RICHMOND, Va. – Tyler Hughes came out on top of a side-by-side duel with Pro Series points leader Scott Prillaman and scored his second victory in the 50-lap Top Dog feature, the headlining event of Saturday evening’s Arena Racing USA program at the Richmond Coliseum.
Cayton Hornberger and Dystany Spurlock drew the front-row positions for the nightcap, duplicating their starting spots in the A Main.
As the race got under way, Spurlock nosed ahead, finally clearing Hornberger into turn one on lap three. Hughes emerged from the shuffle in third place and immediately began to pressure Hornberger for second.
On lap seven, Hughes slipped underneath Hornberger and swiped the runner-up spot on lap eight. Three laps later, he edged ahead of Spurlock for the lead, gaining the clear-cut advantage on lap 12.
Once out front, Hughes bolted from the pack. By lap 16, his lead had grown to a full straightaway as Spurlock and Hornberger jousted for second. Meanwhile, Prillaman, who started near the rear of the field, had made his way into fourth place and was rapidly closing ground on the second-place battle.
After dispensing with Hornberger, Prillaman set his sights on Spurlock and took over second place on lap 21. He faced a steep climb, though, as Hughes had the No. 20 machine in the wind.
Needing a caution to narrow the gap, Prillaman caught a break when the race’s first yellow flag waved on lap 28.
On the double-file restart, Hughes quickly cleared Prillaman, who was positioned on his flank. Spurlock tagged along and regained second. Exiting turn two, Prillaman drove to the inside of Spurlock. The two tangled in turn four, creating a momentary logjam, while Hughes pulled away. Prillaman finally took second from Spurlock on lap 33. By then, though, Hughes was a straightaway ahead.
The second caution flag flew on lap 36 when Pete Hunt looped his machine in turn four. Back under green, Hughes powered ahead of Prillaman into turn one. Off turn two, Prillaman switched lanes and poked a fender alongside Hughes on the backstretch. He couldn’t make the move pay off, though, as Hughes regained command of the point.
The last of the race’s three caution flags appeared on lap 44 when Spurlock and Jason Manes tangled in turn two. Spurlock smacked the outside wall and came to rest in turn three, bringing a premature end to an impressive showing for her.
On the final restart, Hughes and Prillaman went door-to-door for a lap with Hughes eking ahead in turn one on lap 45. A lap later, Prillaman ducked underneath Hughes in turn two and the battle for the win was on.
Over the last five laps, Hughes and Prillaman dueled fender-to-fender with Hughes using the momentum off the top side of the banked oval to retain the top spot each time they passed the flagstand.
At the finish, Hughes was the winner by half a car-length over Prillaman. Hunt was third, followed by Hornberger and Nathan Thomas. Manes was sixth, while Francis Jarrelle III, John Alford, Spurlock and Tripp Thurston rounded out the top 10.
While his runner-up finish in the Top Dog race may have been somewhat of a disappointment, Prillaman was able to pad his lead in the Pro Series standings. Halfway into the 12-event campaign, he holds a 14-point edge over teammate Davis, 192-178. Styron is third, 10 behind Davis, followed by Hunt and Manes.
Prillaman moved out front on lap 13 and sailed to his fifth straight win in the 50-lap Insurance Doctor A Main. The victory was his sixth overall.
Cayton Hornberger drew the pole for the start, but gave way to front-row colleague Dystany Spurlock on the opening circuit. Hornberger battled back on lap two, claiming the top spot off the second corner. Pete Hunt grabbed the runner-up position from Spurlock on lap four, while Prillaman snagged fourth from Troy Doggett.
The first yellow flag flew on lap eight when Doggett, last weekend’s Top Dog winner, overturned off Turn 2 and slid all the way down the backstretch.
On the restart, Hunt elected to launch from the outside lane and pulled ahead of Hornberger for the lead. Prillaman tagged along with Hunt and took over second. On lap 12, Prillaman went after Hunt for the lead and grabbed the position on lap 13.
The race was slowed by three more caution flags, at laps 15, 17 and 25. While Prillaman held a firm grip on the point, Hunt and Tyler Hughes jockeyed for second, swapping the spot a few times.
The green flag reappeared for the last time on lap 32 and Prillaman scampered away from the pack. By the finish, his winning margin had grown to 1.569 seconds over Hughes. Hunt was third, followed by Spurlock, who fought off Jason Styron for fourth.