CONCORD, N.C. –– Mike Marlar thought he’d need everything to fall his way if he were to win from the ninth-starting spot in Wednesday night’s 40-lap World Finals opener at the Dirt Track at Charlotte.
But as it turned out, not even an ill-timed caution that paused Marlar’s rise through the field with four laps remaining would curb the efforts of the Winfield, Tenn., driver. Though race-long leader Shane Clanton had plenty of open track, and therefore clean air, to work with, Marlar still found victory lane.
Overtaking Clanton with the white flag in sight rounding turn four, Marlar completed a nifty drive from row five to cash in on $15,000 with the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series in the opening round of the revamped four-day event.
“I did not want to see that caution come out when it came out,” Marlar said to begin his post-race interview. “I raced Clanton really hard down here into four. Usually, it doesn’t take much room, but when your car is that fast, you hate to lose or give them away. I just had an awesome car. It’s rare to see a car drive from ninth to first in a 40-lapper. This thing was that good today.”
It’s Marlar’s 14th win of the season — six now coming with the World of Outlaws — and second straight with the national tour off the heels of his Oct. 24 victory at Missouri’s U.S. 36 Raceway. After the win, Marlar deemed his race program is “back in the swing,” and on Wednesday the Tennessean certainly looked the part.
Marlar hustled to make moves happen when he needed them most and thereby continued to build upon a stretch that now features four wins and three additional top-fives in the last 10 races. The pivotal moment that made Marlar’s latest victory possible came with two laps left in the heat race, when he slipped past a wayward Hudson O’Neal to finish second and ultimately start ninth in the 40-lap feature instead of 15th.
O’Neal, who debuted in the Rocket Chassis house car, said his mistake “kind of makes it a little bit more bitter knowing the fact (Marlar) came from there to win it.”
“Those six spots make a world of a difference,” O’Neal added.
Marlar actually made up 11 positions over the final 38 laps. When 12th-starting Dale Hollidge drew the race’s first of three stoppages on lap two, Marlar had slipped to 12th himself and showed no signs he’d move forward.
By then, Clanton had cleared polesitter and overall fast qualifier Brandon Overton for the lead. Sixteen laps later, a caution for Ross Robinson allowed Marlar to restart in fifth. Clanton, meanwhile, took a minute to recuperate after his hands were full with a charging Tim McCreadie in hot pursuit.
But then McCreadie faded back to fifth on the restart, and Clanton’s next challenger came in Trent Ivey, the Union, S.C., racer who pulled inside of the former World of Outlaws champion multiple times down the stretch. Marlar didn’t enter the podium picture until lap 33 when he drove by Overton, but he passed Ivey for second at the right time — right before a lap-36 caution for a spinning Tyler Erb.
Marlar timed the final restart to perfection to set up his winning move on lap 38.
“It’s awesome to get out to a good start,” Marlar said. “We could come here tomorrow and something could happen, a flat (tire) or whatever. I’ll still be good Saturday points-wise, or decent anyway. So we have to count our luck tomorrow and make all the right moves.”
Clanton said “I knew I was in trouble” once he heard Marlar size up his winning move in turns three and four on laps 36 and 37.
“It was overall a good night,” Clanton said. “It was my best run here at Charlotte, so that feels good. We’ll just tweak on it here and there, and hopefully we’ll get a little better. Our car was fast at the beginning of the race. I knew it was. I just got on the left-rear tire (too hard) there trying to keep him behind me.”
Despite tasting what would have been his first World of Outlaws victory, Ivey still managed to come away with his first series podium at a track that’s been kind to him this year.
In May, Ivey finished ninth in the $50,000-to-win Colossal 100 with the XR Super Series. Just last weekend, he won a $4,000 Crate feature as part of the World Short Track Championship.
“I have a million laps here on iRacing. I love this place,” Ivey said through a laugh. “I love how they pack this place out. They’re camping outside. I’m in the same boat. I’m just happy to be here
“I just have to thank my mom and dad, and all the sponsors. I just want to say thanks to everybody that helps me get here. We’ll do it again tomorrow.”
