PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Teenager Garrett Smith and veteran Tim McCreadie will make up the front row for Saturday night’s 42nd annual General Tire Dirt Track World Championship Presented by Optima Batteries at Portsmouth Raceway Park.
In Friday night’s six preliminary heat races, sixth heat race winner Earl Pearson Jr. is the only driver who has previously gone to victory lane in the crown jewel event. Pearson’s win came in 2010 at West Virginia Motor Speedway.
The final event of the 2022 season for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will pay $100,000 to the winner. The 68 cars entered marked the highest car count of the event in five years.
Smith earned his first-ever start in the Dirt Track World Championship by dominating the first heat race. Smith, who just celebrated his 19th birthday on October 11, won over two-time Dirt Track World Championship winner Shannon Babb who was making his first appearance at Portsmouth since 2016.
Defending Dirt Track World Champion Ricky Thornton Jr. came home in third. In his last three starts at Portsmouth, Thornton has two wins and a runner-up finish, which came in the 2020 running of the Dirt Track World Championship.
McCreadie, who clinched his second consecutive Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National title by registering for Friday’s racing action, walked away with the fourth heat race to earn the outside front-row starting spot for Saturday night’s season finale. McCreadie led wire-to-wire to take the win over Spencer Hughes and Eddie Carrier Jr., a former Portsmouth Raceway Park track champion.
The second heat race of the night saw Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 champion Chris Ferguson taking the win. Devin Gilpin, the four-time and defending Brownstown Speedway track champion came from the fifth starting spot to take the runner-up spot. Camaron Marlar claimed the third and final transfer spot to qualify for his first Dirt Track World Championship.
Heat race three saw the driver that ended up as Brandon Overton taking the win to earn the fifth-starting spot in Saturday night’s Dirt Track World Championship. Zack Dohm and Mason Zeigler stayed close to Overton for most of the 12-lap race as they crossed the line in second and third place respectively to earn a starting spot in the 100-lapper tomorrow night.
The fifth heat would see a good battle between Mike Marlar and four-time Dirt Track World Champion Brandon Sheppard go down to the wire with Marlar securing the victory. Marlar will start fourth in tomorrow night’s finale. Sheppard with a win on Saturday night would equal Freddy Smith’s five career Dirt Track World Championship wins, the most all-time for any driver. Hudson O’Neal caught Jonathan Davenport on the final lap to take the third and final transfer spot.
The final heat of the night was all four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National Champion Earl Pearson Jr. He took the win ahead of a heated race from second on back between several drivers. Ryan Gustin was able to claim the second spot at the finish over the 2022 O’Reilly Auto Parts Rookie of the Year, Garrett Alberson.