Portsmouth Raceway Park opened its 2017 season on Saturday with an exciting evening that featured plenty of cars, high speeds, and daring moves on the three-eighths mile dirt oval.
However, when the dust settled, R.J. Conley, Nathan Loney, Billy Staker, and Dan Aldridge picked up opening night victories on an evening in which over 100 race teams filled the pit area.
In time trials, Late Model speeds were wicked fast. Nine drivers cracked the 15-second mark during The Impact Race Gear Time Trials. R.J. Conley’s quick time of 14.363 averaged out to a speed of just under 110 miles per hour for the lap.
And while there was some unbelievable action from second place on back in the Giovanni’s Pizza Late Model Feature, Conley continued to set the standard throughout the remainder of the evening. He was, by far, the class of the field setting fast time, winning his heat, and dominating the feature. R.J.’s brother, Rod, placed second, Vanceburg, Ky.’s Kenny Christy came home third, and Stephen Breeding and Kenny Howell rounded out the top five. Terry Hicks, Dennis Little, Larry Martin, Jr., Tony Ruby, and Robbie Lewis made up the rest of the top 10.
In Modified time trials, times also proved to be quick. However, no one was faster than Danville’s Nathan Loney. He posted the best time during The Dynamic Shock Service Time Trials.
While things went Loney’s way during time trials, he placed second to Jeremy Rayburn in his heat. Come feature time, however, Loney would have another crack at Rayburn.
During the race, Loney battled Jeremy Rayburn in the closing laps of the R.W. Rental and Supply Modified A-Main with the two exchanging the lead back and forth.
While Rayburn jumped out to the early lead and led the first 16 laps, Loney dove to the inside entering turn three and took the lead by a nose on lap 17.
Going into turn one, Loney would slide high enabling Rayburn to dive low for a crossover. Rayburn would re-take the lead on lap 18, but Loney would battle back to lead the final two circuits and take the victory.
Behind those two was a great battle for third with Tony DeHart making a last-lap, final-turn pass to nip Justin Cooper at the stripe by a bumper. Craig Christian drove from 18th to fifth to be named The Markwest Ranger Pipeline Hard Charger. Kevin Hall, Shawn Holliday, Brianna Robinson, Jeremy Akers, and Anthony Slusher made up the rest of the top 10.
Billy Staker went door to door with Mike Meyers in the waning laps to take the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Late Model A-Main.
And despite his car sending up a huge puff of smoke on the white-flag lap, Dan Aldridge held on to take the checkers in the M&M Inflatables Sport Mod Division.
The track was very racy with multiple racing grooves and a litany of side-by-side action. The PRP crowd witnessed a lot of passing which was very evident in the Late Model A-Main. Both Isom, KY’s Stephen Breeding and Inez, KY’s Kenny Howell advanced 15 positions with Breeding climbing from 19th to fourth and Howell advancing from 20th to fifth.
Wheelersburg’s Josh Bocook and Kite, KY’s Brandon Fouts both made some bold moves on the high side with each spending time in the top five before having to retire early. Bocook suffered mechanical issues, and Fouts tagged the fence.
In the Limited Lates, Billy Staker and Mike Meyers went to war over the final few laps racing side-by-side and wheel-to-wheel. Staker fended off Meyers’ challenge to take the victory with Jacob Curnutte, Cameron Logan, John Melvin, Joe Whitt, Randy Ross, Chris Lockhart, Ronnie Whitt, and Kevin Terry completing the top 10.
The Sport Mod Division presented some A-Main drama as well. Dan Aldridge led every lap but with the white flag waving, his car started smoking heavily. Luckily for Aldridge, it was revealed later that it was just his power steering hose.
The Pedro driver claimed the checkers in a 15-year-old car that he said he built every single piece of in the winner’s circle. Brian Sammons, Robert Lunsford, Derrick Spencer, Danny Hamilton, Mitchell Fields, Rick Neese, Billy Baldridge, Cody Gifford, and Jason Spillman rounded out the top 10.
In total this past Saturday, PRP welcomed 22 Late Models, 29 Modifieds, 17 Limited Lates, and 35 Sport Mods.
All four of those divisions will be on hand at Portsmouth Raceway Park this coming Saturday, June 10. Also on the card will be wingless sprint cars, as The Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series returns to PRP.
Another huge part of this coming weekend’s card will be the Annual Cletus Classic paying the Modified Feature winner $1,231.
Gates will open at 4 p.m. with racing taking place at approximately 7:30 p.m. For more details, log on to www.portsraceway.com.