It was almost as if Mike Marlar had two separate seasons in 2015. The Winfield, Tenn. driver and his Ronnie Delk owned team began the year with a Longhorn Chassis and only raced sporadically. Then at the midway point of the campaign, the No. 157 crew switched to Capital Race Cars as their brand of racer and hit the road on an almost weekly basis to finish out the season.
The increase in number of trips to the track brought about improved results as the ‘Winfield Warrior’ picked up a pair of $15,000 victories in the John Bradshaw Memorial at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Kentucky along with the Fall Classic in Whynot, Miss. Add to that several other wins and scores of podium finishes, and Marlar’s second half of the season was definitely a noteworthy one.
“We were trying to work a lot and not really race a whole lot the first part of the year then we got the itch to want to go a little bit more and everybody got motivated,” Marlar explained in a recent interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “We got us a new car from Marshall Green(Capital) and started racing a lot and focusing on that a little bit more. I’m just lucky I can do that. I’ve got a real good crew and car owner. I actually don’t do anything to the race team to make it operate day-to-day. They get all of that going and I just come and race it.”
The 37-year-old veteran driver who has won of some of Dirt Late Model racing’s biggest events, including two Hillbilly 100 races, believes the latter half of 2015 was one of the most productive stints of his career.
“We had a real good year,” Marlar declared. “It’s actually turned out to be one of my best years even though I didn’t really have intentions of racing a whole lot. But that’s usually how racing goes. I don’t think (Jonathan)Davenport intended on racing a lot at the beginning of the year then he ended up running the whole Lucas deal. When you’re on the bull, sometimes you just ride it until it bucks you off.”
And not only was it a great season in terms of wins, but also in terms of earnings.
“This year was a pretty profitable year for our race team,” the driver pointed out. “We were able to finish in the top-3 of a lot of the big races and then win a couple of $15,000 shows and I won a $10,000 show and some other races. But yeah, it was a good year all the way around. It was another year in the books that we feel like we had fun at and had some success at.”
Marlar attributes much of that success in 2015 to the pairing of his team with Capital Race Cars. Not only did the driver like the feel of the cars, but he also liked the relationship he and his team were able to build with the Marshall Green owned company.
“They really try to treat you like somebody and they work hard to help you,” Marlar said of the chassis builders. “They came into the deal not thinking what I could do for them but what they could do to help me. Marshall pointed out some things that he had seen in myself that he thought we could do to be more successful. It’s definitely cool to meet someone who can help you improve a little bit. That whole staff comes to the races some and helps us out when they can.”
Not only did Marlar win races this year, but he sought out the biggest events and the toughest competition to do it. As a matter of fact, after taking receipt of a their new Capital car, the Delk Equipment Sales race team drove all the way to Wisconsin for the $50,000-to-win USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway to put the new ride through its paces.
“Whenever I raced Modifieds, I was having a successful career and I had no reason to ever walk away from that other than the fact that I felt like the best competition in the world is in Late Model racing,” Marlar explained. “So that’s what made me make the change over from UMP Modifieds to Late Models because we were probably financially better off and everything was better racing the UMP Modified with the exception of whenever I saw Scott Bloomquist and Billy Moyer and those guys I wanted to know if I had it in me to beat those guys. The only way you’ll ever be among the best is to beat those guys and that’s the way I go about it. We ain’t afraid to go and take on those guys and we don’t have too much pride to go and get our butt handed to us either.”
As far as 2016 goes, Marlar hasn’t yet made definite plans, and that’s the way he believes things work best for him and his team.
“A lot of the stuff in the spring is financially taxing on you and the team. You get a lot of bad weather in the spring and you find yourself driving around a lot and getting rained on. If it’s there, one thing I’ve found out from racing is that you can’t push things, if the sun’s bright and shiny and it’s going to be a nice weekend with a good purse and good competition, you’re liable to see us do anything. But we’re not going to make a point to be somewhere just to be there. We’re fortunate enough to have a lot of resources to race with, but at the same time, we’re not so well off that we can go out and make bad decisions.”