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Daily Dirt 05/26/2024 00:26:37

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June 8
Eldora Speedway,
Rossburg, OH
Sanction: DIRTcar Supers (Dream XXIX second semifeature) - $12,000
Information provided by: Todd Turner, Kevin Kovac and track reports (last updated June 9, 10:50 am)
Cruising Thornton nabs $12,000 Dream prelim
Dream XXIX second semifeature
  1. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  2. Devin Moran
  3. Mike Marlar
  4. Josh Rice
  5. Jonathan Davenport
  6. Brandon Sheppard
  7. Brian Shirley
  8. Stormy Scott
  9. Brandon Overton
  10. Kent Robinson
  11. Jimmy Owens
  12. Ryan Gustin
  13. Nick Hoffman
  14. Trent Ivey
  15. Shannon Babb
  16. Jason Feger
  17. Donald McIntosh
  18. Kye Blight
  19. Tyler Clem
  20. Jeep Van Wormer
  21. Bobby Pierce
  22. Zack Dohm
  23. Adam Stricker
  24. Jordan Koehler
presented by
Josh James/joshjamesartwork.com
Ricky Thornton Jr. heads to a $12,000 victory at Eldora.
What won the race: Polesitter Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., led all 25 laps, cruising to a comfortable win over Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio. Thornton won by 3.127 seconds to earn $12,000 in the night's second preliminary feature for Dream XXIX.
Key notes: Dirt Late Model teams invade Eldora Speedway for the 29th annual Dream, featuring a total purse payout nearing $600,000 across the historic three-day event. … Points are awarded and accumulated on Thursday and Friday, setting the lineup for Saturday’s heat races. … For the first time in its 29-year history, eight-time event winner Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., is not in competition. … Teams are not permitted to utilize signal sticks at the facility, though hand signals and colored gloves are permitted. … The event’s only three-time consecutive winner, Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., eyes his fourth straight Dream victory. ... Five-time World 100 winner, Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., seeks his second Dream triumph.
On the move: Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., started 22nd and finished ninth.
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, 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.
Current weather: Broken Clouds, 66°F
Car count: 95
Fast qualifier: Nick Hoffman
Time: 15.856 seconds
Polesitter: Ricky Thornton Jr.
Heat race winners: Jonathan Davenport, Devin Moran, Ricky Thornton Jr., Stormy Scott
Consolation race winners: Nick Hoffman, Brandon Overton
Next series race: June 9, Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH) $12,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 8) — Red-hot Ricky Thornton Jr. continued his torrid 2023 campaign, while possibly giving his competitors a glimpse of what’s to come over the final two days of the Dream XXIX weekend.

Thornton, of Chandler, Ariz., dominated Thursday night's second 25-lap preliminary feature at Eldora Speedway, leading every lap from his pole starting position for a $12,000 victory, his 13th of the season and fifth in his last eight starts. Thornton won by a comfortable 3.127 seconds ahead of Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, who started alongside the winner on the front row and chased him throughout, but never managed to mount a challenge in running second.

Winfield, Tenn.’s Mike Marlar advanced from 12th to join Thornton and Moran on the podium, while Josh Rice of Verona, Ky., improved two spots to finish fourth. Blairsville, Ga.’s Jonathan Davenport a five-time World 100 winner, who won the 2015 Dream as well as last year’s Eldora Million, completed the top five after starting fourth.

“My crew guys work their tail off. I’m just the one that’s lucky enough to get to steer it,” said Thornton, who won a preliminary feature for the 2018 World 100, also while driving for Indiana-based SSI Motorsports. “So this one's definitely for them. We’ve worked really hard here this year and I think it's definitely showing.”

Thornton’s third consecutive victory was also his 35th top-five finish of the season, a number that includes his fifth-place in the 31st annual Show-Me 100 during which he crossed the finish first but was penalized four positions when his car failed to meet the required deck height in post-race inspection.

