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Daily Dirt 04/23/2024 03:20:37

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March 30
Maquoketa Speedway,
Maquoketa, IA
Sanction: Unsanctioned Supers (Nippy 50) - $20,000
Information provided by: Mike Ruefer and track reports (last updated March 31, 2:09 pm)
RTJ claims Maquoketa's $20,000 Nippy 50 check
Nippy 50
  1. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  2. Ryan Gustin
  3. Brandon Sheppard
  4. Bobby Pierce
  5. Cody Overton
  6. Tyler Erb
  7. Chris Simpson
  8. Garrett Alberson
  9. Brian Shirley
  10. Gordy Gundaker
  11. Justin Kay
  12. Ryan Unzicker
  13. Brent Larson
  14. Chad Simpson
  15. Daniel Adam
  16. Brian Harris
  17. Todd Cooney
  18. Sam Mars
  19. Jason Feger
  20. Spencer Diercks
  21. Jaden Fryer
  22. Cole Czarneski
  23. David Webster
  24. Dylan Thornton
  25. Ty Webster
presented by
Mike Ruefer/mikerueferphotos.photoreflect.com
Ricky Thornton Jr. celebrates his flag-to-flag triumph in Saturday's $20,000 Nippy 50.
What won the race: Amid a flurry of mid-race slider attempts from Bobby Pierce, second-starting Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., executed perfect crossover moves to maintain command en route to recording a flag-to-flag victory in Saturday's inaugural Nippy 50 finale at Maquoketa Speedway. Thornton earned $20,000 for his sixth overall feature victory of the season and the first of his career at Maquoketa.
Key notes: The pole-starting Pierce, of Oakwood, Ill., unofficially took the lead from Thornton a couple of times throughout the 50-lapper, only to see Thornton drive back by him and reclaim the position before the circuit was scored. ... Pierce, the winner of Friday's $10,000 Nippy 50 opener, slipped backward to finish fourth. ... Saturday's feature lasted 22 minutes with 15 competitors running at the finish. ... The inaugural event was promoted by Iowa's Jeff Hoker, whose trucking company sponsors both Thornton and Pierce among others.
On the move: Justin Kay of Wheatland, Iowa, started 20th and finished 11th.
Winner's sponsors: Thornton’s SSI Motorsports Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and carries sponsorship from Dyno One, Hoker Trucking LLC, Coltman Farms Racing, Sub-Surface of Indiana, Big River Steel, Murty Farms, High Performance Lubricants, West Side Tractor Sales, Bilstein, Sunoco Race Fuels, FK Rod Ends, Allstar Performance, Dirt Car Lift, Midwest Sheet Metal and EMD Wraps.
Current weather: Clear, 54°F
Car count: 25
Fast qualifier: Bobby Pierce
Time: 13.340 seconds
Polesitter: Bobby Pierce
Heat race winners: Ricky Thornton Jr., Tyler Erb, Brian Shirley
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Ricky Thornton Jr. wasn’t satisfied with Friday’s seventh-place finish on opening night of the Hoker Trucking Nippy 50 at Maquoketa (Iowa) Speedway, so he responded the best way possible in Saturday’s finale.

The reigning DirtonDirt.com Driver of the Year looked the part throughout the 50-lap, $20,000-to-win main event, standing his ground up front for the wire-to-wire victory despite constant pressure from Bobby Pierce and a quarter-mile oval that kept drivers on their toes.

“We weren’t as good as we needed to be last night, so we changed cars,” the 33-year-old Thornton told FloRacing’s Jason Frommelt in victory lane. “It’s nice to know our backup car is just as good as our other stuff. I just felt really good all night.

"I really didn’t know where I needed to be on the racetrack. I was trying to gauge off the lapped cars. I’d catch one and drive away, and then the line would move back to the top, then the bottom. Overall, it was awesome.”

Through the halfway point on lap 25, the Martinsville, Ind., wheelman never led by more than eight-tenths of a second. Thornton was, however, crafty through traffic and made all the right moves as Pierce challenged from behind.

On laps 11 and 12, Pierce hurled a pair of sliders for the lead in turns one and two, but Thornton countered each time and scampered to the bottom on the other end of the racetrack. On lap 13, Thornton hugged the bottom through turns one and two to negate a third straight slider from Pierce.

Even that, pinning the botton, wasn’t the easiest task. The bottom side of turns three and four were choppier than normal, a wrinkle that Thornton actually suggested.

“I was actually telling them last night, I think it needed a little something down there just so it wasn’t so easy to hit,” Thornton said. “I hit it a couple times wrong and a couple times right, and was really good. I kept moving up a little bit, just kind of running through the middle through the crumbs. Tried to keep my momentum and if someone pressured me, then try to pick it up a little bit. It worked out for us. Hopefully we can keep this roll going.”

Pierce again challenged Thornton on lap 18, nudging ahead exiting turn four, but the top-running Thornton used his momentum to beat Pierce back to the line. That was the last challenge Thornton had to turn away the rest of the race as Pierce lost close contact and ultimately fell to a fourth-place finish.

Ryan Gustin of Marshalltown, Iowa, finished second, followed by Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., Pierce and Cody Overton of Evans, Ga.

In victory lane, Thornton commended track officials for running the night’s support class before the Super Late Models to set the track up for better racing.

“I think it was definitely the right call to race the sports mods before us,” Thornton said. “It slowed the bottom down just enough early so we can race all over. Pretty awesome to race Ryan and Bobby as hard as we did. Me and Bobby kinda hit there on that restart. Hopefully I didn’t ruin his race there.”

Gustin, meanwhile, was able to get around Pierce for second on the final restart on lap 25 following Ryan Unzicker’s flat right-rear tire. The home-state driver now has four runner-up finishes over his last seven races.

“I felt like we were good,” Gustin said. “We got behind (Chad) Simpson there and really slowed on that last corner. I felt like I gained a lot there. I probably should’ve been slowing down a little bit. I figured Bobby was up there ripping it, too. Hats off to everybody.”

While Pierce backslid to finish fourth, Sheppard nabbed the third and final podium spot. It’s a nice recovery for the Longhorn Factory Team driver who started the night 18th quickest of 25 cars in qualifying. On Friday, Sheppard qualified 13th of 26 drivers.

A sixth-to-third run in the 10-lap heat race on Saturday enabled Sheppard to start ninth in the main event and ultimately the chance to make something of his night.

“It’s been a rough weekend for us starting off the night,” Sheppard said. “We still struggle in qualifying for sure. So we have to get that figured out. Tonight, I don’t think our car was near as bad as what we qualified, but I drove off the end of the racetrack both laps. That was my fault. The rest of the night we were really good. … We’re going to keep on trucking.”

The race was slowed by just two caution flags. The first came on lap four when Dylan Thornton and Ty Webster tangled with neither driver able to continue while Unzicker’s trouble was the final slowdown.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Pierce, R. Thornton Jr.
Row 2: Shirley, Gustin
Row 3: Alberson, T. Erb
Row 4: Chr. Simpson, Unzicker
Row 5: Sheppard, C. Overton
Row 6: G. Gundaker, Larson
Row 7: S. Mars, Harris
Row 8: Cha. Simpson, D. Thornton
Row 9: Diercks, Cooney
Row 10: Czarneski, Kay
Row 11: Feger, T. Webster
Row 12: D. Webster, Fryer
Row 13: Adam

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