ANDERSON, Ind. – The contenders in the Top Speed Fabrication CRA Late Model Sportsman Series Powered by JEGS have been battling since lap one of the 2013 season and the competition continues to intensify.
Mark Lambert, the 20-year-old from Noblesville, Ind., is the current points leader. Right on his heels is the veteran K.C. Spillers and Jason Atkinson is third, just 20 points.
From race one the action on track has been close. At Lucas Oil Raceway in March, it was Lambert who had to chase down Atkinson and Spillers after the invert of the top 12. Several crashes brought close calls for the competitors but in the last 10 laps Lambert was chasing Atkinson for the win and just didn’t quite have the horsepower to get the job done.
Round two and the first Anderson Speedway race, rain showers made for an interesting qualifying and Spillers ended up on the pole. A crash filled-race cost Atkinson, giving him a 12th place finish and Lambert, who actually started in the back of the field, drove through the traffic and the mayhem to almost catch Spillers for second in the end.
Back at Anderson for round three, the contenders would finish 1-2-3, with Atkinson and Spillers taking the top two spots respectively. While the race was relatively caution free, it was Lambert who had a series of gremlins throughout the day and qualified 20th. The last 30 laps turned into a nail-biter as a battle between second, third, fourth and Lambert in fifth intensified.
Lambert was able to chase down the pack of three and put serious pressure first on fourth, making the pass with no less than 10 laps remaining. He continued the pressure for third, spending the last several corners squeezing out the light between the bumpers. In the last lap, last corner, Lambert had enough momentum and got it at the line. The third place finish by inches kept Lambert in the points lead heading into round four.
Back at Anderson once again, Atkinson was the only one of the three to qualify up front, posting a fifth-place time for the start of the race. Spillers and Lambert would start in the back, but Atkinson knew that both would be coming and quickly. When a big crash happened, Lambert and Spillers managed to get on the brakes and avoid the mayhem, while Atkinson got shuffled back a bit.
A dozen laps in Lambert would re-start in sixth with Atkinson right on his bumper. With the wave of the green, Atkinson was racing hard. Lambert on the other hand, was giving his tires some time to come in. As they drove into the turn, Atkinson was underneath Lambert and on the gas. The charging Atkinson found himself nosed into the two cars in front that had just crashed.
Lambert was able to again avoid the mayhem. Lambert, now running second, was set to chase down his first win of the season, but a faulty plug wire would put his engine down on power and in the last few laps. Lambert would back up and finish third with Spillers finishing one spot in front in second. Lambert would hang on to the points lead by two points over Spillers.