Arena Racing returns to the track

Published 9:29 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Starting from the pole, Jordan Wood jumped out front on the opening circuit and led all the way to the checkered flag in the 50-lap Top Dog race, the featured event of Sunday’s Faith Night program for Arena Racing USA’s Hampton Roads series at the Hampton Coliseum.

The victory was Wood’s first of the season in a Top Dog race and his fourth overall.

Spencer Saunders shared the front row with Wood and remained on the pole-sitter’s flank for the first couple of laps before Wood gained the upper hand. On lap 4, Saunders slapped the wall off Turn 2, allowing Wood to drive away and opening the door for Cory Millard to make a bid for second.

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The first caution flag flew on lap 15 when Mike Weddell ended up planted against the wall at the start/finish line after contact with Greg Pass. Millard couldn’t avoid Weddell’s stopped machine and was collected in the incident.

Back under green, Wood quickly fashioned a two-length lead, while Adam Florian went after Saunders for second place. Florian nosed ahead of Saunders on lap 18 and cleared him on lap 20. At lap 22, Wood’s lead stood at four lengths, but Florian was narrowing the gap.

Lap after lap, Florian shadowed Wood. Meanwhile, their lead over the rest of the field grew as Saunders, Morgan, Scott Prillaman and Miller scuffled for third.

The battle for third continued, coming to a head on lap 47 with a brief logjam off Turn 4. Miller got the worst of the exchange and rolled to a halt at the end of the frontstretch to bring out the third, and final, yellow flag.

Lining up for the last restart, Wood and Florian remained 1-2, followed by Saunders, Charlie Green and Prillaman.

Under green for the last time, Wood and Florian bolted bumper-to-bumper, while Green drove under Saunders for third.

Over the closing laps, Florian was unable to muster a run on Wood and had to settle for a second-place finish, a car-length back, as Wood posted the win. Saunders held off Green by less than a car-length for third and Prillaman completed the top five.

Spencer Saunders grabbed the lead on the opening lap, then held off Scott Prillaman down the stretch to bag his first victory of the season in the 50-lap A Main.

The first caution flag appeared on lap 3 when Denver Alvis, Pete Hunt and Derek Miller tangled at the end of the frontstretch.

Returning to green, Saunders fashioned a one-length advantage over Josh Turner, while Brittany Bangas and Aaron Leach raced nose-to-tail for third.

On lap 28, Prillaman overtook Turner for second. With his pursuers scuffling behind him, Saunders widened his lead to a full straightaway.

The second yellow flag appeared on lap 35 for Larry Murphy’s spin in Turn 4. The third caution flag waved a lap later as Bangas barrel-rolled into Turn 4. Just as the field was taking the green flag again, Aaron Leach landed on his roof on the backstretch, ending the yellow flag flurry.

Back under green, Prillaman went after Saunders for the top spot, poking a fender alongside the leader as they hit the backstretch. Morgan gave Prillaman a “bump draft” in Turns 3 and 4, moving Prillaman a bit farther up Saunders’ door. Prillaman couldn’t get enough bite to bypass Saunders, though, as Saunders regained the clear-cut edge on lap 39.

The two battled side-by-side all the way to the finish with Saunders holding on to win by half a car-length.

Charlie Green moved out front on lap 14 of the 50-lap B Main and strolled to his second win of the season.

Rookies Cody Turbitt and Nelson Moody shared the front row for the start of the event. Another rookie, Mike Dayton, came away with the lead, though, as the first lap came to an end. Green, who started fifth, picked up the second spot from Turbitt on lap 7.

Green found an opening around Dayton on lap 14. Moody moved up to second, while Cody Carlton also slipped by Dayton.

After a yellow flag, at lap 19, Green, Moody and Carlton bolted from the pack. Soon, Carlton went on the attack, driving under Moody in a bid for second. The two went door-to-door until lap 30 when Carlton finally gained the upper hand. The duel, however, allowed Green to build a full-straightaway advantage.

The last of the race’s three yellow flags appeared on lap 41 when Moody tangled with the lapped machine of Craig Carlton in Turn 2.

Green maintained a two-length edge all the way to the checkers to post the victory. Cody Carlton was the runner-up.

Greg Pass took the lead on lap 21 and sailed to his second feature victory in the 50-lap C Main, beating Chris Crecelius to the stripe.

Crecelius started on the pole and led the first 20 circuits with Pass in pursuit. On lap 21, Pass slipped past Crecelius and immediately began to pull away.

The event was slowed by four caution flags. At the head of the field, meanwhile, Pass held a firm grip on the lead. By the end of the race, his winning margin had grown to half a straightaway over Crecelius.

As Pass was collecting the checkered flag, Michelle Pearl and Cameron Williams tangled in Turn 2, while racing for the third spot on the last lap. Both were in position to advance to the Top Dog finale, but the incident knocked them from contention.

In the official rundown, Cory Millard was third, followed by Charlotte visitor Zach Moran.