Carlton extends points lead

Published 7:51 pm Friday, February 20, 2015

In his most dominating performance of the season, Cody Carlton of Chesapeake took the lead on the opening circuit and rolled to victory in the 50-lap A-Main race for Arena Racing USA’s Pro Series, the featured event of Friday evening’s Valentine’s 200 at the Richmond Coliseum.

With the win, Carlton wrapped up his third straight Top Dog/A Main sweep and grabbed the series points lead.

John Alford drew the pole for the start of the evening’s finale, sharing the front row with Carlton. Jason Manes and Scott Allen made up Row 2. The 14-car lineup was trimmed to 11 before the initial green flag as Jason Styron, Connor Medeiros and Dylan Loving were unable to answer the bell.

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Under green for the first time, Carlton got the drop on Alford and jumped out front. Alford got shuffled back in the pack and was one of three drivers — Manes and Clayton Parrish were the others — who overturned in Turn 4. As the caution flag flew, the field bunched for a complete restart. With Alford now on the sidelines, the pole passed to Francis Jarrelle III.

On the second try at a start, Jarrelle fared a little better than Alford, remaining side-by-side with Carlton. At the end of Lap 1, Carlton eked out a half-length edge, then cleared Jarrelle on Lap 2. Jarrelle dropped into second, followed by Casey Sipe, Mike Weddell and Scott Prillaman.

The second caution flag appeared on Lap 5 when Weddell popped the outside wall off Turn 4 and the resulting flat tire caused a spin in Turn 1.

The third yellow flag waved on the ensuing restart when Manes overturned in the middle of a mad scramble in Turns 3 and 4. With only four laps on the scoreboard, the field was down to eight cars.

On the double-file restart, Carlton bolted ahead of Jarrelle and brought Sipe along with him, to second. Camden Testerman and Prillaman also bypassed Jarrelle, booting him back to fifth.

On Lap 8, Prillaman scooted past Testerman to take over third. He continued his march forward on lap 13, overhauling Sipe for the runner-up spot. By then, however, Carlton was long gone, up by almost half a lap.

Carlton’s only anxious moment came in the last handful of circuits. Having lapped all but two of his fellow competitors, he drew a bead on third-place Testerman, who put up a fierce battle to stay on the lead lap.

At the end, Carlton was the winner by a whopping 5.018 seconds — better than half a lap — over Prillaman. Testerman was third, the only other driver to complete the entire distance. Manes and Parrish were fourth and fifth.