Mike Marlar (Jacy Norgaard photo)
FOUNTAIN CITY, Wis. — Mike Marlar found himself in a position to capitalize Saturday at Mississippi Thunder Speedway.
The 2018 World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series Champion was in second with seven lapses to go when heartbreak struck race leader Tyler Bruening.
As the 2021 Rookie of the Year caught the tail of the field, he tangled with Lance Mathees, sending them both spinning.
Marlar inherited the lead from Bruening and held on to win the $50,000 prize in the Dairyland Showdown finale.
The Winfield, Tenn., driver started on the pole and tried to conserve his Longhorn chassis early in the 75-lap feature. That strategy almost cost him as Tyler Erb swung around the outside to take the lead on lap 19.
“I was kind of milking it there the first part of the race, trying to conserve my tires,” Marlar said. “I was just trying to keep a distance and not kill my tires, and I just messed up. I was driving too easy, and I just let [Tyler Erb] get to my outside and pass me, and after that, it was a long race.”
The “Winfield Warrior” admitted luck played into the race’s outcome, being in a position to strike after he passed Erb back with 16 laps to go.
“[The win] fell back in my lap; I definitely got lucky to end up winning it,” Marlar said. “I hate it for Tyler Bruening, he definitely was deserving of the win there, and it just didn’t work out for him.
“Hopefully, if he stays after it and keeps working hard, he’s definitely going to get some [wins].”
The Dairyland Showdown win is Marlar’s 10th career World of Outlaws win and first of the season.
Erb crossed the line second, his second podium finish in as many days.
“I knew Bruening was underneath me there, and we really raced hard and clean,” Erb said. “I kept getting lower in [turns] three and four, and then in [turns] one and two, I’d kind of washout, and never got quite low enough to where I needed to be.
“We raced back and forth for four or five laps, and I finally got clear, but I drove in too hard into one and two, and that’s how I realized how rubbered it was. I just got back in line and unfortunately had a caution, and Mikey [Marlar] got by me on the [lap 59] restart.”
Josh Richards finished third, his first top-five of the 2022 season. The four-time series champion stated he feels it’s a step in the right direction for the Boom Briggs-owned team.
“It feels like a win,” Richards said. “This year’s been a struggle, to say the least. The team hasn’t stopped, there’s a lot of heart and determination, and thankfully we’re able to have a nice, solid run tonight, and hopefully, we have something to build on.”
James Giossi crossed the line fourth — his first top five with the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models.
“I would’ve taken the [$2,000] just to start,” Giossi said. “We got lucky there at the beginning, and the cards kind of went our way. Our car was pretty good; our pro-powered MB Customs was rolling along pretty well.
“It still hasn’t set in yet, but anytime you can run in the top five or top 10 with these guys, they do it for a living, and they’re the best at what they do, so coming home fourth tonight really made the weekend.”
Series points leader Dennis Erb Jr. finished fifth.
“We didn’t have a good heat race, but we made some adjustments, and the car was real good in that [Last Chance Showdown],” Erb said. “Starting that far back, I was getting nervous, but we had a good enough car to work our way up through there, so we’re just glad to get up into the top-five for sure.”
Erb also extended his points lead for the third straight night — 98 points ahead of Max Blair.
Feature (75 laps): 1. 157-Mike Marlar; 2. 1T-Tyler Erb; 3. 1-Josh Richards; 4. 11J-James Giossi; 5. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 6. 20-Jimmy Owens; 7. 97-Cade Dillard; 8. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 9. 49T-Jake Timm; 10. 49-Jonathan Davenport; 11. 18C-Chase Junghans; 12. 25S-Chad Simpson; 13. B1-Brent Larson; 14. 18-Shannon Babb; 15. 81E-Tanner English; 16. 7X-Jesse Glenz; 17. 45-Kyle Hammer; 18. B9-Brandon Sheppard; 19. 32P-Bobby Pierce; 20. 16-Tyler Bruening; 21. 99B-Boom Briggs; 22. 77-Jordan Yaggy; 23. 90-Lance Matthees; 24. 58-Garrett Alberson; 25. 111V-Max Blair; 26. 2S-Stormy Scott; 27. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr