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Daily Dirt 04/15/2024 20:59:17

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December 15
The Dome at America's Center,
St. Louis, MO
Sanction: Unsanctioned Supers (Castrol Gateway Dirt Nationals second preliminary) - $5,000
Information provided by: Kevin Kovac, Kyle McFadden, series and track reports (last updated December 16, 7:37 am)
Restart-spurred Thornton captures Gateway prelim
Castrol Gateway Dirt Nationals second preliminary
  1. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  2. Chris Simpson
  3. Brandon Sheppard
  4. Josh Rice
  5. Tanner English
  6. Spencer Hughes
  7. Jimmy Owens
  8. Trevor Gundaker
  9. Kylan Garner
  10. Cody Bauer
  11. Ryan Montgomery
  12. Ryan Unzicker
  13. Devin Moran
  14. Josh Dietz
  15. Austin Howes
  16. Jeffrey Ledford
  17. Jacob Magee
  18. Tyler Carpenter
presented by
Todd Boyd/photosbyboyd.smugmug.com
Ricky Thornton Jr. flashes under the checkered flag to win Friday's prelim.
What won the race: Using a turn-one slider to take the point from race-long leader Chris Simpson on a lap-15 restart, fourth-starting Ricky Thornton Jr. paced the remaining circuits to win Friday's 25-lap semifeature on Night 2 of the seventh annual Castrol Gateway Dirt Nationals at The Dome at America's Center. Thornton earned $5,000 for his second victory in as many nights after leading all 20 laps to win Thursday's $3,000 modified preliminary.
Quotable: "We definitely are (on kill). We owe it all to (crew chief Anthony) Burroughs, D.J. (Williams), (Chris) Jayko. I feel like they work harder than any other team here and it definitely shows,” Thornton said. “It’s just an honor to be able to drive this car, honestly. I gotta thank Todd and Vicky Burns — without them, I wouldn’t have this opportunity. I definitely gotta thank all these race fans who came out; it’s pretty cool to see this big of a crowd here on a Friday night.”
Key notes: Chris Simpson led the first 14 laps before giving way to Thornton and finished 3.802 seconds back aboard the Suhre Racing entry. ... Sixth-starting Brandon Sheppard took third for good from Tanner English on lap 23 and completed the podium, joining Simpson and Thornton in locking into Saturday's 40-lap, $30,000-to-win finale. ... Eighth-starting Josh Rice finished fourth after grabbing the spot on the final lap, relegating English to fifth in the final order. ... Pole-starting Trevor Gundaker lost brakes and faded to finish eighth. ... Defending Friday prelim winner Cody Bauer improved four positions and finished 10th. ... Ryan Unzicker drew the race's third and final caution when he spun from eighth on lap 14; he continued and finished 12th. ... The largest incident occurred when Tyler Carpenter slowed with mechanical trouble while running 10th on lap three, causing a stack up entering turn one. Ryan Montgomery spun and was pushed over onto his roof by Devin Moran and Kylan Garner, necessitating a 10-minute red flag for cleanup. Montgomery continued and rebounded to finish 11th, with Garner finishing ninth and Moran placing 13th. ... The race's first slowdown came on the opening lap when Chris Simpson was called for jumping the initial start. … Friday's feature lasted 18 minutes, with 14 competitors completing 25 laps and 16 running at the finish. ... Saturday's card includes three non-qualifiers' races, six qualifiers (transferring the top two finishers to the feature) and a last-chance consolation (winner transfers). ... Watch live on FloRacing.
On the move: Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., started 12th and finished seventh.
Winner's sponsors: Thornton’s SSI Motorsports Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Clements engine and sponsored by Dyno One, Hoker Trucking, Certified Inspection Service, Coltman Farms, High Performance Lubricants, Big River Steel, Van Meter Insurance Group, Murty Farms, D&E Outside Services, West Side Tractor Sales, Bilstein Shocks, FK Rod Ends, Allstar Performance, Barnes Pumps, Performance Bodies, Winters Performance, Strange Oval, Accu-Force, Quickcar, Sunoco Race Fuels and Sub-Surface of Indiana.
Car count: 64
Fast qualifier: Spencer Hughes
Time: 11.732 seconds
Polesitter: Trevor Gundaker
Heat race winners: Spencer Hughes, Tanner English, Chris Simpson, Ricky Thornton Jr., Trevor Gundaker, Brandon Sheppard
Consolation race winners: Devin Moran, Cody Bauer
Next series race: Dec. 16, The Dome at America's Center, finale ($30,000)
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Dec. 15) — Updates from Friday’s second round of the seventh annual Castrol Gateway Dirt Nationals at The Dome at America's Center, which hosts a $5,000-to-win semifeature for Super Late Models (results unofficial):