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Shane Clanton
Row 2: Trent Ivey, Dale McDowell
Row 3: Jimmy Owens, Tim McCreadie
Row 4: Chris Madden, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 5: Mike Marlar, Dustin Mitchell
Row 6: Michael Brown, Dale Hollidge
Row 7: Josh Richards, Tanner English
Row 8: Huson O’Neal, Gordy Gundaker
Row 9: Kyle Strickler, Daulton Wilson
Row 10: Cla Knight, Tyler Erb
Row 11: Ricky Weiss, Carson Ferguson
Row 12: Ross Robinson, Gordy Gundaker
Row 13: Ryan Gustin, Brent Larson
Row 14: Boom Briggs
Consolation race results
(10 laps; top two transfer)
First consolation: Cla Knight, Carson Ferguson, Ross Bailes, Anthony Sanders, Chris Ferguson, Bryan Bernheisel, Colton Flinner, Trevor Gundaker, John Blankenship, Ethan Wilson, Deam Brown, Brett Hamm, Logan Zarin, Mike Benedum, Carson Hocevar, Greg Clark, Brandon O’Neil. Scratched: Scott Bloomquist.
Second consolation: Tyler Erb, Ross Robinson, Parker Martin, Garrett Smith, Kenny Collins, Jonathan Davenport, Jordan Koehler, Jason Miller, Mike Lupfer, Tim Vance, Payton Freeman, John Price, Gray Parton, Mason Zeigler, Chris Nash. Scratched: Kyle Bronson, Cody Cubbage.
Third consolation: Ricky Weiss, Gordy Gundaker, Ryan King, Brent Larson, Brian Shirley, Ryan Gustin, Steven Roberts, Stewart Friesen, Zack Mitchell, Boom Briggs, Austin Kirkpatrick, Taylor Puckett, Freddie Carpenter, Brian Ledbetter, Larry Grube. Scratched: Parker Price-Miller, Chuckie Lepsch.
Heat race results
(Eight laps; top three transfer)
First heat: Brandon Overton, Chris Madden, Josh Richards, Cla Knight, Carson Ferguson, Anthony Sanders, Ross Bailes, Trevor Gundaker, Brett Hamm, Mike Benedum, Ethan Wilson, Scott Bloomquist.
Second heat: Tim McCreadie, Mike Marlar, Hudson O’Neal, Chris Ferguson, Colton Flinner, Bryan Bernheisel, John Blankenship, Dean Bowen, Carson Hocevar, Greg Clark, Logan Zarin, Brandon O’Neil.
Third heat: Jimmy Owens, Michael Brown, Kyle Strickler, Ross Robinson, Garrett Smith, Parker Martin Jr., Jordan Koehler, Gray Payton, Tim Vance, Chris Nash, Mike Lupfer.
Fourth heat: Dale McDowell, Dennis Erb Jr., Tanner English, Tyler Erb, Mason Zeigler, John Price, Kenny Collins, Jonathan Davenport, Kyle Bronson, Payton Freeman.
Fifth heat: Trent Ivey, Max Blair, Dustin Mitchell, Gordy Gundaker, Ricky Weiss, Brian Shirley, Ryan Gustin, Parker Price-Miller, Stewart Friesen, Austin Kirkpatrick, Freddie Carpenter, Larry Grube.
Sixth heat: Shane Clanton, Dale Hollidge, Daulton Wilson, Ryan King, Brent Larson, Zack Mitchell, Steven Roberts, Taylor Puckett, Boom Briggs, Brian Ledbetter. Scratched: Chuckie Lepsch.
The expanded World Finals kicks off Wednesday with a World of Outlaws Late Model and Sprint Car doubleheader — and with significantly warmer conditions than usual. T-shirts and even shorts were prevalent throughout the afternoon as temperatures topped out near 70 degrees; the skies have become cloudier though and some very light rain has danced around the area, but hot laps started on time at 5 p.m. and precipitation doesn’t appear to be a major threat. … The 70-car Late Model field is up 22 entries from last year’s World Finals all-time low turnout of 48 cars, putting the event close to its pre-2021 average of 75.23 cars. … With his first career WoO points championship already clinched entering the weekend, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., has his trailer parked in the first stall entering the lower pit area. … Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., is making his debut as the driver of the Rocket Chassis house car, which sports a slightly different look with a red roof topping its familiar blue body. … Sprint Car ace Parker Price-Miller of Kokomo, Ind., is set to make his first-ever Dirt Late Model start behind the wheel of his own Longhorn car. He shook down the machine Tuesday night at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C. … NASCAR Truck Series and big-block modified standout Stewart Friesen, a native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, now living in Sprakers, N.Y., has his Halmer Racing Longhorn car in the pits to run his first national touring series event since Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. … Trevor Gundaker of St. Charles, Mo., is entered in fellow Missourian Reid Millard's car, which carries the No. 50 as a throwback scheme honoring recently deceased Midwest driver Ed Dixon. ... Lucas Oil Series announcer James Essex and former Eldora Speedway announcer and WoO Late Model Series director Bret Emrick are sharing announcing duties for the WoO Late Model program to honor their late colleague Rick Eshelman, the longtime voice of the WoO Late Model circuit who died one month ago. Emrick said this evening will mark the first time he’s ever worked in the announcer’s booth with Essex, but he expected to integrate flawlessly with Essex on the microphone. In fact, Emrick said he and Essex had already figured out how they would handle qualifying: “James will do the sponsor reads because he has the notecards (with driver info) and I’ll handle announcing the lap times.”
