9th annual Cletus Classic held at PRP


WEST PORTSMOUTH — Pedro’s Brian Skaggs got past Kenny Johnson with two laps remaining en route to capturing the ninth annual Cletus Classic on Saturday night at Portsmouth Raceway Park in the Modified Division.

R.J. Conley dominated the Late Models, Jacob Curnutte picked up the win in the Limited Lates, and Jeromy Brady scored his first-ever feature win in the Sport Mods.

PRP’s second night of the 2023 season was highlighted by the ninth annual Cletus Classic — presented by Whitley, Gahm and Rayburn CPAs as well as Crabtree’s Carpet and Grooms Trucking.

This event paid The Gampp’s Power Equipment Modified Feature winner $1,231.

The night was clicking along smoothly until the heats concluded shortly after 9 p.m.

Not long after the final heat race left the track, the wind kicked up, the skies opened, the rain fell, and the lightning struck!

A heavy storm rolled through West Portsmouth and right over top of the track.

In total, the rain delay spanned three hours, but shortly after midnight — thanks to an incredible amount of diligence and dedication from the track crew along with the aid of drivers running in the racing surface — action resumed.

Three former two-time winners of The Cletus Classic were in attendance on Saturday — Ervin Vance, Jeremy Rayburn and Skaggs.

Vance posted quick time during The Modified Time Trials in honor of Rodney and Melissa Harmon.

He went on to win the first heat and sit on the pole for the 25-lap feature.

On the first lap, he got through the first two turns cleanly, but drifted high and got into the wall off of turn 4 before sliding to a stop.

Vance would continue from the tail, but would never be able to contend for the win.

His misfortunes turned the lead over to Washington’s (W. Va.) Johnson, who would lead the first 23 laps of the A-Main — holding off multiple challenges from Skaggs.

However, Johnson would eventually bobble in lap traffic, giving Skaggs the opportunity he needed to make the pass in turn 1.

Skaggs, the 2021 PRP Champion, would lead the final two laps — and would become the first driver to ever win the Cletus Classic three times.

Johnson would come home with a solid second-place finish.

Defending track champion Anthony Slusher posted his second-straight podium finish, placing third.

Derek Richmond finished fourth and Austin Linville was fifth.

Rounding out the top-10 were Adam Colley, Tommy McClain, Vance, Brian Akers and Byron Mays.

For the second time in as many weeks, Wheelersburg’s Conley was the class of the Giovanni’s Pizza Wholesale Late Models.

Conley was more dominant this past weekend than the week before.

He set quick time, led every lap of the first heat, and paced the field for all 25 laps of the feature.

Second-place finisher Robby Hensley from Walton (Ky.) got within striking distance on the final lap, as lap traffic had Conley blocked, but Conley was not to be denied.

Minford’s Audie Swartz had a good night finishing third.

Wheelersburg’s Kevin Wagner was fourth, while Josh Bocook placed fifth.

Making up the rest of the top 10 were Kirk Phillips, Nick Bocook, Justin Cooper, Charlie Jude and Austin Mullett.

Lavalette’s (W. Va.) Curnutte picked up the victory in The O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Lates.

For Curnutte, it was his third career win at PRP — as defending track champ Evyian Terry was the runner-up.

Rounding out the field were Jody Adkins, Mike Meyers, Tyler Smith, Xzavier McClaskey, Casey Rhodes, Kevin Terry and Joe Brewer.

The BluePrint Event Tent & Inflatables Rentals Sport Mod Feature was one of the most exciting races of the weekend, as the event witnessed three different leaders in the first 11 laps.

West Portsmouth’s Brady came from fourth to pick up the victory.

For Brady, it was his first career win in 21 years of trying.

Stevie D. Thornsberry finished second, and outside polesitter Adam Jordan — who led the first lap — would place third.

Joe McClain finished fourth, and Andrew Bender rounded out the top five.

Luke Jordan led nine of the first 10 laps, but had to pull off with five laps to go — and wound up finishing ninth.

For more details regarding PRP, please visit www.portsraceway.com.

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