Although it seemed as if the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series weekend of racing across Pennsylvania would be a complete wash out after Friday night’s race at Williams Grove Speedway was cancelled due to afternoon thunderstorms, two series regulars found a damp start to be exactly what they needed to race their way to victory lane on Saturday and Sunday.
After starting Saturday night’s 40-lap feature inside the top-five, Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series rookie Mike Marlar didn’t let the fact that he has never raced at the Port Royal Speedway stop him from blazing a fast time trial lap of 17.544, winning his heat race and taking the lead in this feature race within four laps of the drop of the green flag. Despite having to face off against the Rocket Brandon Sheppard, Marlar led until just inside of ten laps remaining in this race. After approaching the rear bumper of a slower car down the backstretch, Marlar’s car suddenly broke loose and slid up the track into the outside retaining wall. The level of contact was nothing major, but he did lose a 1.5-second lead over Sheppard in the process.
While sustaining a bit of damage from the contact, including a bent right front bumper, Marlar kept his No. 157 kept the car under control and parked it in Victory Lane for his fifth win of the 2018 season and seventh on the all-time wins list.
“Everything was going good until I came up on that lapped car,” said Marlar. “I thought he was going to go through the middle, and he kind of slid up in front of me and it took the air off of the car’s nose. This place is so big and high-speed that it nearly wrecked me, but my team gave me the perfect car to hang on for the win.”
Following his win at Port Royal Speedway, Marlar had to settle for a fourth-place finish in Sunday night’s feature at Eriez Speedway. While this Winfield, Tennessee, native came up short, a driver with an axe to grind and a three-year winless streak to break saw his dry spell come to an end after an almost perfect event across the board.
After the No. 18 of Chase Junghans crossed the checkers in first place in the second heat race, the Kansas-born driver went on to re-draw the outside pole, alongside track favorite Boom Briggs. After the wave of the green flag, Junghans took the lead and never looked back, leading all but just one lap out of the 50.
Much like Marlar, Junghans, who hadn’t earned a win since 2015, also had to hold off the No. 1 of Brandon Sheppard during the final 10 laps of this race. In fact, a yellow flag with just ten laps remaining re-stacked the field, giving second-place running Brandon Sheppard a few final shots at the lead. But Junghans stuck to his line and prevailed.
“I started hearing someone, but before that caution I saw that blue No.1 car and I was like dang, he’s about to pass me,” said Junghans. “After the caution came out and my guys told me where they thought I should run, I moved up a little bit on the track, and that worked to keep me in the lead and earn this win.”
After breaking this dry spell and earning some momentum, Junghans said he hopes to keep things going in the upcoming World 100 at Eldora in two weeks.
As for the stars of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series, these drivers will have a bit of a break for a few weeks before heading to Dundee, New York for the upcoming Fall Nationals, September 21-22. Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com for all your dirt racing coverage.