Ricky Thornton Jr. soared to his first-career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory in Saturday’s Pittsburgher 100 at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway.
Thornton escaped a rash of flat tires that plagued several of his competitors to put the SSI Motorsports No. 20RT Dyno One Inc./ Excel Floor Covering/ Sub-Surface of Indiana/ Longhorn Chassis/ Clements Racing Engine Super Late Model in Victory Lane.
The 30-year-olds breakthrough triumph net him a $20,000 payday.
“It’s really exciting,” said Thornton, an open-wheel modified ace whose first career national touring series victory in full-fender competition came earlier this year when he claimed a $20,000 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature at Jackson (Minn.) Motorplex. “We’ve been close to winning one of these Lucas races. Everything finally worked out.”
With 35 entries registered for the event, Thornton timed in fifth in his qualifying group before grabbing the fourth and final transfer spot in his heat race. Starting the 100-lap finale in 14th, Ricky marched forward 13 positions on his way to victory.
Methodically working his way through the field, Thornton reached the Top-5 just after the halfway point. Thornton made his final pass on lap 76 when he claimed third place from Hudson O’Neal. He inherited the top spot on lap 82 when the top two drivers in the race, Devin Moran and Tim McCreadie both suffered flat tires.
From there, Thornton dominated the remaining distance and crossed the finish line by a commanding margin of 3.122 seconds ahead of Josh Richards, Early Pearson Jr., Stormy Scott, and Michael Norris.
“Once we finally got spread out I was good enough where I could get under a guy and then get next to ‘em down the straightaway,” he added. “Then I could race ‘em into the corner where it wouldn’t just allow them to get right back down on the bottom.”
“We had a really good car early, so I was kind of worried we weren’t gonna be very good at the end, that I was gonna be too tight,” Thornton said. “But I think as everybody else’s tires kind of went away, we never really slowed down. I think that helped us a ton. We went hard on tires and really there wasn’t any of us who did it.”
For complete results from the weekend, please visit www.LucasDirt.com.
This weekend – October 7-10 – Ricky has his sights set on the Race for Hope 71 at Batesville Motor Speedway in Locust Grove, Ark. The week-long event culminates with a $12,000-to-win/ $1,500-to-start, IMCA Modified finale on Saturday night.
For more details on this mega event, please visit www.BatesvilleMotorSpeedway.com.
Ricky Thornton Jr. would like to thank all of his marketing partners, which include: Dyno One Inc., Excel Floor Covering, Certified Inspection Service Co. Inc., D&E Outside Services, Deines-Nitz Soultions & Powdercoating, West Side Tractor Sales Co., SSI Motorsports, Shelby Materials, Slicker Graphics, Lethal Chassis, Dylan Earven Foundation, Tire Demon, Hoker Trucking, Tanner Racing, High Performance Lubricants, Sub-Surface of Indiana, Midwest Sheet Metal, Dirtvision, Simpson Race Products, JE Pistons, Edelbrock, MSD, iRacing, E-Z-GO, Powers Performance, COMP Cams, Quarter Master, Cometic Gasket, Drydene, Winters Performance Products, Snap-on by Ryan Marsh, NGK Spark Plugs, Schoenfeld Headers, NAPA, Swift Springs, Penske Racing Shocks, Winning Edge Carburetion, Longhorn Chassis, Clements Racing Engines, Dynamic Drivelines, Superior Fuel Cells, Finish Line Body & Parts, Wehrs Machine, Dirt Defender, EMD Wraps, CPD racing Shocks, Bassett, Integra Racing Shocks, and MSR Mafia Marketing Services.