Garrett Manes gets first Top Dog win

Garrett Manes gets first Top Dog win

Reese Nobles

With only four races left in the 2015-2016 Arena Racing League season the points battle is heating up along with the outside temperatures as the Arena Racing League honored military heroes both past and present. Robbie Allison missed this race as he prepares for his very busy, upcoming late model season. John Nickens missed practice due to work and arrived at the Richmond Coliseum five minutes after the doors opened for the fans to begin filling in.  K&N East Series driver Justin Carroll made his Arena Racing debut in the #90 along with usual dirt racer Ian Ogden making his debut in the #88.


In practice, the top five fastest were:

  1. #94-Cody Carlton 7.833

  2. #11-Conner Medeiros 7.864

  3. #1-Garrett Manes 7.970

  4. #04-Larry Murphy 7.998

  5. #18-Branden Sanders 8.040


During the pre-race drivers meeting the Competitor-Owner Counsel was announced to address current rules and propose future rules as well as help provide discipline recommendations and work to enhance the experience for everyone involved in the series.


The racing started with the a-main comprised of #55-Howie DiSavino, #17t-Camden Testerman, #11-Conner Medeiros, #71-Savannah Nickens, #04-Larry Murphy, #18-Branden Sanders, #27-Cullen Roberts, #1-Garrett Manes and #94 Cody Carlton.


Camden Testerman kicked off the night by pancaking the wall in turn four on lap one as Conner Medeiros passed him and Howie DiSavino to lead lap one. By lap two, Cody Carlton had already weaved his way up to fourth and then on lap three, Savannah Nickens dropped to the rear of the field. After five laps, the racing up front was close with only .393 seconds separating leader Conner Medeiros and 2nd place Camden Testerman, Medeiros’ lead would be wiped away however as on the same lap, the first caution flag of the evening was thrown as Savannah Nickens stalled out in turn two after making contact, ending her night.


The field restarted with Conner Medeiros leading Camden Testerman, Cody Carlton, Larry Murphy, Cullen Roberts, Garrett Manes, Howie DiSavino and Branden Sanders. Roberts, Medeiros and Manes all restarted on the outside. After just a lap under green, Camden Testerman led Conner Medeiros, Cody Carlton, Cullen Roberts and Garrett Manes. At lap 11, Testerman, Medeiros and Carlton separated themselves from the field to the tune of 1.051 seconds. On lap 20, after Cody Carlton passed for second, he and Testerman were separated by only .868 seconds but Carlton closed that gap to .671 seconds at the halfway mark. The second caution came out on lap 32 as Carlton spun Testerman and Conner Medeiros joined the party.



When the field restarted, Garrett Manes inherited the lead as a result of the crash and was followed by Cullen Roberts, Larry Murphy, Howie DiSavino, Branden Sanders. Camden Testerman, Cody Carlton and Conner Medeiros with Howie DiSavino electing to restart on the outside of Garrett Manes. The field did not stay under green for long as three laps later, on lap 35 Howie DiSavino got loose and spun with Cullen Roberts, Camden Testerman and Conner Medeiros involved with his car going underneath Testerman’s #17t. Roberts’ a-main was over as he was out as a result of this crash.


The field bunched back up, led by Manes with Murphy, Sanders, Carlton, DiSavino, Testerman and Medeiros with Carlton lining up outside of Manes. The field was green until lap 37 when Branden Sanders spun his car off of turn two.


The field restarted on lap 43 with Manes leading Carlton, Murphy,Testerman, Medeiros, DiSavino and Sanders with Carlton and Medeiros electing to restart on the outside. The field crossed the line on lap 45 with five to go still lead by Garrett Manes with Medeiros and Carlton behind him followed by Murphy, Testerman, DiSavino and Sanders. Just one lap later, the fifth caution of the night came out as Cody Carlton stalled when his chain broke after contact with Conner Medeiros, ending Carlton’s a-main.


The field restarted with four laps to go as Garrett Manes led Conner Medeiros, Larry Murphy, Camden Testerman, Howie DiSavino and Branden Sanders with Medeiros and Testerman lining up outside. The field tried to go to the en under green but could not as Murphy, Sanders and DiSavino got caught up when Conner Medeiros spun off turn two on lap 48, sending the race into its first attempt at a Green-White-Checkered finish.


The field lined up for the first attempt with Manes still leading, followed by Testerman, Murphy, Medeiros, Sanders and DiSavino with Testerman to the outside but the race was headed to its second G-W-C after Camden Testerman spun off of turn four, collecting Conner Medeiros who suffered heavy damage to his hood.


Ultimately after all the dust had settled it was Garrett Manes winning his second a-main in as many events. The field settled like this:

  1. Garrett Manes

  2. Larry Murphy

  3. Camden Testerman

  4. Conner Medeiros

  5. Branden Sanders

  6. Howie DiSavino

  7. Cody Carlton

  8. Cullen Roberts

  9. Savannah Nickens


Up next, was the b-main consisting of #91-John Alford, #21-Johnny Shonk, #54-Matt Sanders, #07-Shane Zupo, #4-Brad Davis, #17-John Nickens, #90-Justin Carroll and #88-Ian Ogden.


Matt Sanders lead the first lap and the subsequent laps until Shane Zupo spun, collecting John Alford for the first caution of the b-main with Justin Carroll barely sneaking through the crash.