Feature

Using a turn-one slider to take the point from race-long leader Chris Simpson on a lap-15 restart, fourth-starting Ricky Thornton Jr. paced the remaining circuits to win Friday's 25-lap semifeature on Night 2 of the seventh annual Castrol Gateway Dirt Nationals at The Dome at America's Center. Thornton earned $5,000 for his second victory in as many nights after leading all 20 laps to win Thursday's $3,000 modified preliminary. Chris Simpson led the first 14 laps and finished 3.802 seconds behind the victor aboard the Suhre Racing entry.

Feature lineup

(25 laps)

Row 1: Trevor Gundaker, Chris Simpson
Row 2: Tanner English, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 3: Spencer Hughes, Brandon Sheppard
Row 4: Ryan Unzicker, Josh Rice
Row 5: Tyler Carpenter, Jacob Magee
Row 6: Kylan Garner, Jimmy Owens
Row 7: Devin Moran, Cody Bauer
Row 8: Ryan Montgomery, Austin Howes
Row 9: Jeffrey Ledford, Josh Dietz

Consolation race results

(10 laps; top three transfer)

First consolation: Devin Moran, Ryan Montgomery, Jeffrey Ledford, Oakley Johns, Patrik Daniel, Jason Knowles, Pete Crum, Jason Miles, Jayme Zidar, Casey White, Matthew Tribble, Ruben Mayfield, Jon Woods, Jon Mitchell, Derek Fetter.

Second consolation: Cody Bauer, Austin Howes, Josh Dietz, Jody Knowles, Joseph Joiner, Manny Falcon, Nicky Pennington, Corey DeLancey, Tim Hancook Jr., Daniel Adam, Mike Kline, Tegan Evans, Shaun Wiltjer, Donald Johns, Brandon Tibaldi.

Heat race recap

Spencer Hughes inherited the lead on a lap-five restart and paced the final four circuits to win Heat 1 by 0.861 of a second over sixth-starting Ryan Unzicker; both drivers clinched a spot in Friday’s 25-lap feature. The eight-lap heat was slowed by three cautions, the most impactful coming on lap five when leader Scott Bell backed his car into the turn-three wall and collected third-running Wil Herrington, ending both of their nights. … Second-starting Tanner English threw a lap-three slider on Carson Ferguson and led the final six laps to win Heat 2 by 1.159 seconds over Tyler Carpenter; Ferguson spun in turn two as English slid past him to draw the race’s lone caution and settled for ninth. … Chris Simpson led all eight laps aboard the Suhre Racing entry to win the third heat race by 1.229 seconds over fifth-starting Kylan Garner. … Ricky Thornton Jr. led green-to-checkered to win Heat 4 by 1.613 seconds over Josh Rice. The prelim was slowed by three cautions, including an incident involving Tim Hancock Jr. and Joe Denby; Denby expressed his unhappiness with Hancock after contact led to a flat tire that ended his night. … Trevor Gundaker slid across the track in turns one and two and made contact with leader Steve Sheppard Jr.'s car on lap six of the fifth heat; Gundaker executed a 360-degree spin but kept his wheels moving as other cars stacked up behind him for a caution. Sheppard pulled off before the restart due to a flat left-rear tire from Gundaker's contact and Gundaker went on to capture the race by 0.357 of a second over Jacob Magee. ... Heat 5 was slowed by multiple incidents and lasted 19 minutes. … Third-starting Brandon Sheppard dominated the sixth and final heat race, winning by 0.930 of a second over fifth-starting Jimmy Owens. The heat was slowed by a lengthy cleanup when Timothy Welch II nosed into the outside wall on the final lap and became entangled in the the retaining fence entering turn one.

Heat race results

(Eight laps; top two transfer)

First heat: Spencer Hughes, Ryan Unzicker, Patrik Daniel, Jeffrey Ledford, Pete Crum, Jason Miles, Jon Woods, Timmy Dick, Blake Creech, Scott Bell, Wil Herrington.

