KNOXVILLE, IA – Mike Marlar made history on Saturday Night at the famed Knoxville Raceway. The 43-year-old Tennessee native became the first driver to win three Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals Presented by Brandt Professional Agriculture 100-lap main events.
Marlar started third and picked up the race lead on lap 41 from Tim McCreadie. Marlar was able to hold off the current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series point leader by .514 seconds at the finish, for a career-best $50,000 payday for himself and car owner Ronnie Delk. Ricky Weiss finished in third followed by Earl Pearson Jr., and Brandon Sheppard.
McCreadie jumped to the lead in the richest dirt late model race ran in the history of Knoxville, as he would lead the first nine laps of the race. Tyler Erb, the hottest driver of the week heading into the event, grabbed the lead on lap 11. Erb saw pressure from McCreadie and Marlar as Marlar moved to second on lap 22.
McCreadie regrouped and drove around Marlar by the 29th lap. With Erb out in front looking for his record-tying third win of the week at Knoxville, a rear end gear broke heading to the lap 40 mark. Erb slowed, bringing out the caution. As the field went single-file and headed to the hot pit for the scheduled fuel-stop, Erb would have to restart from the tail.
McCreadie picked up the lead again, but it lasted for just one lap as Marlar blasted around him for the top spot. Marlar and McCreadie had a terrific battle for the race lead until the checkers flew. Erb came back to finish sixth, but his misfortune cost him a chance to equal Hall-of-Famer Billy Moyer as the only driver in the 17-year history of the event to sweep the weekend.
In a triumphant return to Knoxville after a four-year absence for Marlar, the 2016 and 2017 winner picked up his second series win of the year and his second in the state of Iowa in 2021. “The car was good. Once I got out in front, the car was really, really good. My guys got me tuned in good this weekend. It was an awesome race. It was fun racing with Timmy there. He had me on pins and needles at the end of that thing.”
“You know Timmy’s a professional. He raced me as clean as he could without wrecking us both. We were all over each other and we made it through ok. I appreciate him racing me clean. He’s used to running on the hub in those big block modifieds out east. I was just glad to hold him off.”
“My guys, I just can’t thank them enough. I think this is our 23rd day in a row that we have raced or went to the shop and worked. This is a fun week to come up here. We have run so well here and had so much success here. It takes a lot to happen to win here. I feel for Tyler Erb. He was going for something awesome.”
McCreadie will maintain the point leader heading to a three-race weekend in Brownstown, Indiana. “We tried to hot lap something different today and it wasn’t as good, so we went back to what we ran last night. I had a feeling the outside was going to be good for a little bit. I didn’t know (Marlar) was there. Hats off to Mikey, we gave it a shot. I feel bad for Tyler (Erb) because he probably had the best car again tonight.”
Weiss rounded out the podium with a third place run after battling with Earl Pearson Jr. for most of the last half of the event. “Honestly, we got better after the fuel-stop there. It seemed to take about seven laps to get the tires to fire again, then we started to get rolling. We were really good with about 20 laps to go. I was trying to run them down, they were slicing and dicing with the lapped cars. It was a heck of show from where I was. I just ran out of speed there at the end. I think I might have sealed up the tires trying to get there.”
The winner’s Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by Tri-Rivers Enterprise, Rockets Convenient Plus, Delk Equipment, Can-Am Auto Salvage, and Lucas Oil Products.
Completing the top ten were Tyler Erb, Hudson O’Neal, Josh Richards, Chris Simpson, and Chad Simpson.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
17th Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals – Night 3
Saturday, September 18th, 2021
Knoxville Raceway – Knoxville, IA
LINE-X B-Main #1 Finish (15 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 56JR-Tony Jackson Jr; 2. 45-Kyle Hammer; 3. 25F-Jason Feger; 4. 29D-Spencer Diercks; 5. 30-Todd Cooney; 6. 33-Nick Marolf; 7. 93-Mason Oberkramer; 8. 10K-Shawn Kirwin; 9. 51-Matt Furman; 10. 6H-Al Humphrey; 11. (DNS) 14M-Reid Millard; 12. (DNS) 53-Andrew Kosiski
UNOH B-Main #2 Finish (15 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 2. 59-Garrett Alberson; 3. 22M-Charlie McKenna; 4. 98-Jason Rauen; 5. 22H-Daniel Hilsabeck; 6. 80-Allan Hopp; 7. 1X-Aaron Marrant; 8. 21B-Rich Bell; 9. 21M-Luke Merfeld; 10. 48-Tim Lance; 11. 10-Junior Coover