“Congrats to Ricky and Mikey, good runs for them. Ricky’s got it rolling right now,” said Moran, the driver who followed Thornton across the finish in the Show-Me 100 before being elevated to the win. “He’s the best car in the country for a reason. This Double Down Motorsports Longhorn was really good. We just gotta get a little bit better.”

Moran ran second the entire 25-lap distance. He closed to within .370 of a second on lap nine following the race’s lone caution when 13th-running Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., spun in turn two, the result of a flat right rear tire. But when the race resumed, Thornton steadily motored away, adding to his margin on 15 of the feature’s final 17 laps.

“I got out front and I was just over driving,” said Thornton. “I got into the turn one wall a couple times where I'm like, ‘What are you doing? Just slow yourself down.’ Finally I slowed myself down and I felt like I was really good. I got the traffic and I really didn't know if I needed to move down or stay on the top. I figured the top got me to (the slower cars) so I’m just gonna stay there and it worked out for us.”

The famed Eldora invert worked in Thornton’s favor as well. With a four-car invert for each heat race, Thornton’s time trial effort of 15th put him on the pole for the third heat, which he won by more then 2 seconds over Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill.

“(I) felt like tonight I didn't qualify as good as I needed to and in the long run it put me on the pole for my heat race and on the pole for the feature,” said Thornton. “So who knows, maybe tomorrow we could qualify 15th or 16th again and do it all over again and set ourselves up good for Saturday.”

After picking up nine spots, third-finishing Marlar feels good about his chances moving forward as well.

“We had a really good car there, you know, a short race like that, so getting up through there that far, I was real pleased with that,” Marlar said. “I was just thinking during the race, I'm like, man if your car works you can just go up through there and if it don’t it won’t. It was definitely coming up through there pretty good, so hopefully we can do that. The short races you just murder the tires after a few laps and you just kinda ride, so we’ll have a little bit harder tire on for Saturday’s race. I think you'll see more of that too.”

Notes: Thornton hasn’t finishes worse than fifth in his last 10 features. … Moran thinks Saturday’s 100-lapper could be similar to Thursday’s doubleheader. “Saturday (is) going to be a completely different tire deal,” he said. “I would assume the track will be like this or maybe a little faster (Friday). But for the Dream it’s usually like this and it was good racing.” … There were four former Dream winners in Thursday’s second preliminary feature with six Dream triumphs between them: Brandon Overton (2022, twice in ’21), Brandon Sheppard (’19), Jonathan Davenport (’15) and Jimmy Owens (’09).

Feature lineup

(25 laps)
Row 1: Ricky Thornton Jr., Devin Moran
Row 2: Stormy Scott, Jonathan Davenport
Row 3: Ryan Gustin, Josh Rice
Row 4: Brian Shirley, Trent Ivey
Row 5: Jordan Koehler, Kent Robinson
Row 6: Bobby Pierce, Mike Marlar
Row 7: Donald McIntosh, Kye Blight
Row 8: Brandon Sheppard, Shannon Babb
Row 9: Zach Dohm, Adam Stricker
Row 10: Jimmy Owens, Jason Feger
Row 11: Nick Hoffman, Brandon Overton
Row 12: Tyler Clem, Jeep Van Wormer

Consolation results

(Top two transfer)
First consolation: Nick Hoffman, Tyler Clem, Tad Pospisil, Garrett Alberson, Brenden Smith, Tyler Millwood, David McCoy, Wil Herrington, Jason Riggs, Curtis Roberts, Brad Dyer, Bradley Eitniear, Robby Hensley. Did not start: Devin Gilpin.

Second consolation: Brandon Overton, Jeep Van Wormer, Daniel Hilsabeck, Carson Hocevar, Rod Conley, Jerry Bowersock, Doug Drown, Mack McCarter, Freddie Carpenter, Brandon Thirlby, Rob Anderzack, Brandon Moore, Cory Workman.

