GIBSONTON, Fla. — Driving a race car that hadn’t been on a track in more than a year, Mike Marlar dominated the opening night of the 34th annual DART Winternationals Monday en route to victory in the season opener for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
The victory was Marlar’s first in the series since 2004, earning him $5,000.
Marlar started alongside Tim McCreadie on the front row for the 30-lap event. Marlar quickly got the jump on McCreadie as the pair raced into turn one on the opening lap.
After two quick caution flags Marlar was still out front, but with 15 laps left McCreadie began to reel in Marlar on the third-mile clay oval. With nine laps remaining the final caution flag of the night waved, setting up a shootout between Marlar and McCreadie.
McCreadie gave Marlar everything he had on the final restart, but it wasn’t enough as Marlar never made a mistake over the final nine laps to collect his first series victory since winning the Hillbilly 100 a Tyler County Speedway in West Virginia in 2004.
“We just started working on this car a few weeks ago after it had been sitting around for a year since the last time we raced it here,” said Marlar. “I have to thank all the crew guys, my crew chief Michael Coffey and everybody who helped on the car. It feels great to win here at East Bay and thanks to C.J. Rayburn, I know he will be happy about this and Estes Racing Engines, we had more than enough power and when you can beat someone like Tim McCreadie than you have to be pleased with that.”
McCreadie held on to finish second ahead of Ray Cook, Tim Dohm and Josh Richards.