemed like I’d get in the wrong part of the restart wanting to be on the bottom but kept restarting on top. I just found the [bottom groove] in turn three and four and I could just hook it really good. The car was was unbelievable, top, bottom, it didn’t matter where I wanted it.”

Mario Clair and Alan Johnson led the 26-car field to the green flag. Clair showed a dominant lead early on until Jimmy Horton started to put pressure on the No. 96c. Clair and Horton battled back-and-fourth for several laps until Clair suddenly fell off the pace, forfeiting the top spot to Horton on lap 21 due to a broken right-rear shock.

It wasn’t long until Haers was knocking on Horton’s back bumper. As Haers closed in on Horton, the No. 43 machine started to smoke tremendously with just five laps remaining.

Horton’s night expired after coming to a stop on the track on lap 27 due to a loose oil line, giving Haers the top spot.

“I give [Horton] credit. He ran the hell out of that thing,” said Haers. “The smoke was so bad I didn’t want to get behind him and have something break on the motor and come back and hit me or something. So I was trying to just stay below him a little bit.”

Sheppard, the defending Super DIRTcar Series champion, worked his way through the last chance showdown and started 22nd in the feature. With three laps remaining in the feature, Sheppard made his presence known and was soon knocking on Haers doors threatening for the win.

Haers was able to hold off Sheppard and pulled away to take home the first Super DIRTcar Series victory of 2017 during the DIRTcar Nationals.

“This is probably the coolest trophy that’s out there,” Haers said. “I’ve got [one gator] and now I’ve got another one to bring home.”

“These racecars are a matter of just getting some laps,” said runner-up finisher, Matt Sheppard. “Trying to get the track to slow down a little bit, it wasn’t looking good there for a long time. It seemed like the longer the race went the better we got. I thought I may have had a shot at Justin at the end but he was really good and we kind of ran out of tear-offs there but it was nice from where we started to come from the back and get second.”

The 2016 Super DIRTcar Series Rookie of the Year, Max McLaughlin showed his skills as he capped off the night with a podium finish.

“I kind of made a mistake setup wise but I’ll take the blame,” McLaughlin said. “The car was really good all night. I ran out of tear-offs with about five to go so I was driving blind. Luckily we ended up third and will go at it again tomorrow.”

For additional news visit www.superdirtcarseries.com

Photo courtesy of www.superdirtcarseries.com/GT Smith

Clanton Outduels Wells For Win February 24, 2017

Clanton Outduels Wells For Win

BARBERVILLE, FL. — February 24, 2016 — The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series took the track at Volusia Speedway Park for the first time on night 11 of DIRTcar Nationals. During the 40-lap Craftsman Club Feature fans and drivers in attendance witnessed a thick fog roll in after 10pm that was the concoction of two days of heavy rain followed by a third of sunny blue skies. For the drivers’ safety, the feature was called complete with 23 laps in the books due to poor visibility.

Despite the bad luck Mother Nature brought, Shane Clanton was the class of the field all around. He had the fastest lap time during qualifying with 15.861-second lap, won his heat race and led all 23-laps of the feature.

“I hate that Mother Nature brought this fog in, but it’s pretty bad out there,” Clanton said. “Every straightaway you had to pull a tearoff because it’s like rain. I hate it for the fans. They didn’t get to see a full feature here. I think we had the best car tonight, so hopefully we can repeat tomorrow and do it all over.”

Eric Wells also had a strong night as he claimed the second overall fastest time with a 15.862-second lap. Wells also won his heat race and found his way to second place on the podium.

“The track was really demanding tonight,” Well said. “It’s fast and it takes a lot of manpower. You hook a rut the wrong way and you don’t know which way the car’s going to go. That definitely didn’t help at all, but we’ve got a pretty good package. We’re going to work on it tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be in Shane’s spot.”

Not everybody had as successful a night as the top three. Several drivers battled both the elements and mechanical problems throughout the night and were forced to retire early.

Chris Madden was the first driver forced to retire on lap seven when the third driveshaft of the night broke on the Grey Court, SC native’s No.44.

