Marriott Is Cool Under Pressure At Ark-La-Tex

Hunter Marriott earned his first United States Modified Touring Series triumph Friday at Ark-La-Tex Speedway. (Michael Jackson Photo)

VIVIAN, La. – Not only did Hunter Marriott score his first USMTS victory Friday night at the Ark-La-Tex Speedway, but he did it by fending off two of the most skilled drivers familiar with Gene Boyter’s high-banked speed palace.

In 14 USMTS main events held here over the past decade, Chris Henigan has two wins and Cade Dillard owns a series-best three, including the last two prior to this weekend, but neither had the goods to get by Marriott in the closing laps as the 27-year-old from Brookfield, Mo., claimed the $3,000 top prize with a wire-to-wire effort.

From the outside of the front row, Marriott distanced himself from the pack right away and picked his way through lapped traffic flawlessly to maintain his advantage while Dillard and Henigan were inching their way forward.

The race’s first caution on lap 29 bunched the field and Dillard threatened Marriott on several occasions over the next eight laps before the yellow flag waved for a second and final time with just three laps remaining.

Restarting inside of Dillard when the green flag returned, Henigan pulled even with Marriott momentarily before settling in for a battle for second place with Dillard while Marriott cruised the final three circuits.

Dillard held off Henigan for his second runner-up finish in as many nights. Ryan Gustin and Lucas Schott came from the fourth row to finish fourth and fifth at the checkered flag.

The finish:

Hunter Marriott, Cade Dillard, Chris Henigan, Ryan Gustin, Lucas Schott, Jason Hughes, Tyler Wolff, Joe Duvall, Terry Phillips, Zack VanderBeek, Bobby Malchus, Dereck Ramirez, Adam Kates, Carlos Ahumada Jr., Logan Robertson, Mike Striegel, Hunter Wilbanks, Rodney Sanders, Jeremy Vaughn, Kenny Gaddis, Timothy Culp, Manuel Williams II, Zane Ferrell, David Winslett, Fito Gallardo, Kale Westover.