2024 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at 34 Raceway

Ricky Thornton Jr., SSI Motorsports Part Ways

Ricky Thornton Jr., SSI Motorsports Part Ways

Ricky Thornton Jr. and SSI Motorsports have announced they've ended their successful four-year run.

Jul 8, 2024 by Kyle McFadden

Top-ranked Dirt Late Model driver Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., this evening revealed he’s looking for a new ride after splitting with SSI Motorsports, a pairing that’s won more than 60 races with over four seasons including last year's $1 million season with 34 victories.

“Todd (Burns) and I met today, and he expressed the he felt the last few months hadn’t been going in the direction that he envisioned for SSI Motorsports and has decided to hire another driver,” Thornton said in a news release.

The 33-year-old Thornton and the Morgantown, Ind.-based team accrued 63 total victories in their partnership that began May 2020 including 2021 Rookie of the Year title on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, multiple $50,000 paydays and a $100,000 XR Super Series victory. His 19 full-field Lucas Oil victories last season set a tour record.

Atop the points standings on both the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and Castrol FloRacing Night in America tour, Thornton is seeking a new team with a Monday event upcoming at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway and the Lucas Oil Series in action Tuesday at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa.

“This was extremely unexpected for our family and team both, however we ultimately must respect the decision that Todd has made for his family and business,” said Thornton, who has more than 400 career multidivision feature victories. “We will never be able to express enough gratitude towards SSI Motorsports for taking a chance on a modified guy four years ago. We’d especially like to thank (crew members) Anthony Burroughs, D.J. Williams,Justin Tharp, and Chris Jayko for the time they invested to ensure Ricky’s success over the past few years.

“We are currently searching for the next opportunity that will best fit our family. With us leading the standings on two tours added with a lot of momentum we have going for us so far this season, I hope that I can find something as soon as possible.”

Thornton, last year’s DirtonDirt.com Driver of the Year and currently No. 1 in the site’s power rankings, most recently rolled to a 12-second Firecracker 100 victory at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. Nine of Thornton’s 50 Dirt Late Model wins since the start of last year have paid more than $30,000.

FloRacing has left a message seeking comment from Burns, who previously fielded a team for Martinsville, Ind., driver Hudson O’Neal, a Lucas Oil regular. Thornton’s first stint with SSI came in August 2018 when O’Neal was sidelined by shoulder surgery.