On Wednesday night, the MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series visited Richmond International Raceway for their season opening 100 lap event. 37 drivers would show up for opening night, but just 31 would start the race after qualifying, and it was Ty Majeski that put his car on the top spot for his 22nd career pole with a lap time of 22.119 seconds.
Majeski, alongside Justin Brooks, would lead the field to the green flag to get the race under way. Majeski got the jump out into the lead and would bring the field around to lead the first lap, while Brooks settled in behind him with Cody Kelley right there as well. David Krikorian and Bill Martin also settled in at the front during the beginning of the run, as the top five began to separate themselves out front until the first caution flew on lap 6.
After another quick caution, Majeski would again jump into the lead on the lap 20 restart, with Brooks and Kelley falling in line behind him. Martin was able to move up into 4th on the restart, and quickly put pressure on Kelley to break into the top three as he made his move to the inside. But Kelley would fight back and pulled the crossover move to take the spot back, shuffling Martin back on the outside as Trent Brown and Krikorian would also get by.
Out front, by lap 25 Majeski had built his lead up to nearly a half-second over Brooks as the top two drivers were beginning to pull away. On lap 28, Brown had been shuffled out of the top five and was facing pressure from Ty Spearman and as they went into turn one side-by-side, they would hit doors and Brown would end up going around to bring out the next caution.
Under caution, most of the field decided it was time to head down pit road to get tires, but a handful of cars would stay out with Kevin Myers taking over the lead for the next restart. Martin would be the first car in line with two tires in 5th, followed by Majeski who would come off pit road in 6th after giving up the lead.
Myers led the field to the green flag on lap 34 and pulled ahead down into turn one, but behind him, the drivers on newer tires were quickly making their way to the front. Just two laps after the restart, Martin had moved into 2nd and made his move to the bottom to take the lead from Myers on lap 36. But once Martin was in the lead, it didn’t take long for an attack from behind as Majeski was right there as well and would take the top spot away. Brooks would follow him into the 2nd spot and once the top three sorted things out, they began to pull away from the field before the next caution flew 10 laps later.
On the lap 50 restart, Majeski pulled into the lead and Martin would follow him up the inside to take over the 2nd spot, which left Brooks stuck on the outside trying to get back in line. Brooks would battle with Myers for a couple laps before clearing him into 3rd. But the action was heating up further back in the field. Just outside the top ten, some contact led a stack up which saw most of the back half of the field running three and four wide trying to settle back in. Somehow they would all make it through the next lap and were able to sort things out.
But back near the front of the field, Myers was still trying to hold off a number of cars that were fighting to get into the top five. Myers had Kelley to his outside, and Parker Traves right behind him looking to get by. On lap 54 as they battled, Traves would nearly get into the back of Myers and checked up, but would get tagged from behind and turned around to bring out the next caution, dropping him out of the 6th position.
After another caution on lap 61, most of the field would head down pit road once again, with James Linkiewicz being the first car to stay out on track to take over the lead, moving up from 14th. The top five would all stay out on older tires, with Majeski back in 6th another time with the fresher tires.
Linkiewicz pulled out into the lead on the restart, but behind him, things were getting dicey. Majeski made a quick move to make it three wide on the restart running in the middle lane. As the group went into turn one, there would be some contact between himself and Russell Berry in the bottom lane, which ended up with Majeski in the outside wall and shuffled outside of the top 15. Another caution would come out a lap later, to slow the pace down once again.
As the laps began to wind down, a lap 81 restart would set up the final lead change of the race. Linkiewicz led the field back to the green flag with Brooks on his outside. The two would head down into the first turn, and Brooks would fall in line behind the leader, which gave him a run off of turn two, and made his move on Linkiewicz for the lead. Brooks would gain the advantage coming back around to the line to take over the top spot, and a caution back in the field would allow him to hang onto the position.
Things got exciting once again on the lap 88 restart after Brooks jumped out into the lead, and the battle was on for 2nd. Linkiewicz, Kelley, Myers and Martin all ran side-by-side in the top five fighting for spots, and some contact coming off of turn four on lap 88 would see the field get stacked up behind them. Linkiewicz and Myers would both get into the outside wall, and everyone behind them would go by them on the low side, shuffling them out of the top ten. But with the field stacked up, a number of cars would run three and four wide into the next corner, with some contact leading to Myers getting turned around and into the wall, ending his run up front.
The field would have one last chance at a restart, but another caution would see the race end behind the pace car, which allowed Brooks to hang on to the lead up front. Brooks would being the field around to the checkered flag to pick up the victory, and his league leading 31st career SARA win. Kelley and Martin would finish off their strong runs with top three finishes. Jeff Hoggard would use some pit strategy to get his car near the front, and would hold on to a 4th place finish, tying his best career league finish. Ryan Borges would round out the top five with a quietly strong run to finish 5th.
Penalties: Ty Majeski – Aggressive Driving – EOL in Results
Next time out, the Pro Late Models will head to the Lucas Oil Raceway for another 100 lap feature event.
Full results and standing can be found HERE.