A hundred drivers, dominant Late Model and Modified wins, an incredible Limited Late Model finish, and a veteran driver getting upside down – were all just a few of the highlights from Portsmouth Raceway Park’s season-opening race Sunday evening.
PRP kicked off its 2021 campaign with Salute The Troops Night presented by Vallery Ford in Waverly. Veterans, active military, and first responders were provided free general admission for the Memorial Day Weekend event that saw Brandon Fouts, Brian Skaggs, Billy Staker, and Zack Pendleton all claim feature wins in their respective divisions.
Kite, KY’s Brandon Fouts was dominate in The Giovanni’s Pizza Late Models setting fast time, winning his heat, and leading every lap of the feature. The two-time Boone Coleman Memorial “Gator 50” winner held off 2019 track champion Shannon Thornsberry to the stripe. Mike Hildebrand, Nick Bocook, and Kirk Phillips rounded out the top 5, while Kenny Christy, Walker Arthur, Kevin Wagner, Kevin Mullett, and Joe Brewer made up the rest of the top 10.
The Late Model A-Main was red-flagged early on after two-time PRP track champion Audie Swartz from Minford got on his roof entering turn one. He walked away unharmed.
Two potential contenders had issues while riding in the top 5 of the A-Main. At the same time of Swartz’s incident, Clint Keenan experienced damage to his right rear which sent him pit side. Keenan won the second heat and started on the outside pole of the feature. He was the night’s second-fastest qualifier.
Four-time track champion R.J. Conley had a great battle for second with Thornsberry which raged for several laps before Conley clipped an infield tractor tire shearing his left front fender and cutting a tire on lap 12.
There were 40 Modifieds on hand for the annual running of the Cletus Classic which paid $1,231 to win. Pedro’s Brian Skaggs took the win and led every lap en route to the checkers.
The second half of the 20-lap feature got very interesting after Skaggs caught the tail end of the lead lap and got bottled up in traffic. The heavy congestion in front of Skaggs enabled Seth Daniels to catch up and the top two ran nose to tail for several laps prior to a late caution.
That last yellow provided Skaggs with the clean track he needed to get to winner’s circle. Daniels placed second. Adam Stricker was third. Two-time track champ Jeremy Rayburn finished fourth. Louisa, KY’s Chris Wilson drove from 10th up to fifth. Austin
Francis, Aaron Branham, Michael Paul Howard, Briana Robinson, and Brandon Hutchinson rounded out the top 10.
Ervin Vance was the fast qualifier in the Dynamic Shock Service Modified Time Trials. He earned $112 and a $50 gift card from Dynamic Shock Service for his effort. Vance would win the first heat and was set to start the Mod Feature from the pole. However, he swapped cars and had to start on the tail. Vance would climb from 20th to 12th.
The craziest finish of the evening was in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Late Model A-Main. Lap traffic was a big reason as to why. At one point in the race, Billy Staker made it four-wide on the front stretch passing three slower cars.
Staker built a sizeable lead over Mike Meyers but as Staker had to contend with lapped traffic, Meyers narrowed the gap and would eventually overtake Staker for the lead with just two laps to go. Staker would then battle back and retake the lead from Meyers off of turn 4 on the final lap.
Dustin Sprouse, Shane Bailey, Collin Holmes, Kent Keyser, Garet McCloud, Jason Salmons, Evyian Terry, and Corey Lewis rounded out the top 10.
Stout, OH drivers Zack Pendleton and Cody Gifford put on two great shows in the Sport Mod Division… in their heat and again in the A-Main. Gifford got the better of Pendleton in the heat, but it was Pendleton prevailing in the feature.
Gifford led the first seven laps of the A-Main before Pendleton pounced on lap 8 to take a lead he would not relinquish. The two raced hard throughout the night, especially in the heat, but never touched keeping it clean.
Jamey Adams placed third. Danny Hamilton Jr, Branden Colley, Friday Adkins, Alisha Hammond, Dillon Hamilton, Jaylynn Montgomery, and Elliot Eschmann rounded out the top 10.
Adkins climbed 15 spots in his PRP debut to come from 21st to 6th rebounding from an early-race spin. Thirteen-year-old Jaylynn Montgomery, who is the daughter of longtime racer Jason Montgomery, also posted a top 10 in her PRP debut.
Portsmouth Raceway Park will return to action Saturday for Weaver’s Gas & Oil Night featuring Late Models, Modifieds, Limited Lates, and Sport Mods.