Second heat: Tanner English, Tyler Carpenter, Jon Mitchell, Oakley Johns, Jason Knowles, Derek Fetter, Ruben Mayfield, Scott Rhoades, Carson Ferguson, Scott Geaschel, Ted Johnson Jr.

Third heat: Chris Simpson, Kylan Garner, Devin Moran, Ryan Montgomery, Casey White, Jayme Zidar, Matthew Tribble, Max Baker, Darin Weisinger, TeeJay Janousek.

Fourth heat: Ricky Thornton Jr., Josh Rice, Cody Bauer, Joseph Joiner, Manny Falcon, Nicky Pennington, Tim Hancook Jr., Preston Farmer, Jacob Kolwyck, Joe Denby, Chris McKeehan.

Fifth heat: Trevor Gundaker, Jacob Magee, Austin Howes, Daniel Adam, Brandon Tibaldi, Shaun Wiltjer, Donald Johns, Dylan Thompson, James O'Hara, Steve Sheppard Jr., Robbie Scott.

Sixth heat: Brandon Sheppard, Jimmy Owens, Josh Dietz, Corey DeLancey, Jody Knowles, Mike Kline, Tegan Evans, Timothy Welch II, Michael Luna. Scratched: Dakota Smith.

Pre-race notes

Friday’s preliminary program has 64 Dirt Late Models signed in for action. … During Friday’s drivers’ meeting, event promoter Cody Sommer quipped, “It rained this morning,” referring to the track crew putting more moisture in the surface after Thursday’s conditions turned up smooth but drier than expected. … Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., is in his SSI Motorsports Late Model for Friday’s show after scoring a $3,000 modified preliminary feature victory on Thursday. … Joseph Joiner of Milton, Fla., will make his first-ever Gateway Dirt Nationals start driving his Hunt the Front team’s Capital Race Car. It’s the first time he’s sat in the machine since November 2022’s Peach State Classic at Senoia (Ga.) Raceway; his crew member, Jesse Enterkin, has piloted the car in Crate Late Model events throughout the 2023 season, including just two weeks ago. … Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., has his Sheppard Riggs Racing No. B5 sporting a black-dominated color scheme with Black Rifle Coffee Company displayed as a sponsor. His father, Steve Sheppard Jr., is also part of Friday’s Late Model field. … Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, is running Illinois racer Jason Suhre’s No. 4 for the second straight Gateway Dirt Nationals. He joked in a Facebook post that “our team is made up of a bunch of Busch Light and dad bods.” … Carson Ferguson of Lincolnton, N.C., will make his Dome debut behind the wheel of a car fielded by South Carolina competitor Kale Green. The vehicle is carrying Ferguson’s No. 00 rather than Green’s usual No. 4. … Ryan Montgomery of Fairmont, W.Va., is back in St. Louis for the third straight year with Suppa Motorsports, but this time he’s exchanged the Rayburn car he ran last year for the team’s Capital Chassis. … Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., will take his first Late Model laps around the Dome’s fifth-mile oval on Friday after driving a brand-new LG2 modified to a 12th-place finish in the support division’s Thursday preliminary feature. His car owner, Bobby Koehler, and Koehler’s family are in attendance this evening after their plans to arrive for Thursday’s program were dashed by several flight delays and cancellations that plagued their trip. … Wil Herrington of Hawkinsville, Ga., who led more than half of last year’s Gateway Dirt Nationals, said his crew chief won’t be in attendance this weekend due to problems with his planned flights.

