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Robert Marfia Returns to Victory Lane at Sandia Speedway

Robert Marfia Returns to Victory Lane at Sandia Speedway

Albuquerque, NM (8/14/21) – After a long six weekends of racing, the summer swing came to a close for the Lucas Oil POWRi NMMRA Sprint Car Series on Saturday night with a surprise winner. It has been a couple of years since Robert Marfia stood in victory lane, seven years in fact, but you wouldn’t know by watching the race this weekend at Sandia Speedway.

As teams began to feel the strain of six consecutive weekends on the road, it was clear that a handful of competitors have found it as opportunity to hit a summer stride. Drivers like JR Bonesteel and Caleb Saiz have been on fire as of late, and Sandia Speedway was an opportunity for them to continue their momentum before the first off weekend since July 3rd.

Per usual, drivers participated in a randomized pill draw to split them into two heat races. The top four from each heat would then be eligible to start in positions one through eight in the feature event. With the racing surface already beginning to wear away, drivers were limited to where they would be able to maneuver their vehicles in order to fight their way to the front. Heat 1 would see a familiar face taking the win, as Caleb Stelzig collected his seventh heat race victory of the season, with Travis Oldfield and Spencer Hill rounding out the podium. Heat 2 saw Caleb Saiz protect the bottom when it counted, taking the win over Farmington, New Mexico’s Josh Grady and Robert Marfia.

With the top eight set, it would be veteran Robert Marfia leading the field to the green flag with JR Bonesteel to his outside. The California transplant wasted no time as Marfia got the jump and found the lead on lap one. Bonesteel and Oldfield dropped down to the low line in pursuit, and Spencer Hill went topside in search for grip. The battle for third was just getting good between the SEH Motorsports teammates until Hill would get on the bike in turn 3, allowing for Caleb Stelzig to squeeze by and immediately get to work on the No. 11w of Oldfield on lap five. In the meantime, up front, it was the Gossett Racing No. 24 of Marfia who now began to distance himself from Bonesteel and the quickly closing Stelzig.

Drivers found themselves fighting for the bottom in turns one and two, but a wide groove on the opposite end of the track would prove to make things interesting as the race continued. As the crossed flags rose from the flag stand, indicating the halfway point of the 25-lap feature, the top three were Marfia, Stelzig and Bonesteel but nearly a straightaway separated first and second. Stelzig chipped away at the lead every lap, and by the time the white flag waved, he could see the No. 24 tail tank just two car lengths ahead. It would not be enough, though, as Robert Marfia would hold on to collect a very big win for the small team based out of Rio Rancho. This would mark Marfia’s first victory since Aztec Speedway in 2014, and his first with Gossett Racing. Caleb Saiz picked up a hard charger award in route to finish 3rd, while Travis Oldfield and Spencer Hill rounded out the top-five.

While every win is meaningful to Robert Marfia, Saturdays was particularly special. “We’ve gone through so much this year between changing out power steering boxes, ignitions, rear ends multiple times, fuel pumps, bypasses, you name it,” said Marfia. “Saturday night it just all fell together and like a car should. We didn’t have any issues, didn’t make a lot of changes, and it went well all night for us. Obviously, it helps starting on the pole, but I think we had a good enough car that we could have moved up regardless of where we started.

These guys were stoked! My wife was going crazy, and everyone was just super excited. Me though? I was relieved. It’s been a rough few years. You go through so much and after a while you start doubting your ability but then you have a night like this and you go alright if we can keep the car running like this, we can give these young kids a run for their money. There are so many people that help make this happen. Obviously, Russ as an owner, he’s somebody to look up to not only as a car owner but as a man. Randy and John put in an immense amount of time, they’re always very positive on the outlook of things, and that helps tremendously. Between them and my wife, they have really been the main four people that have kept me going.”

The Lucas Oil POWRi NMMRA Sprint Car Series has now seen eight different winners in the 2021 season, a statistic unmatched in their 75-year history as an organization. Now all eyes will fall on those who are knocking on the door for their first this year. Will we see Travis Oldifield finally pick up his first career win? Or will it be someone familiar to victory lane like JR Bonesteel or Michael Fanelli? We will have to wait two weeks to find out, but excitement is already building for the series return to Sandia Speedway on August 28th for the Route 66 Spectacular.

Results:
# Name Hometown +/-

  1. 24 Robert Marfia Rio Rancho, NM -
  2. 21 Caleb Stelzig Albuquerque, NM +3
  3. 1HA Caleb Saiz Albuquerque, NM +4
  4. 11w Travis Oldfield Albuquerque, NM +2
  5. 7D7 Spencer Hill Albuquerque, NM -1
  6. 0 JR Bonesteel Albuquerque, NM -4
  7. 2 Michael Fanelli Rio Rancho, NM +3
  8. 12J Josh Grady Farmington, NM -
  9. 23 Craig Stringfellow Albuquerque, NM -
  10. 58 Clint Miller Los Alamos, NM -7
    DNF 50x Jerry Higginbotham Rio Rancho, NM -

Heat 1 (Results): 1-Stelzig.C 2-Oldfield.T 3-Hill.S 4-Miller.C 5-Stringfellow.C 6-Higginbotham.J
Heat 2 (Results): 1-Saiz.C 2-Grady.J 3-Marfia.R 4-Bonesteel.JR 5-Fanelli.M

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