Marlar is first-time victor at Friday Late Model Nationals
Friday, September 28, 2012
By Bob Wilson
KNOXVILLE, IA (September 28) – Mike Marlar, Winfield, Tennessee, picked a good night to capture his first feature win at Knoxville Raceway Friday night. It was the second night of qualifications for Saturday’s Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals. The win paid Marlar $7,000 for the 25-lap main event run on this historic fairgrounds oval.
The start of the feature event saw Marlar race to the lead on lap one as he forged through the two cars which started ahead of him on lap one. Right away Steve Francis, who started right behind Marlar fell in behind him. It would be Francis who would chase the leader for the distance in what would be record time for a 25-lap distance. Brady Smith raced into third and Jimmy Owens trailed in forth.
Just after the five-mile mark Marlar entered into lap traffic but Francis was not able to use any of it for the remainder of the race to make a challenge for the lead. Marlar was masterful charging through the back markers and seemed not to lose any momentum on this historical half-mile oval. Just as Francis would get by a lap car Marlar would put yet another car between himself and the runner-up driver.
With twenty laps in the books Marlar could enjoy nearly a twenty car-length advantage over the game Francis. Smith continued his pace and kept the show position. With Owens in fourth, these front running cars had pulled away from the pack.
In the final three laps Smith made several valiant charges to take the second place spot from Francis but each time the second running car was able to pull away running down the chutes. It was a great, late show in the waning laps but Marlar came across the stripe by some forty yards ahead of that twosome. Francis was paid $4,000 for his efforts and Smith received $3,000 for the third place finish. Owens held for fourth and Jonathan Davenport rounded out the top five.
Five qualifying heats saw Donnie Moran, Earl Pearson Jr., Will Vought, Terry Phillips and Shannon Babb as the winners. Tyler Bruening won the D Main, Bill Moyer was the victor in the C Main and Denny Eckrich led Brian Birkhofer, Frank Heckenast and John Anderson to win the B Main as those four drivers qualified for the finale.
Seventy-nine cars took qualifying time trials.