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Ricky Thornton Jr. celebrated his 30th career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory at Ocala Speedway. (Matt Butcosk photo)

Thornton Jr. Holds Off Erb At Ocala

OCALA, Fla. — Ricky Thornton Jr. passed Tyler Erb coming to the white flag on Tuesday night at Ocala Speedway to score his second consecutive Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of the season in thrilling fashion.

Erb made one last lap attempt as the duo entered turn three, but Thornton was able to hold him off for his 30th career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory. Erb finished just 0.448 seconds behind at the line after he had led laps 3-38.

Devin Moran charged from the eighth starting spot to finish third with pole sitter Jonathan Davenport coming home in fourth. Mike Marlar rounded out the top five.

Davenport took the lead at the start of the 40-lap race and led the first two circuits until Erb made a daring move for the lead heading into the third turn on lap three. Erb held a several car length lead during the race as cautions would allow the rest of the field to stay close on restarts. 

The final caution of the race came out with 27 laps scored. Erb then managed to again stretch his lead out over the field, but without the assistance of a caution flag, Erb was having to contend with the back of the field. With five laps to go Erb had two cars running side-by-side in front of him which allowed Thornton to close the gap in the waning laps.

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Ricky Thornton Jr. earned $10,000 for his victory at Ocala Speedway. (Matt Butcosk photo)

Thornton had cut which was at one point a 10-car length lead for Erb down to one car length.

As the two came off of turn four heading to the white flag Thornton was able to sneak to the inside to take the lead which he held for another circuit around the three-eighths-mile oval for the $10,000 victory.

Thornton who won $25,000 on Saturday night at Golden Isles in the finale of the General Tire Super Bowl of Racing knew he was in a dog fight at Ocala as he earned a hard-fought victory.

“Man, I felt like I was stretching so much there in three and four. I felt like the top came in and the bottom cleaned up a little bit. He [Erb] got stuck behind that one lapped car there once off four and really without that I don’t think I would have gotten to him. We got into turn two and I got close and then in three he kind of shoved a little bit,” Thornton said.

“I knew if I could get under him down the front straightaway you’ve got to throw a bomb down there. I watched him throw a bomb on JD down there. I didn’t’ know if it would work out for us. It’s pretty awesome.”

Erb, who looked to break through early in 2024 with the a win came home in second.

“I don’t know. Maybe I should have punted four lapped cars. I hit one getting into one there halfway through the race. It wasn’t our night. We are leaps and bounds better than we have been. We are going to win a race before its all said and done. I lost on the white flag tonight. It’s not a good feeling for sure,” Erb said.

“I got through traffic five or six different times and then just right there at the end when I caught traffic in like three laps. They [the traffic] were just side-by-side and Ricky got a good run on me. I tried to cross him over in one and two, but there wasn’t much you could do.”

Moran, who last won at Ocala in 2022 rounded out the Big River Steel Podium in third.

“Kudos to Bubba and his whole crew for working on this place. I have always liked coming here and racing. They have worked really hard in getting the crown off the race track. You know a lot of tracks we go to have that problem. They need to take notes when they do this. It makes for some awesome racing,” Moran said.

“It was a good race. I felt like I dug myself a hole early and we got this car up towards the front.”

Winter Nationals Feature Results (40 Laps)

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