Ricky Thornton Jr. sweeps his way to Knoxville Nationals triumph

Ricky Thornton Jr.

In a dominating performance it was once again Ricky Thornton Jr. scoring a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory. This time it was in the crown jewel 19th annual Lucas Oil Knoxville Late Model Nationals. Only briefly surrendering the lead to three-time race winner Mike Marlar in the early going at the famed Knoxville Raceway, the SSI Motorsports No. 20RT eventually drove away to a relatively comfortable margin at the checkered flag making it a clean sweep of the weekend after having won on Thursday and Friday nights.

The Longhorn Chassis driver from Martinsville, Indiana earned $50,000 from the track located in Knoxville, Iowa in a race shown live by FloRacing.com.

A total of 41 cars were signed in for competition.

The top-20 on the starting grid were determined by points earned in races held on Thursday and Friday.

B-main Results: 1. Justin Zeitner, 2. Tim McCreadie, 3. Ross Robinson, 4. Tim Lance, 5. Matt Furman, 6. Frank Heckenast Jr.

Feature Lineup: 1. Ricky Thornton Jr., 2. Chad Simpson, 3. Chris Ferguson, 4. Devin Moran, 5. Mike Marlar, 6. Brandon Overton, 7. Kyle Bronson, 8. Daulton Wilson, 9. Spencer Hughes, 10. Hudson O’Neal, 11. Brandon Sheppard, 12. Ryan Gustin, 13. Brian Shirley, 14. Earl Pearson Jr., 15. Tyler Bruening, 16. Tyler Erb, 17. Max Blair, 18. Jonathan Davenport, 19. Chris Simpson, 20. Garrett Alberson, 21. Chase Junghans, 22. Todd Cooney, 23. Daniel Hilsabeck, 24. Cory Hedgecock, 25. Justin Zeitner, 26. Tim McCreadie, 27. Ross Robinson, 28. Tim Lance, 29. Matt Furman, 30. Frank Heckenast Jr.

Feature Re-cap: The 75-lap feature began with Thornton ahead of Chad Simpson, Marlar, Moran and Overton. Marlar demonstrated his ability on the track where he has scored three wins by passing Simpson for the runner-up position on the fifth lap.

Marlar then closed in quickly and offered a challenge to Thornton for the race lead. Marlar would get around Thornton to take the lead on lap 11 as those drivers wrestled with slower traffic. Two laps later, though, Thornton would regain the top spot.

Further back behind the leaders, Overton and Moran were fighting for fourth with Overton coming out on top in that moment. Back at the front, Marlar once again got by Thornton to take the lead on lap 18. Again, however, Thornton would charge back to the front. And this time, he would hold it to the end.

The first yellow flag of the night waved on lap 27 for the smoking car of Hughes, On the restart, Marlar would be shuffled back to fifth as Simpson, Moran and Overton got by. Both Overton and Marlar passed by Moran three laps after the restart pushing the No. 99 back to fifth.

A lap 40 caution for trouble on the Wilson machine slowed the pace and regrouped the field. Following the restart, a multi-car crash involving Wilson, Ferguson, Bruening and Hedgecock stopped the action briefly.

After the lap 40 restart, Bronson jumped all the way up to second trailing only Thornton. Thornton began to pull away from Bronson but a hard crash by Bronson ended his night prematurely. The driver was reported to be uninjured.

Over the closing laps, Thornton would go untouched as the stormed to his 21st series win of 2023.

Feature Results: 1. Ricky Thornton Jr., 2. Mike Marlar, 3. Hudson O’Neal, 4. Jonathan Davenport, 5. Brandon Overton, 6. Chase Junghans, 7. Brian Shirley, 8. Devin Moran, 9. Tim McCreadie, 10. Brandon Sheppard, 11. Tyler Erb, 12. Garrett Alberson, 13. Chad Simpson, 14. Daulton Wilson, 15. Chris Simpson, 16. Spencer Hughes, 17. Earl Pearson Jr., 18. Daniel Hilsabeck, 19. Max Blair, 20. Tim Lance, 21. Ryan Gustin, 22. Kyle Bronson, 23. Todd Cooney, 24. Chris Ferguson, 25. Tyler Bruening, 26. Cory Hedgecock, 27. Justin Zeitner, 28. Ross Robinson, 29. Frank Heckenast Jr., 30. Matt Furman, 31. Boom Briggs

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