By James Essex
Conner Smith of Columbus was the only multiple division winner on Sunday when the Jennings County Kart Track ran an 11-class program at the Jennings County 4-H Fairgrounds in North Vernon.
Smith won the junior 1 and junior 2 divisions of racing. Other winners were Sawyer Bohall (youth champ), Elijah Knoke (junior 3), Colton Aldridge (rwyb), Connor Perry (rookies), William Stainbrook (clone 34), Eric Rudicel (clone 420), Calli Luas (adult pred), and Leroy Blevins (limited open).
Thornton wins DTWC for Indiana-based team
Ricky Thornton Jr. topped off his first full year running with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series when the 2021 Eibach Springs Rookie of the Year winner snuck by race leader Brandon Overton on a Lap 83 restart.
He went on to score the biggest win of his racing career, capturing the 41st Annual General Tire Dirt Track World Championship presented by Optima Batteries on Saturday Night at Portsmouth Raceway Park on Oct. 16. Thornton drives for the Morgantown-based SSI Motorsports Team.
Thornton then 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.
Overton, who entered the event as the No. 1 ranked dirt late model driver in the nation, led laps 36-82 after Devin Moran had been in charge of the first 35 circuits. Overton and Davenport rounded out the podium. Mike Marlar and 2021 LOLMDS 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, considering he beat the top two drivers in dirt late model racing this year.
“I was kind of worried I didn’t want those yellows, but then I could get a runoff of four on the restart and go a half a lane better into one,” Thornton said. “I finally stayed with (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,” Thornton said. “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, who is enjoying a record-setting season and was looking for his first win in the event and his 29th overall this season, lost ground to Thornton in the waning laps.
“I guess I just didn’t get going enough on that restart,” Overton said. “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 gamble don 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 on the richest race on the LOLMDS schedule try his best to make the topside work in turns three and four.
“Me and Brandon pretty much had the thing as far as tires,” Davenport said. “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 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 10 were Tyler Erb, Earl Pearson Jr., Spencer Hughes, Hudson O’Neal and Jimmy Owens.
Columbus Go-Karts resume racing today
Columbus Speedway Go-Kart Racing which conducts events at Tony Stewart Speedway, which is located at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds, will hold its Monster Mash today. The drivers meetings will begin at 3:30 p.m., followed by practice and then racing.
planned for today
Florence Speedway in Union, Kentucky, will wrap up its 2021 racing season today with the Annual Fall 50 for super late models, paying $5,000 to win. Also competing today will be the American Modified Series, crate late models, sport mods and hornets. Hot laps will start at 3 p.m. For more information, visit florencespeedway.com.
Salem season finale scheduled for Sunday
Salem Speedway will hold it’s traditional season-ender Sunday with the Halloween 200. For more info, visit salemspeedway.com.
Former Twin Cities champion passes
Steve Boley of Marysville passed away on Sept. 14. He was 72.
Boley was a 3-time track champion at Twin Cities Raceway Park in Vernon. His track titles came in three consecutive years from 1982-84.
Boley started his racing career on the asphalt at the Sportsdrome in Jeffersonville. He later switched to dirt track racing, competing at Charlestown, Scottsburg, Twin Cities and Brownstown during his career.