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Daily Dirt 02/08/2023 11:13:36

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November 12
Senoia Raceway,
Senoia, GA
Sanction: Castrol FloRacing Night in America (Peach State Classic) - $53,053
Information provided by: Robert Holman and series reports (last updated November 13, 3:28 pm)
Thornton rules Peach State, earns $53,053
Peach State Classic
  1. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  2. Hudson O'Neal
  3. Devin Moran
  4. Ashton Winger
  5. Chris Madden
  6. Dennis Erb Jr.
  7. Ricky Weiss
  8. Mike Marlar
  9. Kyle Bronson
  10. Garrett Alberson
  11. Ryan Gustin
  12. Tyler Erb
  13. Brandon Sheppard
  14. Morgan Bagley
  15. Austin Horton
  16. Wil Herrington
  17. Mason Zeigler
  18. Carson Ferguson
  19. Michael Page
  20. Brian Shirley
  21. Dylan Knowles
  22. Spencer Hughes
  23. Dale McDowell
  24. Joseph Joiner
presented by
Josh James/joshjamesartwork.com
Ricky Thornton Jr. climbs atop his car to celebrate at Senoia.
What won the race: Dominating all 75 laps from the pole, Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., cruised to a $53,053 payday Saturday at Senoia Raceway in the Peach State Classic, the season finale on the Castrol FloRacing Night in America tour. Thornton took the checkers 10.224 seconds — more than a half-track margin — ahead of runner-up Hudson O’Neal in the caution-free feature.
Quotable: "My crew guy was jumping up and down, telling me to slow down, so I knew (my lead) was pretty good," Thornton said. "I got to Ricky Weiss and I kinda got stuck and I just didn't know what I needed to do, finally once I got by him, then I felt like I picked my pace back up."
Key notes: Thornton, who notched his third Super Late Model victory of the season and the second richest Late Model victory of his career, lapped all but five competitors. ... Brandon Sheppard clinched the $75,000 Castrol FloRacing Night in America title by entering Saturday's event. ... Afternoon rain pushed back hot laps about 90 minutes later than scheduled. … The checkers fell about 9:45 p.m. after a 20-minute, 20-second feature.
On the move: Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga., started 10th and finished fourth.
Winner's sponsors: Thornton’s SSI Motorsports Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Clements engine and sponsored by Hoker Trucking, Dyno One, Excel Floor Covering, Certified Inspection Service, Big River Steel, D&E Outside Services, Dienes-Nitz Solutions & Powdercoating, Sub-Surface of Indiana, West Side Tractor Sales, Shelby Materials and Slicker Graphics.
Points chase: Final: 1. Brandon Sheppard (699); 2. Ricky Thornton Jr. (609); 3. Mike Marlar (560); 4. Bobby Pierce (536); 5. Tyler Erb (522); 6. Garrett Alberson (520); 7. Hudson O’Neal (519); 8. Dennis Erb Jr. (366); 9. Devin Moran (323); 10. Chris Madden (312).
Current weather: Overcast, 48°F
Car count: 48
Fast qualifier: Garrett Alberson
Time: 13.964 seconds
Polesitter: Ricky Thornton Jr.
Heat race winners: Ricky Thornton Jr., Hudson O'Neal, Morgan Bagley, Ricky Weiss
Consolation race winners: Brandon Sheppard, Wil Herrington
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

SENOIA, Ga. — In a cinematic version of Saturday's caution-free, 75-lap domination at Senoia Raceway, the winner might've said something clever like: "How 'bout them peaches?"

But after Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., thoroughly dismantled a top-notch field in the Castrol FloRacing Night in America finale for a $53,053 victory in the Peach State Classic, there wasn't much left to say about the story Thornton's SSI Motorsports No. 20rt told with his dazzling victory.

In a 20-minute race where Thornton crossed the finish line 10 seconds ahead of his competition and lapped all but five drivers, Thornton got an unusual signal from a teammate as he motored around car after car from his pole starting spot.

"My crew guy's jumping up and down telling me to slow down," Thornton said, "so I knew I was pretty good."

Pretty good is a $53,053 understatement as Thornton grabbed his richest victory of the season and wrapped up a $15,000 runner-up check on the second-year tour behind tour champion Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who finished 13th in the finale.

Third-starting Hudson O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., vainly chased Thornton in finishing 10.224 seconds behind while Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, settled for third. Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga., improved six spots to finish fourth and last year's race winner Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., rounded out the top five.