When the field went back green, Sanders led Davis, Nickens, Shonk, Carroll, Ogden, Alford and Zupo with Davis and Shonk lining up outside. After a caution for a  jumped restart, the field ran green for only one lap until Ian Ogden flipped his #88 to bring out the third caution.


Not much changed between the two cautions with the exception of John Nickens taking over the lead from Matt Sanders. After the green flag flew on the restart, it only took John Nickens three laps to open up a 1.564 second lead over Matt Sanders, by lap 17, eighth place Ian Ogden had begun to slip away from the pack to the tune of 2.832 seconds behind seventh place Shane Zupo. Lapping began on the next lap when John Nickens put Ian Ogden a lap down while stretching his lead over Matt Sanders out to 2.472 second only two laps later. At halfway, Nickens had amassed a massive 3.9 second lead over Sanders but the lead would be lost when the fourth caution flew on lap 27 when Shane Zupo spun in turn four.


The field restarted with Nickens leading Sanders, Alford, Shonk, Davis, Carroll, Zupo and Ogden with Nickens and Davis lining up outside.The race ran caution free for a handful of laps with Nickens opening his lead back up to the tune of 1.538 seconds over Brad Davis with 10 laps to go, but the lead was erased when  Carroll dumped Shonk on the frontstretch on lap 43 to bring out the final caution.


For the final restart, Nickens led Davis, Sanders, Alford, Zupo, Ogden, Shonk and Carroll and that is how the field finished as well with John Nickens winning his second b-main of the season

  1. John Nickens

  2. Brad Davis

  3. Matt Sanders

  4. John Alford

  5. Shane Zupo

  6. Ian Ogden

  7. Johnny Shonk

  8. Justin Carroll


The Top Dog race was next with the 14 car starting lineup being:

  1. #17-John Nickens

  2. #91-John Alford

  3. #17t-Camden Testerman

  4. #27-Cullen Roberts

  5. #18-Branden Sanders

  6. #4-Brad Davis

  7. #55-Howie DiSavino

  8. #1-Jason Manes

  9. #88-Ian Ogden

  10. #04-Larry Murphy

  11. #94-Cody Carlton

  12. #54-Matt Sanders

  13. #07-Shane Zupo

  14. #11-Conner Medeiros


John Nickens did not start the race, as he was due back at work and could only run the b-main. Cody Carlton and Cullen Roberts also did not start due to their cars being worked on after the checkered flag flew in the youth race which is not allowed, taking out two very strong cars as well as the b-main winner. Camden Testerman led lap one and subsequent laps until the first caution flew on lap eight when Branden Sanders spun into the infield wall.


The field went back green still led by Testerman, followed by Alford, Brad Davis, Garrett Manes, Larry Murphy, Howie DiSavino, Conner Medeiros, Matt Sanders, Shane Zupo and rounded out by Branden Sanders with Alford, Manes, DiSavino and both Sanders lining up outside. By lap 13, Testerman had opened up a 1.835 second lead over Brad Davis but Garrett Manes was coming as he had gotten up to third, just four laps later Testerman began to lap the field when he put Shane Zupo a lap down but everything came to a stop when the second caution flag flew on lap 18 as Branden Sanders spun again.


Testerman led a hungry field back to green flag action but his lead did not last long as only one lap later he was passed by Larry Murphy for the lead. Only a few laps after Testerman lost the lead, the second caution came out when Conner Medeiros hit the turn two wall, tearing up the right front of his car and then heading over to Camden Testerman’s car to tear his ear up, giving him a few words after Testerman appeared to have forced Medeiros into the wall.


When the accident was cleaned up, the field was ready to go back racing led by Larry Murphy with Garrett Manes, John Alford, Branden Sanders and Shane Zupo all electing to line up on the outside as only nine cars remained in the Top Dog race. Only three laps after the field went back green, the fourth caution came out for debris in turn four. The debris turned out to be the chain off of Brad Davis’ #4, causing him to retire from the race.


Larry Murphy led the field back to green with Manes, Alford, Branden Sanders, DiSavino, Matt Sanders, Testerman and Zupo rounding out the field, with Manes, both Sanders’ and Zupo electing to take the outside lane. After a jumped start, Murphy was put in the rear of the field and turning the lead over to young Garrett Manes who pulled away from the field until the final caution flew on lap 30 when John Alford stalled out in turn two.


When the field restarted, Garrett Manes never looked back, winning his first Arena Racing Top Dog race, proving once again that he indeed can run with the big boys and run well. The final results were as follows.


  1. Garrett Manes

  2. Camden Testerman

  3. Larry Murphy

  4. Howie DiSavino

  5. Matt Sanders

  6. Shane Zupo

  7. John Alford

  8. Branden Sanders

  9. Brad Davis

  10. Conner Medeiros

  11. Ian Ogden

  12. Cullen Roberts

  13. Cody Carlton

  14. John Nickens


After the race, a very happy Garrett Manes walked me through how he got it done by saying “I couldnt believe I did it, my dad set me up for success this week. We have had a rocketship since we came in here, I have to thank him. I have learned a lot since I started the Pro Division, racing legends cars down in Charlotte and Iracing has helped me. A lot of things have come together for us.”

Garrett Manes, cool as the other side of the pillow after his first Top Dog victory.