Carlton gets second Arena winPublished 12:18am Friday, January 17, 2014
By Gary Daughtrey
Special to the News-Herald
Arena Racing USA welcomed a new winner to its Top Dog Victory Lane on Saturday, as Chesapeake’s Cody Carlton led the last 47 laps of the 50-lap event to take the checkered flag in the featured race of Saturday’s Hometown Realty 200 at the Richmond Coliseum.
The victory was Carlton’s second of the season, to go along with an A-Main win on Nov. 9.
Tyler Daniels drew the pole for the start, sharing the front row with Carlton. Tyler Hughes and Scott Prillaman made up the second row, while Travis Wall and Francis Jarrelle III launched from Row 3.
The event got off to a rocky start, as Daniels overturned in Turn 2 on the initial circuit. He slid up the track and smacked the outside wall before collecting Prillaman, Jarrelle and Casey Sipe, among others.
The incident spelled the end of the evening for Daniels, Jarrelle and Camden Testerman, trimming the 14-car grid to 11, as the field was reorganized for another try at a successful start.
With the lineup jumbled, rookie contender Jordan Wallace assumed the pole position. Twice, the over-eager newcomer jumped the green flag, prompting another pair of caution flags and no completed laps. The fourth try at a start proved to be the charm, as Wallace powered ahead of Carlton and hauled the field into Turn 1.
Wallace was unable to completely clear Carlton, though, and the outside pole-sitter drove to the leader’s outside on Lap 2. Wallace eked out a slim edge on laps 2 and 3, then gave way to Carlton on Lap 4.
Carlton cleared Wallace on Lap 5 and brought Wall along with him to second. In the early going, Carlton and Wall were able to distance themselves from the rest of the field as the pack stacked up behind third-place Wallace.
On Lap 16, Hughes made his way around Wallace and opened the door for Dystany Spurlock, Prillaman and Jason Styron.
The field was bunched when the fourth caution flag flew on Lap 24, as Connor Medeiros and Prillaman tangled at the entrance to Turn 3, collecting Styron. Medeiros and Styron headed to the sidelines, joined by Bryan Hager.
As the race resumed, Carlton quickly dispensed with Wall, who immediately found Hughes to his inside. After dueling door-to-door for a couple laps, Wall regained command of the second spot and set sail after Carlton, who was up by two lengths.
Meanwhile, Prillaman, the series points leader, was creeping back into contention, advancing to fourth place. By Lap 35, Carlton had extended his margin to four car-lengths and was threatening to check out on the field.
His cruise to the winner’s circle was interrupted, though, when Sipe got shouldered into the outside wall along the backstretch on Lap 38, coming to rest at the entrance to Turn 3 and bringing out the fifth, and final, yellow flag.
The green flag reappeared to begin Lap 45, and Carlton wasted no time clearing Wall before they reached Turn 1. As Carlton pulled away, Hughes rushed to the inside of Wall, while Prillaman lurked just behind.
On Lap 46, Hughes and Wall tangled in Turn 2 and slid up the banking. Spotting an opening down low, Prillaman bypassed both drivers and advanced from fourth to second. The shuffle allowed Carlton to pad his lead to half a straightaway.
At the checkers, Carlton was the winner over Prillaman, who saw his season-opening, three-race Top Dog winning streak come to a halt. Wall and Hughes were third and fourth, respectively, and their race-ending battle sparked a brief post-race scuffle. Spurlock rounded out the top five.