Story By: LUCAS OIL LATE MODEL DIRT SERIES – UNION, KY – Ricky Thornton Jr. and Bobby Pierce collected Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series wins during Friday’s portion of the 41st Annual Sunoco North/South 100 – Presented by Lucas Oil at Florence Speedway.
Thornton picked up his 14th Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of 2023 as the current Big River Steel Chase for the Championship – Presented by ARP points leader passed early race leader Daulton Wilson on lap 12 for the victory. Wilson came home in second followed Ryan Gustin, Mike Marlar, and Chris Ferguson.
Pierce was the third different leader of the second 25-lap A-Main as he passed Jonathan Davenport with five laps to go for his second Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of the weekend. Davenport, the reigning event winner was second followed by Stormy Scott, Cory Hedgecock, and Matt Cosner.
Thornton stalked Wilson for the first 11 laps for the Group A A-Main before taking over the top spot going on to a 1.807 second margin of victory over Wilson at the finish line.
“Man, it’s a pleasure to drive this thing all the time,” said the 32-year-old Martinsville, Indiana resident. “Daulton was pretty good there early and I just kind of maintained around the bottom and finally once that middle slowed down a little bit, I felt like I had a good enough pace,” said the winner who has now won three events at Florence in 2023.
“A lot of times here I have been married to the top and now I feel like I have a car that’s good enough right now I don’t have to run the top all the time. We have a really good car I don’t know where that puts us at for tomorrow. If we would have had a bad night, we were going to start in the back of a heat race tomorrow night. So hopefully we should be in the first two rows and hopefully we can put on a good show.”
Wilson was left still looking for his first career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win. “I really feel good about this team we have been progressing and our trajectory is in the right direction. We have really struggled here in the past and to come over here and be up front, leading laps and to run second to him [Thornton] he is the best guy in the country right now. We have 100 laps tomorrow and we will see what we can do.”
Gustin, racing at Florence for the first time in his career this weekend rounded out the Big River Steel Podium in the third. “We were a little bit different on tires on the left rear than what those guys had. I rolled up there I wasn’t sure whether we had picked the right tires. We were kind of aiming for that bottom there, but it was still kind of slimy like it wasn’t really tacked up and then they threw that stuff across the groove, and we got better, but it seems like it takes us a little longer to get going with a hard right rear.”
The winner’s Todd and Vickie Burns, SSI Motorsports, Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by Big River Steel, Hoker Trucking, Sub-Surface of Indiana, Coltman Farms, Dyno One Inc., West Side Tractor Sales, Certified Inspection Services, Midwest Sheet Metal, Excel Floor Covering
Completing the top ten in the first 25 lapper were Tim McCreadie, Garrett Smith, Earl Pearson Jr., Garrett Alberson, and Max Blair.
In the second 25-lap A-Main of the night Cory Hedgecock jumped to the lead and led the first four laps of the race until Davenport, who started in third, took over the top spot. Davenport would hold the lead until he and Pierce would duel for several laps before Pierce was finally able to take the lead on lap 20.
It was Pierce’s fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of the season as the 2016 Sunoco North/South 100 winner has now won the two preliminary A-Mains he has been in this weekend. “As it got slicker and slicker the car got better. I have raced at Fairbury and Cedar Lake the last two weeks, and this has been the same quarter-panel and spoiler I haven’t had to change it yet and now here we have to change it after getting into the wall a few times. It was a fun night JD [Jonathan Davenport] did a heck of a job. I think we were about even through the middle, and I knew if I was going to catch him and pass him, I was going to have to figure something out,” said the 26-year-old Oakwood, Illinois native.
Davenport, the 2022 Sunoco North/South 100 champion said: “He [Pierce] runs the fence better than about anybody. I felt like we made some gains tonight over last night. We just went a little too far. It didn’t drive perfect and to beat somebody running the wall as good as he [Pierce] does you have to be about perfect through the middle. I felt like we got better the longer the race went in those conditions.”
Stormy Scott recorded his first Big River Steel Podium finish of the season after starting in seventh. “We had a really good car tonight. We had a good car last night, just our results didn’t show it, hopefully with this invert we can come close to hitting that. We went in the right direction tonight with the car. We got better as that race went on. I feel like we should have a really good 100-lap race car. So, let’s see if we can get it done tomorrow.”
