COLUMBUS, Miss. (June 1) — Mike Marlar came close to recording a podium finish in each of the weekend’s two preliminary features for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned Geico Clash at the Mag. His fifth-place finish in Thursday’s opener and his fourth-place run in Friday’s 25-lapper made the Winfield, Tenn., driver one of only three to finish in the top five in both prelims for the 11th annual event at Magnolia Motor Speedway, joining Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., and Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind.
Building on that success, Marlar turned in a dominating performance in Saturday’s 100-lap finale, becoming the first three-time winner in the Clash at the Mag. Starting fifth in the main event, Marlar slipped by polesitter and early leader McCreadie to lead lap four and went on to pace the remaining 96 laps. Finishing 1.871 seconds ahead of McCreadie, Marlar earned $15,000 for his first Lucas Oil Series win of the season and 10th of his career.
Fourth-starting Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., finished third, while Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., winner of Thursday’s prelim feature, slipped to fourth after starting on the front row alongside McCreadie. Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., finished fifth after starting eighth.
While Marlar’s two finishes in the preliminary features pointed that he’d be a contender in Saturday’s finale, he stopped just short of saying he expected to win.
“Racing is such a humbling deal, it’s hard to ever be that confident, but I know on Thursday or whatever day it is we leave from the shop that I’m capable of winning any race,” said Marlar. “You just work at getting you car the best possible. I knew that if that racetrack would ever clean up where you could get out in the middle of the racetrack … I thought my car was maneuverable.
“Both (prelim) nights, the track was in a condition were it doesn’t do any good to be maneuverable you know. It was just kinda one-laned both nights. I knew at the end of (Friday) night, I thought, man I’ve got a good car and I just hope this racetrack gets clean and wide. Luckily I got to the lead there (because) it never did do that. But I got to the lead early and it worked. I knew I had a good car both nights, but I wasn’t confident (enough) to say we’re gonna win this.”
Once in the lead, Marlar pulled ahead by as much as a full straightaway. Throughout the caution-free race, his advantage was as much as 2 seconds and as scant as just 0.562 seconds. McCreadie closed to within Marlar’s rear deck on lap 60, but a lap later Marlar scooted away and McCreadie never got any closer.
While he said he never knew exactly where his competition was — Marlar doesn’t use a spotter — he said that each time he approached traffic, he knew McCreadie and other pursuers had to be close behind. Still, that wasn’t the biggest thing that worried him. His biggest focus was on a rough patch of the track exiting turn four that Marlar said he wasn’t quite prepared for.
“Two things had me concerned. I did not expect the track to have that spot in it, so I didn’t have and inner beadlock on the left rear and I was really concerned about catching it wrong,” Marlar said. “So I was driving a weird line just so I wouldn’t break my left rear tire down because I don’t really like to have an inner beadlock when it’s really slow and slick. So I wasn’t prepared for that hole to be there endurance-wise with my wheel. So I was concerned about that. That and the yuke tire both.
“To do it right, you’d have to go in there and hit that bump and it would rotate the car and it would leave grazing that yuke tire. I never really tried to do that too much. I just knew I really wasn’t making as good a corner as I could. But there were some times, like when I was trying to pass Jimmy (Owens) or when I was trying to pass Hudson (O’Neal), I just went in there and did what I had to do and bent it and hit that hole and got aimed, grazed the tire and went under them down the front straightaway. So it was definitely a hard thing to navigate 100 out of 100 laps.”
Though he was able to draw close in traffic, McCreadie never got a chance to regain the lead nor was his runner-up position really ever challenged.
“Mikey was better. I could make time on him in traffic a little bit, but he was very maneuverable through the little bit of holes over here and I’m struggling in them,” McCreadie said. “I just got to work on some stuff. We’re probably a little bit too rigid to run in that stuff. I was hoping for a yellow because sometimes a yellow shakes things up, but it wasn’t to be.”
For McCreadie, it was his third consecutive runner-up finish, each behind a different winner.
“It shows we got raw speed. We need a little maneuverability,” he said. “The first night I really thought we had it about as down as it could be and then the rubber came and it showed us what I’m doing. It’s just too much instant everything. Instant side bite, instant traction, instant everything and we need to mellow it out because when you slide through that hole, that’s so much grip.
“If you don’t hit it right or if you don’t straddle it, it gets you hoppin' and I’d just get hoppin’ and I couldn’t stop until I got down here somewhere (closer to the straightway). Maybe someone with a little better foot could’ve controlled it better, but I did the best I could.”
Davenport finished a whopping 3.925 seconds behind McCreadie, a deficit he thought could have been much closer if not for some mid-race contact while negotiating lapped traffic.
“We just started riding there the first 40 laps just to save our tires,” Davenport said. “When I decided to go, this thing was on point and I drove right up through there. I run the leaders down and got by a couple and was really patient with lapped cars there. We got by Billy Moyer and me and Josh (Richards) was racing and he come across Billy’s nose … I guess he didn’t know I was down there … but anyway me and him hit and it towed (the steering) in pretty good and then I was pretty much just hanging on from there.
“It’s one of them what-if races. I’d liked to have seen what this thing would have done with an inch of toe out instead of three inches of toe in. I think we could have fought for the win there. But who knows, Marlar was awful good. Congratulations to him and congratulations to Timmy.”
Notes: Marlar’s last Lucas Oil Series victory came in the 2017 Clash at the Mag. He also won the event in 2013. … It was his second overall win of the season. He won a $7,000 DIRTcar-sanctioned race on Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park in a car prepared by Kevin and Lee Roy Rumley. … The caution-free feature marked the third such race of the weekend, giving drivers 150 caution-free feature laps. … There were 19 cars running at the finish, with 11 completing all 100 laps. … Struggling throughout the weekend, Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., took a series provisional to make his first feature start and finished 15th. … Former modified racer Stormy Scott of Las Cruces, N.M., completed all 100 circuits and finished 11th in his first career start in a 100-lap race. … Scott Dedwylder of Vossburg, Miss., had mechanical trouble in his consolation race, but after earning a provisional based on combined points from Thursday and Friday prelims, he jumped in Steve Russell’s Crate Late Model to start the feature. Dedwylder was the first retiree after completing 27 laps.
