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Daily Dirt 05/25/2024 04:08:39

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February 24
Golden Isles Speedway,
Brunswick, GA
Sanction: Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (Deuces Wild) - $20,000
Information provided by: Series and track reports (last updated February 26, 11:12 am)
Marlar repels Sheppard, pockets $20,000 at GIS
Deuces Wild
  1. Mike Marlar
  2. Brandon Sheppard
  3. Chris Madden
  4. Brandon Overton
  5. Jonathan Davenport
  6. Garrett Alberson
  7. Hudson O'Neal
  8. Daulton Wilson
  9. Kyle Larson
  10. Wil Herrington
  11. Tim McCreadie
  12. Devin Moran
  13. Bobby Pierce
  14. Garrett Smith
  15. Benji Hicks
  16. Blair Nothdurft
  17. Tyler Erb
  18. Earl Pearson Jr.
  19. Ross Robinson
  20. Max Blair
  21. Brenden Smith
  22. Boom Briggs
  23. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  24. Dillon McCowan
  25. Kyle Bronson
  26. Jimmy Owens
  27. Drake Troutman
  28. Bob Gardner
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Heath Lawson/heathlawsonphotos.com
Mike Marlar on his way to a $20,000 victory at Golden Isles Speedway.
What won the race: Leading all but two circuits, Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., emerged victorious in Saturday night’s 50-lap Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series portion of the Deuces Wild doubleheader at Golden Isles Speedway. The 47-year-old driver earned $20,000 for his first win of 2024 on the national tour after overtaking Chris Madden for the top spot on lap two and fighting off a mid-race challenge from Brandon Sheppard, who nosed ahead to pace lap 28 but crossed the finish line just over 1 second behind in second place.
Key notes: Marlar registered his 20th career Lucas Oil Series triumph as he ran the tour’s string of different winners to nine races in a row. … Ricky Thornton Jr. backed into the turn-one wall running second on the final lap of his heat race and used a provisional to start the feature 23rd aboard his backup car. He made little headway in the headliner before retiring on lap 32. … The Deuces Wild event also included the High Limit Sprint Car Series, which ran a $20,000-to-win feature captured by Pennsylvania’s Jacob Allen.
On the move: Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, started 24th and finished 17th.
Winner's sponsors: Marlar’s Skyline Motorsports Longhorn Chassis carries sponsorship from Bruening Rock Products, Skyline Materials, Truck Country, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Olson Explosives, Bennett Explosives, Petroff Towing, Can-Am Auto Salvage, Brown’s Heavy Equipment, VP Racing Fuels, Bilstein and Capital Signs.
Points chase: After Golden Isles: 1. Ricky Thornton Jr. (1,390); 2. Hudson O'Neal (1,385); 3. Jonathan Davenport (1,365); 4. Daulton Wilson (1,265); T5. Brandon Sheppard (1,250); T5. Devin Moran (1,250); 7. Jimmy Owens (1,215); 8. Mike Marlar (1,205); 9. Tim McCreadie (1,175); 10. Garrett Alberson (1,165); 11. Tyler Erb (1,125); 12. Clay Harris (1,115).
Current weather: Clear, 57°F
Car count: 45
Fast qualifier: Chris Madden
Time: 14.953 seconds
Polesitter: Chris Madden
Heat race winners: Chris Madden, Jonathan Davenport, Mike Marlar, Brandon Sheppard
Consolation race winners: Max Blair, Garrett Smith
Provisional starters: Ricky Thornton Jr., Tyler Erb, Boom Briggs, Drake Troutman, Bob Gardner, Brenden Smith
Next series race: March 22, Atomic Speedway (Alma, OH) $12,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (Feb. 24) — Mike Marlar offered a no-nonsense reason behind his march to victory in Saturday night’s 50-lap Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series portion of the Deuces Wild doubleheader at Golden Isles Speedway.

“Winning a race at this level is basically a night of making all good decisions,” Marlar said. “On the track, off the track, everywhere — tires, just all of it. So I feel like our team made really good decisions tonight.”

