KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Sept. 17) — It’s no secret that Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., can deliver at Knoxville Raceway. After all, he’s posted top-five finishes in the last two Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals events. But on Saturday night, it was finally Marlar who crossed the finish line first, capturing his first career crown jewel victory and a career-richest $40,000 payday at the famed Iowa oval.
Slipping past polesitter Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., on lap 40 of 100, the fourth-starting Marlar led the remaining distance, holding off late-race challenges from Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., to capture his sixth career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series triumph in the 13th running of the Knoxville Nationals.
“We have a good team,” Marlar said in a postrace press conference. “I’ve raced for a long time and I really don’t race anything but big regional races or just big races. So we’re able to come and compete with these guys. Not being a full-time race team actually has some advantages. You can compare a little bit better and you don’t have that pressure on you. We do it for fun.
“It’s an awesome win. It is the biggest win of my career and I’ve got really good competitors here. It feels good to be in front of these guys."
Outside polesitter Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., charged to the lead at the drop of the green flag, falling to Richards on lap 11. As Richards cruised over the field, Marlar began working around the top-side of the racetrack, reeling in the race leader. As the frontrunners entered lapped traffic, Marlar pulled ahead of Richards exiting turn two, taking the lead just shy of the halfway point.
As the race was slowed by late cautions, Marlar maintained his lead, fighting back challenges from Richards and Bloomquist to steer his Ronnie Delk-owned No. 157 to victory lane for the sixth time this season.
“My car was good,” Marlar said. “The track was fast and I had the whole racetrack. I could search around and drive my car where it benefited it. I had three or four different cars in that race. It was tight some, lose a little bit, different things. But when you’re out front, you can counteract all of that.
“I saw (Bloomquist) there once, I heard (Richards) on me there a couple times. I’d just kind of back up and not get my motor hot. Then whenever I needed to squeeze on it and lay in the cushion harder and go, I could."
Bloomquist finished runner-up, with 10th-starting Bobby Pierce notching a podium finish. Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., advanced from the ninth starting position to finish fourth, with Hall of Famer Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., rounding out the top five.
“(Marlar) was coming off the corner very good,” Bloomquist said after the race. “It just seemed like I needed more green laps. He could get away from us a pretty good distance there and it seemed like the last couple of laps were some of my best laps. I could drive it in hard, actually so hard going in that I wasn’t sure it was going to stick down there, and it stuck better. I was like, ‘Woah, we’re here, we can start coming.’ But this is a tough place. Everything has to land and fall in place.”
As Richards ran out of fuel to slip back in the final laps, Pierce made his way to the front of the field to notch a podium finish, just one weekend after his first career World 100 victory at Eldora Speedway.
“In my mind, with a couple of laps to go there, I was about to pull off,” Pierce said. “I didn’t know what was wrong and I saw a little bit of smoke. I came out of the car and I guess I ran out of fuel at the end. A couple of guys ran out of fuel.
“At one point in the race, I fell back to like 18th- place or something it felt like. Every single restart, I just couldn’t get going. The air here is just so crazy when you’re going that fast. I never got close enough to these guys to see what their cars were doing and get up there and race with them. I would have liked too … it would have been fun."
Notes: Marlar scored his sixth victory of the 2016 season, his last coming in Ultimate Battle of the Bluegrass Series action at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway. on Aug. 6. ... The Tennessee driver scored his second career Knoxville Raceway victory, winning a Knoxville Nationals preliminary feature back in 2012. ... Billy Moyer was one of four drivers to run out of gas late in the distance. The most notable was Richards, who overtook Bloomquist for second on lap 89 and was attempting to run down Marlar when he fell off the pace with four laps remaining because his car was fuel-starved. .... Also running out of gas was Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., who slowed on the last lap and fell from a potential top-five finish to ninth in the final rundown, and Rodney Sanders of Happy, Texas, who ran in the top 10 before his car's fuel cell ran dry on lap 84. ... The race was slowed by nine cautions, the first on lap 14 and final on lap 84. ... Sixth-place finisher Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., is the only driver to make the starting lineup for every Knoxville Nationals event.
