Friday marked the first of two nights of racing over Labor Day weekend at Portsmouth Raceway Park. The Coleman-family owned track hosted PBM Performance Parts and Erson Cams Night which featured a 40-lap Late Model A-Main that paid $7,000 to win. Late Model race teams were on hand.
Even though the race was unsanctioned, there were a lot of Lucas Oil Series regulars in attendance, but many locals held their own. In total 37 Late Model race teams were on the scene.
The final 10 laps of Friday night’s Late Model feature were filled with as much drama as most seasons. Three different drivers led in the final 10 laps before Muscatine, Iowa’s Brian Birkhofer captured the lead with eight to go and held on to take the checkers.
The first 30 laps of the 40-lap event were dominated by Grayson, Kentucky’s Jackie Boggs. The former PRP track champ appeared to have the car to beat. With 10 circuits remaining, he enjoyed a half-straightaway lead over second-place Steve Casebolt.
With everything seemingly going his way, Boggs’ right rear wheel broke and flew off his car which handed the lead over to Casebolt with 10 to go.
Casebolt looked fast and was making the top groove work to perfection just as he had 13 days earlier when he had won the 18th annual Fred Dillow Memorial at PRP. When the green flag came out to get the race restarted, Casebolt got a nice jump but two laps later, the Indiana native’s car began to smoke. Casebolt parked his car in turn four with eight laps to go and eventually retired to the pits.
His misfortune handed the lead over to Brian Birkhofer who charged to the lead after beginning the race in 10th.
Eddie Carrier, Jr. finished second. Jared Landers was the race’s hard charger as climbed from 17th to finish in third.
In addition to Late Models, Modifieds were also on PRP’s schedule Friday. Over 30 cars were in the pits to run The Geer Brothers Body Shop - sponsored Modified A-Main which paid $800 to win.
The race for the lead was tight throughout much of the feature as Devin Gilpin and Jason Montgomery went side by side for most of the race. Gilpin eventually managed to clear Montgomery and move out in front. The UMP National Points leader held on to take the win, which was his 30th of the season.
Finishing behind Gilpin were Montgomery, Doug Adkins, and Kevin Dulaney Jeremy Rayburn.
Also at Portsmouth Raceway Park Friday were Limited Late Models, which raced a 15-lap feature that paid $500 to win. Mike Meyers of Fayetteville wound up taking the checkered flag. For Meyers, Friday night marked his first-ever win at Portsmouth Raceway Park. Matt Melvin, Greg Thompson, Robbie Lewis, and Audie Swartz made up the rest of the top five.
Boggs puts past behind him, finds place in winners circle
The Lucas Oil Late Model Series invaded Portsmouth Raceway Park Saturday night racing the Pepsi 50, which paid $10,000 to win.
While series regulars came from near and far, local favorite Jackie Boggs proved to them all why so many fans insist that PRP boasts some of the toughest weekly competition in Late Model racing.
Boggs started on the pole of the Pepsi 50 and led every single lap to finally shake off the bad luck that has followed him throughout his career during the running of high-paying events.
Just the night before, Boggs undoubtedly had the fastest car on the track when he broke a wheel while leading with 10 laps to go. Several years back, he was leading a $10,000-to-win race when his engine shut down as he was coming off of turn four to take the checkered.
Boggs’ worst luck in Portsmouth came over Labor Day Weekend in 2009 when he had a horrible crash that flipped him upside down and awkwardly slammed his roof down onto the track. After that crash, Boggs had to be extracted from his vehicle with the Jaws of Life and then life-flighted to Huntington.
All those unfortunate twists of fate became just memories Saturday as Boggs’ finally got the preverbial “monkey off his back”.
He was perfect. He hit all his marks, was smooth, fantastic on restarts.
While nobody had anything for Boggs, the racing from second on back was great. There was a lot of two and three-wide action, and the track was racy from top to bottom.
Scott Bloomquist finished second. John Blankenship placed third. Jonathan Davenport and Jimmy Owens rounded out the top five. Earl Pearson, Jr., Eddie Carrier, Jr., Doug Drown, Jason Montgomery, and Tyler Reddick made up the remainder of the top 10.
Besides Boggs, several local drivers faired well. Seventh-place finishing Eddie Carrier, Jr. is from Salt Rock, West Virginia and he runs quite frequently at PRP. Ninth-place finishing Jason Montgomery is from Jackson, and he also often runs at PRP.
Other local racers who made Saturday’s show included Wheelersburg’s Rod Conley, R.J. Conley, Delmas Conley, and Nick Bocook; West Portsmouth’s Ben Adkins; and Martin, Kentucky’s Shannon Thornsberry. Defending track champ Chris Wilson of Louisa, Kentucky took a provisional starting spot and worked his way from 25th to 16th.
For the second straight night, Devin Gilpin of Columbus, Indiana found his way to victory lane in the Modifieds. He led every single circuit en route to winning his 31st race of the season. In six visits to PRP, he has five victories and a second-place finish.
Doug “The Buzzard” Adkins finished second. Jason Montgomery, Jeremy Rayburn, and Luke Jordan made up the rest of the top five.
PRP will take this coming weekend off before returning to action Sept. 15. For more info, visit www.portsraceway.com.