Meet The 2023 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Roster
Meet The 2023 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Roster
A breakdown of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series driver roster heading into 2023 season.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series enters a brave new world when it kicks off the 2023 season Thursday at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Georgia. A new year will bring both new and familiar faces to the series this season.
Let's take a look at the list of drivers we can expect to see at Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events throughout the 2023 season.
Hometown: Las Cruces, N.M.
Team: Roberts Motorsports
Series history: Second year on tour (seventh in points in 2022; Rookie of the Year)
Best case: The native Southwesterner now living in Dubuque, Iowa, breaks into the Lucas Oil Series win column for the first time and more than doubles his rookie-season top-five finish total of five. He flirts with a top-five placing in the points standings as well as he ends up as the highest-finishing driver from the circuit’s 2022 rookie class.
Worst case: With sophomore struggles and his lone-wolf status on the series — he’s the only regular campaigning a Black Diamond Chassis — holding back his progress, his first Lucas Oil Series victory proves elusive and he slips to the back end of the top 10 in the final standings.
Notable: Alberson is the lone full-time Lucas Oil Series racer who preceded his competition on the tour by traveling it as a crew chief; he spent the 2018-19 seasons as the head wrench for the Black Diamond house car team and driver Earl Pearson Jr.
Hometown: Brandon, Fla.
Team: Kyle Bronson Motorsports
Series history: Fifth year on tour (did not run series in 2022; best points finish of sixth in ’21; five career victories)
Best case: Rebounding from a forgettable 2022 season that saw him drop off the Lucas Oil Series and win just a single feature (a Castrol FloRacing Night in America event in November), Bronson captures multiple tour victories and finishes just outside the top five in the points standings.
Worst case: Unable to shake the maladies that plagued him last year, Bronson decides to forego national touring and run a pick-and-choose schedule that allows him more time to spend overseeing operations of his Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga. Or, alternatively, he struggles in Lucas Oil Series action during Speedweeks and ends the month much better positioned in the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series points, prompting him to switch circuit allegiances.
Notable: Bronson won two Lucas Oil Series feature in 2019 — his second as a tour regular — but just one in each of the ensuing two campaigns. His single triumph in ’21 was a milestone though: the Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., a $53,000 score that marked his first-ever checkered flag in a crown jewel event.
Hometown: Blairsville, Ga.
Team: Double L Motorsports
Series history: Eighth year on tour (did not run series in 2022; champion in 2015, ’18, ’19; 65 career victories)
Best case: Davenport’s return to the Lucas Oil Series after a year’s absence — a 2022 campaign in which he ran an independent schedule and set a Dirt Late Model single-season earnings record by topping the $2 million mark — goes exactly as planned. He hits double-figures in victories (with multiple crown jewel wins included), easily locks himself into the Final Four and caps the season with a $300,000 night in Oct. 21’s season at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, by clinching his fourth series title (worth a record $200,000) with his first-ever Dirt Track World Championship triumph (worth $100,000).
Worst case: Some struggles take longer than usual to overcome with two-thirds of his crew new in 2023, keeping his victory total below 10 and causing him to just sneak into one of the four Big River Steel Chase for the Championship spots. He then has a rare off-night at Eldora in the DTWC and falls short of winning another series championship.
Notable: Since finishing seventh in the points standings during his rookie Lucas Oil Series season in 2012, Davenport hasn’t placed worse than third in his six other full-year runs on the tour. Alongside his three titles he has a runner-up finish (2016) and back-to-back third-place seasons (2020-21).
VIDEO: Jonathan Davenport discusses his decision to return to the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Hometown: New Waverly, Texas
Team: Best Performance Motorsports
Series history: Fifth year on tour (sixth in points in 2022; best finish of fourth in ’19; 18 career victories)
Best case: Getting a firm handle on the droop rule that considered detrimental to his performance and racing in general in 2022, Erb regains his series win rates of 2019 (six) and ’21 (seven) and combines that contender’s strength with more consistency to lock himself into the Final Four, giving him a puncher’s shot at the championship with a strong DTWC outing.
Worst case: Erb’s struggles during January’s Wild West Shootout in Vado, N.M., aren’t an aberration and he continues to flail through Speedweeks and beyond, knocking him from contention for a spot in the Big River Steel Big Four and leaving him with a career-worst points finish (he’s never placed lower than sixth).