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., Capital, $40,000
2. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., Sweet-Blomquist, $20,900
3. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., Pierce, $10,000
4. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., Capital, $8750
5. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., Moyer Victory, $7,500
6. Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., MB Customs, $7,000
7. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Longhorn, $7,200
8: Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., Rocket, $6,000
9. Dennis Eb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., Black Diamond, $6,200
10. Darrell Lanigan (15), Union, Ky., Club 29, $5,700
11. Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., Club 29, $5,300
12. Chad Mahder (33c), Eau Claire, Wis., Rocket, $4,000
13. Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., Hustler, $3,500
14. Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., Rocket, $3,400
15. Rodney Sanders (20), Happy, Texas, MB Customs, $3,300
16. Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., Rocket, $3,900
17. Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., Longhorn, $4,100
18. Steve Francis (15), Bowling Green, Ky., Club 29, $3,700
19. Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, Victory Circle, $2,900
20. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., Rocket, $2,800
21. Colton Flinner (75), Allison Park, Pa., Rocket, $2,800
22. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., Sweet-Bloomquist, $2,600
23. Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., Longhorn, $3,300
24. Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, Black Diamond, $2,500
25. Chris Simpson, Oxford, Iowa, Longhorn, $2,500
26. Spencer Diercks (29d), Davenport, Iowa, Longhorn, $2,500
27. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Rocket, $3,300
28. Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., Capital, $2,500
29. Joey Moriarty (51M), Phoenix, Ariz., Rocket, $2,500
30. Jason Rauen (98), Farley, Iowa, Longhorn, $2,500
31. Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., Moyer Victory, $2,500
32. Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., Rocket, $2,500
Thursday’s preliminary feature winner: Moyer
Friday’s preliminary feature winner: Richards
C-main winner: Morgan Bagley
B-main winner: Satterlee
Provisional starters: Flinner, Diercks
Lap leaders: Owens 1-10; Richards 11-40; Marlar 41-100.
Preliminary notes and results:
Main event notes
Lap 100: Marlar wins the 13th annual Knoxville Nationals.
Lap 84: Sheppard slows in turn four as Rodney Sanders also slows for a caution. Marlar leads Bloomquist, Richards, Bobby Pierce and Moyer.
Lap 76: A yellow flag waves when Flinner slows on the frontstretch.
Lap 75: Marlar leads Bloomquist, Richards, Moyer and Sheppard.
Lap 63: Colton Flinner spins in turn four to draw a caution.
Lap 59: A yellow flag waves for debris on the racetrack. Marlar leads Bloomquist, Richards, Moyer and Brandon Sheppard, who has advanced from 13th.
Lap 52: Just as Richards slides ahead of Marlar for the lead, Tyler Erb slows in turn four to draw a caution. Marlar leads Richards, McDowell, Bloomquist and Moyer.
Lap 47: His No. 20 machine smoking, Owens retires while running in the top five.
Lap 45: A yellow flag waves when Chase Junghans loses a tire in turn four. Marlar leads Richards, McDowell, Billy Moyer and Owens.
Lap 40: Using lapped traffic to his advantage, Marlar slips under Richards exiting turn two take the lead.
Lap 30: Fifth-running Babb draws a caution as he slows in turn four with a right-rear flat. Richards leads Marlar, Owens, Chris Simpson and Bloomquist.
Lap 26: Gregg Satterlee slows in turns one and two to draw a caution.
Lap 25: Richards continues to lead as Marlar challenges around the outside in the runner-up spot. Owens runs third, McDowell and Babb.
Lap 14: The first yellow flag waves when Jason Rauen slows coming down the backstrech. Richards leads Owens, Dale McDowell, Shannon Babb and Mike Marlar. Scott Bloomquist has sustained quarter panel damage in an early collision.
Lap 11: As the leaders enter lapped traffic, Richards begins reeling in Owens, with the two crossing the stripe side-by-side on lap 10. Richards shoots ahead of Owens to take the lead one circuit later.
Lap one: Jimmy Owens pulls ahead of Josh Richards to lead the opening lap.
8:48 p.m.: Driver intros are complete and feature competitors make their way to their cars to strap in for the 100-lap finale.
The feature field began lining up in the staging area for pre-race ceremonies at approximately 8:15 p.m. CT. … Provisional starting spots went to Colton Flinner (Lucas Oil Series) and Spencer Diercks (highest-ranked driver in Nationals points who didn’t qualify). … Flinner is among a group of eight drivers making first-ever Knoxville Nationals A-Main starts, joining Bobby Pierce, Tyler Erb, Kyle Bronson, Joey Moriarty, Gregg Satterlee, Chad Mahder and Tim Lance.
Polesitter Gregg Satterlee pulled away from the field in the early running, as sixth-starting Chad Simpson moved into the top-three on the third lap. Satterlee held nearly a full straightaway lead at the halfway mark, as Simpson edged ahead of Tim Lance to take over the runner-up spot. Simpson gained on Satterlee as the pair worked through lapped traffic, but Satterlee held on to win the B-main. Simpson, Chad Mahder, Lance, Kent Robinson and Jason Rauen all transferred to the main event.
