Arena finale comes down to inches

Published 9:10 pm Monday, November 30, 2009

In what is believed to be the closest finish in series history, Travis Wall nipped Scott Prillaman by six-thousandths of a second for his third win of the season in the 50-lap Top Dog on Saturday at the Hampton Coliseum in the Arena Racing Hampton Roads series.

Prillaman drew the pole. As the race got under way, Prillaman edged ahead of Matt Midgett out of Turn 2 to take the lead, leaving the inside lane open for Adam Florian, who moved up to second.

The first caution flag flew on lap 13 when Brittany Bangas encountered the outside wall in Turn 2.

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On the double-file restart, Prillaman quickly cleared Florian. As Morgan rushed to fill the opening to Florian’s inside, Florian came down across the nose of Morgan’s machine, sending Morgan for a spin and prompting the second yellow flag. The incident sidelined Morgan, while Florian was sent to the rear of the field and Wall assumed second place.

The fourth caution flag of the race appeared on lap 40 for debris on the backstretch. Gathering for a restart, Prillaman was flanked by Wall on the front row. The green flag flew as the field came around to complete lap 45. After a bit of jostling at the flagstand, Prillaman cleared Wall as the field rumbled toward Turn 1.

The fifth, and final, caution flag flew on lap 46 when Florian overturned in Turn 2. The mishap sent the defending series champ to the sidelines for the night and set up a short sprint to the checkers.

On the last restart, Prillaman was unable to shake Wall, who remained on his right flank. While Prillaman used the inside groove to his advantage off the corners, Wall gained momentum on the top side to edge ahead at the end of the straightaways. As the white flag was hoisted, Prillaman and Wall were locked in a dead heat.

Exiting the final corner, Wall generated a tremendous run on the outside and managed to trim Prillaman at the line by inches. Spencer Saunders was third to the stripe, followed by Brad Hancock and Josh Ayer.

Travis Wall started on the pole and won the 50-lap A Main.

The race’s only caution flag was displayed on lap 2 when Robbie Davis careened off Turn 4 and into the inside barricade along the frontstretch. As the field gathered for a restart, Wall held the lead, followed by Derek Miller and Scott Prillaman.

Prillaman slipped underneath Miller on lap 3 and took over the runner-up position on lap 4.

On lap 35, Wall extended his margin over Prillaman to two lengths as the leaders struggled to free themselves of the lapped machines.

At the finish, Wall was the winner by two lengths over Prillaman. Miller was a distant third, followed by Spencer Saunders, Brad Hancock and Adam Florian.

Patrick Morgan took the lead early and steamrolled the field, picking up his third win of the campaign in the 50-lap B Main.

Craig Carlton was the pole-sitter for the event and motored ahead of rookie Josh Ayer as the initial green flag waved. The first caution flag flew on lap 2 when Ayer locked horns with Clayton Parrish and Matt Leach and ground to a halt near the flagstand.

Back under green, Carlton and Morgan bolted from the pack in nose-to-tail formation. On lap 4, Morgan slipped underneath Carlton on the backstretch and pulled ahead on the next lap.

By the finish, Morgan’s winning margin had swelled to a full straightaway. Brittany Bangas was second to the line.

Michael Weddell moved out front on lap 14 and held on for his second feature win of the season in the 50-lap C Main.

Chris Crecelius drew the pole for the start and held sway for the first 13 circuits. After a caution on lap 13, Weddell tailed Crecelius on the restart and slipped past to take over the lead.

Landon Florian, the younger brother of the defending series champ, scooted ahead of Crecelius on lap 29. Florian cut into Weddell’s lead over the closing laps, but Weddell edged Florian at the finish by a car-length.