Portsmouth Raceway Park entertained its largest car count of the season Saturday night as 93 race teams filled the pits for a wild night of racing that witnessed several hard-fought battles.
Feature winners Saturday were Rod Conley in the Late Models, Devin Gilpin in the Modifieds, Robbie Lewis in the Limited Lates, and Jeremie Bretz in the Bombers. The Late Model Division had 22 entries and early on in the evening, it appeared as if Wheelersburg’s Nick Bocook was going to be the class of the field.
Bocook set fast time and came from sixth to the win the Late Model dash, giving him the pole position for the A-Main. However, Bocook had problems early in the feature and had to pull into the pits after two laps.
With his departure, fellow Wheelersburg driver Conley inherited the point and his lead would never be seriously threatened. Conley led the race’s final 23 laps as he returned to PRP’s victory lane for the first time in several years.
Dillan White, Mark Frazier, Terry Hicks and Billy Gullion rounded out the top five. Lee Logan was the race’s hard charger, advancing seven positions from 13th to sixth.
At one point in the second heat of Modifeds, drivers went five-wide in turn two while jockeying for position. With the feature came more great racing, but it was mostly from second place on back.
Gilpin began the Modified A-Main on the pole and led every single lap. For the 21-year-old from Columbus (IN) it was his third win of the season at PRP and his 17th overall. He is the current UMP National Points leader.
While he did lead all 20 laps Saturday night, Gilpin was challenged heavily midway through the race when defending PRP track champion Doug Adkins pulled up alongside him. Nevertheless, Gilpin managed to hold off the competition and Adkins had car problems forcing him to retire on lap 13.
Finishing just behind Gilpin was Bo Cox. Placing third was dual threat Jeremie Bretz, who drives both a Modified and Bomber.
Greg Anderson crossed the line in fourth and Jimmy Adams moved up 10 positions to round out the top five.
The Limited Late Model division had a lot of nice story lines as Ironton’s Greg Thompson was racing with a heavy heart after the passing of his mother two days earlier. But with her memory swirling in his mind, Thompson managed to come from dead last to win his heat and placed third in the feature.
In another sidebar story, former track champion and Catlettsburg (KY) native Mike Steele returned to the track after a lengthy layoff spanning several years to post a top-five finish.
However, nothing was more dramatic than the conclusion of the Limited Late Model A-Main, which was undoubtedly the craziest finish of the season to date. The driver that actually crossed the finish line first didn’t win the race.
Lewis was credited with the victory after the Tollesboro (KY) driver and a fellow competitor crashed while crossing the stripe. Even though Lewis slid sideways past the flagstand in second place, he was awarded the win after the driver who was battling him for the lead was charged with rough driving.
For Lewis, it was his fourth PRP victory of the season in as many races. Lewis has been so dominant that he has won every heat and feature this season.
The rest of the top five in the Limited Late Model A-Main were Evyian Terry, Greg Thompson, Cameron Logan and Mike Steele.
The Bomber A-Main didn’t have quite the thrilling conclusion the Limited Late Model feature had, but the race for the lead turned out to be a battle.
Bretz started on the pole and led every single lap. Jason Spillman charged from sixth to second and made Bretz work hard to hold on.
Spillman tried lap after lap to get underneath Bretz but never could do it. The two even made slight contact on a couple of occasions over the last three laps, but in the end, Bretz remained perfect in PRP Bomber A-Main so far this season.
The former track champion has won all four events.
Behind Bretz and Spillman were Conard Newman, Shane Pendleton and Craig Naylor to make up the remainder of the Bomber feature’s top five.
PRP’s next race is scheduled for this Saturday. It will be Kids Night presented by The Roger W. Davis Funeral Home. All children 12 and under will be provided with a free general admission. Gates open at 4 p.m. and racing begins at 7:30.