Mark McFarland was certain his luck had changed. The Winchester resident already had won the first of two 50-lap Winston Racing Series Late Model Stock Car races at Old Dominion Speedway on Saturday night and -- with five laps remaining -- was pressuring Mike Colabucci for the second race's lead.
But the mechanical problems that have plagued McFarland the past month returned to spoil his evening. After working his way through the field from the sixth starting position, the exhaust pipe fell off his No. 17 car. Track owner Dick Gore penalized McFarland for a noise violation and sent him to the back of the pack.
Colabucci, who is currently second overall, held off Danny Fair for the victory.
"It kind of stinks," McFarland said of his late-race mechanical problems. "Especially with five laps to go."
McFarland began the season as one of the hottest drivers in Old Dominion history, winning the first five races of the season and jumping out to a commanding lead in the points standings.
But the 20-year-old's luck has changed of late. He has suffered mechanical failures or been involved in accidents in three of the past four races. His commanding points lead also disintegrated. McFarland is currently third in the standings.
"We just had a streak of bad luck," said McFarland, who spent part of last season racing on the Busch Series circuit. "The first seven weeks we didn't have any trouble and then it hit us all at once. We were kind of expecting it, but now we've got to get rid of it."
On the other hand, Fair's luck appears to be changing for the better. An Old Dominion veteran of 18 years, Fair found little success in the first two months of the season.
But last week a slight adjustment to his car made a world of difference, as Fair was two laps from his first victory of the season before Nick Woodward knocked him out of the race. A brawl nearly ensued in the pit area and Woodward has been banned from Old Dominion for the remainder of the season.
Fair's improved driving continued Saturday night, as he finished second in both races.
"It got to the point where [we] started hoping for rain," Fair said about his early-season failures. "I'm a lot more anxious [now] about getting to the racetrack on Saturday afternoons when before it didn't make a difference if it rained or not. . . . We've got a couple of wins coming to us."
Elswick Finishes 4th
Defending Mini-Cup champion David Elswick placed fourth Saturday night in a special event adults division Mini-Cup race at Old Dominion Speedway.
Elswick, a 16 year-old rising junior at Osbourn High School, was the national champion of the Mini-Cup Future Stars division (ages 10 to 16) last season. He also won two of the three adult division races he entered last season. On Saturday night, he ran in an open adult division race.
On Sunday Elswick won a local Mini Cup Future Stars division race at Old Dominion Speedway, though the victory does not count toward the national standings.
Elswick is currently second in points overall, trailing the leader by eight points with three races remaining.
Tom Dyson won his fourth Grand Stock race of the season and took the overall lead from Mike Darne by 10 points. Grand Stock remains the closest division -- a little more than 100 points separates the top six drivers. . . . Doug Freeman won his third Mini-Stock race of the season and is currently fourth overall, trailing points leader Mike Bryant by 42 points. . . . Jim Todd Jr. increased his Speedway Sportsman lead to 40 points by winning his fifth race of the season.
Late Model: 1, Mark McFarland, Winchester; 2, Danny Fair, Manassas; 3, Dale DeLozier, Alexandria; 4, Mike Colabucci, Waldorf, Md.; 5, Dion Ciccarelli, Severn, Md.
Late Model (race 2): 1, Colabucci; 2, Fair; 3, Ciccarelli; 4, Eric Corbett, Hagerstown, Md.; 5, Dustin Storm, Prince Frederick, Md.
Grand Stock: 1, Tom Dyson, Manassas; 2, Chris Donnelly, Stafford; 3, Mark Winstead, Stafford; 4, Stan Owens, Haymarket; 5, Randy Bragg, Annandale.
Mini Stock: 1, Doug Freeman, Fredericksburg; 2, Ed Zbignewich, New Windsor, Md.; 3, Rick Bowman, Catlett; 4, Jason Lineweaver, Stephens City; 5, Garry Klaus, Alexandria.
Speedway Sportsman: 1, Jim Todd Jr., Casanova; 2, Ray Miller, Manassas; 3, Ted Queen, Manassas; 4, Jeff Sisak, Linden; 5, Tim Neuman, Fredericksburg.
Late Model: 1, DeLozier, 464; 2, Colabucci, 460; 3, McFarland, 432.
Grand Stock: 1, Dyson, 538; 2, Mike Darne, Manassas, 528; 3, Stan Owens, Haymarket, 512.
Mini Stock: 1, Mike Bryant, Midland, 436; 2, Lineweaver, 414; 3, Zbignewich, 412.
Speedway Sportsman: 1, Todd Jr., 482; 2, Scott Lunceford, Burke, 442; 2, Sisak, 442.
CAPTION: Mark McFarland, who won the first of two 50-lap late model stock car races, was penalized for a noise violation and pushed to the back of the pack in the second race.
CAPTION: Driver Maryanne Kirtley examines the damage to her car after a crash during the Speedway Sportsman feature race.