WICHITA, Kan. – official release — TWC photo — It had been much too long for his taste.
Mike Martin finally broke back into victory lane by wiring the field in Friday night’s 30-lap USAC Southwest Sprint Car Series “Freedom Tour” main event atop the three-eighths-mile 81 Speedway.
It wasn’t all that easy though, as Martin had to fight for it all the way in the PPM No. 16 Maxim, fending off early challenges from Thursday night Freedom Tour winner Brady Bacon before sealing the $2,500 winner’s deal ahead of Harli White, who rallied from 13th, with USAC Southwest Sprint Car Series points leader R.J. Johnson rounding out the podium in third.
“It’s been too long, it just feels good to win again and especially out on the road in front of so many great fans, it just makes it fun to race out here,” Martin commented in victory lane.
Martin originally started the feature from the second row inside, but moved to the pole when pole starter Forrest Sutherland looped it in the opening corner.
With Bacon moving up from seventh to fifth accordingly, the Broken Arrow, Okla., shoe was on Martin’s tail within a couple of laps of the green flag flying, with Martin, Bacon and 2013 Freedom Tour winner at 81 Speedway Rick Ziehl all working the lower portion of the track in the battle for the lead.
That trio didn’t have it to themselves though in the early going though. After slipping back from his front row outside starting position, Joe Wood Jr., worked the top side of the track to rejoin the mix for lead after Colby Copeland’s nasty ride off the turn one banking after five laps, only to slide too high off of turn four soon after while challenging Bacon for second.
Another violent ride by Zach Chappell off the turn one banking slowed the proceeding after 14 laps, with the Talala, Okla., racer walking away apparently unscathed
From there, Martin maintained command as Harli White worked past Bacon and Ziehl over the final half of the race to take runner-up honors. Johnson made a late advance to third with Ziehl and Bacon rounding out the top five.