The winner’s Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Vic Hill Racing Engine and sponsored by Hoker Trucking, Fast 1 Speed Shop, Cajun Pools, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Rio Grande Waste Services, Extreme Electric, Bloomington-Normal Truck Performance, Toyota of Danville, A-Plus Vacuum, VP Race Fuels, PureMax Racing Oil, Leka Tree Service, Tire Demon, and Carnaghi Towing and Repair
Completing the top ten in the second 25-lapper were Devin Moran, Hudson O’Neal, Jimmy Owens, Spencer Hughes, and Kyle Bronson.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
41st Annual Sunoco North/South 100 Presented by Lucas Oil – Prelim Night 2
Friday, August 11, 2023
Florence Speedway – Union, KY
Allstar Performance Time Trials
Fast Time Group A: Ricky Thornton, Jr. / 16.229 seconds (overall)
Fast Time Group B: Jimmy Owens / 16.316 seconds
Penske Shocks Heat Race #1 – Group A Finish (8 Laps, Top 5 Transfer): 1. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr; 2. 22F-Chris Ferguson; 3. 33H-Mike Harrison; 4. 89-Logan Roberson; 5. 66JR-Eddie Carrier Jr; 6. 11R-Josh Rice; 7. 1Z-Logan Zarin; 8. 54-Dane Dacus
Summit Racing Products Heat Race #2 – Group A Finish (8 Laps, Top 5 Transfer): 1. 10-Garrett Smith; 2. 111B-Max Blair; 3. 17M-Dale McDowell; 4. 12-Jason Jameson; 5. 15-James Rice; 6. 1T-Tyler Erb; 7. 33-Jesse Lay
Simpson Race Products Heat Race #3 – Group A Finish (8 Laps, Top 5 Transfer): 1. 18D-Daulton Wilson; 2. 157-Mike Marlar; 3. 46-Earl Pearson Jr; 4. 8K-Kyle Strickler; 5. 39-Tim McCreadie; 6. 18-Trevor Landrum; 7. 99J-Donnie Jeschke; 8. 8A-Curt Addison
AP1 Insurance Heat Race #4 – Group A Finish (8 Laps, Top 5 Transfer): 1. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 2. 3S-Brian Shirley; 3. 58-Garrett Alberson; 4. 16-Tyler Bruening; 5. 1V-Vic Hill; 6. 5N-Dustin Nobbe; 7. 22C-Brent Cornette
Penske Shocks Heat Race #1 – Group B Finish (8 Laps, Top 5 Transfer): 1. 23-Cory Hedgecock; 2. 20-Jimmy Owens; 3. 99-Devin Moran; 4. 11-Spencer Hughes; 5. 20TC-Tristan Chamberlain; 6. 7R-Kent Robinson; 7. 3:16-Mike Bargo; 8. 41-Jim Couch
Summit Racing Products Heat Race #2 – Group B Finish (8 Laps, Top 5 Transfer): 1. 49-Jonathan Davenport; 2. 2S-Stormy Scott; 3. 12D-Doug Drown; 4. 79-Donald McIntosh; 5. 21H-Robby Hensley; 6. 33AJ-Austin Lay; 7. 317-Blake Creech
Simpson Race Products Heat Race #3 – Group B Finish (8 Laps, Top 5 Transfer): 1. 32-Bobby Pierce; 2. 66C-Matt Cosner; 3. 76-Brandon Overton; 4. 97-Michael Chilton; 5. 99B-Boom Briggs; 6. 222-David Breazeale; 7. 31AUS-Kye Blight
AP1 Insurance Heat Race #4 – Group B Finish (8 Laps, Top 5 Transfer): 1. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 2. 1H-Hudson O’Neal; 3. 68-Adam Stricker; 4. 55-Jesse Wisecarver; 5. 4G-Kody Evans; 6. 7-Ross Robinson; 7. H22-Brandon Hardgrove
Fast Shafts B-Main Race #1 – Group A Finish (10 Laps, Top 4 Transfer): 1. 11R-Josh Rice; 2. 1T-Tyler Erb; 3. 18-Trevor Landrum; 4. 33-Jesse Lay; 5. 5N-Dustin Nobbe; 6. 1Z-Logan Zarin; 7. 54-Dane Dacus; 8. 22C-Brent Cornette; 9. 99J-Donnie Jeschke; 10. 8A-Curt Addison
Fast Shafts B-Main Race #1 – Group B Finish (10 Laps, Top 4 Transfer): 1. 7R-Kent Robinson; 2. 222-David Breazeale; 3. 7-Ross Robinson; 4. 31AUS-Kye Blight; 5. 33AJ-Austin Lay; 6. H22-Brandon Hardgrove; 7. 41-Jim Couch; 8. 317-Blake Creech; 9. (DNS) 3:16-Mike Bargo
41st Annual Sunoco North/South 100 Prelim Night 2 Group A Feature Finish (25 Laps):
41st Annual Sunoco North/South 100 Prelim Night 2 Group B Feature Finish (25 Laps):
Group A Terminal Maintenance & Construction Pole Sitter: Ricky Thornton, Jr.
