Spring Valley, MN – Mike Marlar was in a league of his own on Saturday night at Deer Creek Speedway for the 39th Annual Gopher 50 sanctioned by the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series. Marlar set fast time, claimed his heat win and dominated the 24-car field during the 50-lap Sears Craftsman Feature en route to his third Series win of 2018.
With this win, Marlar sits only two points shy (or one position in the feature) from overthrowing Chris Madden for the lead of the World of Outlaws Championship point standings.
“I’m a firm believer in if anything bad ever happens to someone, it’s followed by something even better,” said Marlar. “It’s an honor to get a win here tonight.”
On Friday at Dubuque Speedway, it seemed as though Marlar would certainty claim the lead of the point standings by the end of the night; that was until lap 35 of the 40-lap event. After controlling the entire feature, with only five laps remaining, Marlar suffered from a flat right rear tire sending him to the pits for a new Hoosier tire and then to the tail of the feature.
What was only a four-point difference in the standings headed into Friday’s event, then stretched to 16 points headed into Series action on Saturday at Deer Creek. On Saturday, Marlar rebounded from the previous night’s heartbreak with a picture-perfect night for the No. 157 Delk Equipment team.
“You know [the points are getting tighter]. I was so bummed out this morning and so we all made a decision that we’re not points racing from here on out, we just come to race and do the best we can do, and if we win the points that’s great, but if we don’t, we’ll hug the guy that does,” said Marlar.
As a man of his word, Marlar did just that; focused on the racing and not on the point standings.
“I said this before the race, you all have a special, special racetrack with a lot of electricity here,” said Marlar. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many fans come into the pits at three o’clock today.”
The crowd was electric throughout the evening but especially during the thrilling feature event which kept the fans on the edge of their seats.
Pole-sitter Shane Clanton led the first 29 laps of the 50-lap shootout ahead of a close battle for second between Marlar and Chris Simpson. Marlar broke free of Simpson’s grasp to take the lead from Clanton on lap 30. From there, Marlar never looked back as he expanded his lead to more than four seconds by lap 46.
Behind Marlar was a wild battle for second between Series veteran Clanton and young gun Tyler Erb. Multiple slide jobs were exchanged between the pair but Clanton held Erb off for the runner-up spot.
“We just have to get lady luck off our back,” said Clanton. “We had a good car tonight we just made the wrong adjustment there and we were a little too tight later in the run. Excellent car for the first 25 laps. Couldn’t have asked for a better one. We’ll take it and head on to Black Hills and try to make a better adjustment.”
Known for his aggressive up-on-the-wheel driving-style, Erb kept Clanton on his toes for the remaining laps of the event.
“He made me get up on the wheel there when he got by me, so I got up on the wheel and got back by him,” said Clanton.
“Those guys have a lot of years on me but I’m super excited when things are going the right way and it makes racing a lot of fun,” said Erb, who is the youngest full-time driver on tour with the World of Outlaws. “Our car was really, really good but I didn’t win that heat and that put us back one more row… I just wish we could have had a caution in there. Another solid run. If we keep knocking off top-five and top three finishes, I think [a win] will come pretty soon.”
The World of Outlaws will trek nearly nine hours to Black Hills Speedway in Black Hills, SD for a 50-lap $10,000-to-win shootout on Tuesday, July 10 which will continue their swing through the Midwest.
Abbreviated Results from Deer Creek Speedway
Sears Craftsman Feature (50 Laps): 1. 157-Mike Marlar [$10,000]; 2. 25-Shane Clanton [$5,000]; 3. 91-Tyler Erb [$3,000]; 4. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$2,500]; 5. 9-Devin Moran [$2,000]; 6. 32-Chris Simpson [$1,700]; 7. 44-Chris Madden [$1,400]; 8. 28-Jimmy Mars [$1,300]; 9. 30-Brian Birkhofer [$1,200]; 10. B1-Brent Larson [$1,100]; 11. 7W-Ricky Weiss [$1,050]; 12. 77-Jordan Yaggy [$1,000]; 13. 18c-Chase Junghans [$950]; 14. 15-Nick Anvelink [$900]; 15. 7-Rick Eckert [$850]; 16. 111-Steven Roberts [$800]; 17. 16-Tyler Bruening [$770]; 18. 10-Paul Parker [$750]; 19. 58e-Dave Eckrich [$730]; 20. 11-Pat Doar [$700]; 21. 85-John Kaanta [$700]; 22. 54-David Breazeale [$700]; 23. 76-Blair Nothdurft [$700]; 24. 58-A.J. Diemel [$700]
Hard Charger Award: 9-Devin Moran[+8]
Qualifying: 1. 157-Mike Marlar, 14.486; 2. 25-Shane Clanton, 14.758; 3. 32-Chris Simpson, 14.762; 4. 9-Devin Moran, 14.802; 5. 1-Brandon Sheppard, 14.822; 6. 91-Tyler Erb, 14.846; 7. 7-Rick Eckert, 14.865; 8. 54-David Breazeale, 14.867; 9. 15-Nick Anvelink, 14.881; 10. 85-John Kaanta, 14.923; 11. 56-Chris Spieker, 14.962; 12. 7W-Ricky Weiss, 14.987; 13. 18c-Chase Junghans, 14.992; 14. 30-Brian Birkhofer, 15.002; 15. 111-Steven Roberts, 15.037; 16. 28-Jimmy Mars, 15.053; 17. 44-Chris Madden, 15.084; 18. B1-Brent Larson, 15.136; 19. 77-Jordan Yaggy, 15.137; 20. 16-Tyler Bruening, 15.172; 21. 10-Paul Parker, 15.2; 22. 11-Pat Doar, 15.243; 23. 90-Lance Matthees, 15.269; 24. 58-A.J. Diemel, 15.284; 25. 25s-Jared Siefert, 15.404; 26. 87-John Emerson, 15.671; 27. 58e-Dave Eckrich, 15.682; 28. 9h-Nick Herrick, 15.708; 29. 76-Blair Nothdurft, 15.956; DNS. 3x-Skip Frey, NT