RICHMOND, Va. – Cody Carlton took the lead on the second circuit and blazed to his third win of the season in the 50-lap AmeriGas Top Dog race, the featured event of Saturday evening’s Markel/Armed Forces 200 for Arena Racing USA’s Pro Series at the Richmond Coliseum.
The victory was Carlton’s second in Top Dog competition. His 2013-14 resume also shows one A Main win.
Due to accidents and mechanical problems in the A and B Mains, the 14-car Top Dog grid was trimmed to nine starters before the green flag waved. Also, outside pole-sitter Mike Weddell and Jordan Wallace opted to drop to the rear of the lineup as the cars rolled onto the track.
In the reconstituted lineup, Jason Manes and Carlton occupied the front row, while Francis Jarrelle III and Travis Wall made up row two. Scott Prillaman and Tyler Hughes were in row three. As the event got going, Manes gained a slim edge over Carlton and nosed ahead to lead lap one. Chugging along on the high side, though, Carlton rallied on lap two and powered out front off the fourth corner. Manes settled into second, followed by Prillaman, Hughes and Jarrelle.
By lap five, Carlton had opened a two-length margin over Manes, who was three lengths ahead of Prillaman and Hughes’ nose-to-tail duel for third. On lap nine, Hughes worked to the inside of Prillaman off Turn 2. He inched ahead to claim the third spot on lap 10 and cleared Prillaman on lap 11. Having secured third place, Hughes drove off in pursuit of Manes.
On lap 13, Travis Wall, second to Prillaman in the series standings coming into the event, slowed and pulled to the infield, bringing his night to a premature conclusion. Meanwhile, back at the head of the field, Carlton’s lead had grown to a full straightaway over Manes, who had Hughes on his rear bumper. Hughes made the pass for second on lap 18, then set his sights on Carlton.
Over the remaining circuits, Hughes was unable to chip away at Carlton’s healthy margin, which stayed at a full straightaway all the way to the finish of the caution-free event. At the checkers, Carlton was the winner by 1.881 seconds over Hughes. Manes was third, followed by Prillaman, the final driver on the lead lap. Jarrelle was fifth, followed by Casey Sipe. Wall was credited with seventh, while Weddell and Wallace were eighth and ninth.
Tyler Daniels, Dystany Spurlock, Jason Styron, Scott Allen and John Nickens were unable to take the green flag, but they each received one championship point for qualifying for the event.