Ricky Thornton Jr
RTJ notches two wins in Firecracker 100 weekend, earns $55,000
Ricky Thornton Jr. steamrolled into another Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series weekend and came with a pair of victories, including the $50,000 winner’s check in the Firecracker 100 finale.
The wins were achieved at Pennsylvania’s Lernerville Speedway aboard his SSI Motorsports / Coltman Farms / Hoker Trucking No. 20RT Dyno One Inc. / Excel Floor Covering / Sub-Surface of Indiana/ Longhorn Chassis/ Clements Racing Engine Super Late Model.
Thornton Jr. overcame a mid-race battle with Hudson O’Neal for the five-figure win on Saturday night. With his total-win count for 2023 growing to 17, including 10 LOLMDS victories, Ricky padded his lead atop the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (LOLMDS) standings.
“I really don’t know how I pulled away from him [Hudson O’Neal]. I felt like I had a really good race with JD [Jonathan Davenport] for a while and then Hudson got by me, and I just rolled through the middle, and he [O’Neal] got behind a lapped car. I wasn’t positive what tires he had on. I know they had talked about going soft there and they were kind of committed to the bottom, and I don’t know what they ended up on. I felt like I gave the race away once he got by me. I got behind Earl [Pearson Jr.] and I just kicked it into another gear and I threw a Hail Mary to the top and it stuck. I was able to run there for a long-time and then with about 15 to go I moved back down to the middle” said the 32-year-old Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader.
“We’re on a roll right now and everyone with this SSI Motorsports team is busting their tails every hour of every day to make it happen. I’m just the lucky guy, who gets to hold the steering wheel.”
For the Firecracker 100 weekend, Ricky Thornton Jr. and SSI Motorsports followed the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (LOLMDS) to Lernerville Speedway (Sarver, Pa.) on Thursday afternoon for the opening round of the 17th running of the three-day event.
With the 51-car field split into two groups for a pair of preliminary features, Thornton took part in time trials and heat races but his 25-lap preliminary was postponed Friday afternoon.
Starting Friday afternoon’s rain-delayed feature in fifth via a runner-up finish in his heat race on Thursday, Ricky made contact with a lapped-car while running second that forced him to retire with front-end damage.
Later Friday night, Thornton Jr. outran Brandon Overton in his heat race to pick up the eight-lap victory. After setting an early pace in his prelim, Ricky exchanged sliders with Jonathan Davenport late in the 25-lapper en route to his 16th win of the season and $5,000.
On Saturday, Ricky raced his way into the Firecracker 100 finale with a third-to-first run in his heat. Leading a total of 47 laps throughout the 100-lap affair, Thornton wrestled away the top spot from Hudson O’Neal on lap 75 and paced the final 25 circuits to claim his second win in as many nights and hefty $50,000 prize.
He recorded his 13th-career LOLMDS triumph 4.912-seconds ahead of Hudson O’Neal, with Davenport, Gregg Satterlee, and Devin Moran completing the Top-5 finishers.
Ricky has built up a 205-point advantage over Hudson O'Neal atop the latest LOLMDS point standings.
Full results from the weekend are available at www.LucasDirt.com.
RTJ continues his support of his first LOLMDS title this weekend with a trip to Muskingum County Speedway (Zanesville, Ohio) for the Freedom 60. Friday’s action finds the field divided into a trio of $3,000-to-win qualifying features, while Saturday’s program is headlined by a $30,000-to-win finale.
For more information on the event, please visit www.MuskingumCountySpeedway.com.