The evening played out perfectly for the 47-year-old standout from Winfield, Tenn., who led all but two laps of the feature en route to a $20,000 payday and his first triumph of 2024 on the national tour. He overtook Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., for the top spot on lap two before fighting off a mid-race challenge from Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who nosed ahead to pace lap 28 but crossed the finish line just over 1 second behind the victor in second place.

Madden settled for a third-place finish after he falling back to fourth by lap two while fighting a tight-handling car. Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., shot forward from the eighth starting spot to second by lap eight but slipped to a fourth-place finish while third-starter Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., placed fifth after running in the position for the majority of the distance.

Marlar’s 20th career checkered flag on the Lucas Oil Series came in the final start of his long stint on the road to open the 2024 campaign, a trip that began with January’s Wild West Shootout in Vado, N.M., and continued through Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. Saturday’s stop at Golden Isles represented his first full-field victory of the season for Skyline Motorsports team owner Greg Bruening and sent him back to the Volunteer State feeling good about his progression.

“I’m ready to get back home and take just a little bit of a break and then we’ll get going again,” said Marlar, who sits eighth in the Lucas Oil points standings after the tour’s opening burst of ’24 action in Georgia and Florida. “But I’m trending the right way. I started off a little slow, and the last week at Volusia (Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.) we had a lot of speed. We won one of ‘em (a 20-lap DIRTcar-sanctioned split-field feature on Feb. 14) and could’ve one a few of them there but we just had things happen.

“Our teammate Tyler Bruening was really good in Florida this year, so as a group I feel like we’re definitely headed in the right direction. It feels good to be in that position.”

Marlar demonstrated the good feeling he has about his Longhorn machine when he didn’t overreact to the Golden Isles track crew’s reconditioning of the surface just prior to the feature. The track had begun to take rubber during the 25-lap High Limit Sprint Car Series A-main that shared the bill so the heavy equipment rolled out to bring the clay back to life for the full-fender contingent.

“It’ll mess with you a little bit,” Marlar said of track-surface work before a feature. “You make your (mechanical) changes, and then you don’t really know what the track’s gonna do. But I’m glad they worked on it. It really needed it.

“I was just confident in my setup. I kind of stayed where I planned on being before the track prep and it worked out really good.”

Marlar, who started on the outside pole, experienced only one real scare. It came at the halfway mark when the 31-year-old Sheppard mounted a strong challenge in his Longhorn Factory Team No. B5. Sheppard drove underneath Marlar off turn four to lead lap 28 by a narrow margin, but Marlar returned the favor by running the inside of turns three and four and regaining command for good the following circuit.

Sheppard stayed within striking distance until Marlar broke free in lapped traffic on lap 34. Marlar extended his edge to nearly 3 seconds before Sheppard drew closer in the final laps.

“Man, these guys are really tough, and Shepp, you know, about had me passed there,” said Marlar, who thanked Longhorn Chassis for allowing him and his crew to visit the company’s headquarters in China Grove, N.C., during the week to massage his car that was “pretty beat up” from competition in Florida. “He pretty much did I guess at one end and I was lucky to get back by him.

“It’s never a walk in the park with all these guys. They’re some of the best racers I feel like, the stiffest competition right here. I’m happy to win against them, that’s for sure.”

Sheppard showed no disappointment with his runner-up finish. He considered it his best start-to-finish outing during his weeks in Georgia and Florida.

“It’s been an up-and-down Speedweeks for us for sure,” Sheppard said. “We haven’t been able to race toward the front a whole race like that. We’ve had to pass a bunch of cars this Speedweeks because we haven’t qualified good, and tonight I feel like we turned that around. We won our first heat race of the Speedweeks so that’s really good, we qualified good … we ended Speedweeks on a really good note.

“Obviously we wanted to win that one really, really bad. This place has been good to me over the years but I never got a win here, so I’m definitely looking forward to coming back now for sure. I think we’ve found something on this car that fits me really nicely and hopefully we can carry that through the rest of the year.”

