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Poll Position presented by Keyser Manufacturing

Top 25: Marlar hot on heels of No. 1's Pierce

April 9, 2024, 6:30 am
By Kevin Kovac
DirtonDirt.com senior writer
Mike Marlar (heathlawsonphotos.com)
Mike Marlar (heathlawsonphotos.com)

An idle Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., remained atop of DirtonDirt.com’s power rankings for the fourth consecutive poll of 2024 but now finds a red-hot Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., breathing down his rear bumper.

The 27-year-old Pierce, the winningest Super Late Model driver through the first three-plus months of the season, opted to sit out the weekend while preparing for a return to World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series action with April 12-13’s Illini 100 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway. Panelists kept him in the No. 1 spot of the Top 25 poll presented by Keyser Manufacturing, however, by giving him eight of the 10 first-place votes.

Marlar, 46, collected the week’s other two first-place votes following back-to-back victories worth a combined $42,000 in the XR Super Series-sanctioned Spring Thaw at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn. The triumphs continued his post-Speedweeks run of success — six straight podium finishes — as he rose three spots to No. 2 in the poll.

Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, the runner-up behind Marlar in both Spring Thaw features, remained third in the poll. Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., didn’t contend for a win at Volunteer, slipped from second to fourth in the rankings.

Marlar was among three drivers to advance three positions in the poll, joining Schaeffer’s Spring Nationals feature winners Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga. (No. 17) and Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla. (No. 21). No new drivers cracked the Top 25.

Voting is done by a 10-member committee made up of staffers and contributors to determine the Top 25 power rankings: Richard Allen, Jeff Broeg, Kelley Carlton, Aaron Clay, Ryan Delph, Josh James, Derek Kessinger, Kevin Kovac, Kyle McFadden, Mike Ruefer and Kyle Symons. Results are compiled and tabulated by Todd Turner, who serves as a voting alternate along with Aaron Clay.

Rankings appear Tuesdays through mid-November provided at least half of the drivers in the current rankings are in action in the previous week.

1. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.

Comment: Took weekend off to prep for return to WoO action on home turf at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway’s Illini 100. Series points: 16th (WoO). Previous ranking: 1st (nc)

2. Mike Marlar, Winfield, Tenn.

Comment: Pockets $42,000 for sublime sweep of Volunteer’s Spring Thaw, continuing his post-Speedweeks hot streak with Lucas Oil’s Mid-Atlantic swing next on his published schedule. Series points: 1st (XRSS); 5th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 5th (+3)

3. Devin Moran, Dresden, Ohio

Comment: Following pair of runner-up finishes at Volunteer’s Spring Thaw, the Double Down Motorsports driver shows no racing on his schedule until Lucas Oil Series resumes at end of month. Series points: 2nd (XRSS); 3rd (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 3rd (nc)

4. Ricky Thornton Jr., Chandler, Ariz.

Comment: Quiet Spring Thaw weekend brings finishes of ninth in headliner (after early pit stop) and sixth. Heads to Wheatland, Mo., this weekend for MLRA doubleheader. Series points: 1st (Lucas Oil); 6th (XRSS). Previous ranking: 2nd (-2)

5. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.

Comment: After a third-place finish in Saturday’s Spring Thaw is high point of his weekend, returns home to look toward month-ending Lucas Oil tripleheader. Series points: 2nd (Lucas Oil); 3rd (XRSS). Previous ranking: 4th (-1)

6. Brandon Overton, Evans, Ga.

Comment: Runs into trouble with Jimmy Owens in Spring Thaw headliner but rebounds for fifth on Sunday. Pointed toward Florida and All-Tech’s Hunt the Front Series twinbill. Series points: 1st (HTF); 6th (Spring Nationals); 7th (XRSS). Previous ranking: 6th (nc)

7. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, Ill.

Comment: Off weekend provides time for Longhorn Factory driver to prep for resumption of WoO tour with Illini 100 at Farmer City oval he knows well. Series points: 1st (WoO); 7th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 7th (nc)

8. Hudson O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.

Comment: Continues steady but unspectacular runs in Kevin Rumley’s Longhorn with two sevenths at Spring Thaw. Dirt Late Model world now awaits announcement of his plans for remainder of season. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil); 5th (XRSS). Previous ranking: 8th (nc)

9. Daulton Wilson, Fayetteville, N.C.

Comment: Places fifth in Spring Thaw headliner before ending weekend 10th-place run. Will tow south for All-Tech’s Hunt the Front action to chase $5,000 and $15,000 prizes. Series points: 4th (XRSS); 6th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 9th (nc)

10. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.

Comment: Ready to end month away from racetrack with trip to Farmer City’s Illini 100. Series points: 2nd (WoO). Previous ranking: 10th (nc)

11. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.

Comment: Two-week break set to end as new Rocket Chassis house car driver heads to Farmer City’s WoO-sanctioned Illini 100, an event he hasn’t entered since 2015. Series points: 9th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 11th (nc)

12. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.

