Paul Wilmoth Tops Tyler Topless 51 for UFO Race Championship

By Rich Berry

MIDDLEBOURNE, W.V.  – April 17. Paul Wilmoth of Clarksburg, W.V. took the lead on lap 20 and held it the rest of the distance in winning the annual "Topless 51" at Tyler County Speedway, sanctioned by the UFO Race Championship. He earned $5,000 for his efforts.

A field of 28 entries was divided into three qualifying heats, and in the redraw for starting positions, first heat winner Wilmoth drew for all 12 redraw drivers. The result put Gary Dalton and Chad McClellan on the front row. The two front row starters ran the first lap side-by-side, with McClellan leading the first lap before Dalton nosed ahead. Third starting Doug Horton moved to second behind Dalton, before the first of just three cautions appeared on lap three.

Dalton had lane choice for the double file restart, and chose the inside lane, but when the green flag waved, Horton used the outside to take over the race lead. Dalton settled into second with Paul Wilmoth riding third. The top three pulled away, leaving a host of drivers to battle for fourth.

The race for the lead got intense when the leaders hit traffic on lap 12. Dalton got a run at Horton in traffic, and made the pass for the lead on lap 14. The lead battle remained hot, and on lap 16 the top three passed the line three wide, with Wilmoth advancing to second. The battle was interrupted by a lap 19 caution period, when John Mollick rolled to a stop.

Race leader Dalton again had lane choice, and again chose inside, despite its not working for him on the first restart. Again when racing resumed, he got beat by the outside line as Wilmoth took over the race lead. At the halfway mark, it was Wilmoth leading Dalton, Horton, and 16th starting Jared Hawkins. Eddie Carrier, Jr. had just taken fifth place from 13th starting Zack Dohm, then passed Hawkins for fourth place on lap 28 as he continued his charge forward. On lap 30, he passed Horton to take over third.

As the leaders were again hitting race traffic, the lead battle flared up again. Dalton got along side Wilmoth on lap 32, but could not pull off the pass.

Lap 34 would see the final caution of the race, and it would change the complexion of the race entirely. Working lap 34, second running Dalton’s car appeared to briefly slow between turns three and four. Carrier was close behind, and the two cars tangled to bring out the yellow flag. After coasting to the infield, Dalton restarted his car, but eventually retired. Carrier restarted, but had to go to the tail after advancing from 12th to battle for the lead.

The new running order with 17 laps to go had Wilmoth leading Horton, Hawkins, Dohm, and Robbie Scott, who had slowly inched forward after starting 11th. Wilmoth chose the outside lane and took a lead that he would not relinquish the rest of the way.

Second place was hotly contested to the finish, as Horton felt a challenge from Scott at lap 39. Scott took the spot on lap 42, and 19th starting Jared Miley passed Horton for third on lap 43. The three cars battled for second at lap 47, but Scott and Miley would settle the battle themselves on the final lap. Though Miley would nose ahead on the white flag lap, Scott held off Miley for runner-up honors by a nose, but Miley's run from 19th to third was impressive enough to earn him the Pass-Maximum award, presented by Bernheisel Race Components and Lazer Chassis.

Finish - Tyler County UFO

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