The All American 400 will see champions from multiple racing series converge in the Music City for Sunday’s race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. Another champion will throw his name in for the race, trading dirt for the hardtop for his first attempt in an asphalt Super Late Model.
Defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Mike Marlar is set for just his third-career asphalt start in one of the Super Late Model crown jewels. It has been a year of firsts for the ‘Winfield Warrior’, who also made his first starts in both the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and Xfinity Series. Now, the Tennessee native straps into a Super Late Model for the first time just one weekend before the World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte.
“I’m just interested in some asphalt racing and getting to do some of it,” Marlar told Speed51.com. “I got to drive the Truck at Eldora and the Xfinity car, though it was a short-lived race at Richmond, and I just wanted to get a little more asphalt experience in case I got to do any more Truck or Xfinity stuff. Also, for my dirt stuff, I think it probably will make me a better driver.”
The two-time Late Model Knoxville Nationals champion made his asphalt debut in a Pro Late Model at Lebanon I-44 Speedway (MO), finishing second to local shoe Brennon Willard. His Xfinity debut came at Richmond Raceway the next week, but would only last one lap before an incident took him out of the race. The connection with Willard carried on to this weekend’s opportunity, with his dirt car owner Ronnie Delk and sponsor Marathon on board.
“Brennon Willard had let me drive one of his cars this year at (Lebanon) I-44 and I was talking to him about going to the race at Nashville,” he said. “I actually traded him out his car because he wants to do a little dirt racing so I swapped him one of my dirt cars for it.”
Marlar is admittedly going into the weekend as a stranger to this kind of racing and the extra-distance added on to it. While the extra-distance dirt races cap off at 100 laps, the 400 laps that make up the All American 400 create a challenge he has not seen before. With that being said, he is going into the All American 400 weekend with minimal expectations.
“I just know I’m going to do it, I really don’t have a plan. I just know if I want to do any of it, the first thing I’ve got to do is show up,” he stated. “I don’t know anything about it, I’ll be the least informed guy there, I’m sure. I have had a couple guys I know that are dirt guys that have some asphalt experience that’s reached out to me and said they’d come along and help me. We’re just going to have a little fun, it’s a big race and a big deal. We’re just going to kind of wing it. We’re going to show up the practice laps and qualify and see how we do, we don’t have any kind of plan or anything, heck I just got the car Friday so I don’t know much about it.
“Honestly, going into it I’m just hoping to make the show for starters,” he added. “Once we get in there, I guess I’ll just figure it out. The good thing is there’s not any live pit stops or anything so it’s just a matter of staying out there. This week, I’ll make sure I’m good and hydrated. I usually don’t sweat that much in my stuff, so we’ll have to take that as a precaution.”
He hopes to make other asphalt Late Model starts in the future, but for now the All American 400 is his only scheduled attempt with the hustle the dirt Late Model racing world provides. But when his normal racing schedule opened up for this weekend, he was quick to jump on it.
“This is not a big deal or serious deal, my time is pretty limited with my dirt schedule and this just happens to be a weekend I can get away,” he said. “I wasn’t really intending to do such a big race but it was just the one in front of me so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Fans unable to make it to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville for the All American 400 can see Marlar mix it up with asphalt racing’s best live on Speed51.com. To purchase your video ticket for Sunday’s race, click here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Heath Lawson