Carlton wins 10th straight

Published 10:34 pm Friday, March 6, 2015

By Gary Daughtrey

Special to the News-Herald

Cody Carlton of Chesapeake slipped into the lead on Lap 26 and breezed to his fifth straight victory in the 50-lap Top Dog race, the featured Pro Series event in Saturday’s Arena Racing USA events at the Richmond Coliseum.

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Carlton’s overall winning streak now stands at 10, as he put the finishing touches on his fifth straight Top Dog/A Main sweep.

Dylan Loving drew the pole for the start of the event, sharing the front row with John Nickens. Dystany Spurlock and Camden Testerman launched from Row 2. Carlton started toward the tail of the 14-car lineup.

On the first try at a start, Loving took off a bit too early to suit officials. The yellow flag waved, and the field was brought back under control for another attempt.

Finally under way, Loving leaped into the lead, followed by Nickens, Spurlock, Testerman and Jason Styron. A scuffle near the rear of the field failed to produce a caution flag on Lap 3. It did, however, send the leaders into slower traffic almost immediately.

Meanwhile, Carlton had plowed through the pack and ran fourth, right behind a side-by-side duel between Spurlock and Nickens.

While Loving widened his lead to a full straightaway, Spurlock gradually inched ahead of Nickens, bringing Carlton along with her, to third.

The second yellow flag flew on Lap 12 when Styron overturned off Turn 4. Behind him, Scott Prillaman sailed into the inside barricade along the frontstretch.

On the double-file restart, Loving quickly dispensed with Spurlock. Carlton filled the opening to her inside and came away the runner-up spot. Within five laps, Loving had pulled away by three lengths. Traffic soon became a factor, though, allowing Carlton to narrow the gap. By Lap 23, the two leaders were nose-to-tail.

Negotiating slower traffic, just past the halfway mark, Carlton made his move to the front, shuffling past Loving along the backstretch. Though he now held the lead, Carlton was unable to shake Loving, who doggedly held onto his rear bumper.

Another bout with lapped traffic, beginning on Lap 38, played in Carlton’s favor as he eased away from Loving. His edge was erased, however, when Testerman and Mike Weddell tangled in Turn 2 on Lap 46, prompting the third and final caution flag and setting up a five-lap sprint to the checkers.

On the last restart, Carlton motored away from the field, while Spurlock swiped the second position from Loving. The second-place exchange allowed Carlton to fashion a four-length margin.

While Carlton cruised to the win, the battle for second heated up on the white-flag lap, as Spurlock slipped up the banking in Turn 2, leaving the bottom lane open. Loving, Tommy Jackson Jr. and Jason Manes all scooted past.

At the finish, Carlton was the winner by 1.577 seconds — about half a straightaway — over Loving. Jackson, Manes and Spurlock completed the top five.