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Josh Putnam scores career best win in Deep Fried 75 at Duck River

By admin | November 17, 2013

Josh Putnam emerged as the winner of the Deep Fried 75 at Duck River

Josh Putnam emerged as the winner of the Deep Fried 75 at Duck River

By Richard Allen

After severely damaging a race car recently at the Smoky Mountain Speedway, Josh Putnam essentially had to borrow another machine to compete in the Deep Fried 75 at the Duck River Raceway Park. And that loaner provided some magic as the Alabama native drove to what he called the biggest win of his career on Saturday night.

“Randy Todd gave us this car to run with this weekend because we killed a car three weeks ago at Smoky Mountain. Every piece on it belongs to him,” Putnam explained. “What a piece. What can you say?

“I’ve been hands-on with the car for about a year now. I had advantages. It’s not like I got in a strange car,” Putnam added. ”I built the car and knew all about it. It’s just like mine, but it’s a heck of a motor in that thing.”

Putnam pocketed $10,000 after prevailing over the likes of Skylar Marlar, Dennis Erb, Jr. and Ray Cook in a very exciting race that featured lead changes and intense battling through lapped traffic in front of a huge crowd over virtually the entire distance of the event.

On Friday night, Marlar set the fastest time in Super Late Model qualifying by laying down a lap of 12.540 seconds. The Winfield, Tenn. driver then went on to claim the pole for Saturday’s feature by winning the first heat of the night over fellow feature qualifiers Scott Cook, Vic Hill and Michael Chilton.

Allen Murray earned a front row starting spot in the feature when he won the third heat of the night on Friday ahead of Eric Hickerson, David Seibers and Clayton Miller.

Ray Cook was awarded the 3rd starting spot for the feature after winning Friday night’s second heat over Tanner English, Dennis Erb, Jr. and Eric Cooley.

The 4th starting position in the feature went to Josh Putnam after he bested Tony Morris, Daniel Miller and Brandon Kinzer in the fourth and final heat race.

Clint Nichols and Brad Skinner won the two last chance qualifying races on Saturday night just prior to the running of the Deep Fried 75 main event.

From the very outset of the main event it was obvious that the winner would have to survive a fierce battle. Marlar jumped to the early lead with Putnam advancing from his 4th starting spot to second on the first lap. Murray and Cook also joined the chase as the cars roared around the quarter-mile facility.

Cook proved to be an early mover as he powered around Murray for 3rd then Putnam for 2nd on successive laps in the early going. Traffic would prove to be a factor throughout much of the race distance which allowed the top-3 of Marlar, Cook and Putnam to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

Marlar held the lead over the course of the first 20 laps by making some daring moves to get around lapped cars, often putting himself in two and three-wide situations. Meanwhile, Putnam moved to reclaim the runner-up spot from Cook on lap 18.

At lap 21, Putnam went around Marlar for the race lead as the two cars touched at the exit of turn two, just prior to a caution that would bunch the field two laps later. After the restart from that yellow flag, the leaders kept up their torrid pace as they cut through the pack in pursuit of one another.

“I kind of pulled a bone headed move on him,” Putnam said after the race of the pass on Marlar. “It was only about 30 laps in but it was more like a lap 70 pass. I really wanted that lead and I really wanted some clean air as we were trying to get through those lapped cars. Then after I done it, we had a caution a few laps later and I’m thinking, ‘That might not have been so smart’, but we were going for our biggest win and I knew we had a car that was capable of winning this race and I just gave it my all.”

By lap 40, veteran driver Dennis Erb, Jr. began making his way toward the front by working a much lower line than the other lead drivers.

A final caution with five laps to go for the slowing car of Tony Morris set up a dash to the checkered flag. Putnam was able to pull away and leave the fight between his pursuers. As the cars were coming out of turn four for the finish line, Marlar lost control and hit the outside wall, which robbed him of a top-3 finish after a great run.

“Somebody said they thought the right rear tire went down,” Marlar said after the race. “I don’t know what happened, but I don’t see how that line worked for 74-and-a-half laps then got away from me like that.”

At the finish, it was Josh Putnam, Dennis Erb, Jr., Ray Cook, Tanner English, Michael Chilton, Eric Cooley, Skylar Marlar, Brad Skinner and Daniel Miller.

“I told ‘em when I got out of the car that I didn’t know what to say,” Putnam offered. “We had a great race car that really made me look good. I could move around to the middle, top or bottom. I preferred the top line. I knew it was going to be tough. There’s a lot of times there I think I was holding my breath. It was almost like a dog fight.”

Click here to listen to the full length interview with Josh Putnam via YouTube with no download required.

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