The Lucas Oil Late Model Series is among the top dirt racing circuits in the nation and their drivers — and subsequently a $10,000 pay out — are coming back to Portsmouth Raceway Park on Sunday.
The Fourth of July event will be the fourth trip the Lucas Oil Late Model Series has made to PRP.
In Lucas Oil’s three previous trips there have been three different winners: Steve Francis of Ashland Ky., Josh McGuire of Grayson, Ky. and last year’s victor, Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn.
With the draw of a Lucas Oil event, a $10,000 prize for the 50-lap winner, $700 to start and racing on a Sunday, lots of big names should be in attendance, both of local drivers and series regulars.
Also, Lucas Oil will be at Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville on Saturday and will be returning to Portsmouth for a $20,000 to win event in early September so the big names are all but assured.
“Anybody who is anybody with that series is going to be here,” Portsmouth Raceway Park co-promoter Chuck Greenslate said.
Owens is second in the Lucas Oil points race as he and defending champion Scott Bloomquist lead the series with five wins apiece. They are followed by four-time series champion, Earl Pearson Jr., two-time series runner-up Don O’Neal and Ray Cook.
While there are no shortage of events to attend to celebrate American Independence, Greenslate says it’s the perfect holiday to spend at the track.
“The Fourth of July has always been a great time for racing,” Greenslate said. “To me it’s just like the peak of the summer. The kids are out of school, the weather is just getting hot, the pool is fun and you have the fireworks and the racing and a lot of times the fireworks on the track are much better than the fireworks you have in the sky.”
PRP has seen plenty of fireworks this season in the late model division and through four races there has not been a repeat winner.
RJ Conley of Wheelersburg sits atop the points standings in the late model division with fellow Wheelersburg drivers Nick and Josh Bocook right behind. Last week’s late model winner at PRP, Zach Dohm of Charleston W.Va., displayed a very fast car and told fans after the race that he had a better engine ready to roll for the big race.
Lucas Oil Late Model Series Director Ritchie Lewis said the promotion enjoys coming to the Portsmouth.
“It is just a beautiful part of the state of Ohio first,” Ritchie said. “There’s lots of great late model drivers from past and present in the Portsmouth area.”
Late models won’t be the only cars on display at PRP Sunday, with modifieds racing as well. The modifieds will be going 20 laps in their feature with $1,000 on the line, a bump up from the usual $600 to win for that division.
Doug Adkins remains the leader in the modified division at PRP with Adam Jordan in second place.
Limited late and bomber division drivers will have the night off from PRP.
“It should be a relatively speedy night and we’ll be able to get people out at a decent hour,” Greenslate said. “It should be the highlight to a great Fourth of July weekend.
“There shouldn’t be any competition and most businesses are observing the holiday on Monday, the fifth, so people should be able to come out and enjoy themselves at the races and get a good morning’s sleep on Monday,” Greenslate added.
Gates on Sunday open at 4 p.m., warm ups begin at 6:45 p.m. and racing starts at 8 p.m.
For more information on the Lucas Oil Late Model Series visit www.lucasdirt.com and for more information about Portsmouth Raceway Park including ticket information visit www.portsraceway.com.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org