Notable: Entering the 2023 season, the only expected Lucas Oil travelers who are riding longer streaks as tour regulars than Erb’s current four years are Earl Pearson Jr. (18) and Tim McCreadie (seven). He’s also the highest-ranked ’23 regular on the tour’s all-time win list (10th) who hasn’t been a series champion.
Hometown: Hawkinsville, Ga.
Team: JCM Motorsports
Series history: Rookie
Best case: Running the second full season of Super Late Model competition in his decade-plus full-fender career, Herrington turns heads during Speedweeks with a handful of top-10 runs, providing his team the incentive to continue following the tour in pursuit of Rookie of the Year honors. He experiences plenty of hard knocks on the road but perseveres through the entire schedule, registering several top-five finishes en route to earning the top-rookie trophy and a 12th-place finish in the points standings.
Worst case: Herrington flounders through a rough Speedweeks, prompting his team to bypass a 2023 series assault in favor of giving him another year of Super Late Model seasoning in regional events and on Ray Cook’s Schaeffer’s Oil-sponsors tours.
Notable: Herrington owns five career Lucas Oil Series feature starts, all coming in 2021 at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla. His best finish was 14th.
Hometown: Meridian, Miss.
Team: PCC Motorsports
Series history: Second year on tour (ninth in points in 2022)
Best case: A difficult year spent learning the national touring series ropes leads to significant improvement for Lucas Oil's only Mississippi driver, who becomes a winner on the circuit for the first time and contends for a top-five finish in the points standings.
Worst case: Hughes doesn’t take a step forward with his Craig Sims-owned effort as a Lucas Oil victory continues to elude him and he doesn’t surpass his rookie season points finish of ninth.
Notable: His two full-time crew members are the youngest duo of any full-time series driver: Aubrey “Wormy” Vaughn, 21, and Caleb Todd, 22, both from Meridian.
Hometown: Watertown, N.Y.
Team: Paylor Motorsports
Series history: Eighth year on tour (champion in 2021 and ’22; 34 career victories)
Best case: McCreadie wins a third straight Lucas Oil Series championship with the most prolific season of his career, breaking double figures in tour victories for the first time and certifying his dominance by topping his three title rivals in Eldora’s DTWC for the $200,000 crown.
Worst case: McCreadie hovers around his Lucas Oil Series win average of the last three years (6.33 victories), leads the points standings for much of the season and makes the Final Four but falls short of the championship with a bad-luck run in the DTWC at Eldora.
Notable: Last season McCreadie became the fifth driver in Lucas Oil Series to win back-to-back championships, joining Earl Pearson Jr., Scott Bloomquist, Jimmy Owens and Jonathan Davenport. The only drivers to capture three straight are Pearson (four) and Owens (three).
VIDEO: Tim McCreadie shares his opinions on the new Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship format.
Hometown: Dresden, Ohio
Team: Double Down Motorsports
Series history: Third year on tour (did not run series in 2022; best finish of sixth in ’19; six career victories)
Best case: Back chasing the Lucas Oil Series for the first time since 2020 after moving to the Roger Sellers-owned Double Down Motorsports team, Moran is a season-long contender, winning a half-dozen races to help lock him into the Final Four. He puts together his best performance ever in the DTWC and celebrates winning the tour championship at the famed Eldora oval where his father Donnie enjoyed so much success during his Hall of Fame racing career.
Worst case: After two seasons maintaining a pick-and-choose schedule, Moran falters when he races at series tracks where he’s not entirely comfortable and fails to sit inside the top four in the points standings after the next-to-last event, preventing him from competing for the championship at Eldora.
Notable: Four of Moran’s six career Lucas Oil victories came in 2022; in addition, his only tour triumphs outside Georgia-Florida Speedweeks are at his family’s Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio (2013) and West Virginia Motor Speedway in Mineral Wells (last year).
Hometown: Martinsville, Ind.
Team: Rocket1 Racing
Series history: Fifth year on tour (fourth in points in 2022; best finish of second in ’21; 17 career wins)
Best case: O’Neal carries on the sterling tradition of the Rocket Chassis house car team, elevating his stature by becoming the third driver to win a national touring series champion for car owner Mark Richards. He pushes double figures with his victory total on his way to snatching a Final Four spot, then excels in the DTWC to present Richards a first-ever Lucas Oil Series title at a track that’s long been a thorn in Richards’s side. O’Neal joins his father, Don, as a Lucas Oil champion while also becoming the youngest title winner in tour history.
Worst case: Growing pains and the pressure that comes with driving for one of the sport’s most high-profile teams hamper the young star, who wins multiple races but just misses a spot in the Final Four.
