by Bill Wright
KNOXVILLE, Iowa (September 16, 2017) – Mike Marlar took a late lead from Josh Richards and captured the $40,000 14th Annual Lucas Oil Knoxville Late Model Nationals at Knoxville Raceway Saturday night. The Winfield, Tennessee driver becomes the first in the event’s history to repeat as champion. His win came aboard Ronnie Delk #157.
It was Jonathan Davenport who took the early advantage in the 100-lap event. Josh Richards quickly moved into second. The track was lightning fast early as a two and a half hour rain delay followed a B main won by Jesse Stovall.
The first of a number of cautions came out when former champ Brian Shirley got into the wall on lap 17. That was a curse for Davenport, who lost his lead to Richards on the restart after jumping the turn two cushion. He would recover after falling back to sixth. A number of flat tires would plague contenders like Chris Simpson, Terry Babb and Jimmy Mars early.
Davenport battled back by Mike Marlar for second before the mandatory red flag came out for fuel at the halfway point. Davenport’s right front was flat at that point and he restarted at the tail. Richards led the field at the start of the second half, followed by Marlar, Brandon Sheppard, Don O’Neal and Jared Landers. While several battles behind him were furious, Richards maintained his quick pace on the cushion to pace the field.
Richards would continue to lead with Marlar in tow. Jimmy Owens grabbed third on lap 89, followed by Mars, who had restarted at the tail on lap 28. Marlar pulled up on Richards, showing his nose with nine to go. He would make his winning pass a lap later.
With five laps to go, disaster struck Richards, who suffered a flat of his own, sending him into the turn three wall. He was uninjured. Marlar would sail to the popular win, ahead of Davenport, who made a fantastic run from the tail at the halfway point. Landers was third, ahead of Mars and Owens. Sheppard, event rookie Hudson O’Neal, Bobby Pierce, hard-charger Steve Francis and Tim McCreadie rounded out the top ten.
“Tonight really makes me feel good about being a racecar driver,” said Marlar. “That wasn’t a race, it was a battle. With 25 to go, I thought I needed to start going there and give it everything I had. I let Jared get by me, and when I got back by me, I thought, ‘I’m good’. I think Josh wasn’t at his best when I passed him. I think he was having an issue. I can’t say enough about my team, my crew and my owner.”
“I had a plan there (on the last restart) and it worked out,” said Davenport. “I thought, ‘where’s everyone going?’ They were all down in the slick and they left the door open. Our car just wasn’t good in traffic. We were blowing the nose over and lay on the right rear. I’m sure the best car won. Josh passed me early too. I have to thank my guys for getting me back out here, and congratulations to Mike.”
“I hurt my tire on lap 50, and I was worried about it,” said Landers. “I got to racing with Josh there and I started running hard. I got a good rhythm, and then we had a caution and I started jumping the cushion. I took myself out of (second), but we’ll take a top three. That was a lot of laps. I haven’t done that in a while. This is awesome. We had a great weekend.”
The 2017 season concludes next Saturday night, September 23 with the 29th running of the Enduro! For more information, visit www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com!
14th Annual Knoxville Late Model Nationals Results
B main (started), 20 Laps, NT: 1. 00, Jesse Stovall, Billings, MO (1); 2. 40B, Kyle Bronson, Brandon, FL (3); 3. 15, Steve Francis, Bowling Green, KY (2); 4. 91, Tyler Erb, New Waverly, TX (4); 5. 29, Spencer Diercks, Davenport, IA (6); 6. B1, Brent Larson, Lake Elmo, MN (12) / 7. 16, Tyler Bruening, Decorah, IA (7); 8. 51, Matt Furman, Portland, OR (9); 9. 22B, Jonathan Brauns, Muscatine, IA (18); 10. 51M, Joey Moriarty, Phoenix, AZ (14); 11. 24, Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA (13); 12. 58H, Jeremiah Hurst, Dubuque, IA (10); 13. 5T, Randy Timms, Wheatland, OK (21); 14. 40, Joel Callahan, Dubuque, IA (20); 15. 0J, Jake O’Neil, Tucson, AZ (16); 16. 54, Mike Fryer, Freeport, IL (22); 17. 28, Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL (11); 18. 58, Dave Eckrich, Oxford, IA (17); 19. 15D, Justin Duty, Portland, OR (23); 20. 25F, Jason Feger, Bloomington, IL (5); 21. 77, Jordan Yaggy, Rochester, MN (15); 22. 45, Bob King, Independence, MO (24); 23. 99B, Boom Briggs, Bear Lake, PA (8); 24. 93, Jay Johnson, West Burlington, IA (19); DNS – 75, Colton Flinner, Allison Park, PA, 21x, John Anderson, Omaha, NE, 21, Billy Moyer, Batesville, AR, 21JR, Billy Moyer Jr., Batesville, AR, 48, Tim Lance, Brimfield, IL, 98, Jason Rauen, Farley, IA, 56s, Chris Spieker, Massena, IA, 83, Scott James, Lawrenceburg, IN
A main (started), 100 Laps, NT: 1. 157, Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN (1); 2. 49, Jonathan Davenport, Williamston, SC (2); 3. 1777, Jared Landers, Batesville, AR (7); 4. 28M, Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, WI (10); 5. 20, Jimmy Owens, Newport, TN (11); 6. 1s, Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL (4); 7. 71, Hudson O’Neal, Martinsville, IN (22); 8. 32, Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL (19); 9. Steve Francis (27); 10. 39, Tim McCreadie, Watertown, NY (6); 11. 32s, Chris Simpson, Oxford, IA (8); 12. 18, Chase Junghans, Manhattan, KS (18); 13. 0, Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, TN (12); 14. 1, Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, FL (21); 15. 17m, Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA (16); 16. Jesse Stovall (25); 17. Brent Larson (30); 18. 1R, Josh Richards, Shinnston, WV (3); 19. Kyle Bronson (26); 20. 20s, Rodney Sanders, Happy, TX (20); 21. C8, Timothy Culp, Prattsville, AR (23); 22. 14, Darrell Lanigan, Union, KY (9); 23. 18B, Shannon Babb, Mowequa, IL (17); 24. 5, Don O’Neal, Martinsville, IN (5); 25. Tyler Erb (28); 26. 25, Chad Simpson, Mt. Vernon, IA (13); 27. 22, Greg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, PA (14); 28. 7R, Kent Robinson, Bloomington, IN (24); 29. Dennis Erb Jr. (31, prov.); 30. 3s, Brian Shirley, Chatham, IL (15); 31. Spencer Diercks (29); 32. Boom Briggs (32, prov.). Lap Leaders: Davenport 1-17, Richards 18-91, Marlar 92-100. Hard-charger: Francis.