by Jacob Hord, @HordRacewatcher
Another uncharacteristically, but welcome warm day greeted the All Star Circuit of Champions as they returned to Attica Raceway Park for night two of the Attica Spring Nationals. Thirty All Stars signed in for what would be an excellent night of action.
After dodging raindrops for what seemed like all of the preliminary events, Mother Nature got herself together as the All Stars were getting ready for their 35 lap Feature event. Cale Thomas and Zeb Wise found themselves on the front row. Thomas was gunning for his second career All Star win and Wise was looking for redemption after falling .007 seconds short of the win Friday night. The green flag flew and Thomas had himself a rocket ship. He built a 1.399 second lead on lap two and by lap four it was a 1.742 second lead.
On lap six, it was worth noting that Brent Marks, who started 20th after running the BMain, was moving forward, and moving forward fast. He was already up to seventh place on lap seven. By lap ten, Thomas had a 1.631 second lead over Wise as he was in heavy lapped traffic. Thomas was able to extend his lead some in lapped traffic as Tyler Courtney got by Hunter Schuerenberg for third, bringing Brent Marks with him.
The only yellow flag came out on lap 17 as Schuerenberg and Tim Shaffer went around in turns one and two. This wiped out a two second lead for Thomas, but also put him back in clean air. Thomas got a good jump on the ensuing restart, but Wise had his hands full with Courtney, who challenged Wise, but Wise was able to hold his ground. Another lap clicked by and now Courtney had Marks all over him for third. They went side-by-side at the line on lap 19 but Courtney was able to fend Marks off.
Wise looked to be catching up with Thomas on lap 20 as Marks made his move on Courtney for third. Thomas and Wise were now nose-to-tail battling for the lead with Marks in tow. Wise looked under Thomas on lap 22 in turns one and two, and got a good run down the backstretch to take the lead. Thomas threw a slider at Wise in turns three and four, but to no avail. Wise had taken control of the lead. That didn’t mean that Thomas gave up, though. He stayed right with Wise as Marks was still right there as the top three approached lapped traffic.
On lap 27, Marks took the second spot from Thomas and quickly reeled in Wise for the lead. By the end of lap 28, we had a new leader in lapped traffic. Brent Marks quickly put a one second gap between himself and Wise in lapped traffic, and that’s all he needed to score an impressive BMain to Victory lane win, his first of 2023 and his first at Attica Raceway Park. As Justin Fiedler says, “Don’t tell me there’s no passing in Sprint Car Racing.”
“We were just off all night tonight,” said Marks about his preliminary racing efforts. “As much as it stinks being in the BMain, those extra laps really, really helped us out. They guys worked extremely hard all weekend to continue to get this car better for me to drive and they just did a phenomenal job tonight and turned things around. We did a complete 180 there and the car was so much fun to drive, and it was a blast.”
Going from 20th to 7th in six laps is no easy feat, no matter where you are or who you’re running against. But, Marks made it look easy: “I started on the outside, and it was just so dirty and dusty that it’s hard to see. I felt like it would be the safest for me to get to the bottom and I got to the bottom as fast as I could, and we were really making it work. I stayed in the moisture as much as I could while guys were skating out and I was able to make up a ton of ground doing that.”
“We had that caution on lap 17 or 18 and I had passed for third as the yellow was coming out, and I was like, ‘Holy moly this thing is good!’ We were about halfway through and I knew that if I ran smart that I could beat those guys in lapped traffic. Once lapped traffic came into play and then the middle and top, they were skating around and I was able to make the bottom work and it played in my favor. The track turned out to be pretty amazing,” Marks added.
“It always feels good to win a race, whether it’s a local race, All Star race, or World of Outlaw race. It’s our first of the year– we’ve struggled this year a little bit to get going. I feel like we learned a lot tonight about what our car needs at the beginning of the night. We’ll go into the next race and try to apply those things and win that one,” concluded Marks.