latemodelamerica.com - Feb. 11 - East Bay Raceway Winternationals
LateModelAmerica.com by Sam Holbrooks

 
 
Brad Neat VL5 - East Bay Raceway  
  Brad Neat after his first Winternationals win at East Bay. (Rick Warren)

Brad Neat - Mike Marlar - East Bay 5

Mike Marlar was able to push past #41 Brad Neat for the lead at East Bay, but was forced to give it up to a flat tire Friday night. (Rick Warren)

Lucas Oil Series: Neat Finds First WinNats Victory at East Bay

James Essex

TAMPA, Fla. – Feb. 11. Brad Neat of Dunnville, Ky. raced to his first ever win at East Bay Raceway Park during the 35th annual DART Winternationals Friday. Neat took back the lead when Mike Marlar pitted for a flat tire on lap 34. Neat then held off Jimmy Owens to score the win over Dennis Erb, Jr., Josh Richards, and Don O’Neal.
“First off, I have to thank the Good Lord,” said Neat, whose victory was his third career win on the series tour. “I want to thank Bobby Labonte and my entire team, my crew chief Mark Hopper, Eric Fullwood, our team manager Jason Fitzgerald and everybody back at the shop. You have to feel bad for Mikey (Marlar), but that’s the way it goes in racing sometimes, we had a real good car tonight. 
Jimmy Owens - Mike Marlar - East Bay 5
Jimmy Owens challenges #36 Mike Marlar before Marlar eventually ducked out with a flat tire.  Owens advanced to second when Brad Neat took over the lead. (Mike Ruefer)
The 31-year-old driver Neat was solid from the start of the 50 main event as he took the lead from his outside front row starting position. Marlar, who started from the pole fell into second followed by Owens, Eric Wells and Tim Dohm. Neat opened up a sizable lead by the ninth lap as he started to encounter heavy traffic. 
Neat was still in control at the halfway mark as Marlar started to close the gap on him. A caution for Jason Feger on lap 32 bunched the field up. Two laps later, Wells, who was running fifth, had a flat tire and stopped on the track to bring out the third caution. During the caution, Marlar’s right rear started to go flat and he headed to the pit area for a tire change. 
Billy Moyer Jr - Ray Cook - East Bay 5
Billy Moyer, Jr. and #53 Ray Cook race at midfield before finishing ninth and tenth, respectively. (Mike Ruefer)
As Marlar gave up the lead, Neat took over the top spot with Owens now second followed by Dohm, Josh Richards and Dennis Erb, Jr. Neat and Owens bolted away from the field on the restart and with ten laps to go it appeared as if the race would be settled among those two. Dohm had other ideas, as he caught the two frontrunners pulling alongside Owens on lap 47 just as his right rear tire blew. 
The race went green for another lap until the final caution appeared for Austin Hubbard’s flat. The green-white-checkered restart saw Neat hold off Owens to become the 54th different driver to win a Late Model event during the East Bay Winternationals history. 
Feb. 11 - Winternationals Race 5
1) Brad Neat, 2) Jimmy Owens, 3) Dennis Erb, Jr., 4) Josh Richards, 5) Don O'Neal, 6) Tim McCreadie, 7) Scott Bloomquist, 8) Donnie Moran, 9) Billy Moyer, Jr., 10) Ray Cook (prov.), 11) Earl Pearson, Jr. (prov.), 12) Eddie Carrier, Jr., 13) Jared Landers, 14) David Breazeale, 15) Eric Jacobsen, 16) Jason Feger, 17) Tyler Reddick, 18) Eric Wells, 19) Austin Hubbard, 20) Tim Dohm, 21) Rick Eckert, 22) Dan Schlieper, 23) Mike Marlar, 24) Vic Coffey, 25) Davey Johnson (prov.), 26) Tim Isenberg
Fast Time (66 entries): Mike Marlar / 14.677 seconds; Heat Winners: Marlar, Wells, Dohm, Neat, Owens, Richards; B-Main winners: Moran, Moyer

Mike Ruefer photo

 

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