Ricky Thornton Jr

2024 Season


Ricky Thornton Jr

RTJ grabs Friday's Mountain Moonshine Classic prelim at Smoky Mountain

Ricky Thornton Jr. was $10,000 richer on Friday night after topping the Mountain Moonshine Classic opener on Friday night with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (LOLMDS) 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.

The win was Thornton Jr.’s 17th overall win of the season and paired with a second-place finish on Saturday night, allowed him to extend his advantage atop the latest series’ standings.

“I didn’t mind seeing that yellow,” said Thornton Jr. referring to the only caution of the race for Drake Troutman’s flat tire with 25 laps scored on Friday night. Thornton was racing in heavy traffic as McDowell had closed to within a car length of Thornton before the yellow flag waved.

“I was running too hard trying to get by the lapped cars there. I was really beating my tires. So, the yellow came out and I saw T-Mac (Tim McCreadie) get back to second and I knew he didn’t pass Dale on the bottom, so I knew I had to move up and just try and keep some speed there. Me and Ross [Robinson] hit a little bit there when I was lapping him. He was just trying to race, and he had no idea I was there so luckily it wasn’t too bad. Overall, it was a really good night for us, I think we broke the track record in qualifying.”

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (LOLMDS) brought point-leader Ricky Thornton Jr. and 41 competitors to Smoky Mountain Speedway (Maryville, Tenn.) over the weekend for the two-day Mountain Moonshine Classic.

Pulling off a clean sweep in Friday’s preliminary program aboard his SSI Motorsports No. 20RT Late Model, Ricky followed up the overall fast time honors with a flag-to-flag victory in his heat and the 40-lap preliminary. He collected $10,000 for his 17th overall win of the season.

On Saturday, Thornton followed up an uncontested heat race win with a runner-up showing in the 60-lap finale, chasing race-long pacesetter Brandon Overton the checkers with Ryan Gustin joining the podium in third.

"Especially with (Overton) being on the pole, I knew he'd be really tough to pass," Thornton said on Saturday night’s podium. "The lapped cars made it tough for him. There's a lot of them that he really had to slide and hoped they'd slow down. It's just tough at this place. It hard to really juice up the bottom to make it fast enough to compete with that middle (groove). But overall, a really good weekend for us.”

Thornton’s lead over Jonathan Davenport atop the LOLMDS point standings increased to 185 markers.

Full results from the weekend can be found at www.LucasDirt.com.

Ricky Thornton Jr. and SSI Motorsports now turn their attention to the 18th annual Firecracker 100 presented by Big River Steel, which is set for this Thursday – Saturday at Lernerville Speedway (Sarver, Pa.). The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (LOLMDS) tripleheader opens with the field divided into twin $5,000-to-win programs on Thursday and Saturday, followed by a $50,000-to-win finale on Saturday.

Ricky picked up his first win in the coveted event in 2023.

Article Credit: Heath Lawson image

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