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Ross earns first Sooner Late Model victory at Oklahoma Sports Park

By John Rittenoure - (Image by Aaron Sims Racing Photography)

ADA, Okla. (May 18, 2024) - What a difference one year can make.

Last season Eli Ross showed a lot of potential logging a second place finish and two thirds and a top 10 finish in his rookie season. That potential came to fruition Saturday with Ross racing to his first APEX Healthcare Partners Sooner Late Model Series victory at Oklahoma Sports Park.

Starting fourth in the 25-lap main event, Ross raced into second on lap 3 then chased down early leader Zach Nickell. Nickell was setting a strong pace and looking for his second career win. However, Ross bided his time and when opportunity presented itself, in the form of a lap 12 restart, Ross made his move passing Nickell for the lead.

“He kept bobbling in (turns) 3 and 4 and I was trying to run the bottom as hard as I can,” Ross explained of his effort to catch Nickell. “When that restart came out I knew I was going to have something for him. I think he bobbled in 1 and 2 and I got under him. I wanted to race him as clean as possible.”

Nickell knew he could not make any mistakes with Ross right behind him.

“I knew if I made one mistake he would pass me and did my best to hit my marks, but my brakes were going away and it made it harder and harder,” Nickell said of losing the lead. “I made a mistake and he capitalized on it.”

Ross feels he has learned a lot from his rookie season and it was apparent watching him charge to the front.

“I feel like I am more aggressive,” Ross said of his driving style. “Tonight there were multiple lanes and I capitalized on that and made the pass for the lead.”

Ross climbed behind the wheel last season following the death of his brother Hayden in 2022 in what was a non-racing accident. Hayden locked up the Sooner Series championship that season before his death driving the car Eli is now wheeling. Eli credits Hayden for helping him learn so quickly.

“I have been around racing for awhile now since my brother was racing and I took note and am fortunate to race now,” Ross said. “When my brother was still alive me and him tested a little in his spare car and he helped me a lot getting in the right direction. I feel he guides me in every single race I do.”

Ross has also had help with car setup from well known racer Joe Godsey.

“Joe Godsey has been helping us all year and he is one of the best setup guys out there,” Ross said. “I can’t thank him enough. I think the year is going to be a fun year.

“Thanks to all my sponsors, Jay Hodge, Bill Frye Motorsports, Ross Construction, Prime Pallet, E-Box Springs, Quarter Master, Peterson Fluid Systems, Hayden Ross Motorsports Foundation, Profit Plumbing and Thunderbird Speedway.”

Sooner Late Model Series Results

Oklahoma Sports Park - Ada, Oklahoma

May 18, 2024

APEX Healthcare Partners A Feature 1 (25 Laps): 1. 66-Eli Ross[4]; 2. 55-Zach Nickell[1]; 3. 25D-Donnie Shipp[11]; 4. 22X-Trey Langley[6]; 5. 22-Sloppy Hog[5]; 6. 4X-Dalon Helm[8]; 7. 84-Gary Kilbourn[10]; 8. 9XX-Dakota Dellinger[7]; 9. 99-Nate Jantz[3]; 10. H1-Steve Hewitt Sr[2]; 11. 69K-Kent Taylor[9]

Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1. 99-Nate Jantz[2]; 2. 55-Zach Nickell[3]; 3. 22-Sloppy Hog[1]; 4. (DNF) 9XX-Dakota Dellinger[4]; 5. (DNF) 69K-Kent Taylor[5]

Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1. H1-Steve Hewitt Sr[1]; 2. 66-Eli Ross[5]; 3. 22X-Trey Langley[2]; 4. 4X-Dalon Helm[4]; 5. 84-Gary Kilbourn[3]; 6. (DNS) 25D-Donnie Shipp

Lap Leaders: 1-12 Zach Nickell, 13-25 Eli Ross.

Margin of Victory: 3.615.

2024 Winners: 4/6 - Kip Hughes, Enid Speedway; 4/13 - Jon Herring, Jr., Beaver County Raceway; 5/11 - Joe Godsey, Caney Valley Speedway; 5/17 - Kip Hughes, Longdale Speedway; 6/18 - Eli Ross, Oklahoma Sports Park.

2024 Top 10: 1. Dalon Helm, 1885; 2. Dakota Dillinger, 1775; 3. Steve Hewitt, Sr., 1730; 4. Zach Nichell, 1660; 5. Jon Herring, Jr. 1335; 6. Troy Bynum 1300; 7. Eli Ross; 1210; 8. Damian Patocka 1180; 9. Adrien Hickman 1055; 10. Kip Hughes 1050.

Sooner Late Model Series

The Sooner Late Model Series was formed in 2016 by Enid Speedway co-promoter Mark Brill. Brill felt there was not many opportunities for late model competitors to race in Oklahoma and the Sooner Late Model Series was formed. Now the series has grown beyond the borders of Oklahoma with events held in the neighboring states of Kansas, Texas and Arkansas.

APEX Healthcare Partners

Specializing in Multidisciplinary Care Across Specialties, at APEX Healthcare Partners, a team of skilled and experienced providers, therapists, and support staff work together to provide personalized and compassionate care for patients with spinal and neurological conditions in Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas.

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