RICHMOND, Va. – Cody Carlton led all the way from the pole for his fourth win of the season in the 50-lap AmeriGas Top Dog race, the featured event of Saturday evening’s Top Notch Tire & Auto Center 200 for Arena Racing USA’s Pro Series at the Richmond Coliseum.
Three of Carlton’s four victories have come in Top Dog competition.
Carlton drew the pole, sharing the front row with fellow series veteran Mike Weddell. On the start, the two went door-to-door until they reached turn two. As they headed onto the backstretch for the first time, Carlton pulled ahead, while Weddell settled into second. Scott Prillaman emerged from the opening shuffle in third, followed by Jordan Wallace and Bryan Hager.
On lap three, Prillaman, the Pro Series points leader, bypassed Weddell for second. The exchange allowed Carlton to extend his advantage to half a straightaway. Meanwhile, Tommy Jackson Jr. and Tyler Hughes had come from deep on the grid to grab spots in the top five.
The first caution flag appeared on lap 22 when debris was spotted in Turn 2. Lining up for a double-file restart, Carlton and Prillaman occupied the front row, followed by Hughes and Weddell in row two.
Coming back to the green flag, Weddell and Prillaman tangled off the fourth corner, sending Prillaman into a spin. As the second yellow flag waved, Prillaman pulled to the infield with a flat right-front tire, his evening prematurely over.
On the ensuing restart, Carlton wasted little time in disposing of Hughes, the new second-place runner. Carlton cleared Hughes as they sped toward turn one and, within a couple laps, he had already distanced himself from the runner-up by three lengths.
By lap 29, Carlton’s lead had swelled to better than half a straightaway over Hughes. That margin vanished on lap 36, though, when Tyler Daniels ground to a halt in Turn 2 to bring out the last of the race’s three caution flags.
On the final restart, Carlton bolted ahead of the pack, leaving Hughes and Jackson to slug it out for the second spot.
At the finish, Carlton was the winner by a straightaway over Hughes, who trimmed Jackson for second. Weddell tailed Carlton, Hughes and Jackson to the line, in fourth, and Wesley Givens completed the top five.
Hager headed up the second five, in sixth, followed by Francis Jarrelle III, the final driver on the lead lap. Daniels was credited with eighth, followed by Prillaman, Dylan Loving and Wallace. Three drivers – Lin O’Neill, Travis Wall and Jason Styron – qualified for the Top Dog event, but were unable to make the start.