Jordon Mallett led every lap and won the USCS sprint car feature. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch
June 30, 2018 8:40:38 PM
By DAVID MILLER
Special to The Dispatch
If Shane Morgan didn't catch Jordon Mallett on restarts, he wasn't going to pass him.
Morgan trailed Mallett for the entirety of the United Sprint Car Series Battle at The Bullring, Friday at Columbus Speedway, where passing proved difficult for the field. Mallett, who led all 25 laps and won the feature, made it even more difficult Morgan and third-place finisher Morgan Turpen by building big leads on the race's three restarts.
"[Mallett] pulled probably six or seven car lengths on the restarts," Morgan said. "But once I got hooked up and going, we kind of stayed the same distance ... I don't think neither one of us could have passed each other up through the race."
Mallett's win is his second in his last five races. He's finished in the top 5 four times in that span. Mallett, in his first year as a driver-owner, currently leads the USCS national points.
Mallett said his keys to dominating restarts were anticipation, hitting his marks and not spinning his tires.
"Simple as that," he said.
Both Mallett and Morgan competed in last year's USCS race at Columbus, where the track dried out much quicker and significantly slower and more lap-cars presented a maze of passing opportunities.
The difference Friday was only turns 3 and 4 had any grip left up top, Mallett said.
"Last year, we were good toward the latter stages and clawed our way to the front running the top around both ends," Mallett said. "I had hopes that it would come in, but I knew it wouldn't be very good in 1 and 2 because the sun had been on it all day. Turns 3 and 4 had a nice cushion we could use, and if we could run the top, we'd be in good shape."
Mallett said that once he'd built a good lead, he slowed his pace to make sure he hit his marks, particularly in turns 1 and 2, where just a sliver of bottom remained late in the race. Still, he never felt Morgan get close to him.
"I couldn't hear anybody and no one ever showed their nose, so I knew I was getting decent restarts," Mallett said.
Morgan added a runner-up finish to a win and sixth-place finish he's collected in three races in a new car. He said a switch from gas to oil shocks has helped his program of late, but the only options for a victory Friday would have been new tires and starting on the pole.
"It was kind of a 'where you start is where you finish,'" Morgan said. "Starting position was everything tonight - I started on the pole and won the heat race - but you had to have a top-notch car to do a lot of passing."
Fortner walks away from gnarly wreck
Bryan Fortner hopped out of his mangled Forward race car just seconds after it had tumbled to a rest at the entrance of turn 1.
Fortner tangled with Jason Hollis down the front straightaway early in the Street Stocks feature, violently launching his car into the wall and rolling it several times.
"I got turned hard," Fortner said. "We've raced countless times here - Jason has won so many features, and his reputation as a driver is out of this world. I don't know what happened. We raced side-by-side for two weeks and never touched each other, not one mark. It just changed tonight."
Fortner's car, a 2017 build, was previously raced by Josh Tomlin, who won 22 features in it last year. Fortner had just three races on the car, including a win last week at Columbus. He'd also climbed from 19th to fourth at the Clash at The MAG.
"Everyone, the whole town has been talking about how fast the car is," Fortner said. "It was a great car, absolutely wonderful. Tonight, it would have been a contender."
Fortner will likely get back in his 2018 Forward house-car he piloted to a win in the Golden Egg Street Stock Nationals.
Fortner, who is chasing points in the Durrence Layne Street Stocks national competition, said after the wreck he approached Hollis about racing his car so he can accumulate points for the race, but neither Hollis nor track officials would allow it.
"When I got over there, he said he had nowhere to go - maybe he did, maybe he didn't," Fortner said. "I thought, 'that's fine ... if I can't race my car, I'm gonna race yours.' I'd planned on using his stuff, but I had no intentions of wrecking his car. I just wanted to get my points and go to the house."
Fortner said he doesn't plan to retaliate in future races.
"You won't pack the stands with me saying I'm going to wreck him back," Fortner said. "I was that guy one time before - a long time ago - and my little kids settled me down. The only thing I'll do is work countless hours to make sure I outrun the 2s (Hollis and Lee Ray's car numbers). I will outrace them."
Ray won the race.
In other race action, Columbus native Bobby Zaiontz won the USCS Mini Sprints feature. Tony Lloyd, Ben Franks, Michael Hall and Kyle Carpenter rounded out the top 5.
Chad McCool won the 602 Sportsman feature. Jimmy Anderson, Mike Pickard, Dalton Hood and Chris Rawson rounded out the top 5.
Cody Chism won the Factory Stocks feature. Johnny Pannell, Colby Taylor, Tony Gray and Zack Middleton rounded out the top 5.