Saunders motors to third Arena win

Published 10:02 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2010

HAMPTON – Spencer Saunders nosed into the lead on lap 29 and pulled away in the closing circuits to notch his third feature win of the season in the 50-lap Top Dog race, the featured event of Saturday evening’s Arena Racing Hampton Roads program at the Hampton Coliseum.

Aaron Leach started on the pole and took the lead on the opening lap. Chris Raiford moved from third to second, followed by Brad Hancock and Adam Florian.

On lap 6, Florian, the defending series champ, pulled his car to the infield, retiring for the night and allowing Saunders to advance to fourth.

The running order was jumbled on lap 12 when Raiford and Hancock tangled off Turn 2. Saunders took advantage of the tussle, darting to the inside and moving from fourth to second in one fell swoop.

Saunders remained second to Leach through three caution flags from laps 26-29.

Under green for the last time, Saunders nosed ahead of Leach to take the lead for the first time. He cleared Leach on lap 31, bringing Scott Prillaman along with him.

Closing in on the finish, Saunders began to ease away from Prillaman. He was up by two lengths on lap 46. By the checkers, he had extended his winning margin to four lengths. Prillaman, the series points leader, was the runner-up, followed by Charlie Green.

Starting on the outside of the front row, Adam Florian nosed out front on the first lap and rolled to his second feature win in the 50-lap A Main.

Brad Hancock drew the pole for the start of the event, but gave way to Florian as the field exited Turn 4 for the first time.

On the final restart, after a caution flag on lap 32, Florian, Green and Prillaman bolted in bumper-to-bumper formation. On lap 37, Prillaman slipped past Green in Turns 3 and 4 to take over second.

Over the closing circuits, Prillaman narrowed the gap between himself and Florian. As he would put it in his post-race interview, though, Prillaman simply ran out of laps as Florian won by a car-length.

Anthony Perez muscled into the lead on the fifth circuit and showed the way to his first win of the season in the 50-lap B Main.

Chris Raiford was the pole-sitter for the event and led lap 1 by half a car-length over Perez. The first caution flag flew on lap 2 for a pileup in Turn 3 that swept up nearly half of the 11-car starting field.

On the restart, Perez latched onto Raiford’s rear bumper and shadowed the leader until lap 5 when he forced his way past off Turn 2.

At the checkers, Perez was the winner by two lengths over Raiford, who fended off Cody Turbitt for second.

Aaron Leach moved out front on lap 5 and sailed to his second feature victory of the season in the 50-lap C Main.

Cory Millard started on the pole and took the lead in Turn 2 on the opening lap. Leach emerged from the shuffle in fifth, but snagged second on lap 4 as Mark Brooks two-wheeled it in Turn 2 causing a momentary logjam.

The first caution flag waved on lap 5 for a multi-car melee at the start/finish line. Back under green, Leach tailed Millard for the better part of lap, then slipped past her to take over the top spot.

The final caution flag waved on lap 43 and on the last restart, with five laps remaining, Leach and Travis Miller took off in nose-to-tail formation. At the finish, Leach was the winner by a car-length over Miller.

Twelve-year-old Conner Hall took the lead on lap 8 and held on for the victory in the 20-lap debut of the new Futures Series.

Cullen Roberts, 11, started on the pole and led the first seven circuits before giving way to Hall.

The only caution flag flew on lap 15 when officials detected a leak from the machine of third-place Macy Causey, 9. That situation was quickly corrected and she rejoined the field.

At the finish, Hall was the winner by a car-length over Roberts. Causey was third to the line in the exhibition contest.