Before he was a World of Outlaws Late Models Champion, Mike Marlar cut his teeth on the dirt tracks of Tennessee and surrounding states. This weekend, Marlar returned to his roots in a big way, claiming his fourth career win the Paul “Butterball” Wooldridge Memorial at Richmond Raceway (KY).
“The Winfield Warrior” dominated the 59-lap feature event, claiming the $20,059 payday for winning the event held in memory of National Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Paul “Butterball” Wooldridge. Marlar had won the race most recently in 2015, with the other two wins coming in 2004 and 2009.
“I just love racing here in Central Kentucky,” Marlar told Speed51. “I’ve always enjoyed coming to all these race tracks. 20 grand an hour and a half from my house, it made all the sense in the world.”
While Marlar had a sizable advantage during the second half of the race, he still had to battle his way through lapped traffic on the tight Richmond bullring. There was little room to relax, especially without knowing for certain how close competition was behind him.
“It feels awesome. It was really tight racing, lots and lots of traffic through the race. I don’t know if I had any breathing room. I think they said I had a little bit of a lead, but I didn’t know. I was just slicing and dicing.
“I could hear guys on my right rear two or three times higher than me on the track. I decided I better move up and try to take the lane away. I guess it worked.”
While it was a local hero taking the checkered flag, the runner-up came from north of the border. Ricky Weiss, currently second in the World of Outlaws Late Models points chase, took advantage of a weekend off with that national tour to chase the $20,059 prize in the race sanctioned by the ULTIMATE Heart of America Super Late Model Series.
It may not have been a win, but Weiss was pleased to come away with second place honors in his first-ever Butterball Memorial, in just his second trip to Richmond Raceway.
“I’ll take it from only my second time here and first time at this race,” said Weiss. “Mike is always really good and he’s got his stuff figured out.
“We had a weekend off, and there were a couple of other races we could have gone to. One was a little far away, and this one paid twice as much as that. I think we made the right choice.”
Zack Dohm completed the podium, winning out in a hard-fought battle with pole-sitter Ross Bailes for the third spot. Dohm wondered if he might have had a fast enough car to compete for the win with more time, but was pleased with a strong run.
“I feel like we needed it to be 100 laps,” said Dohm. “I don’t know if we were as good as Ricky or Marlar, but every time I’d clear a guy, my brother would show me I got a pretty good lead on them pretty quick.
“You can’t win them all. I’m happy with third. You finish third to those two guys, they’re pretty good. I’m happy with it.”
Tyler Carpenter entered the weekend as the defending Butterball Memorial champion, and appeared to have the car to contend for a second-straight win in the event. Instead, a mysterious mechanical issue sent him spinning from the top five and left him scratching his head.
“I’m not really sure yet,” said Carpenter. “The steering locked up entering turn one on a restart. It just yanked to the left and spun me out of nowhere. I’m not sure what’s going there. There’s something goofy going on. We pulled in and the guys couldn’t find anything obvious.
“When I was able to come up to second place a couple of times, I felt pretty good about it. I didn’t think, ‘Oh, we’re definitely going to win,’ but I knew we had a car that could run with him.”
Race fans who missed Saturday’s race can click here to watch highlights from the 33rd Annual Butterball Memorial.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo
Butterball Memorial Unofficial Results
- Mike Marlar
- Ricky Weiss
- Zack Dohm
- Ross Bailes
- Scott James
- Victor Lee
- Dustin Linville
- Tyler Carpenter
- Brandon Fouts
- Justin Ratliff
- Derek Fisher
- Tyrel Todd
- Dennis Roberson
- Connor Meade
- Justin Shaw
- Chris Shannon
- Jared Bailey
- Mike Reams
- Tommy Carlton
- Tommy Turner
- Joe Mayabb
- Jason Jameson
- Jason Barrett
- Joe Godsey