Madden, 48, was never able to rebound from a slow start that saw the race’s polesitter lead the first lap but immediately slip to fourth. He didn’t climb back to third until lap 41 when he overtook Overton.

“Overall we had a good night,” Madden said. “We just were way too tight the first 10 or 15 laps or so. We just couldn’t get it done those first few laps and lost positions we didn’t need to lose.”

The race’s only caution flag flew on lap eight when Drake Troutman slowed with smoke trailing from his car.

Feature lineup

(50 laps)
Row 1: Chris Madden, Mike Marlar
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Wil Herrington, Daulton Wilson
Row 4: Garrett Alberson, Brandon Overton
Row 5: Benji Hicks, Hudson O'Neal
Row 6: Kyle Bronson, Tim McCreadie
Row 7: Blair Nothdurft, Kyle Larson
Row 8: Bobby Pierce, Devin Moran
Row 9: Max Blair, Garrett Smith
Row 10: Jimmy Owens, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 11: Dillon McCowan, Ross Robinson
Row 12: Ricky Thornton Jr., Tyler Erb
Row 13: Boom Briggs, Drake Troutman
Row 14: Bob Gardner, Brenden Smith

Consolation results

(10 laps; top three transfer)

First consolation finish: Max Blair, Jimmy Owens, Dillon McCowan, Boom Briggs, Nick Hoffman, Cory Lawler, Chad Tuten, Haiden Cowan, Ryan Gustin, Dennis Erb Jr., Bob Gardner, Brennon Willard, Ethan Wilson, Ricky Thornton Jr. Scratched: Austin Smith

Second consolation finish: Garrett Smith, Earl Pearson Jr., Ross Robinson, Clay Harris, Drake Troutman, Mark Whitener, Cody Overton, Tyler Erb, Brenden Smith, Jackson Hise, Daniel Adam, Tony Jackson Jr., Mitch Fulford. Scratched: Russell Brown Jr.

Heat race recap

Chris Madden overcame two mid-race restarts and led all eight laps to win the first heat race by 2.858 seconds over fifth-starting Wil Herrington. Second-running Ricky Thornton Jr. backed his SSI Motorsports Longhorn Chassis into the turn-one wall on the final lap, dropping to finish 11th. Eleventh-starting Benji Hicks finished third, with sixth-starting Blair Nothdurft grabbing the fourth and final transfer spot into Saturday’s 50-lap, $20,000-to-win Deuces Wild finale. The first caution flew on lap four when fifth-running Max Blair slowed with a flat left-front tire. The second and final yellow came out on the ensuing restart when Dennis Erb Jr. stopped with a flat right-front; both drivers continued, with Blair recovering to finish sixth and Erb settling for 10th. … Second-starting Jonathan Davenport dominated heat two, winning by 2.145 seconds over third-starting Garrett Alberson. Fifth-starting Kyle Bronson completed the podium finishers, while pole-starting Bobby Pierce slipped to finish fourth, claiming the final transfer position. … Mike Marlar mastered a late-race restart and led the entire distance to win heat three by 1.174 seconds over Daulton Wilson. Fifth-starting Hudson O’Neal finished third, with Kyle Larson completing the top-four finishers. The lone stoppage came on the sixth lap after a solo-spin by Brenden Smith; he continued and finished ninth. … Brandon Sheppard led green-to-checkered to win the fourth and final heat race by 1.944 seconds over Brandon Overton. Tim McCreadie started and finished third, while fifth-starting Devin Moran completed the race’s four transfers.

Heat race results

(Eight laps; top four transfer)

First heat finish: Chris Madden, Wil Herrington, Benji Hicks, Blair Nothdurft, Jimmy Owens, Max Blair, Cory Lawler, Nick Hoffman, Chad Tuten, Dennis Erb Jr., Ricky Thornton Jr., Bob Gardner.

Second heat finish: Jonathan Davenport, Garrett Alberson, Kyle Bronson, Bobby Pierce, Dillon McCowan, Boom Briggs, Haiden Cowan, Ryan Gustin, Ethan Wilson, Brennon Willard, Austin Smith.

