On Thursday night, the RB Performance Super Late Model Series visited the Irwindale Speedway for their Week 11 event. A strong field of 31 drivers would show up for the 125-lap race, and when group qualifying finished up, Justin Brooks would put his car on the pole with a lap of 17.923 seconds.
At the drop of the green flag, Brooks would lead the field around and jumped into the lead, ahead of Ray Farlow who qualified 2nd. Farlow would drop back a couple of spots in the opening lap as Ty Spearman and Cody Kelley were able to get by, with Cory Dunn in the 5th spot behind them. After a quick yellow on lap 4, the top 5 would set off the next run in the same order as Brooks pulled back into the lead off the restart. He would begin to slowly pull away from Spearman up front, but the top 3 which included Kelley, would put a gap in between themselves and the rest of the field as they were battling it out. Dunn was able to get by Farlow for the 4th spot on lap 12, and the top 5 would remain the same until the next caution on lap 20.
During the caution, most of the field would head down pit road for the first round of pit stops, but Kevin Myers would stay out to take over the lead. On the restart, Myers got the jump into the top spot but Brooks was quick to put the pressure on for the lead with his newer tires. The two would battle side-by-side for a couple of laps, swapping the lead as they crossed the line, until Brooks was finally able to nose ahead into the lead. Myers would then face pressure from Kelley for the 2nd spot, as they too would battle it out side-but-side for a number of laps. As the battle was on for a top 3 spot, Brooks was pulling away out front until the next caution on lap 39.
This time, most of the drivers in the front half of the field would stay out on track, but Myers would head down pit road after putting up a fight up front. Brooks jumped into the lead on the restart, but this time he wouldn’t be able to pull away as Kelley was sticking right to his rear bumper, as was Spearman. Behind them, Andy Jones had worked his way up into the 4th position, with points leader Fred Moreau also cracking the top 5. Just outside the top 5, Casey Kelley was trying to find a way into it as he rode behind Moreau. A little further back, Dunn was trying to hold off James Linkiewicz for the 7th spot, although both drivers would end up having to fight off Kevin Myers as he was trying to get by both of them on newer tires. Myers got by Linkiewicz, and then as he made his move to the inside of Dunn, the two drivers would touch doors coming out of turn two, sending Dunn around, and Myers into the wall to bring out the next caution.
The caution would set up another restart on lap 64, and a 38-lap green flag run over the next portion of the race. Spearman would use some pit strategy to take over the lead on the restart, but it was Brooks who got the good start on the outside to take over the lead going into turn one. Brooks would pull away for a few laps, until Cody and Casey Kelley got by Spearman, and Cody would start to reel in the leader over the course of the run. By lap 80, Kelley had closed the gap and pulled up to the bumper of Brooks’ car as they leaders began to catch lapped traffic. Once Kelley was there, he looked content to ride behind the leader, following him in his tire tracks.
Behind the top 3, Spearman was still trying to hold onto the 4th spot, as Linkiewicz was right there looking to get by. Spearman would hold him off until lap 92 where he would move low to let Linkiewicz by, as well as Derek Holzhausen and Moreau who were right there as well. Spearman would fall back in line in 7th, just ahead of Matt Rolfe in 8th as the run continued. A few laps later, Spearman would continue to fall back as his tires were wearing out, and on lap 102, he would get loose off of turn four before spinning out. The caution would erase the 2 second lead that Brooks and Cody Kelley had gained out front.
Under the caution, with less than 25 laps to go, the top 5 drivers in the field would all stay out on track, while a number of drivers would head down pit road behind them. On the restart, once again Brooks jumped out into the lead ahead of Cody and Casey Kelley. The top 10 cars would all fall quickly in line single file, but the man on the move was Moreau who had just taken four tires, and was quickly trying to pick off cars on the low groove. By lap 110, Moreau had already worked back up to 7th, and continued to pick cars off as he would get by Holzhausen for a top 5 spot a couple of laps later.
Back out front, Brooks and Cody Kelley continued to battle for the lead. Brooks continued run in the top spot, but Kelley was right there, peeking a nose to the inside a couple of times, but couldn’t get the run he needed as he looked for a way by. Just as the action was heating up for the lead, the next caution would come out as a battle for 4th would end up some contact between Moreau and Linkiewicz, and Linkiewicz would end up spinning in front of the field, collecting a number of other drivers in the aftermath.
On lap 119, the final restart would happen with just 6 laps to go, and Brooks got the jump into the lead, which would be all he needed to pick up the win after the caution would fly a lap later, ending the race under the caution flag. Brooks came around to pick up the victory after leading 115 laps of the race, which would be his 5th SLM win of the season and his 29th career SARA victory. Cody Kelley would come up one spot short to finish in the 2nd spot. Moreau would move up on the restart to finish 3rd, as well as Spearman who also charged back through the field late to finish 4th, and Casey Kelley would round out the top 5.
Next week, the series will wrap up their season at South Boston for a 175 lap event.
Entering the night, Fred Moreau would hold a 70 point lead atop the standings. That lead would remain at 70 points following his 3rd place finish, but the points could end up being closer as they appear as another drop week gets taken out and the battle for the championship tightens up entering the final race of the season.
For full results and standings, click HERE.