Over the years, winged sprint car racing has always proven to be one of the more exciting spectacles in dirt track racing.
The Ohio Valley Sprint Car Association (OVSCA) made sure that said fact was not disputed on Saturday evening as the winged sprints made their return to Portsmouth for the first time since 2005.
Jonesboro, Ind. native Brandon Wimmer and the entire OVSCA field certainly put on a splendid show as the winged sprints routinely set times under 14 seconds en route to setting a strong standard for the rest of the night, with Wimmer rolling on to a resounding victory during the night’s main card. Ervin Vance (modified) and Evyian Terry (limited late model) each joined Wimmer in leading every lap of their respective features, while Luke Jordan recovered from a third-lap spin to take home the night’s final feature in the sport mod division.
Wimmer, who proved to have a fast hot rod throughout the evening’s festivities, was one of five OVSCA drivers to set a blistering pace from the get-go as the Hoosier native set a quick time of 13.604 to edge Hillard’s Jesse McCreary for the top qualifying spot by just over four one-hundredths of a second. Caldwell’s Jamie Myers, Circleville’s Nathan Skaggs, and Marietta’s Dave Dickson rounded out the top five qualifying times.
Wimmer was so fast that even field inversions, which took place in the heat races for the OVSCA sprints, couldn’t slow down the A67 hot rod as the pale white sprint car moved from sixth to first in the opening heat and never looked back en route to leading all eight laps of his heat.
“This is my first time here at PRP, and I really like this place,” Wimmer said. “I’ve been to a lot of different racetracks, and this one is pretty racey. You can move around from the top to the bottom and back to the middle, wherever you need to go. The guys had the car moving from the getgo, and it makes it easy when you’ve got a car that’s that easy to drive.”
While the Great Clips sponsored X4X of Vandalia’s Jimmy Stinson, along with Myers’ No. 1 machine, showed similar power in advancing from their fourth and sixth starting positions in heats two and three, respectively, no one had anything for Wimmer as the A67 led all 25 laps of the main feature. Skaggs made a valiant attempt to challenge Wimmer as the Buckeye made a brilliant charge up through the field from 17th — the next-to-last starting spot on the grid and one that required a transfer in from the B-Main — to second, but couldn’t come any closer as the Circleville native had to settle for the Hard Charger Award.
“I could see (Nathan Skaggs) coming on the board as the cautions kept coming up, so I knew that I had to move to the middle and hold that line there towards the end,” Wimmer said. “We got it done, and that’s all that matters.”
Troy’s Ron Blair, Myers — the series points leader coming into Saturday evening — and Waynesville’s Lance Webb rounded out the top five. Skaggs’ second place finish, however, will cut into the 18-point lead that Myers currently holds on Skaggs with just three races to go on the series schedule.
In the modified division, Vance continued to show off the very speed that the Beaver, Ky. native has brought to the race track in every feature that the Bluegrass State racer has competed in this season. Vance, the fastest qualifier of the night in the mods behind his 17.037 second lap time, led all eight laps of the opening modified heat and was never seriously challenged en route to leading all 20 laps in the modified feature en route to his third win in six modified feature events.
For Vance, the win was especially sweet considering the UMP Modified Rules that were put into place by PRP, which forced teams to use M30 tires on the left front, right front, and left rear of the car, and a mandatory M60 tire on the right rear.
“We struggled with the new tires,” Vance said. “We just had to change what we were doing. That took us a while, but these guys put in long hours in order to get the car back to where it was. It’s good to be back in victory lane.”
Melvin, Ky.’s Jody Puckett, along with Adam Jordan, Lucasville’s Jeremy Rayburn, and Franklin Furnace’s Tony DeHart rounded out the top five. Rayburn, who won the third modified heat and collected a fourth place finish in the main feature, will extend his 190-point lead over Ironton’s Eddie Harmon as Harmon finished sixth in the A-Main.
Limited Late Models
While the car count was somewhat low for the limited late model class, the quality of racing in the limited lates was arguably the best out of all four divisions on Saturday evening. That was proven early on in not only heat one, when Terry, a Catlettsburg, Ky. native, put his nose alongside Vanceburg, Ky.’s Randy Ross on the last lap in turn three, moved Ross up the track, and made the pass to collect the heat one victory, but in heat two, where Mike Meyers charged from sixth to first and held off a strong seven-car field to collect the win.
But after Terry battled it out with Meyers, Ross, Portsmouth’s Billy Staker, and Grayson’s Ronnie Whitt for several laps at the front, Terry ultimately found the winning elexor and held off a hard-charging Staker to break through in the $500 to win limited late model feature.
“It’s felt like a long time,” Terry said of the win. “I’ve been through motors and I’ve been through cars. I’ve got to thank Billy Staker. I had no tires, and he gave me a couple sets of tires that’s proven to be tremendous for us. All the stars lined up tonight.”
Behind Terry and Staker, Meyers, Ross, and Whitt rounded out the top five. All five of the drivers, who sit among the top eight in points, gained ground on points leader Cameron Logan, who finished in sixth position, and Staker’s second-place finish will likely mean that Staker will assume the point lead. The gap between first through eighth place was just 215 points before the start of Saturday evening’s feature.
In arguably the most entertaining racing of the evening, the sport modifieds put on an entertaining show for the fans at Portsmouth Raceway Park as the action left many wondering who would come out with the race victory.
After a relatively smooth first trio of heats that saw Cody Gifford, Luke Jordan, and Brian Sammons come out on top in each of the initial heats, the B-Main proved to be as wacky as they came as it took three attempts for the drivers to even get a clean start. Then, after several caution periods forced the early termination of the B-Main due to the last chance heat race exceeding its time limit, Brianna Robinson — the winner of the B-Main — was disqualified for running a left rear beadlock.
That, however, was only the beginning, because after those crazy set of events, Gifford — who started from the pole in the A-Main — got loose off of the second turn, where Jordan and Brian Sammons, Sr. crashed in the ensuing bottleneck.
The incident, however, proved to be of great benefit to Jordan. After Sammons, Sr. was forced to the back after not keeping his car running during the spin, Jordan — who kept his car in a consistent motion — was able to take the lead away from Gifford on the ensuing restart and rode on to his second win of 2017 while taking full control of the point lead in the process.
“I feel a lot better,” Jordan said after the win. “The tires were a little bit better. Everybody’s so even in this class, and that’s what I love about it. This is the future of dirt track racing right here, and it’s going to save it, I think. It’s so much fun. Everybody’s on the same level. I can’t say enough about the sport mod division.”
Sammons, Jr., Morehead, Ky.’s BJ Branham, Gifford, and Robert Lunsford rounded out the top five. Sammons, Sr. — who was tied with Jordan for the point lead entering the evening — rallied to finish eighth but will fall out of the tie for the top spot with Jordan.
Saturday, Aug. 5
Portsmouth Raceway Park is scheduled for racing next week as PRP will host the Mod Squad Spectacular for the modified division, which will pay $3,000 to win. Late models and sport modifieds will also be on the card next weekend.