Notable: O’Neal has already done four complete tours of duty with the Lucas Oil Series since his Rookie of the Year season in 2017. He’s run more than half of two other campaigns — his ’18 season was cut short in August by shoulder surgery and in ’20 he dropped off in July when he split with the MasterSbilt house car team.
Earl Pearson Jr.
Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
Team: Papich Racing
Series history: 19th year on tour (fifth in 2022 points; champion in 2005, ’06, ’07, ’08; 40 career victories)
Best case: Drawing upon his vast experience and improving his performance in his second full season driving for California’s Jason Papich, Pearson flashes textbook consistency en route to securing a spot in the Final Four with a modest win total. He tops his season in the DTWC by authoring his best Eldora run in nearly a decade to emerge as a feel-good champion, ending a 15-year title drought and becoming the second-oldest champ in series history.
Worst case: Pearson grabs just a single victory for the second straight year and doesn’t match his 2022 top-five finish total (15), dropping him to the back half of the top 10 in the final points standings.
Notable: Pearson’s 40 career Lucas Oil Series is fifth on the tour’s all-time win list and the second highest total among expected 2023 regulars, trailing only Jonathan Davenport’s 65 triumphs. He hasn’t won more than one feature in a season, however, since his five-victory 2018.
Hometown: Georgetown, Del.
Team: Dutchstar Motorsports
Series history: Second year on tour (10th in points in 2022)
Best case: The First State racer wins his coveted first-ever Lucas Oil Series feature in the best manner possible: in front of his family and friends at his hometown’s Georgetown Speedway, which hosts the tour for the first time on April 28 in a race paying $18,049-to-win. He carries the momentum to a top-10 finish in the points standings.
Worst case: Robinson struggles to step up his game on the national tour, dropping him outside the top 10 in the standings and leading him to contemplate dropping off the tour at midseason.
Notable: Robinson’s crew chief is his wife, Amanda, an accomplished Dirt Late Model racer herself who now makes sporadic starts but holds the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series record for the best finish by a female.
Hometown: Eatonton, Ga.
Team: Garrett Smith Performance
Series history: Rookie (one career victory)
Best case: Stepping up to a national tour after bursting into the division’s with a $100,000 DTWC championship in October at Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park, Smith shows flashes of brilliance — including another series victory — in between periods of expected struggle on his way to winning Rookie of the Year honors and finishing among the top 10 in the points standings.
Worst case: Hamstrung by a lack of help — his family-owned team’s only current full-time mechanic is crew chief Cody Mallory — and a slow start to the season, Smith decides to postpone an all-out Lucas Oil assault until 2024.
Notable: Smith’s DTWC victory made him the fifth driver to win a Lucas Oil Series feature while still a teenager, joining Tyler Reddick, Devin Moran, Bobby Pierce and Hudson O’Neal.
Ricky Thornton Jr.
Hometown: Chandler, Ariz.
Team: SSI Motorsports
Series history: Third year on tour (career-best third in points in 2022; Rookie of the Year in ’21; four career victories)
Best case: Continuing his penchant for consistency but converting more outings into victories, Thornton busts out with a half-dozen wins and claims a spot in the Final Four. He falls just short of the championship, however, as he can’t overcome his rivals for the title in the DTWC at Eldora, where the only top-five crown jewel finish of his career was a fifth in last year’s World 100.
Worst case: Still only in his third full season of Dirt Late Model competition, Thornton can’t quite get over the top to become a regular winner and is the first driver out of the Final Four.
Notable: Two of Thornton’s four career Lucas Oil victories have come in century grinds: the 2020 Pittsburgh 100 and 2021 DTWC.
Hometown: Fayetteville, N.C.
Team: Rattliff Racing
Series history: Second year on tour (eighth in points in 2022)
Best case: Demonstrating his continuing maturation behind the wheel, Wilson tallies his first-ever Lucas Oil Series win while doubling his 2022 top-five finishes total (six) en route to improving his rookie-season points finish by a spot or two.
Worst case: Wilson falls into a sophomore slump that leaves him still looking for a career-first series win and a slip backward in his points finish come the end of the season
Notable: Wilson’s Rattliff Racing operation already possesses two Lucas Oil Series victories, with team owner James’s son Justin Rattliff triumphant on the tour on May 19, 2007, at La Salle (Ill.) Speedway and Jason Jameson capturing an event on June 30, 2018, at Portsmouth Raceway Park.
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