Consolation lineups

(12 laps, top two transfer)
First consolation
Row 1: Tad Pospisil, Tyler Clem
Row 2: Brenden Smith, Curtis Roberts
Row 3: Tyler Millwood, David McCoy
Row 4: Robby Hensley, Garrett Alberson
Row 5: Nick Hoffman, Brad Dyer
Row 6: Devin Gilpin, Brad Eitniear
Row 7: Wil Herrington, Jason Riggs
Second consolation
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Daniel Hilsabeck
Row 2: Carson Hocevar, Jeep Van Wormer
Row 3: Brandon Thirlby, Rod Conley
Row 4: Jerry Bowersock, Rob Anderzack
Row 5: Doug Drown, Mack McCarter
Row 6: Freddie Carpenter, Cory Workman
Row 7: Brandon Moore

Heat notes

Racing on a track he said had plenty of “character,” Jonathan Davenport kept Josh Rice at bay to win the first heat in the same Double L Motorsports Longhorn Chassis he drove to Eldora Million and World 100 victories last year. “This ‘ol girl, we knocked the cobwebs off her and brought her back out again,” he said. “She never disappoints.” … First-time Eldora starter Jordan Koehler transferred to the preliminary feature with a third-place finish in Heat 1. … Group fast-timer Nick Hoffman relinquished second place on lap six of the first heat due to a shredded left-rear tire on his Tye Twarog-owned machine. … After timing poorly due to a deflating tire during qualifying, Wil Herrington bounced in turn four and spun on the first lap of Heat 1. … Devin Moran won the second heat by 2.207 seconds over Trent Ivey despite catching the outside wall and bending the right-rear bodywork of his Double Down Motorsports car. … Ivey crossed the scales with a flat right-rear tire after finishing second in Heat 2. … Ricky Thornton Jr. felt fortunate to emerge victorious in the third heat after bending sheet metal on the right-rear corner of his SSI Motorsports car with what he called a “bonehead” move in turn two. … Bobby Pierce wheeled around the outside of Brian Shirley off turn four to grab second place heading to the white flag in Heat 3, but Shirley returned the favor with an inside move through turns three and four to secure the runner-up finish. … Seeking a fourth consecutive Dream triumph, Brandon Overton struggled to make headway in the third heat and finished one spot out of a transfer spot in sixth. … Driving a car wrenched by Eldora Million and World 100-winning crew chief Jason Durham, Stormy Scott beat Ryan Gustin to the checkered flag in Heat 4 by 1.056 seconds. “Best car we’ve ever had here,” said Scott, who has made the Dream finale lineup once in four previous attempts (finished 26th in 2021’s first 100-lapper). … Jeep Van Wormer fell from fifth to seventh on the final circuit of Heat 4. … Mack McCarter spun between turns one and two on lap seven of the fourth heat and collected Rod Conley.

Heat results

(Top five transfer)
First heat: Jonathan Davenport, Josh Rice, Jordan Koehler, Donald McIntosh, Zach Dohm, Tad Pospisil, Brenden Smith, Tyler Millwood, Robby Hensley, Nick Hoffman, Devin Gilpin, Wil Herrington.

Second heat: Devin Moran, Trent Ivey, Kent Robinson, Kye Blight, Adam Stricker, Tyler Clem, Curtis Roberts, David McCoy, Garrett Alberson, Brad Dyer, Bradley Eitniear, Jason Riggs.

Third heat: Ricky Thornton Jr., Brian Shirley, Bobby Pierce, Brandon Sheppard, Jimmy Owens, Brandon Overton, Carson Hocevar, Brandon Thirlby, Jerry Bowersock, Doug Drown, Freddie Carpenter, Brandon Moore.

Fourth heat: Stormy Scott, Ryan Gustin, Mike Marlar, Shannon Babb, Jason Feger, Daniel Hilsabeck, Jeep Van Wormer, Rod Conley, Rob Anderzack, Mack McCarter, Cory Workman.