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
- Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 14.462
- Hudson O’Neal (1), Martinsville, Ind., 14.500
- Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 14.667
- Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 14.694
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 14.713
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 14.817
- Brett Hamm (18H), Newberry, S.C., 14.824
- Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 14.835
- Michael Brown (24-D), Pageland, S.C., 14.840
- Carson Ferguson (93), Lincolnton, N.C., 14.900
- Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., 14.925
- Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., 14.928
- Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 14.974
- Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., 14.997
- Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., 15.040
- Cla Knight (42), North Augusta, S.C., 15.085
- Carson Hocevar (42H), Mooresville, N.C., 15.094
- Mike Lupfer (O6), Shermansdale, Pa., 15.097
- Josh Richards (1R), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.195
- John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 15.197
- Jordan Koehler (114), Mount Airy, N.C., 15.225
- Mike Benedum (25), Salem, W.Va., 15.258
- Bryan Bernheisel (119), Jonestown, Pa., 15.315
- Parker Martin (6jr), Milledgeville, Ga., 15.332
- Anthony Sanders (421), Spartanburg, S.C., 15.350
- Dean Brown (15B), Fair Bluff, N.C., 15.369
- Gary Parton (18P), Rutherfordton, N.C., 15.430
- Ethan Wilson (5), Fayetteville, N.C., 15.448
- Logan Zarin (1Z), Moon Twp., Pa., 15.584
- Tim Vance (17T), Clover, S.C., 15.616
- Trevor Gundaker (50G), St. Charles, Mo., 15.619
- Greg Clark (39C), Stanley, N.C., 15.628
- Chris Nash (354), Vicksburg, Mich., 16.067
- Brandon O’Neil (65), Mooresville, N.C., 17.449
- Ross Bailes (79), Clover, S.C., no time
- Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 14.712
- Trent Ivey (88), Union, S.C., 14.850
- Dale Hollidge (15), Mechanicsville, Md., 14.903
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.922
- Parker Price-Miller (9P), Kokomo, Ind., 14.924
- Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 14.947
- John Price (4P), Mill Spring, N.C., 14.971
- Dustin Mitchell (32), Pine Level, N.C., 14.996
- Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., 15.000
- Tanner English (81E), Benton, Ky., 15.000
- Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 15.013
- Ryan King (30), Seymour, Tenn., 15.024
- Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 15.040
- Max Blair (111v), Centerville, Pa., 15.069
- Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 15.077
- Mason Zeigler (9Z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.089
- Austin Kirkpatrick (11), Harrisburg, N.C., 15.102
- Payton Freeman (22*), Commerce, Ga., 15.119
- Zack Mitchell (2H), Enoree, S.C., 15.119
- Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 15.130
- Taylor Puckett (28P), Greer, S.C., 15.135
- Kenny Collins (1c), Colbert, Ga., 15.185
- Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 15.207
- Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.211
- Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.244
- Freddie Carpenter (K), Parkersburg, W.Va., 15.286
- Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.374
- Steven Roberts (111), Sylvester, Ga., 15.386
- Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 15.485
- Brian Ledbetter (07), Dallas, N.C., 15.729
- Jason Miller (94), Berryville, Va., 15.976
- Larry Grube (29), Cresco, Iowa, 16.103
- Stewart Friesen (44), Sprakers, N.Y., disqualified
- Chuckie Lepsch (1L), Johnstown, Pa., no time
- Cody Cubbage (12), Waynesboro, Va., no time
(All times local)
- Late Model hot laps
- Late Model time trials (2 laps)
- Sprint car hot laps
- Sprint car time trials
- Late Model heats (8 laps)
- Sprint car heats (8 laps)
- Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- Sprint car C-main (10 laps)
- Sprint car dash (6 laps)
- Sprint car B-main (12 laps)
- Late Model feature (40 laps)
- Sprint car feature (30 laps)