Marlar dominates Late Model Series
Racer notches fifth win of the season
PORT ROYAL — In his first career start at the track, Mike Marlar dominated the World of Outlaws Late Model Series race Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway earning his fifth series win of the season and $10,000.
The victory also kept him in the championship hunt, but didn’t come without some late-race drama as he hit the outside fourth turn fence allowing Brandon Sheppard, who won last year at Port Royal, to challenge for his second straight win.
“I thought that lapped car was going to go to the middle and he went up in front of me and took the air off my nose,” Marlar said. “I was really tight anyway. I thought I had given it away. I held onto it. I saw him there a couple times. I was having a hard time driving it. I had a really good car. It’s been a long hard-fought year so far and it’s coming down to the end and we’re still in this thing. I’m happy about that.”
In the 25-lap main event for the sprint cars, it was Lucas Wolfe holding off a determined Logan Wagner for his third win of the season at the track. He earned $4,000.
“A good car in open track is going to be tough to run down,” Wolfe said. “It’s always a matter of traffic and I thought I managed traffic pretty good. I got held up a little bit behind two cars that were running the top, but I thought I was making a reasonable pace through it.”
Marlar, of Winfield, Tenn., started fourth in the 40-lap Outlaws main event and took the lead from polesitter Ross Robinson on lap five.
He controlled the race from there, but got too high in the fourth turn with 10 laps to go. He brushed the wall and kept going, but this allowed last year’s Port Royal winner Brandon Sheppard to duck under him for the lead. Marlar raced back around Sheppard and reassumed control.
Marlar held Sheppard back on two ensuing restarts after yellow flags with seven and four laps to go.
His final margin of victory was 1.654 over Sheppard and Devin Moran. Pennsylvania’s Jason Covert started 16th and finished fourth while Tyler Erb completed the top five. Chris Madden, Mason Zeigler, Gregg Satterlee, Port Royal point leader Dylan Yoder and Tyler Bare rounded out the top 10.
Marlar’s quick time in Flight B was 17.544. Sheppard set quick time in Flight A with a 17.662. Sheppard, Robinson, Marlar and Bare won the heat races. David Breazeale won the Last Chance Showdown after unloading a back-up car when his primary car broke while he was leading his heat race.
Wagner, who has two Port Royal wins in the past month, started on the pole after earning the most passing points in the heat races that were run in two six-lap segments with the line-up inverted for the second segment.
Wolfe started second and they nearly made contact racing down the frontstretch on the initial start. Wolfe gained control in turns one and two on a fast racing surface helped by a rain shower that hit the track earlier in the night.
Wolfe was racing through heavy lapped traffic when the red flag stopped the race on lap seven when Trey Starks crashed in turn two. He was okay.
Wolfe controlled the restart. Greg Hodnett, who went into the night as the point leader by 75 over Wagner, went after second. They swapped the spot in turns three and four and again in turns one and two with Wagner coming out ahead.
Wolfe’s lead was 3.120 seconds at the half-way point, but he was slowed in traffic and Wagner quickly closed.
“I tried to maintain and not overdo it,” Wolfe said. “We’ve worked on trying to keep everything underneath the car a little better. I tried to drive accordingly. If you’re the front car, and you’re able to dictate your own pace, you can sometimes be a little easier on your stuff than if you’re chasing. I felt in control the whole night.”
In lapped traffic, Wagner did get as close as a half-second before the yellow flew with five to go when fourth running Jared Esh stopped.
Wagner tried to take the lead with a first turn slider on the restart, but Wolfe’s momentum was too much off the cushion.
Wolfe’s 10th career Port Royal win came by 2.536 over Wagner.
“Close,” Wagner said. “We were rolling around really good there in the middle of the race. I changed my line a little bit and got off the corners a lot better and went from a straightaway behind him to right behind him. I used up my left rear tire. I knew it was blistered. It’s getting down to crunch time and every position counts. I wish we could have won that. I knew we had one shot there with five to go on that restart. I had a good run on him. He hit the cushion first and got out ahead of me. You know you’re running well when you’re disappointed in second.”
Hodnett finished third and holds a 65-point lead over Wagner with four point races left. Blane Heimbach, Anthony Macri, Paul McMahan, Brock Zearfoss, Mike Wagner, Dylan Cisney and Tyler Reeser rounded out the top-10.