Don O’Neal suffered a similar fate on lap 16. The Martinsville, Ind. native was running fifth after starting the feature 11th.

“I broke something in the driveline coming off of [turn] two,” O’Neal said following the race. “It’s a shame. I mean, we came up through [the field] a ways and I thought we were going to have a good decent finish.”

Union, Ky driver Darrell Lanigan finished eighth in heat two after he pulled pit side with a miss in the motor. Lanigan’s team was scratched for the remainder of the night after pulling the motor. The team described it as “precautionary” after failing to diagnose the source of the problem.

As fog rolled over Volusia midway through the 40-lap feature, several drivers struggled with vision and ran out of tearoffs before the race was called at lap 23.

“I started way too far back. I had 40 some tearoffs and I used every one of them,” said Brandon Overton. “As soon as I would pull one off, the other one would be fogged up. I just kept yanking them and finally I ran out. I figured I had better pull in before we tear anything up.”

Podium finisher Tim McCreadie of Watertown, NY also struggled with the same vision issues due to fog.

“It wasn’t the easiest to see,” McCreadie said. “I’m not going to sit here and act like we can just fly around here no problem. We were wiping the mist [off our visors] all the way around.”

For additional news visit www.woolms.com

Sheppard Captures Gator Trophy February 21, 2017

Sheppard Captures Gator Trophy

BARBERVILLE, FL— February 22, 2017— Brandon Sheppard fought his way to Victory Lane during night eight of the 46th annual DIRTcar Nationals in the 30-lap DIRTcar Racing Late Model Feature. It wasn’t an easy path for Sheppard to get to the front of the pack as Brian Shirley tried to fend him off any way possible.

Sheppard started in the fourth position but found his way to second within the first 10 laps. He passed Shane Clanton, who started the feature third, early on and then had to duel with Tyler Erb. Sheppard then began reeling in Shirley and was at his door knocking by lap 10. They ran side-by-side and the lead position was juggled between the No. 1 and No. 3 machines for several laps. Sheppard finally made the pass on lap 13 but Shirley didn’t surrender as they continued to run side-by-side.

“One of the things I’ve struggled with here a lot is knowing where I need to be on the track,” said Sheppard. “Mark [Richards] talked to me a bunch before we went out for that race and he was giving me pointers on where I need to pick up speed, and where I need to be out of the gas, and how to keep my momentum up… I feel like I learned a lot for later in the week.”

It was Clanton who next found his way to Shirley’s bumper and also found his way around to claim the second position with only five laps to go. Clanton, with his No.25 Capital Racecars chassis, was then gunning for the lead and for Sheppard. Unfortunately for Clanton, he ran out of laps once he was close enough to pass for the lead.

For more news visit www.dirtcarracing.com

Sheppard Wins In Dramatic Fashion at Bubba Raceway Park February 19, 2017

Sheppard Wins In Dramatic Fashion at Bubba Raceway Park

OCALA, FL (February 19, 2017) – The former Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie of the Year, Brandon Sheppard took the lead on the final lap from Scott Bloomquist to win Sunday night’s Lucas Oil Winter Nationals - presented by GEICO at Bubba Raceway Park. The exciting finish brought the packed grandstand to its feet as Sheppard charged from his 11th starting spot to take the win.

Bloomquist finished in second, followed by Dennis Erb Jr. in the Vomac Trucking, Clements Racing Engines, Black Diamond Chassis. Earl Pearson Jr. came home fourth in the Dunn-Benson Ford, Larry Wallace Racing Engines, Longhorn Chassis. Frank Heckenast Jr. completed the top five in the St. Louis-U-Pic-A-Part, Capital Race Car.

Sheppard ended the Georgia-Florida Speedweeks with his second win in the Mark Richards Racing, Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Gunter’s Honey, Sallack Well Services, Sunoco, Durham-powered Rocket House Car.

In Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the sixth time in his career, the 24-year-old racer was at a loss for words; “Anytime you can pass Scott [Bloomquist] for the lead, it’s pretty big. He is probably one of the greatest in our sport. I guess you could say it was an honor to pass him on the last lap for the win.”

