MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — Just like everyone else in the world, Brent Marks and his crew are trying to make the most of these situational circumstances affected by COVID-19.
On Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway, Marks won the Billy Kimmel Memorial with a late-race charge and further stake his claim toward the track title.
Marks earned a 1.088-second victory over Brian Montieth, who led the first 20 laps from the pole before Marks overcame a 2.2-second deficit on a pass coming to the start-finish line with five laps to go.
“That was a really, really hard race,” Marks said. “That was one of the hardest I’ve had to race in a while.”
“With the whole COVID thing, it kind of changed our plans,” added Marks, who is now running for the Williams Grove track championship. “We had no intention of running around this area as much as we are right now. … WIth the way this year worked out, this is where we are right now. I’m proud to be standing here on the frontstretch.”
It’s Marks’ second win of the season in central Pennsylvania and 10th overall at Williams Grove. Marks’ last win at the historic half-mile happened to be the National Open when he was a regular on the World of Outlaws tour last October.
Marks started the 25-lap feature fourth but immediately made his presence felt on the race’s opening corner when he shot around Lucas Wolfe and Jeff Halligan for second. By that point, Montieth, who finished second in his heat but drew the pole for the feature, had raced out into clean air and soon established a two-second lead four laps in.
Tyler Ross brought out the race’s first of two stoppages when he slowed on the front stretch, and that allowed Marks to have a clean shot at Montieth on the restart with 19 laps to go. A three-car pileup involving Bradley Howard, Jordan Givler and T.J. Stutts off turn two reset things on the ensuing restart, which set the stage for an 18-lap green-flag run to end the night.
Montieth held a two-second lead once more shortly after the restart, but with 12 to go, lapped traffic jammed the leader, allowing Marks and Matt Campbell in third to close in.
“When the track’s like this, when it’s fast around the top, you can’t be too close to the guy in front of you,” said Marks, alluding to the navigation of lapped traffic. “The air just disturbs the cars. I was trying everything I could possibly do.”
Montieth, feeling the pressure of Marks and Campbell, distanced himself with nine to go when he dove under the lapped car of Chris Arnold and that pinned Marks on the high side with nowhere to go. But Marks ultimately chipped away and pulled alongside Montieth as the two rounded turn four with five to go, beating Montieth back to the line and taking control for the final five laps.
Marks admitted, it wasn’t the prettiest of wins, as dirty air and the aggressive approach along the top caused some hiccups, but that didn’t hold him down for his second win in two weekends. Marks won his first of the season last Saturday at Port Royal Speedway.
“I made a lot of mistakes, and we just were just going at it there with each other,” Marks said. “It was a lot of fun. It was great we had a clean race there. A couple times it got hairy.”
Marks entered the night with the points leader and only extended it with his win.
“I wouldn’t believe that a month ago,” “We just kind of sat down as a team and talked about and made a decision to go ahead and run for it. It’d mean a lot for me to win the championship. I haven’t ran for a track title in a long time. … It feels good to be home and racing.”
Campbell finished third, while Freddie Rahmer and Chad Trout rounded out the top five.
Derek Locke won the 358 sprint car feature and Steve Drevicki topped the USAC Eastern Sprint Car Series main event.
Feature (25 laps): 1. Brent Marks, 2. Brian Montieth, 3. Matt Campbell, 4. Freddie Rahmer, 5. Chad Trout, 6. Jeff Halligan, 7. Zeb Wise, 8. Lucas Wolfe, 9. Kyle Moody, 10. Kyle Reinhardt, 11. Rick Lafferty, 12. Robbie Kendall, 13. TJ Stutts, 14. Dylan Cisney, 15. Brad Howard, 16. Brent Shearer, 17. Jordan Givler, 18. Trenton Sheaffer, 19. Chris Arnold, 20. Dwight Leppo, 21. Troy Fraker, 22. Tyler Ross, 23. Chad Criswell, 24. Todd Allen