The outcome was never in doubt. Thornton built a 3.4-second lead after 10 laps, and while that margin was cut to 1.1 seconds seven laps later when he hit his biggest batch of slower cars, once Thornton cleared that traffic he built an insurmountable lead that kept him out of sight of the competition most of the rest of the way.

"I was really good. My crew guy kept telling me I had a good lead, but every time I'd slow down, I'd start getting loose and then really get stuck behind a lapped car," said Thornton, whose crew chief is veteran wrench Anthony Burroughs. "We tried (a suspension setup) that Burroughs wanted to do and it was really good for us."

In Friday's preliminary feature, when Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., raced to a $20,000 victory, Thornton rallied but couldn't quite get into contention and ended up getting caught up in one wreck and spinning another time. Things went his way Saturday.

"With the way last night went, I felt like we could've run top-three and then we got caught in that wreck. I didn't know what I needed to do today to stay ahead of (top contender Mike) Marlar. I figured if we went out and won, we wouldn't worry about it."

Down by nearly six seconds just past halfway, O'Neal knew he was running for second unless misfortune befell Thornton.

"He was pretty good. He was just a little bit more maneuverable than I was. I couldn't quite get the (car to) slide quite good enough down there, but we'll take a second," said O'Neal, who was making his second-to-last start with Double Down Motorsports before heading to the Rocket Chassis house car in 2023. "First time ever here and this thing raced pretty awesome. There was lapped cars everywhere and I would have never thought it went 75 green (laps). It was really cool. We had we had to good hot rod all weekend, just obviously needed to be quite quite a bit better to catch the 20."

Moran, who fielded the JBR Motorsports car of NASCAR Cup crew chief Jeremy Bullins, rebounded from failing to make the starting lineup for Friday's 50-lapper.

"Major turnaround from last night," Moran said. "Man, I got into that (infield tire barrier). I tried running the very bottom off of (turn) two, and them things are pretty hard and they don't move, so I broke the bumper and jacked the left front up."

Despite the damage, Moran was able to pressure O'Neal late in the race and a third-place finish helped him enjoy his Southern journey that might've been spoiled by weather except for massive efforts to dry the facility after Thursday, Friday and Saturday rain.

"They have a great staff, you know, from the gates to the concession stand to everywhere else. I don't get to race down in Georgia a whole lot, but man I love coming down here and hanging out with these guys," Moran said, adding that "this is the heart and soul of Dirt Late Model racing. The best Dirt Late Model racers always come out of Georgia and Tennessee.

"We sucked last night. We stayed up and thought about stuff and talked all morning and we just worked really hard. So I want to thank Jeremy and all these guys that he brought to the races with us. They all worked their butts off."

Notes: Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, started outside the front row but faded to finish 14th. ... Fifteen drivers were running at the finish. ... The Castrol tour had 219 competitors enter at least one event during the 11-race season. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature lineup: Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist (broken driveshaft in heat), Payton Freeman (in the Team 22 Inc. entry), Booger Brooks (a 44-race winner this season in multiple divisions), Dalton Cook (racing with a broken hand), Jason Croft, Russell Erwin, Parker Martin, Cla Knight and Jordy Nipper. ... After remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole put the track to the test to get Friday's show in, more afternoon rain Saturday pushed back the start of the finale's program.

Feature lineup

(75 laps)

Row 1: Ricky Thornton Jr., Morgan Bagley
Row 2: Hudson O'Neal, Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Devin Moran, Chris Madden
Row 4: Mason Zeigler, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 5: Mike Marlar, Ashton Winger
Row 6: Dale McDowell, Carson Ferguson
Row 7: Garrett Alberson, Kyle Bronson
Row 8: Ryan Gustin, Tyler Erb
Row 9: Brandon Sheppard, Wil Herrington
Row 10: Brian Shirley, Austin Horton
Row 11: Dylan Knowles, Michael Page
Row 12: Spencer Hughes, Joseph Joiner

Consolation race results

(12 laps; top four transfer)

First consolation: Brandon Sheppard, Brian Shirley, Dylan Knowles, Spencer Hughes, Dalton Cook, Payton Freeman, Booger Brooks, Jason Croft, Matt Long, J.R. Moseley, Bailey Williams, Monte Vaughn. Scratched: Lamar Haygood, Kyler Haygood, Tanner Collins, Cody Haskins

Second consolation: Wil Herrington, Austin Horton, Michael Page, Joseph Joiner, Russell Erwin, Parker Martin, Jordy Nipper, Tyler Millwood, Will Roland, Jim Rogers, Corey Roulette, Cla Knight. Scratched: Pearson Lee Williams, Morgan Alexander, Scott Bloomquist, Dennis Hale

Heat race results

(10 laps, top four transfer)

First heat: Ricky Thornton Jr., Devin Moran, Mike Marlar, Garrett Alberson, Brandon Sheppard, Brian Shirley, Dylan Knowles, Payton Freeman, Jason Croft, Bailey Williams, Lamar Haygood, Matt Long.

