KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Mike Marlar picked a good night to capture his first feature win at Knoxville Raceway Friday night.
It was the second night of qualifications for Saturday’s Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals. The win paid Marlar $7,000 for the 25-lap main event run on this historic fairgrounds oval.
The start of the feature event saw Marlar race to the lead on lap one as he forged through the two cars, which started ahead of him on lap one. Right away Steve Francis, who started right behind Marlar fell in behind him.
It would be Francis who would chase the leader for the distance in what would be record time for a 25-lap distance. Brady Smith raced into third and Jimmy Owens trailed in forth.
Just after the five-mile mark Marlar entered into lap traffic but Francis was not able to use any of it for the remainder of the race to make a challenge for the lead. Marlar was masterful charging through the back markers and seemed not to lose any momentum on this historical half-mile oval. Just as Francis would get by a lap car Marlar would put yet another car between himself and the runner-up driver.
With 20 laps in the books Marlar could enjoy nearly a twenty car-length advantage over the game Francis. Smith continued his pace and kept the show position. With Owens in fourth, these front-running cars had pulled away from the pack.
In the final three laps Smith made several valiant charges to take the second place spot from Francis but each time the second running car was able to pull away running down the chutes.
It was a great, late show in the waning laps but Marlar came across the stripe by some forty yards ahead of that twosome.
“The car took off great at the start,” Marlar said. “It felt like it kind of slowed down there a little bit at the end, but I guess I had a big enough of a lead, that it didn’t really matter, but it is something to work on for tomorrow night’s 100-lapper.”
Francis was paid $4,000 for his efforts and Smith received $3,000 for the third place finish. Owens held for fourth and Jonathan Davenport rounded out the top five.
Mike Marlar, Steve Francis, Brady Smith, Jonathan Davenport, Brian Shirley, Scott Bloomquist, Earl Pearson Jr., Tyler Reddick, Jason Feger, Bub McCool, Brian Birkhofer, Kent Robinson, Shannon Babb, Will Vaught, Morgan Bagley, Tim McCreadie, Frank Heckenast Jr., Mark Burgtorf, Donnie Moran, Denny Eckrich, J.R. Hotovy.