ARDMORE, Okla. — The USMTS rolled into the Southern Oklahoma Speedway Thursday for the opening night of the 5th Annual Sooner Showdown presented by Production Jars, and Ricky Thornton Jr. walked out with his third win of the season.
The 26-year-old from Chandler, Ariz., garnered the Sybesma Pole Award and then led all 30 laps of the main event to earn the $2,000 top prize, but the win didn’t come as easy as his last one where he won by nearly a half-lap at the Greenville Speedway in Mississippi.
Five cautions dotted the first ten laps of the race which kept everybody in the 26-car field in contention for the first one-third of the race.
Thornton was able to stave off an early threat from Thomas Tillison Jr. as the battle behind him was intense from start to finish with Rodney Sanders, Ryan Gustin, Johnny Scott and Joe Duvall all trading blows in and around the top five.
While Thornton remained mostly committed to the lower and middle lanes of the semi-banked 3/8-mile clay oval, those behind him were continuously searching high and low for a faster way to catch the ‘Cactus Kid.’
Sanders pressured Thornton for the last half of the race, but even a sixth and final yellow flag waving with two laps to go could not give him the boost he needed to get his No. 20 past Thornton’s No. 20.
“Things have been really good lately,” Thornton said with a smile in victory lane. “I tried the top early because I really didn’t know where to go and Sanders just kind of went by me so luckily that yellow came out and gave us the lead back.”
The final yellow flag was good for Gustin too as he slid past Sanders to garner the runner-up finish, while Sanders Johnny Scott and Chris Brown rounded out the top five.
Ricky Thornton Jr. leads Rodney Sanders (20) and Ryan Gustin (19r) to the final restart with two laps remaining.
Points leader Cade Dillard came out of a Real Racing Wheels “B” Main to finish sixth, Jason Hughes was seventh, Stormy Scott passed nine cars to get eighth and Joe Duvall nabbed the ninth spot with his teammate, R.C. Whitwell, tucked in behind for tenth.
The 5th Annual Sooner Showdown presented by Production Jars continues Friday at the Southern Oklahoma Speedway with a $3,000 top prize earmarked for the feature winner.
The pit gate opens at 2 p.m., spectator gates open at 5, hot laps start at 7 p.m. and racing begins at 7:30. General admission is $20, youth ages 11-16 are $10 and kids ages 10 and under get in free. Pit passes are $35 each. Econo Mods will join the program along with the Limited Mods.
The finale takes place on Saturday.
If you can’t be there in person, every lap every race every division every day will be broadcast live at www.RacinDirt.com/Live.
The Southern Oklahoma Speedway is located 0.7 mile east of I-35 (exit 29) on US 70, then 1.8 miles south on US 77. For more information, call 405-627-1766 or click www.southernoklahomaspeedway.com to visit the track’s official website.
To learn more about the United States Modified Touring Series, visit www.usmts.com online or call 515-832-7944. You can also like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usmts, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usmts and Instagram at www.instagram.com/usmts or subscribe to our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/usmtstv. Keep up to speed with everything USMTS by joining our email list at www.usmts.com/subscribe.
-United States Modified Touring Series Press Release. Photo credit: Debbie Hix