Third heat finish: Mike Marlar, Daulton Wilson, Hudson O'Neal, Kyle Larson, Garrett Smith, Earl Pearson Jr., Tyler Erb, Clay Harris, Brenden Smith, Tony Jackson Jr., Mitch Fulford.

Fourth heat finish: Brandon Sheppard, Brandon Overton, Tim McCreadie, Devin Moran, Drake Troutman, Ross Robinson, Mark Whitener, Cody Overton, Daniel Adam, Jackson Hise. Scratched: Russell Brown Jr.

Time Trials

Group A
Driver (car no.), hometown, time (unofficial)
1. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 14.953
2. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 14.996
3. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.077
4. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.179
5. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 15.200
6. Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.273
7. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.316
8. Dillon McCowan (8), Urbana, Mo., 15.345
9. Wil Herrington (14x), Hawkinsville, Ga., 15.378
10. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.407
11. Blair Nothdurft (76), Renner, S.D., 15.466
12. Ryan Gustin (19R), Marshalltown, Iowa, 15.483
13. Max Blair (111), Centerville, Pa., 15.536
14. Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.571
15. Nick Hoffman (9), Mooresville, N.C., 15.573
16. Ethan Wilson (15), Fayetteville, N.C., 15.634
17. Cory Lawler (93), Hanover, Pa., 15.701
18. Haiden Cowan (214), Rincon, Ga., 15.727
19. Bob Gardner (4G), East Peoria, Ill., 15.730
20. Austin Smith (11), Rome, Ga., 15.775
21. Benji Hicks (55H), Mount Airy, N.C., 15.901
22. Brennon Willard (3), Lebanon, Mo., 16.369
23. Chad Tuten (51), Blackshear, Ga., no time
Group B
1. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.010
2. Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 15.057
3. Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., 15.165
4. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 15.169
5. Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., 15.192
6. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.207
7. Kyle Larson (6k), Elk Grove, Calif., 15.238
8. Drake Troutman (7T), Hyndman, Pa., 15.259
9. Hudson O’Neal (1), Martinsville, Ind., 15.284
10. Devin Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 15.328
11. Tyler Erb (1T), New Waverly, Texas, 15.361
12. Daniel Adam (75), Wade, N.C., 15.482
13. Earl Pearson Jr. (46), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.539
14. Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., 15.577
15. Tony Jackson Jr. (25), Lebanon, Mo., 15.610
16. Mark Whitener (5), Middleburg, Fla., 15.694
17. Brenden Smith (17ss), Dade City, Fla., 15.698
18. Cody Overton (97), Evans, Ga., 15.714
19. Clay Harris (6), Jupiter, Fla., 15.721
20. Jackson Hise (388), Ocala, Fla., 15.822
21. Mitch Fulford (15m), Montrose, Ga., 15.908
22. Russell Brown Jr. (00), Valdosta, Ga., no time

Saturday’s schedule

(All times local)
2 p.m. - Pits open
4 p.m. - Grandstands open
5:30 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting
6 p.m. - On-track activity
- Sprint car hot laps
- Sprint car time trials (2 laps)
- Late Model hot laps
- Late Model time trials (2 laps)
- 604 Crate group qualifying
Opening ceremonies
- Sprint car heats (8 laps)
- Sprint car redraw
- Late Model heats (8 laps)
- Sprint car dash (7 laps)
- Sprint car consolation (10 laps)
- Late Model consolation (10 laps)
Feature events
- Sprint cars (30 laps)
- Late Models (50 laps)
- 604 Crates (25 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Madden, Marlar
Row 2: Davenport, Sheppard
Row 3: Herrington, D. Wilson
Row 4: Alberson, B. Overton
Row 5: Hicks, O'Neal
Row 6: Bronson, McCreadie
Row 7: Nothdurft, Larson
Row 8: Pierce, Moran
Row 9: Blair, G. Smith
Row 10: Owens, Pearson
Row 11: McCowan, Robinson
Row 12: Thornton, T. Erb
Row 13: Briggs, Troutman
Row 14: Gardner, B. Smith
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