Time trials

Group A
Driver (car no.), hometown, time (unofficial)
Spencer Hughes (19m), Meridian, Miss., 11.732
Carson Ferguson (00f), Lincolnton, N.C., 11.755
Ryan Montgomery (4s), Fairmont, W.Va., 11.811
Scott Bell (45), East Prairie, Mo., 11.918
Tanner English (96v), Benton, Ky., 11.944
Chris Simpson (4c), Oxford, Iowa, 11.958
Jeffrey Ledford (8L), Pontiac, Ill., 11.970
Tyler Carpenter (28), Parkersburg, W.Va., 11.988
Jayme Zidar (9z), Hales Corners, Wis., 12.012
Wil Herrington (14x), Hawkinsville, Ga., 12.109
Derek Fetter (32f), Troy, Mo., 12.112
Devin Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 12.114
Timmy Dick (122), Monticello, Ill., 12.126
Jon Mitchell (5), Texarkana, Texas, 12.128
Kylan Garner (usa1), Neosho, Mo., 12.178
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 12.216
Jason Knowles (4k), Addison, N.Y., 12.220
Max Baker (1*), Morristown, Tenn., 12.232
Patrik Daniel (75D), Wills Point, Texas, 12.232
Ruben Mayfield (00), Lenior City, Tenn., 12.237
Casey White (41), Greenwood, Ind., 12.284
Pete Crum (34c), Cutler, Ohio, 12.389
Oakley Johns (c6), Hohenwald, Tenn., 12.455
TeeJay Janousek (10j), Hays, Kan., 12.555
Jason Miles (53m), Nacogdoches, Texas, 12.555
Scott Geaschel (4e), Collinsville, Ill., 12.698
Darin Weisinger (11w), Mendon, Ill., 12.724
Blake Creech (317), Richmond, Ind., 12.809
Ted Johnson Jr. (25j), Rushville, Ohio, 12.835
Matthew Tribble (ne11), Pocahontas, Ark., 13.156
Jon Woods (111), Patoka, Ind., 13.591
Scott Rhoades (5rt), Wheat Ridge, Colo., 14.583
Group B
Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 12.010
Steve Sheppard Jr. (5s), New Berlin, Ill., 12.185
Josh Dietz (9D), Hebron, Ky., 12.237
Josh Rice (11R), Verona, Ky., 12.243
Trevor Gundaker (11T), St. Charles, Mo., 12.268
Corey DeLancey (c2), Parkersburg, W.Va., 12.352
Joseph Joiner (10), Milton, Fla., 12.355
Dylan Thompson (99T), Paducah, Ky., 12.357
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 12.438
Cody Bauer (19x), Farwell, Mich., 12.490
Jacob Magee (10m), Caney, Kan., 12.498
Jody Knowles (66), Tyrone, Ga., 12.576
Chris McKeehan (21m), Winder, Ga., 12.610
Brandon Tibaldi (16T), Almo, Ky., 12.660
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 12.665
Joe Denby (27D), Winchester, Tenn., 12.701
Daniel Adam (75), Wade, N.C., 12.705
Dakota Smith (B89), Tullos, La., 12.733
Manny Falcon (995), Pine Grove, La., 12.821
Austin Howes (17A), Memphis, Mo., 12.866
Tegan Evans (T22), Clinton, Iowa, 12.900
Tim Hancock Jr. (9h), Mount Olive, Ill., 12.939
Robbie Scott (18x), Shinnston, W.Va., 12.984
Mike Kline (93), Browntown, Wis., 13.000
Jacob Kolwyck (21k), Griffith, Ind., 13.046
Donald Johns (c66), Hohenwald, Tenn., 13.073
Michael Luna (63), Sparta, Tenn., 13.153
Nicky Pennington (95), Morehead, Ky., 13.203
James O’Hara (44), Covington, Pa., 13.295
Timothy Welch II (m5), Gillespie, Ill., 13.450
Preston Farmer (32p), Glenwood, Ark., no time
Shaun Wiltjer (1w), Gary, Ind., no time

Friday's schedule

(All times local)

10 a.m. - Registration and credentials office opens
10:30 a.m. - Permitted early access (credential required)
11 a.m. - Pits open; technical inspection begins
1 p.m. - Driver’s meeting; fuel storage and fueling lane opens
2 p.m. - Dome spectator gates open
3 p.m. - On-track activity
- Super Late Model hot laps
- Super Late Model time trials
- Modified hot laps/time trials
5 p.m. - Opening ceremonies
- Super Late Model heat races (8 laps)
- Modified heat races (8 laps)
Consolation races
- Super Late Models (10 laps)
- Modifieds (8 laps)
Features
- Super Late Models (25 laps)
- Modifieds (20 laps)
(Pits cleared and closed one hour after final checkered flag)

Feature lineup

Row 1: T. Gundaker, Simpson
Row 2: English, Thornton
Row 3: Hughes, B. Sheppard
Row 4: Unzicker, Rice
Row 5: T. Carpenter, Magee
Row 6: Garner, Owens
Row 7: Moran, Bauer
Row 8: Montgomery, Howes
Row 9: J. Ledford, Dietz

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