PORTSMOUTH, Ohio – Brian Shirley and Jonathan Davenport will make up the front row for the 38th annual Rhino Ag Dirt Track World Championship presented by Optima Batteries at Portsmouth Raceway Park.
Friday night’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event saw two rounds of passing point heats. Shirley and Davenport, who officially clinched the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship, earned the two highest point totals to earn the top two starting spots for Saturday night’s $100,000-to-win main event.
The first heat on Friday night saw 2011 DTWC winner Don O’Neal charge from third starting position to win the race. O’Neal took the lead from Jason Jameson and then pulled away for the win.
Jared Hawkins, who finished fifth in last year’s DTWC, crossed in second, followed by Boom Briggs and Jameson.
The second heat in round one saw another third-place starter charge to the front and the win.
Ricky Thornton Jr., subbing for Hudson O’Neal, took the lead from Delmas Conley and then stormed away for the victory. Gregg Satterlee came from fifth to finish in second-place, with seventh-place starter Bobby Pierce coming home in third.
Chris Ferguson was fourth at the finish.
The third heat in the first round went to Shirley, as he bolted to the lead from his outside front row starting spot. Shirley then pulled away for the win. Dennis Erb Jr. finished in second, with Darrell Lanigan and Chase Junghans completing the top four.
In heat number four, Dale McDowell became the first polesitter to win a heat. He took the lead at the start of the race and led the entire distance.
Zack Dohm, who started alongside McDowell in row number one, finished in second ahead 2018 Portsmouth Raceway Park Late Model track champion Eddie Carrier Jr.
Josh Richards, the defending DTWC winner, came through the field to finish fourth after starting 10th.
The final heat race of round one belonged to Mike Marlar, who grabbed the lead at the start of the race and went unchallenged for the win.
Davenport came from fifth to take second behind Marlar at the finish. Doug Drown was third and World 100 winner Tim McCreadie took fourth.
The second round of heat races began with Richards and two-time DTWC victor Brandon Sheppard on the front row. The two had a spirited battle for the lead in the early going until Sheppard pulled away.
Richards finished in second with Robbie Scott edging out Boom Briggs at the finish line to claim third. Briggs was fourth.
The second heat race of round two was taken by three-time DTWC winner Scott Bloomquist, who pulled away from Devin Moran to get the victory. Moran placed second, followed by McCreadie and Jared Hawkins.
In heat number three of round two, reigning Hillbilly Hundred winner Brandon Overton held off Jason Covert for the win. Covert crossed the line in second with Carrier and Gregg Satterlee trailing.
The fourth heat saw Boone Coleman Memorial Gator 50 winner Brandon Fouts pull the upset and defeat Davenport. Trailing Fouts and Davenport at the line were Dennis Erb Jr. and Kyle Bronson.
Erb passed Bronson at the flagstand to get third on the final lap.
The fifth and final heat of the night saw another home-track racer in Shannon Thornsberry pick up the win over 2007 DTWC winner Chub Frank.
Brian Shirley and Ricky Thornton Jr. completed the top four.