Race Weekend Central

This Weekend in Dirt: Thornton Takes Win, Lucas Oil Points Lead, 4-Cylinder Chaos at Screven

Winning Moment: Ricky Thornton Jr. passed Max Blair on a lap 30 restart and never looked back, holding off defending Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Tim McCreadie to score the win and the series points lead at All-Tech Raceway Saturday night (Feb. 4)

Of note though, Thornton’s $15,000 victory wasn’t the richest of the weekend. That went to Dry Ridge, Ky.’s Brandon Gibson Jr., who won the $19,000 season opener for the Sport Compact Dirt Racing Association at Screven Motor Speedway in Georgia.

Dramatic Moment: And the dramatic moment of the weekend came in that race. John Windham, who drove from outside the top 20 back to the front in 20 laps after spinning from the lead, appeared to door leader Gibson in turn 4. Racing side by side down the frontstretch, the two again made contact, with Windham going for a ride into turn 1.

The video was inconclusive as to whether Windham made contact with Gibson in turn 4, and if the spin was a result of Gibson driving dirty or Windham pinching him up the frontstretch. Fortunately, race control left the incident alone, even if Windham’s wife didn’t on Facebook.

In a Nutshell: Sport compact racing. Half the cylinders, twice the drama.

What They’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

Remember a few seasons back in NASCAR-land where we all got used to hearing “Stage winner – MTJ?” Well, late model fans this year may want to get used to hearing “Feature winner – RTJ.” Thornton is as red-hot this Speedweeks as Devin Moran was a year ago.

After watching how long the race took to run and how much drama unfolded as a result of it, thank God 4-cylinder cars don’t race for five figures that often. Big money and hobby racing classes shouldn’t mix.

Screven’s Winter Freeze ran approximately 11 hours on Saturday night, which frankly should amount to kidnapping of paying race fans by race organizers that insisted on an eight-class program. 

But, I have to say I feel bad for the race control officials at the track, who had to endure a number of disasters not of their making during the program, including a 602 late model field that restarted their own race despite race control audibly telling them five times “yellow yellow yellow” and a crash during their sport compact race that saw a stopped car get clobbered ARCA brakes styled more than five seconds after the caution was called. 

Good officiating only goes so far… the competitors have to listen.

On that same note about time management, the LOLMDS and All-Tech Raceway had a rare misfire this weekend, with an extensive delay occurring between qualifying and the start of heat races after the track took rubber during time trials, forcing an extensive track rework.

The good news? Between having an all-pro track prep crew at All-Tech and a two-division program (that saw the grandstands PACKED), once the rework was done, the program ran smooth as silk, with the headline feature still done well before 11 p.m. On a Saturday, that’s nothing to frown over. 

Between a very solid Thornton/McCreadie/Blair/Clanton battle up front at All-Tech and a very racy season opener for the Southern All-Stars at Screven, super late models were again the class of dirt racing this weekend. We’ll just leave this one here.

And lastly, after an Uber-controversial win at East Bay Raceway Park on Friday night courtesy of race officials, Lucas Lee won the $5,000 Winternationals finale at the track fair and square, leading 69 of 75 laps without ever being seriously challenged for the race lead.

Lee took a lot of flack (and in my eyes, rightfully so) for being a sore winner after being gifted the victory over youngster Drake Troutman on Friday. But as the saying goes, “it’s not trash talking if you can back it up.” Lee definitely was the king of the mods at East Bay.

See also
This Day in Dirt: Drake Troutman Robbed at East Bay, Screven Freezes Up on Opening Night

Hero of the Weekend

Wil Herrington had the move of the weekend in the second late model heat at All-Tech Raceway Saturday, getting three cars in literally one corner.

Villain of the Weekend

It’s been a very long time since Jonathan Davenport had a bad weekend of any kind, but Saturday night felt like all the bad luck Superman avoided in 2022 all decided to force their way into race night at All-Tech. Starting with time trials, Davenport made contact with the wall and broke a driveshaft, forcing him to start in the back of his heat race.

Davenport suffered nose damage in his heat race in a collision not of his own making, also finding trouble in his B-main and being forced into a provisional starting position. 

Davenport again found trouble in the A-main, finishing 21st. There’s no driver in the field more thankful that the LOLMDS only counts a driver’s five best Speedweeks finishes towards the series points standings.

Numbers Game

8

Dirt tracks that ran oval track racing programs this weekend in the U.S.

210

Nation’s largest car count Saturday, the Winter Freeze at Screven Motor Speedway.

$19,000

The nation’s largest purse awarded this weekend, to the winner of the SCDRA feature at Screven Saturday night.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Tuesday morning (Feb. 7) with coverage of the opening night of the DIRTcar Nationals from Volusia Speedway Park and the late model Winternationals from East Bay Raceway Park. Streaming coverage can be found on DirtVision and Flo Racing, respectively.

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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