Marlar breaks through in a Wild West shootout

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Mike Marlar (Photo by Mike Rover)

VADO, New Mexico — Using the same car that won last year’s World Cup Finals, Mike Marlar definitely thought he’d do better than just one top-five finish through four races at the Rio Grande Waste Services Wild West Shootout.

“I was ready to go out here and put it on these guys,” Marlar said. “It’s been a tough week so far. It’s a humbling sport. It’s really tough, a lot of good competitors. It’s always tough, you know?”

Fortunately for Marlar, those words were delivered in a much nicer setting Saturday at Vado (NM) Speedway Park, where Winfield, Tenn. , the veteran beat Jonathan Davenport and Kyle Larson to win the penultimate race from the Rio Grande Waste Services Wild West. Shootout presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts at FK Rod Ends Vado Speedway Park.

Marlar, last year’s Wild West Shootout champion, wasn’t too far away to start the 2023 season. He’s just more than expecting his eighth, sixth, fifth and seventh finishes to start the week.
“Man, it’s been a long week so far,” said Marlar, who earned $10,000 on Saturday. “Happy to win there. It was a fun race.”

What made Saturday’s advantage enticing was the fact that Marlar ran and passed Davenport, winner of the first of three Wild West Shootout Dirt Track Super Late Model divisions presented by Black Diamond Racecars, with 14 laps to go and then avoided a charge from Larson, who erased a deficit of 1.6 seconds with four laps left to try and round the final corner of the cut.
While Davenport, Larson, and number one contender Bobby Pearce stuck to the top of the track for most of the race, Marlar tapped a two-lane gully off the top that no driver seemed to be able to duplicate.

“I saw (Larson) on the board, and I thought he was turning the pad, so I’ve been trying to make my entry wide enough here,” Marlar said. “I was really better through the middle. I just wanted to make my entry wide enough here. I don’t know if I hurt him or not. I knew he was coming. I was trying to stay as high as I could. He was definitely doing better.”

Larson, who started 11th, made his way up to 5th with 12 laps to go when a caution for 14th-placed Billy Muir gave the NASCAR star a good shot.

When Pearce threw a cross post at Davenport into turn one on the restart to briefly regain second place, Larson lifted both of them by finding a window of opportunity around the bottom.

“I was hoping we’d get a warning out there when we did,” said Larson. “I just thought Bobby was going to throw a slider or something in one on the restart, and if I hooked up the bottom a couple of laps, maybe things would work out. And it did.”

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Mike Marlar (Photo by Mike Rover)

Larson officially sent Pierce into second with seven laps to go, as Pierce lost control of his Longhorn chassis in the midst of the tense battle for second through turns three and four.

“I was able to show my nose at the right time and get over the pad in four spots to get into second place,” said Larson. “I put together some good laps. I made one mistake once I got up to second on three and four, and I lost like (Marlar) right away. I had to get away with trying to get back at him.

“I think if I hadn’t made that mistake the outcome would have been different. But he was clearly getting signals and running a track where it was hard to get on it once I got straight on it, which I did on the last lap there. Fun race again and a good car other.”

The caution for Moyer with 12 laps to go was the only pit stop of the race. With eight laps to go, Davenport held a one-second advantage over Marlar at the halfway point and appeared on his way to taking home the $25,000 Penske Racing Shocks Paydirt Jackpot with his fourth win of the week.

But Davenport, who eventually finished fourth behind Ricky Weiss, couldn’t navigate the lapping traffic like he had earlier in the week. A rare mistake along turns one and two on lap 27 squandered Davenport’s chances as Marlar fired the go-ahead from the middle of the corner.

“I had a really good race with Jonathan out there in the lapped traffic,” Marlar said. “His car got a little loose in that air, more so than mine, I feel it. It worked, you got it there. Then, at the end of the race, the lapped cars really helped me.”
the end:

The advantage (40 laps): 1. 157 – Mike Marlar[4]; 2.6 – Kyle Larson[11]; 3. 7 Ricky Weiss[7]; 4. 49 – Jonathan Davenport[1]; 5.58 – Garrett Person[2]; 6. 32 Bobby Pierce[3]; 7. 14M – Morgan Bagley[15]; 8. 2S- Stormy Scott[9]; 9. 1st- Johnny Scott[6]; 10. 04- Tad Pospisil[14]; 11. 97- Kidd Dillard[12]; 12. 86- Kyle Bird[20]; 13. 21- Billy Muir Sr[8]; 14. 8- Dillon McCowan[13]; 15. 14S-Collen Winebarger[22]; 16. 75- Terry Phillips[18]; 17. 28- Dustin Sorenson[10]; 18. 49T- Jake Tim[21]; 19. 77 Preston Lachman[25]; 20. 82- Ian Whistler[19]; 21. 3J- Josh Cain[23]; 22. 1T-Tyler Erb[17]; 23. B5- Brandon Sheppard[5]; 24. 20 – Rodney Sanders[16]; 25. 24 – Bill Leighton[24]

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