BROWNSTOWN, Ind. — Mike Marlar and the late C.J. Rayburn were longtime friends and on Friday night he paid the best tribute he could to one of his racing mentors — winning the 40-lap second annual C.J. Rayburn Memorial at Brownstown Speedway. The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned event drew 45 cars to the historic Southern Indiana venue.
Marlar grabbed the lead from Nick Hoffman on lap nine when Hoffman slipped off the frontstretch. Marlar then went on to take the $10,000 victory ahead of Ricky Thornton Jr., Devin Moran, Jonathan Davenport and Hoffman. The race went green to checkers without any caution flags.
Hoffman jumped to the lead at the start of the race and held the top spot for the first eight circuits until he got off the track on the frontstretch allowing Marlar to take over. Hoffman held the second spot behind Marlar for several laps with Brandon Overton, Thornton, and Moran all in the hunt. Thornton outdueled Overton moving to third and then passed Hoffman for second.
Thornton then caught Marlar bringing Moran and later Davenport into the fray. At one point the top four were separated by mere seconds as Marlar would fight off challenges for the win — the 21st Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory of his career.
Marlar’s third win this season with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series was arguably the most emotional of his racing career.
“I will try to keep it together, C.J.’s special to us and when he passed away, I took it as hard as when my granddad or anybody,” Marlar said. “I fought hard there, I didn’t have the best car, but he [C.J.] was up there helping me out. I was just making it happen. I am just glad that C.J.’s family and all of these supporters of Brownstown Speedway were here. He [C.J.] means so much to all of us and we hated to lose him, but nobody ever lived as good as he did. So, I just really miss him, and miss him every day honestly, and I was glad to get this race won. It’s definitely one of the biggest ones for sure.”
Thornton looking for his series-leading 21st win of the season pulled alongside Marlar on several occasions but settled for second.
“He [Marlar] was good we had a couple of shots and just got ran off the race track,” Thornton said. “But we’ll try again tomorrow congrats to him [Marlar] he had a really good car. I was watching him at the beginning, and he could just fire off better than any of us. But I felt like in the longer race our race will be pretty good tomorrow, overall, the track was pretty good I am glad they did something to it.”
Mike Marlar, Ricky Thornton Jr., Devin Moran, Jonathan Davenport, Nick Hoffman, Brandon Overton, Tim McCreadie, Jason Jameson, Josh Rice, Daulton Wilson, Hudson O’Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Garrett Alberson, Michael Chilton, Max Blair, Ross Robinson, Tanner English, James Rice, Dennis Erb Jr., Spencer Hughes, Tristan Chamberlain, Tyler Erb, Skyller Lewis, Chad Stapleton, Devin Gilpin, Boom Briggs.