Saturday, November 18, 2017

Aaron Marrant Dominates Lakeside Speedway for First-Ever ULMA Victory!

Aaron Marrant. Lisa Burlington Photo

Aaron Marrant. Lisa Burlington Photo

Lucas Cattle Company ULMA drivers pulled into Lakeside Speedway last weekend for their first-ever appearance in the state of Kansas, and although the race was nine years in the making, the long wait didn’t dampen the excitement of participating drivers their fans, friends, and family, who came to see them compete at the iconic speed plant.

Eighteen ULMA drivers were among the more than 120 cars packed into the pits on Friday evening and with all the makings of an instant classic, the action did not disappoint throughout the night. For the late model contingent, there was a common vibe echoed among the drivers and their crews and that simply was, “we are just glad to finally be racing here.”

The drivers were sorted into three 6-car heat races, allowing plenty of space for drivers, many of whom were competing for their first time at the track to get the feel for the track. Long-time Kansas City racer Garry Billings had the honor of starting pole position for the first-ever ULMA heat race. However, from the drop of the green flag it appeared fellow front-row starter Bob King had the action well in command. This was until fifth-starting Aaron Marrant vaulted past King to lead the final few circuits. King finished second with 2015 ULMA Champion Jon Melloway third and Billings fourth.

In heat two, Bobby Penney of nearby Lawson, Missouri never relinquished the top spot from his pole starting position and turned some of the fastest laps recorded by ULMA drivers of the night while securing the win. Clint Long advanced from fourth on the grid to second by the conclusion of the event with Tommy Cordray of northern Missouri coming away in third while Kevin Coyne finished fourth.

For the final heat race of the night, Wesley Briggs of Olathe, Kansas and his teammate, 2008 ULMA Champion, Jason Bodenhamer, started the race from the front row. Bodenhamer quickly assumed command and took advantage of the experience he gained from turning many laps at the track in both super late model competition and modified events. Bodenhamer pulled away from all pursuers to secure the victory over fourth-starting Josh Poe of Drexel, Missouri, Cody Holtkamp and 2014 ULMA Champion Jon Binning.

Lakeside Speedway passing points determined the starting grid for the 20-lap main event with heat race winners Marrant and Bodenhamer leading from row one with Penney and Long closely behind in row number two. Melloway’s night came to an untimely and early end when he was involved in a grinding crash with Bob King shortly after the race began. Although both drivers were okay, neither driver was able to continue racing after the contact and run-in with the turn two wall.

The field was realigned one more time as the race officially began after clearing the accident scene. On lap two, the cars of Bodenhamer and Penney came together with Penney receiving the worst end of the tangle, also bringing his night to a disappointing and premature end. Although Penney wasn’t able to continue, post-race conversation found him in good spirits and thinking positively that ULMA and Lakeside Speedway could schedule some events for the 2016 season.

With Marrant well in command of the race in only his second ULMA appearance, he looked like a seasoned veteran by pulling away from Bodenhamer who maintained the second position. On lap 8, Stephen Clancy’s night came to an end when he retired from the race to the infield. At this point, Marrant comfortably maintained is lead over Clint Long, Bodenhamer, Poe, and Cordray.

While Marrant was the class of the field seemingly on a rail for the entire race distance in a car normally driven by John O’Neal, Bodenhamer and Long’s battle for second was one for the ages as Long eventually left Bodenhamer to battle with Poe for the third spot, which was another hotly contested bid for third position.

By lap ten, Marrant began lapping cars with Long holding steady in second while Bodenhamer and Poe continued their torrid battle for third. With five laps remaining, Poe finally pulled past Bodenhamer to advance to third. Late in the race, Lockwood, Missouri driver Jake Williams, who diligently recruited many business partners for this event, retired from the race with just a handful of laps remaining.

Marrant used his vast experience at the track where he regularly competes in USRA Modified action as an upper hand during the race. He also planted his car where no other drivers seemed willing to run and used that to his advantage by pulling away from any pursuers and lapping cars well into the top ten.

At the conclusion of the inaugural race, Marrant easily outdistanced Long for his first-ever win behind the wheel of a Late Model and first ULMA victory. Clint Long made his way to the runner-up spot by race end with fifth-starting Poe claiming third. Bodenhamer finished fourth with Cordray crossing the line in fifth.

Cody Holtkamp came away sixth with Lance Town advancing from 14th on the grid to 7th. Binning advanced two spots to finish eighth while Billings and Coyne rounded out the top ten. After the race, Marrant was asked if he liked his time behind the wheel of the late model, to which he responded, “I might have to get one of these.”

Marrant is the latest in a slew of Modified Drivers moving up into the ranks of Late Models. Josh Poe, Lance Town, Garry Billings, and Jake Williams were among participants in the Lakeside events who were either current or former Modified drivers.

ULMA left Lakeside with positive feedback from both track personnel and drivers and is hopeful for the 2016 season there will be further opportunities at the track for ULMA racing. One of the focus areas of the organization is to rebuild the pool of drivers in the greater Kansas City metro and northward in hopes of expanding the organizations footprint and to persuade some of the drivers that have cars sitting to get them back out onto the tracks to compete in the 2016 season, which will serve as ULMA’s tenth anniversary season. In addition to eyeing up Kansas City for next season, ULMA officials have been busy behind the scenes working with two additional tracks for appearances in the 10 Year Anniversary season and will announce those details in future press releases as event information is firmed up.

ULMA wishes to again express their appreciation for the event business partners who made this event even better for participating drivers. Chris Ricketts and Mike Meise of Burlington Auto Repair in Kansas City, Bob Morton of Bob Morton Enterprises, John and Joy O’Neal of the Kart Stars Series, The Heartland Auto Racing Show, Kluhsman Racing Components (KRC), Ramsey Motors of Riverside, Yeoman Race Engines, G.W. Farms and Gary Wilhelm, and Brubaker Farms and David Brubaker.

Saturday, Oct 24 – ULMA Championship Banquet, Isle of Capri – Boonville, Mo. Tickets are on sale now for the event. All tickets are advance sales only (to establish head count and catering logistics). Detailed information is on the website main page at www.ulmaracing.com. ULMA’s outstanding group of season sponsors includes Lucas Cattle Company, Hoosier Tire Midwest, Radical Race Wear, FastShafts.com, RacingJunk.com, RacinDirt.com, and Photographics by Shelly Payne.

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