Ricky Thornton Jr. won Saturday night's Dirt Track World Championship. (Heath Lawson photo)

Thornton Is Dirt Track World Champion

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Ricky Thornton Jr. topped off his first full year running with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series by sneaking past Brandon Overton on a lap-83 restart to win the 41st annual General Tire Dirt Track World Championship presented by Optima Batteries at Portsmouth Raceway Park.

Thornton pulled away from Overton and Jonathan Davenport in the final laps to record a 2.145-second advantage over Overton for the $100,000 victory. Thornton’s previous career high late model wins were both $20,000.

Devin Moran was in charge the first 35 circuits, Overton led laps 36-82. Overton and Davenport rounded out the podium. Mike Marlar and Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Tim McCreadie completed the top five.

“I was kind of worried. I didn’t want those yellows, but then I could get a run off of four on the restart and go half a lane better into one,” Thornton said. “I finally stayed with him (Overton) on the front straightaway, and I thought it’s now or never. It’s 100 grand, I would have wrecked my mom to win.”

Thornton became the 26th different driver to win the crown jewel event that started in 1981. “It’s wild. I can’t really explain it. We were lucky enough to run second last year,” Thornton added. “To win it this year is amazing. We gambled on tires. This is awesome, I have always wanted to be a late model driver and I think this kind of solidifies it. We have been so excited to run the Lucas Oil series and we look forward to doing it again next year.”

Overton was looking for his first win in the event and his 29th overall this season but lost ground to Thornton in the waning laps.

“I guess I just didn’t get going enough on that restart. He had a head full of steam going down in there. It is what it is,” Overton said. “Sometimes you just run second. Congrats to those guys, they did a good job. They gambled on tires, and it paid off. Nobody needs to feel bad for me for running second, we have had a great year. We will take our second place and head to the house.”

Davenport finished third.

“Me and Brandon pretty much had the thing as far as tires,” he said. “Ricky went a little different, so he was definitely better late in the race. We just wore ours down and didn’t have much tread left. The top of three and four died just a little too early before I could get up there and surprise them.”

The finish:

Ricky Thornton Jr., Brandon Overton, Jonathan Davenport, Mike Marlar, Tim McCreadie, Tyler Erb, Earl Pearson Jr., Spencer Hughes, Hudson O’Neal, Jimmy Owens, Dennis Erb Jr., Josh Richards, Tanner English, Scott Bloomquist, Jason Jameson, Devin Moran, Mason Zeigler, Boom Briggs, Kyle Bronson, Shane Clanton, Stormy Scott, Ryan Gustin, Josh Rice,  Dustin Linville, Devin Gilpin, Brandon Fouts.

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