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Friday September 30th, 2016 4:21AM

Hagar streaks to third straight USCS Sprint Win at Clayhill

By Jacob Seelman
  Contact Editor
ATWOOD, TN - A Memorial Day visit to USCS victory lane became special for Marion, AR's Derek Hagar in more ways than one.<br /> <br /> Hagar, the defending United Sprint Car Series presented by K&N Filters champion, charged from third on the starting grid around pole winner and Terry Gray on lap two of the 30-lap "Memorial Day Meltdown" at Clayhill Motorsports in Atwood, TN, and never looked back while racing to victory despite two cautions, a green-white-checkered finish and repeated challenges from Marshall Skinner.<br /> <br /> The victory was Hagar's third straight out of three USCS Sprint Speedweek 2014 events and his 26th career USCS feature win. This ironically moved him past Skinner and into sole possession of fourth place on the USCS all-time wins list.<br /> <br /> "This...wow," Hagar said in victory lane. "(Marshall) gave me a heck of a fight. He's one of the few guys that can work that bottom groove the whole race like he did. We got real tight there near the end. I was actually really worried when that last caution came out. We got so tight as the run wore on I didn't think we would have enough to hang on those last two laps. I was just glad it was Marshall we were racing. It's perfect that it was him behind me tonight."<br /> <br /> The win was made even more special by the fact that it came on the birthday of Hagar's late father, who passed away in 2010 and was a longtime supporter of the young gun's racing efforts.<br /> <br /> "This is two years in a row now that we've won on my dad's birthday, and I know he'd be smiling at all this," Hagar added. "What a special night."<br /> <br /> Skinner came home second after starting fifth and came right to victory lane to congratulate his protégé and former shop-mate.<br /> <br /> "That kid right there, he's the real deal," Skinner said. "He's like my little brother. I knew he would break my mark eventually. It wasn't a matter of if, but when. I'm just glad I was able to make him earn it tonight. I thought maybe we could get him, but he had just enough there at the end. He's done so well. He says he's learned a lot from me, and I appreciate that. I think it's something that works both ways. This is his night though. We'll take second tonight."<br /> <br /> Eighteen-year-old Brandon Hanks drove around the outside of Gray late in the race to finish in third place. Gray came home in fourth Joey Moughan completed the top five.<br /> <br /> Zach Pringle came home in sixth, with Brad Bowden coming from 22nd to finish seventh. Jerod Roller ran eighth at the finish. A.G. Rains crossed the stripe in ninth and Andy McElhannon rounded out the top ten.<br /> <br /> The race was slowed on the first start attempt by a spin in turn three involving Jake Roach. Once the field got underway, Hagar quickly jumped to second behind opening lap leader Gray. Hagar made the pass for the win in turn two a lap later, but had to endure a myriad of lap traffic and two more cautions. The first occurred on lap 12 when Tim Crawley slammed into an infield tire while trying to lap Jeff Willingham. The race's final caution flew on lap 29 when 14-year-old Taylor Tidmore spun coming off of turn two.<br /> <br /> That caution set up a green-white-checkered finish which pushed the race one lap beyond its scheduled distance of 30 laps. It gave Skinner one final chance to capitalize, however, he could not find enough steam to keep Hagar from pulling away.<br /> <br /> Jeff Swindell kicked off the night's racing action by scoring the win in the Hoosier Speed Dash. Skinner won the first heat and Brandon Hanks drove to the checkered flag in the second heat. Gray grabbed the victory in the third heat, his third straight heat race victory. After first heat winner Skinner pulled a zero in the inversion draw, Gray netted the K&N Filters Pole Award.<br /> <br /> <strong>USCS Outlaw Thunder Sprint Car Tour</strong><br /> <strong> Clayhill Motorsports
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