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Whynot Motorsports Park

Marlar, Byars to share front row at Whynot

October 22, 2011, 12:29 am
By Joshua Joiner
DirtonDirt.com staff writer

MERIDIAN, Miss. (Oct. 21) – Mike Marlar has been in this situation before. The Winfield, Tenn., driver has made two previous trips to Whynot Motorsports Park for the Coors Light Fall Classic, and both times he won a heat race and started near the front of the $15,000-to-win main event. Notebook | Video | Slideshow

After falling short in those two outings, Marlar hopes the third time’s a charm as he prepares to start Saturday’s 17th running of the unsanctioned event from the pole after dominating Friday night’s preliminary action at the quarter-mile oval.

“We’ve been lucky to come down here and win our heat race each time we’ve come, but we just haven’t got it done in the feature yet. We’ve come close, but haven’t won it,” said Marlar, who was the fastest qualifier and won the first of six heat races Friday. “Hopefully this time we can get it done.”

If he is going to get it done, Marlar will have to hold off a host of challengers that includes Carrolton, Miss., driver Klint Byars, who won three of the six Late Model special events held at Whynot this year. Byars, who won this year’s Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series championship as a rookie on the tour, won Friday’s second heat race and will start alongside Marlar in Saturday’s main event.

“I love this little place, and it’s been good to me,” Byars said of the east Mississippi racetrack. “To cap it off with a win, that’d be a great way to finish off the year we’ve had here.”

Byars won’t be the only challenger Marlar will have to worry about in the feature. In fact, all of Friday’s heat race winners figure to be contenders Saturday. The other heat winners were: defending race winner Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa; Hall of Famer Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark.; 2010 Mississippi State Series champion David Breazeale of Four Corners, Miss.; and GRT Race Cars house car driver Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark.

And as Marlar well knows, someone unexpected could come from back in the field on a track that typically produces racing from top to bottom.

“Birkhofer looked pretty good and Moyer was Moyer; he always runs good,” Marlar said. “We’ll get in there with those caliber guys and hopefully have a chance at outrunning ‘em. But I don’t know. I could see a guy starting dead last here and winning.”

Marlar, who has previous Fall Classic finishes of fourth and third, started from the pole and dominated the first heat in winning the 15-lap prelim by more than a straightaway. Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., advanced from sixth to second in the caution-free race while Jason Cliburn of Star, Miss., held off Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., for the third and final transfer position.

Byars also started from the pole of his heat race, but the victory didn’t come nearly as easy as Marlar’s. Byars dropped to third on the start of the second heat after getting passed by both Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., and fourth-starting Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss. Landers and McCool pulled away from Byars in the opening laps of the race, but the gap was closed when the leading duo tangled briefly as McCool used a slidejob to move out front on lap four.

The three leaders then ran within just a few car lengths of each other before Byars jumped to the high side with a handful of laps remaining. Byars moved by Landers at the completion of lap 13 and made the winning pass on McCool as the two drivers entered turn one on the final lap. McCool settled for the runner-up finish with Landers finishing just behind in third to also transfer.

Birkhofer, a two-time winner of the event, moved by polesitter Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., midway through the third heat and went on to win the caution-free race with Davenport second. Second-starting Brooks Strength of Jackson, Miss., took the lead on the start of the race and led the opening laps until he jumped the cushion and nearly hit the wall in the middle of turns one and two. The bobble dropped Strength to third, where he finished.

Moyer cruised to victory in the fourth heat race, winning by more than a straightaway over Chip Brindle of Chatsworth, Ga., and former race winner Chris Wall of Springfield, La. B.J. Robinson of Blanchard, La., ran second for nearly the entire race, but fell out on the final lap with mechanical issues.

Breazeale, who recently announced plans to retire at the end of the season, started from the pole of the fourth heat race and survived a mid-race challenge from Dane Dacus of Lakeland, Tenn., on his way to leading every lap. Dacus allowed Dennis Erb Jr., of Carpentersville, Ill., to slip by him on a lap-10 restart, but still qualified for the main event with a third-place finish.