Comment: Knocked from lead in Spring Thaw headliner by broken driveshaft, but salvages weekend Sunday with a fourth. Set for Saturday trip to North Georgia for Spring Nationals show. Series points: 6th (Spring Nationals). Previous ranking: 13th (+1)

13. Tyler Erb, New Waverly, Texas

Comment: Goes from 23rd-to-sixth in Saturday’s Spring Thaw 60-lapper after heat-race trouble. Farmer City’s Illini 100 next agenda. Series points: 9th (XRSS); 11th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 12th (-1)

14. Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa

Comment: Takes weekend off with WoO competition at Farmer City looming on horizon. Series points: 7th (WoO). Previous ranking: 15th (+1)

15. Cade Dillard, Robeline, La.

Comment: Spent weekend running a modified in three-day USMTS special in Humboldt, Kan. He’ll end month-long absence from Dirt Late Model action at Illini 100. Series points: 3rd (WoO). Previous ranking: 14th (-1)

16. Max Blair, Centerville, Pa.

Comment: Weekend weather keeps Blair idle, but he’ll hit road this weekend to take first-ever shot at Farmer City’s Illini 100. Series points: 13th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 16th (nc)

17. Ashton Winger, Hampton, Ga.

Comment: Nails Spring Nationals triumph Friday at Alabama’s Buckshot Speedway and follows up with fourth-place run in tour’s visit to East Alabama. All-Tech’s Hunt the Front doubleheader up next. Series points: None. Previous ranking: 20th (+3)

18. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.

Comment: Recovers from tangle with Brandon Overton in Spring Thaw headliner to place third in Sunday’s postponed feature. Schedule currently empty until month-ending Lucas Oil tripleheader. Series points: 8th (Lucas Oil); 8th (XRSS); 13th (WoO). Previous ranking: 19th (+1)

19. Nick Hoffman, Mooresville, N.C.

Comment: Tye Twarog’s driver spends weekend regrouping in advance of returning to WoO trail at Farmer City. Series points: 5th (WoO). Previous ranking: 17th (-2)

20. Garrett Alberson, Las Cruces, N.M.

Comment: Idle after planned MLRA action at Tri-City Speedway was called off early, Alberson will choose this weekend between MLRA at Wheatland and WoO at Farmer City. Series points: 10th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 18th (-2)

21. Kyle Bronson, Brandon, Fla.

Comment: Ends nearly nine-month winless slump with dramatic last-lap Spring Nationals victory over Zack Mitchell at East Alabama. Will look to carry momentum to Farmer City. Series points: 8th (WoO). Previous ranking: 24th (+3)

22. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, Ill.

Comment: Tallies 27th career Northern Allstars victory in Ira Bastin Memorial at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway. Staying in home state this weekend for Farmer City’s Illini 100. Series points: 6th (WoO). Previous ranking: 21st (-1)

23. Tyler Bruening, Decorah, Iowa

Comment: Two-month break from racing will come to end this weekend with return to WoO grind at Farmer City. Series points: 4th (WoO). Previous ranking: T22nd (-1)

24. Brian Shirley, Chatham, Ill.

Comment: No racing over first weekend of April as he preps to put experience at Farmer City to use in Illini 100. Series points: 9th (WoO). Previous ranking: T22nd (-2)

25. Garrett Smith, Eatonton, Ga.

Comment: Third-place finish at East Alabama is highlight of weekend with Spring Nationals. Has trip to Midwest for MLRA doubleheader at Wheatland on his schedule. Series points: None. Previous ranking: 25th (nc)

Others receiving votes: Cory Hedgecock (15), Spencer Hughes (11), Ben Watkins (11), Cody Overton (9), Josh Rice (6), Kyle Larson (4), Tanner English (4), Donald McIntosh (4), Zack Mitchell (3), Carson Ferguson (1), Dalton Cook (1), Trent Ivey (1).

DirtonDirt Top 25

Pos. Driver (Pts.) (1st place)
1. Bobby Pierce (245) (8)
2. Mike Marlar (237) (2)
3. Devin Moran (228)
4. Ricky Thornton Jr. (226)
5. Jonathan Davenport (206)
6. Brandon Overton (196)
7. Brandon Sheppard (189)
8. Hudson O'Neal (178)
9. Daulton Wilson (167)
10. Chris Madden (146)
11. Tim McCreadie (130)
12. Dale McDowell (119)
13. Tyler Erb (118)
14. Ryan Gustin (107)
15. Cade Dillard (104)
16. Max Blair (92)
17. Ashton Winger (90)
18. Jimmy Owens (83)
19. Nick Hoffman (75)
20. Garrett Alberson (72)
21. Kyle Bronson (68)
22. Dennis Erb Jr. (58)
23. Tyler Bruening (21)
24. Brian Shirley (17)
25. Garrett Smith (13)
Others receiving votes: Zack Mitchell (12), Ricky Weiss (11), Chris Ferguson (10), Spencer Hughes (7), Josh Rice (7), Logan Martin (5), Cory Hedgecock (3), Cody Overton (2), Kyle Larson (2), Dalton Cook (2), Trent Ivey (2), Payton Freeman (1), Ben Watkins (1).

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