Second heat: Hudson O'Neal, Mason Zeigler, Dale McDowell, Ryan Gustin, Spencer Hughes, Dalton Cook, Booger Brooks, J.R. Moseley, Kyler Haygood, Monte Vaughn, Tanner Collins. Scratched: Cody Haskins

Third heat: Morgan Bagley, Chris Madden, Ashton Winger, Kyle Bronson, Austin Horton, Michael Page, Jordy Nipper, Russell Erwin, Corey Roulette, Morgan Alexander, Scott Bloomquist, Dennis Hale.

Fourth heat: Ricky Weiss, Dennis Erb Jr., Carson Ferguson, Tyler Erb, Wil Herrington, Joseph Joiner, Will Roland, Parker Martin, Pearson Lee Williams, Tyler Millwood, Cla Knight, Jim Rogers.

Time trials

Driver (car no.), hometown, time (unofficial)
First group

  1. Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 13.964
  2. Hudson O’Neal (71x), Martinsville, Ind., 14.116
  3. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 14.141
  4. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 14.253
  5. Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 14.346
  6. Mason Zeigler (9z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 14.376
  7. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 14.392
  8. Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 14.562
  9. Brandon Sheppard (5B), New Berlin, Ill., 14.568
  10. J.R. Moseley (99), Columbus, Ga., 14.595
  11. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 14.631
  12. Spencer Hughes (11), Meridian, Miss., 14.633
  13. Jason Croft (9), Woodstock, Ga., 14.667
  14. Booger Brooks (148), Chattanooga, Tenn., 14.672
  15. Dylan Knowles (66k), Lanett, Ala., 14.725
  16. Dalton Cook (44D), Columbus, Ga., 14.808
  17. Payton Freeman (22*), Commerce, Ga., 14.894
  18. Tanner Collins (24), Newnan, Ga., 15.108
  19. Lamar Haygood (17H), Douglasville, Ga., 15.243
  20. Kyler Haygood (17K), Douglasville, Ga., 15.431
  21. Bailey Williams (17), Fayetteville, Ga., 15.455
  22. Monty Vaughn (58), Lizella, Ga., 15.472
  23. Matt Long (55), Concord, N.C., 15.609
  24. Cody Haskins (71), Marietta, Ga., no time

Second group

  1. Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 14.453
  2. Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 14.478
  3. Russell Erwin (22), Beaverdam, Va., 14.542
  4. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.569
  5. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 14.636
  6. Carson Ferguson (93), Lincolnton, N.C., 14.672
  7. Ashton Winger (12), Hampton, Ga., 14.770
  8. Wil Herrington (00), Cochran, Ga., 14.883
  9. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 14.894
  10. Will Roland (22), Jasper, Ga., 14.927
  11. Austin Horton (16), Newnan, Ga., 14.971
  12. Pearson Lee Williams (121), Dublin, Ga., 14.998
  13. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.042
  14. Tyler Erb (1T), New Waverly, Texas, 15.059
  15. Michael Page (18x), Douglasville, Ga., 15.151
  16. Joseph Joiner (10), Milton, Fla., 15.154
  17. Jordy Nipper (1N), Gray, Ga., 15.173
  18. Parker Martin (6jr), Milledgeville, Ga., 15.286
  19. Dennis Hale (888), Lagrange, Ga., 15.307
  20. Tyler Millwood (31), Kingston, Ga., 15.357
  21. Corey Roulette (05c), Dahlonega, Ga., 15.382
  22. Cla Knight (42), North Augusta, S.C., 15.557
  23. Morgan Alexander (711), Locust Grove, Ga., 15.601
  24. Jim Rogers (71k), Statesboro, Ga., 15.745

Feature lineup

Row 1: Thornton, Bagley
Row 2: O'Neal, Weiss
Row 3: Moran, Madden
Row 4: Zeigler, D. Erb
Row 5: Marlar, Winger
Row 6: McDowell, Ferguson
Row 7: Alberson, Bronson
Row 8: Gustin, T. Erb
Row 9: Sheppard, Herrington
Row 10: Shirley, Horton
Row 11: D. Knowles, Page
Row 12: Hughes, Joiner

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