Sullivan moved by Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., following an early restart in the sixth and final heat race and led the remaining distance to earn the victory. Clanton closed back in on Sullivan late in the race, but settled for the runner-up finish over fifth-starting Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark.

Heat race results

(15 laps; top three transfer)

First heat: Mike Marlar, Clint Smith, Jason Cliburn, Dale McDowell, Jimmy Cliburn, Rick Rickman, Scott Creel, Dwight Falcon, Clint Logan.

Second heat: Klint Byars, Bub McCool, Jared Landers, Scott Dedwylder, Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, Timothy Culp, Eric Cooley, Ross Camponovo, Jamie Elam.

Third heat: Brian Birkhofer, Jonathan Davenport, Brooks Strength, Chris Brown, Ray Moore, Chad Thrash, Kennith Crowe, Jason Ingalls, Jay Burchfield, Jamie Tollison.

Fourth heat: Billy Moyer, Chip Brindle, Chris Wall, Jeremy Broadus, Wendell Wallace, Steve Bryan, Chirs Hoomes, Mark Dodson, B.J. Robinson.

Fifth heat: David Breazeale, Dennis Erb Jr., Dane Dacus, Scott Slay, Rodney Wing, Robbie Stuart, Wade Byars, Eddie Rickman, Edmond Jenkins.

Sixth heat: Jack Sullivan, Shane Clanton, Billy Moyer Jr., Henry Cooper, Allen Murray, Neil Baggett, Chris McElhenney, Brian Rickman, Leon Henderson, Chase Washington.

Time trials

First group
Klint Byars (5), 13.046
Jared Landers (777), 13.427
Ronny Lee Hollingsworth (18), 13.461
Bub McCool (57j), 13.467
Scott Dedwylder (33), 13.684
Timothy Culp (8), 13.900
Jamie Elam (12), 13.938
Eric Cooley (33), , 14.003
Ross Camponovo (18), 14.059
Kevin Sitton (12), 14.085
Second group
Mike Marlar (5b), 13.014
Jason Cliburn (888), 13.584
Rick Rickman (86), 13.616
Jimmy Cliburn (88), 13.618
Dale McDowell (17m), 13.620
Clint Smith (44), 13.689
Scott Creel (31), 13.778
Clint Logan (9), 13.866
Chad Dupont (F5), 14.065
Dewight Falcon (F4), 14.114
Third group
David Breazeale (54), 13.417
Denis Erb Jr. (28), 13.500
Dane Dacus (54), 13.591
Rodney Wing (10), 13.671
Robbie Stuart (6r), 14.030
Scott Slay (54), 14.062
Eddie Rickman (68), 14.415
Wade Byars (05), 14.530
Edmond Jenkins (12), 15.000
Jim McDuffie (760), no time
Fourth group
Shane Clanton (25), 13.484
Jack Sullivan (1), 13.561
Chris McElhenney (27), 13.674
Henry Cooper (14), 13.772
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), 13.850
Brian Rickman (90), 13.935
Neil Baggett (21), 14.164
Chase Washington (38), 14.217
Leon Henderson (10), 14.399
Allen Murray (2), 14.413
Fifth group
Jonathan Davenport (49), 13.369
Brooks Strength (444), 13.669
Brian Birkhofer (15), 13.761
Chris Brown (21), 13.871
Jason Ingalls (87), 13.945
Chad Thrash (1c), 13.999
Ray Moore (93), 14.023
Jay Burchfield (7), 14.132
Jamie Tollison (327), 14.141
Kenneth Crowe (77), 14.215
Sixth group
Billy Moyer (21), 13.404
Chip Brindle (21b), 13.642
Chris Wall (71), 13.778
B.J. Robinson (R5), 13.829
Steve Bryan (K9), 14.004
Jeremy Broadus (88), 14.055
Wendell Wallace (88), 14.178
Chris Hoomes (00), 14.835
Mark Dodson (32), 14.880

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