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Josh Richards
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Jonathan Davenport
Row 3: Mike Marlar, Devin Moran
Row 4: Tyler Erb, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 5: Stormy Scott, Timothy Culp
Row 6: Bobby Pierce, Hudson O’Neal
Row 7: Kyle Bronson, Neil Baggett
Row 8: Dane Dacus, Michael Arnold
Row 9: Billy Moyer, Brian Rickman
Row 10: Jimmy Owens, Eric Cooley
Row 11: Shanon Buckingham, Chad Thrash
Row 12: Billy Moyer Jr., Scott Dedwylder
First consolation (top two transfer): Jimmy Owens, Shanon Buckingham, B.J. Robinson, Shay Knight, Gavin Landers, Clay Fisher, Scott Dedwylder. Scratched: David Payne.
Second consolation (top two transfer): Eric Cooley, Chad Thrash, Rick Rickman, Austin Arnold, Christian Hanger, Billy Moyer Jr., Morgan Bagley, Shelby Sheedy, Robbie Stuart. Scratched: Joey Moriarty.
(12 laps, top two transfer)
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Scott Dedwylder
Row 2: Shanon Buckingham, B.J. Robinson
Row 3: Chad Thrash, Gavin Landers
Row 4: Christian Hanger, Clay Fisher
Row 5: David Payne, Austin Arnold
Row 6: Nick Curole
Row 1: Eric Cooley, Rick Rickman
Row 2: Robbie Stuart, Shay Knight
Row 3: Billy Moyer Jr., Shelby Sheedy
Row 4: Joey Moriarty, Colton Horner
Row 5: Morgan Bagley, Cade Dillard
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., the polesitter for Saturday’s 11th annual Geico Clash at the Mag, has had then help of Kevin Rumley this weekend. McCreadie said the more help the better, whether it be from a mechanical standpoint or just extra manpower. “It’s eased the pain of me trying to figure out everything all the time,” said McCreadie. … Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who won Thursday’s 25-lap preliminary feature is eyeing a little more consistency after finishing seventh on Friday. “I had a good car the first night and (Friday) night we tried to do the same thing. And I was probably trying to move around too much. We got the two worse nights out of the way,” said Richards. … Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., will start third in Saturday’s feature, but he said it typically doesn’t matter where you start a 100-lapper at Magnolia. “When the racetrack’s right, as long as you make the race, you have a shot at winning,” said O’Neal. … Three drivers, McCreadie, Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., and O’Neal finished inside the top five in each preliminary feature, with McCreadie’s two runner-up finishes landed him the pole for the 11th annual Geico Clash at the Mag 100-lap main event. … Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., won at $10,052 Schaeffer’s Spring Nationals race at Tennessee’s 411 Motor Speedway on May 27, but he’s struggled mightily at Magnolia. He’s one of three series regulars relegated to a consolation race. “It’s definitely been adventurous,” said Owens. “We’ve kinda struggled and I’m usually pretty good here. But we still have a few tricks up our sleeve for the feature.” … Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio finished third in Friday’s prelim, but was lucky to make it to the finish. As Moran made his way to the front straight for the podium interview, he lost a driveshaft in his Dunn Benson Motorsports Rocket. “We had some rearend problems there after the race and I didn’t even know anything was wrong,” said Moran during his post-race interview. “Just came down through here and spun the rearend and pulled the drive shaft out, so we’ve got to get a wrecker to tow her back. At least it lasted all 25 (laps) though.” … After two nights of prelims resulted in a bottom dominant track during the final 10 laps of each feature, Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., had a theory. “I’m hoping the gameplan here is that they were trying to save everyone’s equipment and then they’re gonna do something to the track so it’s not one-laned and we can put on a show for the fans and for TV. Whenever these TV races come on, you want to see a good race.” … The 100-lap grind will be the longest race of Las Cruces, N.M.’s Stormy Scott, a former modified race making a foray in the full-gendered division. … Thursday’s 39 entries was a high for the weekend. Two drivers, Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., and Nick Curole of Metairie, La., departed on Friday. Dillard headed east to compete in the weekend’s World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series events in Georgia and South Carolina. … … After a pair of sixth-place finishes, Tyler Erb of New Waverley, Texas, will start sixth on Saturday. Erb is still looking for his first series win since February’s Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. … After finishing eighth in Friday’s 25-lap prelim, Timothy Culp of Prattsville, Ark., succinctly summed up his team’s effort. “We ain’t no rocket scientists, but we kinda know what we’re doing.”
4:30-5:15 p.m.: Dirt Racing Outreach service
5:30-6:15 p.m.: Autograph session
6:30 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
7 p.m.: Hot laps/Time trials/Racing
- Crate Late Model hot laps
- Lucas Oil Late Model consolation cars hot laps
- Late Model Sportsman hot laps
- Crate Late Model time trials
- Lucas Oil Late Model consolations
- Lucas Oil Late Model locked-in cars hot laps
- Street stock hot laps
- Factory stock hot laps
- Hot shot hot laps
- Lucas Oil Late Model feature (100 laps)
- Crate Late Model consolations (if needed)
- Factory stock heats
- Late Model Sportsman heats
- Street stock heats
- Hot shot heats
- Crate Late Model feature
- Factory stock feature
- Late Model Sportsman feature
- Street stock feature
- Hot shot feature