Finish (top six transfer to A-main): Gregg Satterlee, Chad Simpson, Chad Mahder, Tim Lance, Kent Robinson, Jason Rauen, Frank Heckenast Jr., R.C. Whitwell, Ricky Weiss, Ryan Unzicker, Mason Zeigler, Brent Larson, Morgan Bagley, Nick Hoffman, Rich Bell, Matt Furman, Spencer Diercks, Ricky Thornton Jr., Jason Utter, Jason Feger, Billy Moyer Jr., Ray Guss Jr. Scratched: Jake O'Neil
Polesitter Morgan Bagley jumped to the lead at the drop of the green flag, fighting back early challenges from third-starting Rob Toland. A yellow flag waved on lap seven when Brian Ledbetter slowed in turn four. Using the restart to his advantage, Matt Furman shot into the second-place spot, as a Toland drew a caution on lap eight when his smoking No. 39 slowed in turns three and four. Bagley stretched his lead late-race to win the C-main, with Furman finishing runner-up. Mason Zeigler, Ray Guss Jr. and Rich Bell all transfer to the B-main.
Finish (top five transfer to B-main): Morgan Bagley, Matt Furman, Mason Zeigler, Ray Guss Jr., Rich Bell, Dave Eckrich, Mike Fryer, Charlie McKenna, Jay Johnson, Joel Callahan, Mitch McGrath, John Duty, Justin Duty, Nick Marolf, Rob Toland, Brian Ledbetter, Rob Moss, Doug Sanders, Colton Flinner. Scratched: Vic Hill, Chad Holladay, Kerry King Sr.
More pre-race notes
Absolutely gorgeous weather conditions prevail for the finale of the Knoxville Nationals: clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. … With only four scheduled starters in the D-Main remaining in action tonight, Lucas Oil officials scrapped the race. … Six of the 10 former Knoxville Nationals winners are locked into the 100-lap feature: Billy Moyer (starts seventh), Scott Bloomquist (eighth), Don O’Neal (11th), Tim McCreadie (14th), Steve Francis (20th) and Darrell Lanigan (21st). The other four previous race champions did not enter the weekend’s activities, including the last two victors — Jared Landers, who is sidelined indefinitely with a torn carotid artery, and the retired Brian Birkhofer — plus Brady Smith (also retired) and Brian Shirley (recovering from a concussion). … Jimmy Mars starts 15th in the A-Main, keeping alive his perfect record of starting every Knoxville Nationals headliner since its inception in 2004. He is the only driver who can claim such a distinction — though he’s still looking for his first win in the event. … Brandon Sheppard made an engine change after experiencing problems during Friday’s feature. … Also swapping powerplants for Saturday night’s action was Billy Moyer, who made his move in search of a better power combination for the Knoxville. The vibration that forced him out of Friday night’s feature was found to have been caused by transmission-related problem that was corrected. … After Shane Clanton’s Friday action ended with problems during time trials, he will start ninth in the 100-lapper with new rocker arms installed on his car’s engine. … Jake O’Neil of Tucson, Ariz., is scratched from Saturday’s competition due to terminal engine problems that parked him on Friday. His departure saddened his fellow Tucson native R.C. Whitwell, who said he was looking forward to lining up in the B-Main with O’Neil and another Arizonian, Chandler’s Ricky Thornton Jr. Whitwell, O’Neil and Thornton are scheduled to start 13th, 14th and 16th, respectively, in the last-chance race. … Joel Callahan is ready to start on the outside pole of the C-Main after repairing extensive front-end damage his car sustained in a wild, bouncing ride down the homestretch in Friday’s B-Main. … Lucas Oil Series director Rick Schwallie confirmed that the dates for the 2017 Late Model Knoxville Nationals will be Sept. 14-16.
For two days Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., has struggled to find the Knoxville speed that he flashed last year in winning the first preliminary feature and leading much of the 100-lapper’s first half before retiring due to mechanical failure. “It’s been frustrating,” said Davenport, who finished ninth in both preliminary A-Mains and starts 19th in tonight’s headliner. “We just can’t get a balance on the car, just like at Eldora (last weekend). We’re either too far one way or too far the other way. I don’t know … we’re just missing the boat somewhere. Right now I can make speed on the top but not in the middle or the bottom yet.” … Chad Simpson of Mount Vernon, Iowa, is another 2015 Knoxville standout who is struggling to recapture his magic this year. A winner of a preliminary feature and the sixth-place finisher in the 100 last year, Simpson failed to qualify for both the Thursday and Friday prelim A-Mains. “I think we’re close,” said Simpson, who starts sixth in the B-Main driving a Victory Circle car he debuted last month. “We’re just missing one little thing, but we haven’t figured it out yet. I feel like I’m just not getting the exit speed I need. I can get in and roll through the center really good, but I can’t get off like I want to.” … Missing from the pit area today is Ryan Gustin of Marshalltown, Iowa, who scratched from further competition after experiencing back-to-back motor failures in prelim night heats — a busted fan belt that caused the engine in his Gressel Racing Rocket XR1 car to melt down on Thursday, and an undetermined powerplant malfunction in his older 2015 Rocket mount on Friday. “It’s very frustrating to say the least,” said the 26-year-old talent, who has been focusing primarily on open-wheel modified racing this season (he scored a $40,000 mod win in Wisconsin last weekend). … Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., had a succinct answer when asked how the backup engine he had in his Team Dillon Racing car on Friday night performed for him: “We used all of it.” Indeed, the powerplant isn’t as strong or fresh as the one he experienced problems with on Thursday, but after it carried him to a fourth-place finish in Friday’s prelim A-Main he thinks it can still get him to victory lane in the headliner. “I know it’s tired but it’s a good piece,” said McDowell, who starts third in the 100-lapper. “I look for the racetrack to get a little slower (in the feature), which will help us.”
