Arena Racing goes green

Published 2:27 pm Monday, October 26, 2009

Patrick Morgan led all the way from the pole to take the win in the hard-hitting 50-lap Top Dog race, the featured event of Saturday evening’s season-opening program for Arena Racing Hampton Roads at the Hampton Coliseum.

Brittany Bangas shared the front row with Morgan and remained on his flank until the second lap when Morgan pulled ahead.

The first caution flag appeared on lap 5 when Bangas got sideways in the middle of Turns 1 and 2, collecting a couple more machines.

Back under green, Morgan pulled ahead of Cody Turbitt and brought third-place Derek Miller along with him. Scott Prillaman, Travis Wall and Adam Florian also moved ahead of Turbitt.

With Morgan holding a slight edge, Miller and Prillaman slugged it out for second. On lap 24, Miller and Prillaman locked horns in Turn 4. Florian, the defending series champ, seized the opportunity and flashed into second place.

Beginning on lap 34, Florian began to sneak peeks to the inside of Morgan, looking to swipe the lead. Morgan held him at bay, though. Meanwhile, Wall steadily closed in on the lead duo.

Lap 43 produced a trio of yellow flags — the first when Bangas had problems in Turn 4 and the other two on ensuing restarts.

One more lap was in the books when caution No. 7 waved on the 44th circuit as Florian went around in Turn 2 and collected three more drivers.

The eighth, and final, caution flag flew on lap 47 as Aaron Leach spun off Turn 2.

Under green for the last time, Morgan quickly cleared Wall and Florian tagged along, picking up second place and closing in on Morgan’s rear bumper.

Florian shadowed Morgan for a couple laps, waiting to pull the trigger on a race-winning pass. Coming to the white flag, he tried to duck inside Morgan, but, instead, two-wheeled it off Turn 4.

That bobble provided all the breathing room Morgan would need as he won by a car-length. Florian was second to the line, followed by Wall, Craig Carlton and Turbitt.

Morgan started on the pole and led all 50 circuits to kick off his season in style — with a victory in the A Main.

The last of the race’s four yellow flags flew on lap 47. On the last restart, Morgan quickly jumped out to a one-length advantage over Florian. Florian closed the gap, but couldn’t overcome Morgan, who held on for the victory. Prillaman was third, followed by Miller and Wall. The top five finishers, along with sixth-place Charlie Green, moved on to the Top Dog race.

Starting from the outside pole, Bangas moved out front on the first circuit and showed the way to the checkered flag in a caution-filled 50-lap B Main.

Matt Leach drew the pole for the start, but couldn’t hold back Bangas as the race got under way.

On lap 48, Brad Hancock and Leach tangled briefly along the backstretch, creating a logjam in the pack and prompting the seventh caution flag.

In a “green-white-checkered” sprint, Bangas quickly gained a one-length edge over Nelson Moody, the new second-place runner. Just as quickly, though, the eighth yellow flag appeared for a three-car tangle in Turn 4.

Under green for the final time, Bangas eked out a slim margin over Moody and drove on to a one-length win. Moody was second, followed by Mike Dayton, Aaron Leach and Curtis Hughes.

Cody Turbitt pulled off a perfectly executed bump-and-run on the white-flag lap and picked up the win in the 50-lap C Main.

Craig Carlton enjoyed a leisurely cruise for much of the event. By lap 30, he was up by a full straightaway over Turbitt.

Nearing the finish, Carlton ran up on Josh Ayer’s lapped car and was stymied. As Carlton struggled to clear the Ayer machine, Turbitt chopped into the lead. By lap 48, Turbitt was parked on Carlton’s bumper.

Turbitt tailed Carlton until lap 50. In Turn 2 for the final time, Turbitt rooted Carlton up the track and grabbed the top spot on the backstretch.

At the checkers, Turbitt was the winner by a car-length over Carlton. Rookie Landon Florian was third to the line.