WEST PORTSMOUTH — History was made at Portsmouth Raceway Park over last weekend, as 19-year-old Garrett Smith from Eatonton, Ga. became the youngest driver to ever win The General Tire Dirt Track World Championship, presented by Optima Batteries.
While Smith etched his name into the history books in the Late Model Division, Nathon Loney scored the victory in the Modifieds.
Matt Melvin prevailed in the Steel Blocks, and Tyler Scott took the checkers in the Legends Cars.
For the 10th straight year, PRP was the host site of Carl Short’s DTWC.
There were 215 race teams on hand for the 42nd annual running of the event.
Filling the pits were 68 Late Models, 78 Modifieds, 50 Steel Blocks, and 19 Legends Cars.
Smith’s effort was on point from the onset.
He set quick time, won his heat, and led every lap of the 100-lap and $100,000-to-win Late Model A-Main.
Smith held off Lucas Oil Series Champion and Watertown, N.Y. native Tim McCreadie to take the checkers.
McCreadie got up to the rear bumper of Smith’s machine a couple of times in the final 10 laps, but Smith was perfect on a couple of late-race restarts — helping him to distance himself from the pack.
Tennessean Mike Marlar placed third, Indiana’s Hudson O’Neal drove from 16th to fourth, Florida’s Earl Pearson Jr. placed fifth, Georgia’s Jonathan Davenport charged up through the field from 20th to sixth, and Tennessee’s Jimmy Owens came from 21st to seventh.
Last year’s winner, Ricky Thornton Jr. from Iowa, finished eighth — and Daulton Wilson moved up 10 spots to ninth.
Four-time DTWC Winner Brandon Sheppard from Illinois rounded out the top 10.
The feature event was slowed by eight cautions and took just a little over 54 minutes to run.
Davenport and Owens made the most significant advancements, as each moved up 14 positions.
Tyler Erb started 23rd and worked his way up to as high as seventh, before a flat tire sent him back towards the rear.
He still wound up finishing 13th.
The 25-car field was made up of drivers representing 15 different states — Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, Delaware and Kentucky.
No Ohio drivers qualified for the field, but a Buckeye did win The Jim Dunn Memorial Non-Qualifiers Race in his home state — as four-time PRP Track Champion R.J. Conley from Wheelersburg led all 30 laps of the event.
The Barbour Auto Parts by NAPA Modified A-Main was won by Danville’s Nathon Loney.
He started on the pole and held off Pedro’s Brian Skaggs to take the win.
Hi Hat’s (Ky.) Brandon Hutchinson, Jackson’s Seth Daniels, and Beaver’s (Ky.) Ervin Vance rounded out the top-5 —as Vance moved up nine positions.
The 2022 PRP Track Champ and Lucasville native Anthony Slusher climbed seven spots to finish sixth, as Clay City’s (Ky.) Aaron Branham placed seventh — and Maysville’s Jimmy Lennex moved up 12 positions to finish eighth.
Seventeen-year-old Miles Cook Jr,, who is a junior at Wheelersburg High School, finished ninth — and was the fastest qualifier of the 78 Modifieds in attendance.
Gallipolis’ Travis Dickson charged up 14 spots to finish 10th.
Thursday’s Modified Heats and B-Mains saw some incredible action
Branham came from dead last to win his heat, and two-time PRP Track Champ Jeremy Rayburn came from the very back to win a B-Main.
Rayburn, like several other drivers, got caught up in a first-lap accident in the A-Main.
That issue also ended the feature for C.J. Kinneer, Jonathan Taylor, Kenny Johnson and Brayden Berry.
The Steel Block Late Model Series — presented by Impact Race Gear — was again part of the DTWC card in 2022, marking the fourth time the series has made an appearance at The Dirt Track World Championship.
Coal Grove native and 2018 PRP Track Champion Matt Melvin led the Premier Pre-Cast Products/Pickett Concrete Steel Block A-Main from flag to flag.
Alabama’s Brandon Brown was the runner-up, while West Virginia’s Zach Milbee finished third.
Fairmont’s (W. Va.) Jared Hawkins won one of the two B-Mains to even qualify for the feature.
He started 16th and drove up to fourth, while West Virginian Tyler Carpenter placed fifth.
Corey DeLancey marched up 16 spots from 22nd to sixth.
Rounding out the top-10 were Shawn Shoemaker, Robbie Lewis, B.J. Gregory and Mike Meyers.
Manchester’s Tyler Scott grabbed the win in Friday’s Ohio Valley Roofers Legends Car Series Feature.
Batavia’s Ronnie Niehaus placed second, securing his very first OVR Legends Car Series Championship.
Rounding out the top-10 in Friday’s A-Main were Blake Niehaus, Steve Partin, Jesse Sines, John Gutman, Quade Schoonover, Scotty Chaney, Levi Morris and Zach Schuler.
Third-place finisher Blake Niehaus climbed up through the field further than anyone, as he moved up 13 places.