From Mike Warren / worldofoutlaws.com
After an up-and-down weekend with the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models, Mike Marlar saved his best performance for last Sunday night at US 36 Raceway.
The Winfield, TN driver stormed past Chase Junghans for the lead on Lap 26 and led the final 14 laps to earn his fourth Series win of 2022.
Marlar attributed his win to how well the car ran in the race’s later stages— something he said has been the case for most of the year.
“The longer the race went, the better it got,” Marlar said. “The car, this year, has been doing that quite a bit. So, I was really happy with how the race went for sure.”
Tyler Bruening led the first seven laps before Junghans, on the charge around the top of the track, made the pass for the lead on Lap 8.
Junghans, who won on Friday night, quickly pulled away from the field until the race’s only caution came out for Tanner English, who broke the frame on the right front of his Longhorn Chassis, on Lap 18.
On the restart, Marlar started his ascension toward the front. He passed Dennis Erb Jr. and Bruening to move into the runner up spot. Then, he set his sights on Junghans.
The “Winfield Warrior” used the low line to gain ground on the Manhattan, KS driver, narrowly colliding with Junghans as the two battled through traffic.
Marlar needed only one more lap to get to the front, as he powered his Longhorn underneath Junghans in Turn 2 to take a lead on Lap 26 he wouldn’t relinquish.
From there, Marlar held on to score his 12th career World of Outlaws win.
“[Traffic] was busy, but you know all of them guys were out there doing their thing, and I was doing my thing,” Marlar said. “They were racing each other hard, and there was not one inch of this racetrack that wasn’t having a heck of a race going on.
“It was pretty crazy, there was a lot of stuff going on, but I was able to keep it clean up there.”
Junghans settled for second, his third top five of the weekend. He stated the last thing he needed was the yellow with 23 laps left.
“I didn’t want to see a caution there, but hats off to [Marlar],” Junghans said. “He was better than me after the restart. It was a hell of a race. I was holding my breath, getting through lap cars.
“All in all, it was a good weekend. We’ll take this and regroup and hopefully come out strong the next time we race.”
Bruening, the 2021 Series Rookie of the Year, rounded out the podium. He said he wasn’t eager to try the outside until he saw Junghans and Marlar use the lane to their advantage.
“I got held up a little bit with lap traffic,” Bruening said. “[Junghans] got by me, and then I started trying to move around a little bit, and it gave Mikey an opportunity to get by me, too. Once I found them guys had a decent line up on the top, I was more confident to go up there and run there a little bit.
“All in all, a darn good night. Quick Time. We won our (Heat Race). A podium finish, you can’t hang your head about that. When you start getting frustrated with seconds and thirds, you’re doing alright.”
Dennis Erb Jr. finished fourth, also scoring his third top-five of the weekend.
The Series points leader stated his goal was to make sure he made it through the night without any issues.
“We were alright out there, but there was a lot going on,” Erb said. “We really had to make sure that we finished tonight for sure. We didn’t want to have any breaks on a night like tonight. We just kind of had to ride it out and get a good finish.”
Erb’s finish, along with English’s 25th-place result, helped the Carpentersville, IL driver mathematically secured his first World of Outlaws CASE Late Models championship. He’ll officially claim that title at the World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Nov. 2-5.
Ryan Gustin, from Marshalltown, IA, rounded out the top five. “The Reaper,” said his tire management may have kept him from finishing higher.
“I felt pretty good before the caution came out,” Gustin said. “I don’t know if I didn’t take care of my tire under yellow or what, but I didn’t feel like we took off quite as good as we were going. But that’s part of it when you have a hard tire. It’s tough to keep them from sealing.”
Max Blair finished sixth for the second consecutive night, gaining on English in the battle for Rookie of the Year after the Benton, KY driver’s misfortune. English leads Blair by 20 points with three races left.
The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet head to The Dirt Track at Charlotte for the World of Outlaws World Finals, Nov. 2-5.
CASE Construction Equipment Feature (40 Laps):
1. 157-Mike Marlar; 2. 18-Chase Junghans; 3. 16-Tyler Bruening; 4. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 5. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 6. 111V-Max Blair; 7. 1-Josh Richards; 8. B5-Brandon Sheppard; 9. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 10. 25-Shane Clanton; 11. B1-Brent Larson; 12. 21-Billy Moyer Sr; 13. 99B-Boom Briggs; 14. 21JR-Billy Moyer Jr; 15. 11T-Trevor Gundaker; 16. 22-Daniel Hilsabeck; 17. 77-Jordan Yaggy; 18. 33-Paul Glendenning; 19. 15C-Curt Schroeder; 20. 14W-Dustin Walker; 21. 14-Reid Millard; 22. (DNF) 53-Andrew Kosiski; 23. (DNF) 23-Chad Walter; 24. (DNF) 50-Kayden Clatt; 25. (DNF) 81E-Tanner English; 26. (DNF) L88-Larry Clawson FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Brandon Sheppard [+6].
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Photo: worldofoutlaws.com / Jacy Norgaard