Group B Terminal Maintenance & Construction Pole Sitter: Cory Hedgecock
Group A Lap Leaders: Daulton Wilson (Laps 1-11); Ricky Thornton, Jr. (Laps 12-25)
Group B Lap Leaders: Cory Hedgecock (Laps 1-4); Jonathan Davenport (Laps 5-19); Bobby Pierce (Laps 20-25)
Group A Wieland Feature Winner: Ricky Thornton, Jr.
Group B Wieland Feature Winner: Bobby Pierce
Arizona Sport Shirts Crown Jewel Cup Feature Winner: n/a
Brandon Ford TV Challenge Feature Winner: n/a
Group A Margin of Victory: 1.807 seconds
Group B Margin of Victory: 1.186 seconds
Group A Gorsuch Performance Solutions Cautions: Debris (Lap 1)
Group B Gorsuch Performance Solutions Cautions: Debris (Lap 4)
Series Provisionals: n/a
Fast Time Provisional: n/a
Series Emergency Provisionals: n/a
Track Provisional: n/a
Group A Big River Steel Podium Top 3: Ricky Thornton, Jr., Daulton Wilson, Ryan Gustin
Group B Big River Steel Podium Top 3: Bobby Pierce, Jonathan Davenport, Stormy Scott
Group A Penske Shocks Top 5: Ricky Thornton, Jr., Daulton Wilson, Ryan Gustin, Mike Marlar, Chris Ferguson
Group B Penske Shocks Top 5: Bobby Pierce, Jonathan Davenport, Stormy Scott, Cory Hedgecock, Matt Cosner
Group A Todd Steel Buildings Hard Charger of the Race: Tim McCreadie (Advanced 12 Positions)
Group B Todd Steel Buildings Hard Charger of the Race: Ross Robinson (Advanced 6 Positions)
Group A Wilwood Brakes Lucky 7th Place Feature: Garrett Smith
Group B Wilwood Brakes Lucky 7th Place Feature: Hudson O’Neal
Group A Deatherage Opticians Lucky 13th Place Feature: Kyle Strickler
Group B Deatherage Opticians Lucky 13th Place Feature: Michael Chilton
Group A Earnhardt Technologies Most Laps Led: Ricky Thornton, Jr. (14 Laps)
Group B Earnhardt Technologies Most Laps Led: Jonathan Davenport (15Laps)
Group A Sunoco Race for Gas Highest Finisher: Ricky Thornton, Jr.
Group A Sunoco Race for Gas Highest Finisher: Hudson O’Neal
Midwest Sheet Metal Spoiler Challenge Point Leader: Ricky Thornton, Jr.
O’Reilly Auto Parts Rookie of the Race: n/a
Group A Etchberger Trucking Fastest Lap of the Race: Daulton Wilson (Lap 2 – 17.803 seconds)
Group B Etchberger Trucking Fastest Lap of the Race: Cory Hedgecock (Lap 1 – 17.529 seconds)
Group A MD3 Tough Break of the Race: n/a
Group B MD3 Tough Break of the Race: n/a
Group A Outerwears Crew Chief of the Race: Anthony Burroughs (Ricky Thornton, Jr.)
Group B Outerwears Crew Chief of the Race: Bob Pierce (Bobby Pierce)
Group A ARP Engine Builder of the Race: Clements Racing Engines
Group B ARP Engine Builder of the Race: Vic Hill Race Engines
Group A Miller Welders Chassis Builder of the Race: Longhorn Chassis
Group B Miller Welders Chassis Builder of the Race: Longhorn Chassis
Dirt Draft Fastest in Hot Laps: Jonathan Davenport (16.243seconds)
Group A Time of Race: 9 minutes 41 seconds
Group B Time of Race: 10 minutes 06 seconds
41st Annual Sunoco North/South 100 Saturday Line-Ups: