ELLISVILLE, Fla. (February 4, 2023) – In a race that saw five lead changes among three drivers, Ricky Thornton Jr. emerged victorious on Saturday night at All-Tech Raceway.
Thornton passed race leader Max Blair after a lap 29 restart and went on to win his second Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series race of the season. For the first time in his career, Thornton has taken over the top spot in the championship point standings after his seventh career series win.
Tim McCreadie, the two-time and defending series champion, came from the 12th starting spot to finish in second. Brandon Sheppard, who started eighth came him in third, followed by 14th starting Devin Moran. Tyler Erb completed the top five to earn the Todd Steel Buildings Hard Charger of the Race after he started 21st on the grid.
Thornton started on the outside of the front row and grabbed the lead at the start of the 50-lap main event. He quickly built a sizable lead in the opening laps of the race until Shane Clanton, who started alongside Thornton on the front row was able to close the gap and take over the point with eight laps scored.
Clanton would hold the lead until lap 17 when Thornton regained the top spot. At the halfway mark it was Thornton still in front followed by Clanton and Max Blair, who was now up to third. Blair then went to second on lap 27 and two laps later took the lead away from Thornton to become the third different leader of the race.
A caution came out with 29 laps complete with Blair out in front. On the restart Thornton swung to the outside as he pressured Blair and completed the pass heading down the backstretch. Thornton then had to withstand two cautions in the waning laps, one with nine laps to go and one with just two circuits remaining, holding off McCreadie both times.
In Lucas Oil Victory Lane, the 32-year driver who continues to be the most consistent driver to start the 2023 season said: “I really didn’t know what to do tire wise. I knew Max [Blair] and Kyle [Strickler] were on softer tires. I told Max to go soft and it lasted a while for him. I didn’t know if there was really a line there in one and two. It was kind of a do or die. I was like I really want to win this pretty bad, so I was trying really hard on that restart, and it worked. I kept missing the bottom there in three. It was getting tight. Luckily, we held them off.”
McCreadie moved into third in the championship chase with his runner-up finish. “This Paylor Motorsports team just keeps battling. One of these days we’ll be able to start near the front maybe and put some pressure on them early so they have to work a little harder than they are working. That’s the way it goes. We keep passing as many cars as we can. They are not going to slow this team down.”
Sheppard, who finished second in last year’s championship standings continues to make strides with his new team. “That was typical All-Tech right there. That was a lot of fun. It was tricky and slippery all over the place. You could chase the brown a little bit. It was a good night. We’ve been needing this for sure. That practice night this week helped us a lot. I learned a lot of stuff on the car.”
The winner’s Todd and Vickie Burns, SSI Motorsports-owned, Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored Big River Steel, Hoker Trucking, Sub-Surface of Indiana, Dyno One Inc., West Side Tractor Sales, D&E Outside Services, Certified Inspection Service Co. Inc., Murty Farms, Sunoco Race Fuels, and Bilstein Shocks.
Completing the top ten were Hudson O’Neal, Max Blair, Shane Clanton, Kyle Bronson, and Spencer Hughes. Full results...
Story - Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Photo - Heath Lawson