Mike Marlar wins historic third Knoxville Late Model Nationals

Knoxville Nationals Marlar
LucasDirt.com
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Mike Marlar returned to the Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway after a three-year absence and won a record-setting third Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals Saturday night. Marlar also won in 2016 and 2017.

Jimmy Owens won in 2018 and 2019 while last year was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes this three consecutive Knoxville Late Model Nationals for Marlar.

Starting third, Marlar took the lead on Lap 41 of the 100-lap affair and would relinquish it only once in the second half of the race. Lucas Oil points’ leader Tim McCreadie topped the field for one circuit on Lap 89.

“The car was good. Once I got out in front, the car was really, really good,” Marlar said in a press release. “My guys got me tuned in good this weekend. It was an awesome race. It was fun racing with Timmy there. He had me on pins and needles at the end of that thing.”

“You know Timmy’s a professional. He raced me as clean as he could without wrecking us both. We were all over each other and we made it through ok. I appreciate him racing me clean. He’s used to running on the hub in those Big Block Modifieds out east. I was just glad to hold him off.”

MORE: Kyle Larson earns fourth Outlaws victory at Knoxville

The opening laps of race featured a fierce show between Marlar, McCreadie and Tyler Erb. The battle was briefly interrupted when Erb broke a rear gear on Lap 40 to bring out a caution. He was able to rejoin the field at the tail, but would not be a factor for the win afterward.

McCreadie never lost contact with Marlar and finished a half-second back in second.

“My guys, I just can’t thank them enough. I think this is our 23rd day in a row that we have raced or went to the shop and worked,” Marlar said. “This is a fun week to come up here. We have run so well here and had so much success here. It takes a lot to happen to win here. I feel for Tyler Erb. He was going for something awesome.”

Erb was set to add his name to the record books by tying Billy Moyer as the only other driver to sweep the weekend in 17 years of the Late Model Nationals. After restarting shotgun on the field, he climbed to seventh at the checkers.

Erb won both preliminary races on Thursday and Friday.

One of the 48 drivers he beat on Night 1 of the Nationals was NASCAR standout Kyle Larson.

In his first race at the track since winning the Knoxville Nationals in August and his first-ever laps there in a Late Model, Larson finished second in his Heat and third in the Main. Larson’s matriculation in late models continued with some valuable lessons in that 25-lap race.

“I got up against the wall too many times,” Larson said. “Those caution flags hurt us. We had some good momentum going on the outside. I am not sure even if the race had more laps, we could have gotten up there even further.

“I was trying some sprint car lines there for a while and with this being the first time racing here in a late model we learned a lot for sure.”

Larson did not compete Friday or Saturday nights because of his NASCAR commitments at Bristol.

With his second-place finish, McCreadie maintained the points’ lead.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.