Heat race lineups

(10 laps, top five transfer)
First heat
Row 1: Josh Rice, Donald McIntosh
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Nick Hoffman
Row 3: Jordan Koehler, Brenden Smith
Row 4: Zach Dohm, Devin Gilpin
Row 5: Tyler Millwood, Wil Herrington
Row 6: Robby Hensley, Tad Pospisil
Second heat
Row 1: Devin Moran, Kent Robinson
Row 2: Trent Ivey, Kye Blight
Row 3: David McCoy, Jason Riggs
Row 4: Curtis Roberts, Garrett Alberson
Row 5: Adam Strickler, Brad Dyer
Row 6: Tyler Clem, Bradley Eitniear
Third heat
Row 1: Ricky Thornton Jr., Brian Shirley
Row 2: Bobby Pierce, Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Brandon Overton, Brandon Sheppard
Row 4: Doug Drown, Carson Hocevar
Row 5: Freddie Carpenter, Jerry Bowersock
Row 6: Brandon Thirlby, Brandon Moore
Fourth heat
Row 1: Jeep Van Wormer, Shannon Babb
Row 2: Stormy Scott, Mike Marlar
Row 3: Ryan Gustin, Rod Conley
Row 4: Rob Anderzack, Jason Feger
Row 5: Daniel Hilsabeck, Mack McCarter
Row 6: Cory Workman

Pre-race notes

Dream XXIX kicks off Thursday under gorgeous weather conditions: sunny with afternoon high temperatures in the mid-70s. … At 95 cars, the field has broken the 90-entry mark for the fourth time since 2012; last year’s event (run in conjunction with Eldora Million) drew 114 cars while there were 98 in ’12 and 92 in ’19. … DIRTcar director Sam Driggers warned teams during Thursday’s drivers’ meeting about the recent DIRTcar rules bulletin that specifies only 14-inch wheels are permitted. “If you don’t got ‘em, get ‘em,” said Driggers, who concluded the gathering by telling the racers to “come see me on the Summer Nationals” that begin June 14 at Peoria (Ill.) Speedway. … To set the first four rows of the twin 25-lap preliminary feature lineups, officials will align the four heat winners in positions 1-4 by lowest-to-highest points totals during qualifying and the heat runners-up in spots 5-8 in the same manner. The remainder of the 24-car field will start straight-up from heat and consolation finishes. … Officials previously announced that teams will not be allowed to use signal sticks to communicate with their drivers all weekend, but they added another wrinkle during the drivers’ meeting by greatly restricting where crew members can relay hand signals to a fenced area just in front of the media center stretching to the World of Outlaws operations trailer parked toward turn four. … Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., has opted to enter the Scott Bloomquist-designed Team Zero machine his team owner, Bob Cullen, purchased from Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., after Shirley drove it on a trial basis earlier this year during Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. … Josh Rice of Verona, Ky., will make his fourth start using a new Vic Hill-built engine. His first two outings with the powerplant brought him back-to-back victories in Kentucky over Memorial Day weekend but his third — last week at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky. — was curtailed by overheating trouble that he said did not appear the hurt the motor. … Wil Herrington of Hawkinsville, Ga., is bidding to make his first Dream finale (he didn’t qualify in his event debut last year) hot off a $10,000 Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series victory last Saturday at Cochran (Ga.) Motor Speedway. … That Cochran event included an incident involving Georgia driver Garrett Smith’s father, Scot, and HTF officials that resulted in a 90-day suspension from DIRTcar-sanctioned events for Garrett, keeping the 19-year-old from entering the Dream. … Brandon Thirlby of Traverse City, Mich., is making his first Eldora appearance since a 2016 Sunoco American Late Model Series event. His previous crown jewel attempts at the Big E came even further in the past: the World 100 in 2009 and ’10 and Dream in 2009 and ’13 (he failed to qualify for the finale in all four starts). … Australian Kye Blight is back in the United States to take his third crack at the Dream driving for fellow Aussie Paul Stubber after failing qualify in 2019 and ’22. … Garrett Alberson of Las Cruces, N.M., is debuting his new Roberts Motorsports Longhorn Chassis. … NASCAR Truck Series regular Carson Hocevar of Portage, Mich., is driving a Niece Motorsports Late Model. … Tyler Clem of St. Petersburg, Fla., is embarking on his first-ever Eldora action in the Big Frog Motorsports car on the eve of his planned assault on the DIRTcar Summer Nationals. With “about 15” Super Late Model starts on his ledger, he’ll likely double his career starts in the division by the end of the month.

