Dion Ciccarelli has spent much of this season watching Mark McFarland -- his neighbor in pit row -- roll to victory after victory. Though never jealous of his friend, Ciccarelli took pleasure in being just the second driver this season to replace McFarland in the winner's circle.
Mechanical problems forced McFarland out of the race, and Ciccarelli took advantage. He took the lead for good in the 69th lap of Saturday's 200-lap Winston Racing Series Late Model Stock Car race at Old Dominion Speedway and went on to gain his first Late Model victory.
"I've been out there for six years and trying hard so it is nice to finally get a win," Ciccarelli said, adding that the win would have been sweeter if McFarland had finished the race. "We're real happy for the win. A win is a win. It would have been nice to have beaten Mark. . . . We're sorry to see him have the bad luck. It's a tough way for us to get the win -- by his bad fortune. But we'll still take the win."
McFarland, who lost for only the second time in eight races this season, is still the overall leader by 18 points, over second-place Dale DeLozier.
After working his way through the field from the sixth starting position -- the highest spot from which he could start in the inverted format after winning last week -- McFarland took the lead on lap 53 from Mike Colabucci. But a flat tire forced McFarland out of the lead on lap 69, and a damaged rear end forced him to retire from the race. He finished 19th.
Ciccarelli took the lead from McFarland and did not relinquish it for the final 131 laps.
A sound car had been McFarland's strength over the first five weeks of the season, helping him coast to five consecutive victories. But mechanical failures have cost McFarland in two of the past three races. Two weeks ago, a dented hood slowed McFarland, who finished second.
Though disappointed, McFarland said he knew his luck could not last forever.
"We were having such a good time that we sort of expected something to happen," McFarland said. "Just [happened to be] two things at one time. . . . We'll just have to go back and win some more."
Bad luck and close finishes had become the norm for Ciccarelli this season. Two weeks ago, when McFarland's car faltered in a 75-lap race, Ciccarelli appeared on the way to victory. Leading the race going into lap 53, Ciccarelli swerved to avoid a pair of lapped cars that had spun out -- and dropped to seventh place. Twice this season, Ciccarelli has finished in second place.
"It's only been the last couple of years that I felt that I had the financial backing and the equipment to feel that I am competitive enough to win," Ciccarelli said. "On lap 198, I still didn't think I was going to get it. When we've gotten in this position before, bad luck has happened. So I just wasn't going to count on it until it happened.". . .
Jeff Callihan never trailed in the Grand Stock 50-lap race and became the first driver with three victories in the division. He is currently fourth overall and trails leader Tom Dyson by 58 points. . . .
Mike Bryant won his sixth Mini-Stock race after passing Jason Lineweaver and Mike Cadle, both of whom were disqualified for rough driving. Scott Lunceford won his fourth consecutive Speedway Sportsman race.
Late Model: 1, Dion Ciccarelli, Severn; 2, Dale DeLozier, Alexandria; 3, Eric Corbett, Hagerstown; 4, Danny Fair, Manassas; 5, Brent Nelson, Sterling. Grand Stock: 1, Jeff Callihan, Fredericksburg; 2, Tom Dyson, Manassas; 3, Mike Darne, Manassas; 4, Stan Owens, Haymarket; 5, Chris Donnelly, Stafford. Mini-Stock: 1, Mike Bryant, Midland; 2, Rick Bowman, Catlett; 3, Steve Loughman, Woodbridge; 4, Garry Klaus, Alexandria; 5, Steve Coleman, Fredericksburg. Speedway Sportsman: 1, Scott Lunceford, Burke; 2, Jim Todd Jr., Casanova; 3, Ted Queen, Manassas; 4, Roy Eckert, Linden; 5, Leslie Miranda, Manassas.
Late Model: 1, Mark McFarland, Winchester, 362; 2, DeLozier, 344; 3, Mike Colabucci, Waldorf, 336. Grand Stock: 1, Dyson, 422; 2, Darne, 396; 3, Owens, 378. Mini-Stock: 1, Bryant, 374; 2, Jason Lineweaver, Stephens City, 324; 3, Ed Zbignewich, New Windsor, Md., 320. Speedway Sportsman: 1, Todd, 382; 2, Lunceford, 356; Jeff Sisak, Linden, 352.
CAPTION: After capturing the 200-lap Winston Racing Series Late Model Stock Car race at Old Dominion Speedway on Saturday for the first time, a happy Dion Ciccarelli is greeted by Sam Beaty, who owns the car driven by overall points leader Mark McFarland.
CAPTION: In No. 8 car, Dion Ciccarelli passes Mark McFarland -- who has won six races in eight starts this season -- en route to his first Late Model win.
CAPTION: Even though mechanical problems forced him out of Saturday's 200-lap Winston Racing Series Late Model Stock Car race, Mark McFarland still leads overall standings by 18 points.