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Arena Racing resumes with Sunday matinee

HAMPTON — With Travis Wall and Spencer Saunders lurking just behind them in the standings, Scott Prillaman and Adam Florian, both of Suffolk, renew their Pro Series championship battle this Sunday as Arena Racing Hampton Roads returns to action at the Hampton Coliseum.

Sunday’s race lineup includes A, B and C Mains for the Pro Series — 50 laps each. The day’s final event, the 50-lap Top Dog race, pits the top six finishers from the A Main and the top four finishers from the B and C Mains. The Youth Series leads off the show with its third race as Connor Hall tries to maintain his unbeaten record. As an added attraction, popular local country singer Nate Sparks will perform during the intermission.

Doors open at 3 p.m. for the pre-race pit party — an excellent opportunity to meet the drivers and get an up-close look at the cars. The racing program gets under way at 4. Drivers will also be available to meet fans on the concourse at the conclusion of the Top Dog feature.

Just when it appeared that Prillaman was beginning to distance himself from the rest of the pack in the chase for the $10,000 season title, Florian, the defending champion, struck back with A Main and Top Dog wins at the series’ last event on Jan. 10.

Heading into Sunday’s meet, Prillaman holds a 14-point advantage over Florian in the points rundown, 253-239. Keep in mind, though, that each driver’s two worst performances (poor finishes or missed races) will be dropped before the final standings are calculated.

Taking those drops into consideration, the championship picture grows a bit cloudier. In the “adjusted” standings, Prillaman’s lead over Florian shrinks to just six, 195-189. Saunders jumps to third with 184, while Wall is fourth at 181.

Arena Racing Hampton Roads Pro Series current top 10 (through event 8 of 15): 1. Scott Prillaman, 253; 2. Adam Florian, 239; 3. Travis Wall, 228; 4. Spencer Saunders, 227; 5. Charlie Green, 218; 6. Robbie Davis, 207; 7. Derek Miller, 202; tie Jordan Wood, 202; 9. Brittany Bangas, 194; 10. Aaron Leach, 192.

Southeastern Virginia has earned a reputation over the years as a hotbed of high school athletic talent. And, soon, the interscholastic competition will extend to a new field of play — Arena Racing’s tenth-mile oval.

It was announced last week Hampton’s Bethel High is forming the nation’s first school-based Arena Racing team. Twenty students make up the new organization, handling the driving and pit crew duties, as well as the always-important marketing and sponsorship effort.

The green and gold Bruin machine, No. 68 to commemorate the school’s 1968 opening, is slated to debut on Feb. 27 and will run in this season’s final four events.

According to Arena Racing Hampton Roads boss Blake Murphy, Bethel will compete in the Pro Series at the start. As more schools get on board, though, a separate High School Division feature race may be added to the regular lineup.