The 13th annual Lucas Oil Knoxville Late Model Nationals presented by Casey’s General Store concludes Saturday night with last-chance races and the 100-lap headliner at the famed Knoxville Raceway, a half-mile fairgrounds oval best known for hosting sprint car racing.
The lineups for Saturday night’s events were determined using each driver’s best points night from the pair of preliminary programs. Josh Richards’s 500-point total on Friday night earned him the pole position for the 100-lapper that offers a $40,000 top prize.
Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. CT with racing slated to start at 7:15 p.m. CT.
Saturday’s C-Main lineup
(15 laps; top five transfer to B-Main)
Row 1: Morgan Bagley, Joel Callahan
Row 2: Rob Toland, Ray Guss Jr.
Row 3: Matt Furman, Rich Bell
Row 4: Nick Marolf, Vic Hill
Row 5: Dave Eckrich, Chad Holladay
Row 6: Justin Duty, Mike Fryer
Row 7: Rob Moss, Colton Flinner
Row 8: Jay Johnson, Kerry King Sr.
Row 9: Mason Zeigler, Doug Sanders
Row 10: Brian Ledbetter, John Duty
Row 11: Mitch McGrath, Charlie McKenna
Saturday’s B-Main lineup
(20 laps; top six transfer to A-Main)
Row 1: Gregg Satterlee, Chad Mahder
Row 2: Tim Lance, Jason Rauen
Row 3: Spencer Diercks, Chad Simpson
Row 4: Kent Robinson, Brent Larson
Row 5: Jason Feger, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 6: Billy Moyer Jr., Ricky Weiss
Row 7: R.C. Whitwell, Jake O’Neil
Row 8: Nick Hoffman, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 9: Ryan Unzicker, Jason Utter
Row 10: C-Main transfers
Row 11: C-Main transfers
Knoxville Nationals points standings
(best points night of preliminaries)
1. Josh Richards 500
2. Jimmy Owens 488
3. Dale McDowell 488
4. Mike Marlar 484
5. Chris Simpson 483
6. Shannon Babb 483
7. Billy Moyer 482
8. Scott Bloomquist 481
9. Shane Clanton 479
10. Bobby Pierce 476
11. Don O’Neal 474
12. Rodney Sanders 474
13. Brandon Sheppard 469
14. Tim McCreadie 467
15. Jimmy Mars 466
16. Dennis Erb Jr. 458
17. Earl Pearson Jr. 455
18. Tyler Erb 452
19. Jonathan Davenport 451
20. Steve Francis 448
21. Darrell Lanigan 446
22. Kyle Bronson 442
23. Chase Junghans 442
24. Joey Moriarty 441
25. Gregg Satterlee 432
26. Chad Mahder 432
27. Tim Lance 430
28. Jason Rauen 426
29. Spencer Diercks 425
30. Chad Simpson 420
31. Kent Robinson 412
32. Brent Larson 411
33. Jason Feger 410
34. Frank Heckenast Jr. 405
35. Billy Moyer Jr. 403
36. Ricky Weiss 396
37. R.C. Whitwell 392
38. Jake O’Neil 388
39. Nick Hoffman 383
40. Ricky Thornton Jr. 373
41. Ryan Unzicker 373
42. Jason Utter 369
43. Morgan Bagley 363
44. Joel Callahan 361
45. Rob Toland 360
46. Ray Guss Jr. 357
47. Matt Furman 353
48. Rich Bell 352
49. Nick Marolf 338
50. Vic Hill 337
51. Dave Eckrich 322
52. Chad Holladay 322
53. Justin Duty 320
54. Mike Fryer 309
55. Rob Moss 306
56. Colton Flinner 300
57. Jay Johnson 297
58. Kerry King Sr. 294
59. Mason Zeigler 292
60. Doug Sanders 290
61. Jared Hawkins 289
62. Brian Ledbetter 287
63. John Duty 284
64. Mitch McGrath 278
65. Donny Schatz 277
66. Ryan Gustin 267
67. Jesse Sobbing 265
68. Charlie McKenna 242
69. Al Humphrey 238