The Knoxville Nationals Was A Battle For Mike Marlar, Not A Race

The Knoxville Nationals Was A Battle For Mike Marlar, Not A Race

"That wasn't a race, it was a battle," Mike Marlar said after he pulled into Knoxville Raceway's Victory Lane for the second consecutive season.

Sep 20, 2017 by Victoria Beaver
The Knoxville Nationals Was A Battle For Mike Marlar, Not A Race
Josh Richards came from the back of the pack twice to take the first night of the Lucas Oil Knoxville Late Model Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway last Thursday. Richards won nine-man heat after starting sixth and the feature after starting ninth.

In the Late Model Knoxville Nationals, there's an automatic eight-car invert based on how the drivers time trial. The best cars have to make their way through a full field to claim the maximum number of points and win their heat.

So while Richards won the night and a $7,000 paycheck, Jonathan Davenport took home the title of high point man, ending the night with 496 points versus Richards' 484.

Before the first caution, Mike Marlar jumped the cushion and tagged the wall. His bad luck on lap three placed him 14th in the points, putting him in a deficit before Friday night.

Jimmy Owens held an early lead until his car began to smoke on lap 16. Richards inherited the top spot and maintained it for the remaining nine laps of the feature.

"We had a really good car," Richards said. "I hated it for Jimmy. I don't know if we could have got him, but the car felt good on the bottom. It was good to get a good solid night in. We need to focus on Saturday now and see what we need to do to get better. The car was really fast, but it was a bit of a handful."

Jared Landers finished second.

"Coming back and being at this place is great," Landers said. "Congratulations to Josh, he was good. I was trying my best to catch him, but I lost the brakes a bit. They were spongy, but it's not like I used them up there a lot anyway. I'm excited about our run."

Davenport secured the final podium finish.

Top 10 Finishers
1. Josh Richards
2. Jared Landers
3. Jonathan Davenport
4. Brandon Sheppard
5. Don O'Neal
6. Jimmy Mars
7. Dale McDowell
8. Bobby Pierce
9. Shannon Babb
10. Chase Junghans

Night 2


Marlar rebounded from Thursday's struggles to notch a perfect score and win the second preliminary night of the Knoxville Nationals on Friday. This was only the second time a driver has totaled a perfect score in this race, but notably those two occasions came in back-to-back years. Thursday night's winner Richards achieved that honor for the first time in the history of the race in 2016.

On the first lap of the 25-lap feature, a mid-pack accident swept up Don O'Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., and Tyler Bruening.

Bruening and Pearson were able to return to the back for the second shot at the start, but O'Neal's night was over.

On the restart, Tim McCreadie took the lead from pole sitter Brandon Sheppard, but McCreadie's time out front was short-lived as Sheppard found his way back around on the next circuit.

McCreadie and Sheppard were the only two in contention for the win until seven to go, when the two made contact. Richards shot the gap.

Marlar took the lead on lap 20 and finished the race in front of McCreadie, Richards, Sheppard, and Chris Simpson.

In a surprising turn, Davenport, who was the high point man Thursday night, did not make the feature through his heat or B-main. However, Davenport's high score from Thursday was enough for him to hold on to a front row spot in Saturday night's 100-lap, $40,000-to-win feature.

Top 10 Finishers
1. Mike Marlar
2. Tim McCreadie
3. Josh Richards
4. Brandon Sheppard
5. Chris Simpson
6. Jimmy Mars
7. Chase Junghans
8. Bobby Pierce
9. Darrell Lanigan
10. Gregg Satterlee

Knoxville Nationals Finale


On Saturday, Marlar made history at the Knoxville Nationals as the first Late Model driver to win the event two years in a row. Marlar is only the third driver to win the title twice.

Thursday night's winner Richards took the lead from Davenport on lap 18.

Davenport tried to make his way back around Richards for the remainder of the first half before losing his right front tire. That forced Davenport to restart at the back of the pack after the halfway fuel stop. He rebounded and finished second.

The Knoxville Nationals saw the two preliminary night winners battling late for the $40,000 prize. Marlar took the lead from Richards on lap 91; Richard led 77 laps previously.

Four laps later, Richards suffered a flat tire, ending his chance to mount a comeback. Davenport inherited second with Landers finishing third.

"Tonight really makes me feel good about being a race car driver," Marlar said. "That wasn't a race -- it was a battle. With 25 to go, I thought I needed to start going there and give it everything I had. I let Jared get by me, and when I got back by me, I thought, 'I'm good.' I think Josh wasn't at his best when I passed him. I think he was having an issue. I can't say enough about my team, my crew and my owner."

Top 10 Finishers
1. Mike Marlar
2. Jonathan Davenport
3. Jared Landers
4. Jimmy Mars
5. Jimmy Owens
6. Brandon Sheppard
7. Hudson O'Neal
8. Bobby Pierce
9. Steve Francis
10. Tim McCreadie