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MARLAR SWEEPS SPRING THAW WEEKEND

Robert Holman recaps the XR Super Series Spring Thaw Sunday from Volunteer Speedway, where Mike Marlar claimed a $12,000 victory.

By Robert Holman

BULLS GAP, Tenn. (April 7) — Mike Marlar is neither a custodian nor a gardener. But following Sunday’s XR Super Series Spring Thaw finale at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn., the Winfield, Tenn., native could use both a broom and a cart.

Winning for the second time in 24 hours at the high-banked, 4/10-mile oval, Marlar carted away $42,000 for his weekend sweep. He earned $12,000 on Sunday afternoon after picking up $30,000 in Saturday’s XRSS season-opener.

Collecting his fifth victory of the season and second career XRSS triumph, Marlar started from the pole position and led all 40 laps in outrunning Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio. It was the second runner-up finish in as many nights for Moran, who admitted that his weekend effort was a “100 percent turnaround from last year to (this year)” after failing to make the starting field for last year’s $100,000-to-win XRSS-sanctioned Spring Thaw.

Moran finished second ahead of Newport, Tenn.’s Jimmy Owens. Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., who led 14 laps of Saturday’s feature before losing a driveshaft, bounced back to finish fourth, while Evans, Ga.’s Brandon Overton, who was involved in an accident with Owens on Saturday that ruined both drivers’ chances for a top-five finish, completed the top five on Sunday.

It was Marlar and Moran, however, who proved to be the most consistent. And Marlar indeed knew Moran was behind him. After turning back Moran late in Saturday night’s 60-lap feature, Marlar was dogged by the second-starting driver throughout Sunday’s 40-lapper.

“We had a really good car there and, Devin, man, he’s making me work for it,” said Marlar. “He slid me down there and I got back by him. But it’s fun racing with Devin and his whole team.”

While congratulating Moran his runner-up finish, Marlar also thanked the Ohioan and his Roger Sellars-owned team. The two have both made practice laps at Sellars’ Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn., in preparation for the season.

“Got to give a big shout out to Roger Sellers, Devin’s car owner down at Smoky Mountain Speedway,” Marlar said. “They’ve been letting us go down and test a lot there this year when they’re off time. Devin and I’ve been working close together doing that. It’s really helped us both. I really appreciate him letting us do that. Smoky Mountain Speedway, they got some big races this year. All the fans, please come down and support it. It’s an awesome track.”

Marlar was also complimentary of Sunday’s Vic Hill-prepared track.

“The track was awesome … really smooth top to bottom and (for a) Sunday day race we raced all over it pretty dadgum good,” said Marlar. “Had a cushion on one end and could run middle bottom down there on the other end. Definitely a fun race. Devin had me sweating there.”

With Moran in his tracks, Marlar said he had mixed feelings about the handful of cautions that slowed the pace.

“That last couple (of cautions) I didn’t really want to see them,” Marlar said. “I had a pretty good pace going before those last ones, but that one in all that traffic definitely helped. You just never know. You’re going to get them either way. Hopefully they fall in the right spots for you, but definitely had a good car.”

Moran meanwhile didn’t want to see the yellow flags, though he said he was pleased with his pair of second-place finishes.

“I felt like the cautions really hurt me,” he said. “(Marlar) could get going really good on those starts and it took me about five or six laps to really get rolling. I wanna thank Barry Braun and XR for putting on this show and the money. (It was) a good weekend overall.”

Third-finishing Owens, who improved one spot after starting fourth, was pleased to grab a podium finish after Saturday’s skirmish with Overton led to a 15th-place finish.

“We had a pretty good car last night and was looking forward to today,” said Owens. “We qualified fourth, won our heat race (and) it’s great to bring this Koehler Motorsports (team) home with a podium finish.”

After two races, Marlar leads the XRSS points with 200 over Moran’s 190. Jonathan Davenport (167) is third, while Daulton Wilson (156) and Hudson O’Neal (156) are tied in fourth. Next up for the series is a May 16-18 tripleheader at Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway paying $12,000-to-win each of the first two nights, followed by a $30,000-to-win finale.

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