“It was crazy out there. Turns three and four and down the front stretch were pretty slippery. You had to make sure you hit the little bit of brown on the bottom of three and four,” said Sheppard.

“The caution with two laps to go, let us pack the top of one and two and made it so we could roll around on the top better. Scott was running on the top before that caution come out. I kind of expected him to go to the top and then he went to the bottom on the restart. I guess I just grinned a little bit and got on the gas and went right by him on the outside.”

At the start of the race Josh Richards and Bloomquist led the field to the green flag. Bloomquist led the first lap and Richards took over the point on lap two. Richards then started to receive heavy pressure from Don O’Neal who had moved by Bloomquist into second place.

As Richards and O’Neal exited off turn four on lap 20, a car spun directly into front of them, leaving those two drivers with nowhere to go and they came to a halt with heavy damage to both cars. Richards went pit-side and made repairs to re-join the field on the tail while O’Neal was done for the night.

Bloomquist inherited the lead, which he held until a caution with two laps to go for a slowing car in turn two, which bunched the field for a green-white-checker finish. Erb, who had been all over Bloomquist in the final five laps of the race charged to the bottom trying to get by Bloomquist as Sheppard swung out wide and went by both to take the win.

Bloomquist crossed the line in second even though it wasn’t the result he was looking for. “We were pushing badly at the end, especially in three and four. The tire was starting to give-up a little bit. The crew guys pointed to get to the bottom on the restart. I didn’t expect him [Sheppard] to get a run like that, and the car didn’t feel as good at the end, it was just one of those things. We had a good race and I am sure that everybody enjoyed watching that one.”

Erb took third, and commented on his podium finish, “We had a good car all night long. From the time we hot lapped, qualified, ran the heat, this car stayed good and to be running up front near the end, we are real pleased with that. We worked on this car all week-long and finally brought it out tonight, we made a lot of changes on this car, but at least we are going in the right direction.”

Completing the top ten were Tim McCreadie, Chub Frank, Boom Briggs, Jonathan Davenport, and Josh Richards.

For more news visit www.lucasdirt.com

Thornton Wins Shady USMTS Opener at Shady Oaks February 16, 2017

Thornton Wins Shady USMTS Opener at Shady Oaks

The fourth race of the season for the USMTS produced a fourth different winner as Ricky Thornton Jr. rolled to a wire-to-wire victory at the Shady Oaks Speedway in Goliad, Texas.

Starting from the outside of the second row, Thornton wasted no time getting to the front and made it three wide with polesitter Chris Brown and Mickey Lassiter entering the first turn.

Stormy Scott followed to the inside down the back-stretch and slid into second behind Thornton as they completed the first lap.

The first four laps were plagued by five cautions, but the field rattled off 20 straight laps after that with Ryan Gustin, Stormy Scott, Johnny Scott and Chris Brown chasing Thornton around the big 3/8-mile dirt oval.

The yellow flag flew with five laps to go, and again as the white flag was waving to set up a green-white-checkered finish, but each time Thornton was up to the task and paced Stormy Scott to the finish line to notch his second career USMTS triumph.

“I can’t thank Ed Gressel enough for giving me this opportunity. It’s pretty cool to get our first real USMTS victory,” Thornton said, referring to his first win last September at the Lakeside Speedway in a twin-feature format as part of the prelude to the Grant Junghans Memorial. “Who knows, maybe we can get a couple more here.

“I got up to lapped traffic there and I didn’t know if I had a decent lead or not, so I tried to drive hard but not give myself a flat. Then we get that white and that yellow and I thought ‘Oh my God, I’m gonna lose this thing’.”

Instead, Thornton pocketed the $2,000 top prize for his efforts.

Brown, who fell back as far as sixth during the 30-lapper, clawed his way back to a third-place finish while Gustin nipped Johnny Scott as the finish line to take the fourth spot.

Racing from 18th on the starting grid to sixth at the checkered flag, Travis Saurer earned the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award with Jason Hughes, Tyler Wolff, Cade Dillard and Dereck Ramirez rounding out the top 10.

For additional news visit www.usmts.com

Photo courtesy of www.usmts.com/Carey Akin