Florian takes Arena youth flag
Published 10:41 pm Thursday, February 20, 2014
By Gary Daughtrey
Special to the News-Herald
Suffolk’s Olivia Florian started on the pole and led 29 of 30 laps for her second straight victory in the Youth Series Arena Racing USA race on Saturday in Richmond.
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The event got off to a wild start as five drivers — Savannah Nickens, Garrett Manes, Chase Burrow, Logan Jones and Autumn Weaver — piled up in Turn 2 on the opening lap. The incident sidelined Manes, along with outside pole starter Aubrey Hill.
The second try at a start also went awry when Florian bolted from the pack a bit early. The third try proved to be the charm, though, as Florian eased ahead of Mini Tyrrell off Turn 2. By Lap 6, her margin had grown to almost a full straightaway.
Traffic loomed ahead, however. As Florian struggled to bypass the slower machines, Tyrrell rapidly closed ground and slipped out front at the end of Lap 9. A lap later, though, Florian returned to the top of the leaderboard.
The last of the race’s three caution flags appeared on Lap 18, when Nickens and Burrow tangled off Turn 2 and Burrow sailed into the inside barricade along the backstretch. On what would turn out to be the final restart, Florian and Tyrrell pulled away from the pack in nose-to-tail formation.
Tyrrell stayed within shouting distance until lap 21 when Florian suddenly widened her advantage to half a straightaway. By the finish, Florian’s winning edge had swelled to better than a full straightaway.
Tyrrell was the runner-up.
Travis Wall swept the A-Main and Top Dog events in Richmond.
Wall will have a while to enjoy Saturday night’s success, as Arena Racing USA goes on a month-long hiatus. The series returns to action with a weekend doubleheader at the Richmond Coliseum March 21-22.