The Ken Ten Pro Late Model Series opened its third season with a bang Saturday night as local hero Sterling Marlin charged from the back of the field to take the victory at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway USA. Marlin had been involved in a practice incident, forcing the Columbia, Tenn., native to use a backup car for the race. Work on the backup car wasn’t completed by qualifying, and because he didn’t complete a qualifying run, Marlin had to start at the rear of the field.
“I wasn’t really worried about the backup,” Marlin said. “It is a good car. We tested it last week.”
Bobby Knox, Jr. captured the AR Bodies fast time award for his qualifying run.
Dakota Stroup was awarded the pole in the post-qualifying re-draw, and led the field to the green flag. On the third lap, Ken Ten veteran Davey Coble lost an engine in turn 4 and backed his car into the wall. Martin Belcher also spun in the incident but received no damage.
From there, the race went green until the 65th lap when Tyler Miles looped his car in turn 2 and Josh Weston pounded the wall trying to avoid him. Miles was able to continue and Weston was unhurt.
The final incident of the day happened on lap 83 as Knox and Michael House collided on the backstretch. House was able to continue, but Knox’s race was finished.
While incidents were happening around him, Marlin was quietly working his way through the field. By mid-race he was running in the top five.
“My crew was giving me lap times, so I knew I was gaining on the leader. The car was working well, so I was confident that I was going to catch them,” Marlin said.
By the time the final caution came out, Marlin had worked his way up to second place, putting him on the outside of leader Stroup as the cars came to the green flag. Marlin rocketed to the lead on the restart and never looked back.
“I’d like to think that we could have run with him if we had another restart, but I don’t know,” Stroup said. “I guess if you have to finish second, a Daytona 500 winner isn’t too bad to finish second to,” he added.
Marlin thanked his team after the victory, adding that they are essentially the same guys who helped him get his start racing at the Fairgrounds in the mid-1970s.
Ken Ten’s next race is at the historic Salem Speedway in Salem, Ind., on June 18.
1. Sterling Marlin100 2. Dakota Stroup100 3. Greg Boone100 4. Michael House100 5. Daniel Bolden100 6. Dillon Oliver100 7. Josh Brock100 8. Tyler Miles100 9. Jeff Berg100 10. Brian Royalty99 11. Tony Conway99 12. Brandon Ussery99 13. Kraig Hall99 14. Bobby Wingo99 15. Bobby Knox, Jr.82 16. Mike Murray68 17. Josh Weston65 18. Jimmy Victory63 19. Brian Bentley61 20. Martin Belcher55 21. Jeremy Levenson50 22. Jared Smith49 23. Ronnie Campbell40 24. Chase Knox8 25. Terry Smith3 26. Reed White3 27. Davey Coble2
1. Sterling Marlin120 2. Dakota Stroup116 3. Greg Boone112 4. Michael House108 5. Daniel Bolden104 6. Dillon Oliver100 7. Josh Brock96 8. Tyler Miles92 9. Jeff Berg88 10. Brian Royalty84 11. Tony Conway80 12. Brandon Ussery76 13. Kraig Hall72 14. Bobby Wingo68 14. Bobby Knox, Jr.68 16. Mike Murray60 17. Josh Weston56 18. Jimmy Victory52 19. Brian Bentley48 20. Martin Belcher44 21. Jeremy Levenson40 22. Jared Smith36 23. Ronnie Campbell32 24. Chase Knox28 25. Terry Smith24 26. Reed White20 27. Davey Coble16