Time trials

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

  1. Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 15.856
  2. Kye Blight (31K), Katanning, WAU, 16.042
  3. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.148
  4. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 16.213
  5. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 16.225
  6. Trent Ivey (88), Union, S.C., 16.252
  7. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 16.259
  8. Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.302
  9. Donald McIntosh (7m), Dawsonville, Ga., 16.309
  10. Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 16.345
  11. Brian Shirley (8), Chatham, Ill., 16.371
  12. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 16.378
  13. Josh Rice (11), Verona, Ky., 16.393
  14. Devin Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 16.396
  15. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 16.469
  16. Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 16.478
  17. Jordan Koehler (114), Mount Airy, N.C., 16.492
  18. David McCoy (187), Franklin, N.C., 16.502
  19. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 16.512
  20. Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 16.516
  21. Brenden Smith (17ss), Dage City, Fla., 16.565
  22. Jason Riggs (81r), College Grove, Tenn., 16.584
  23. Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.599
  24. Rod Conley (71R), Wheelersburg, Ohio,m16.617
  25. Zack Dohm (17), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 16.644
  26. Curtis Roberts (9r), Coleman, Mich., 16.690
  27. Doug Drown (12), Wooster, Ohio, 16.693
  28. Rob Anderzack (8), Swanton, Ohio,16.708
  29. Devin Gilpin (1G), Columbus, Ind., 16.724
  30. Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.740
  31. Carson Hocevar (42), Portage, Mich., 16.754
  32. Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill.,16.758
  33. Tyler Millwood (31), Kingston, Ga., 16.759
  34. Adam Stricker (68), Batavia, Ohio, 16.776
  35. Freddie Carpenter (K), Parkersburg, W.Va., 16.790
  36. Daniel Hilsabeck (22), Earlham, Iowa, 16.827
  37. Wil Herrington (10M), Cochran, Ga., 16.866
  38. Brad Dyer (20D), Mohawk, Tenn., 16.875
  39. Jerry Bowersock (95j), Wapakoneta, Ohio, 16.928
  40. Mack McCarter (51), Gatlinburg, Tenn., 17.000
  41. Robby Hensley (21H), Walton, Ky., 17.062
  42. Tyler Clem (58c), St. Petersburg, Fla., 17.104
  43. Brandon Thirlby (69), Traverse City, Mich., 17.203
  44. Cory Workman (W1), Gratiot, Ohio, 17.271
  45. Tad Pospisil (04), Norfolk, Neb., 17.294
  46. Brad Eitniear (4), Defiance, Ohio, 17.385
  47. Brandon Moore (39m), Pioneer, Ohio, 17.742

Thursday's schedule

(All times local)
10 a.m.: Ticket office opens (ticket and pit pass sales)
11 a.m.: Grounds cleared and secured
Noon: All gates, suites and concessions open
12:30 p.m.: Technical inspection begins
5 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
6:30 p.m.: Hot laps
7:30 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- Late Model time trials
- Late Model heats (10 laps)
- Late Model consolations (12 laps)
- Late Model first feature (25 laps)
- Late Model second feature (25 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Thornton Jr., Moran
Row 2: S. Scott, Davenport
Row 3: Gustin, Rice
Row 4: Shirley, Ivey
Row 5: Koehler, Robinson
Row 6: Pierce, M. Marlar
Row 7: McIntosh, Blight
Row 8: Sheppard, Babb
Row 9: Dohm, Stricker
Row 10: Owens, Feger
Row 11: Hoffman, Overton
Row 12: Clem, Van Wormer

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