Kelley Holds Off Field At Irwindale



Last Wednesday, the MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Models visited Irwindale Speedway for the 6th event of their season. Going into the race, Cody Kelley entered as the points leader and would look to extend his lead in the standings as the season reached it’s halfway point. Parker Traves would earn the pole in qualifying with Kelley joining him on the front row as they led the 24 car field to the green flag.

Parker Traves (60) and Cody Kelley (75) led the field to the green flag.

Traves would get the jump into the lead to start the race, but an incident further back in the pack would bring out the first caution as Ian Layne would slide up into Cody Thompson, sending both cars around.

With the second chance at the early green flag, again Traves would jump in front while Kelley would quickly get in behind him to hold onto 2nd. David Krikorian would use the bottom to stay in 3rd, just ahead of Michael German and James Linkiewicz as the top five cars would all get in line single file, while the rest of the field was battling behind them. Matt Rolfe ran in 6th and was holding off Jarrett Lawrence, and just behind them Ryan Borges and Anthony Celentano were fighting for the 8th spot. It took until lap 18 before Borges was able to take that spot away, and then he set his sights on the two cars in front of him as they continued to battle. The fight would continue on as Rolfe looked to hold off the group behind him.

Out front, the top four began to pull away from Linkiewicz in 5th, and Kelley was starting to put pressure on Traves for the lead. He would peak his nose inside of the lead a couple of times but could not get the run he needed to get by and on lap 23 he would slip up allowing Krikorian to get by into 2nd. Rolfe continued to hold off Borges back in the 6th spot, while just behind them, Bill Martin had charged his way through the pack and looked to the inside of Lawrence for the 8th spot, when those two would get together as Lawrence would get pinched up, and Martin would get a piece of the wall. This allowed Mickey Kudlicki to get a run on them from behind and in the next straightaway, Kudlicki would also get up into Lawrence and both cars went around to bring out the caution on lap 29.

Parker Traves leads out in front of the field as a number of drivers look to fall in line behind him.

Under caution, a majority of the field would head down pit road, but Thompson and Lawrence would stay out on track to gain track position. Traves, Martin and Jeff Hoggard would all move up into the top five by taking two tires under the caution, while Kelley would be the first car off pit road with four new stickers.

Thompson would get the jump on the start to pull into the lead, while Lawrence wouldn’t have as good of a start and he would begin to fall back. Traves used a daring three-wide move to get under Lawrence and Martin to take the 2nd spot away, while Martin would use the outside to get up into the 3rd spot. Soon after, Kelley and Krikorian would both get by to move up into the top five as the run continued. On lap 38, Traves would make his move to the inside of Thompson for the top spot and would retake the lead on lap 40. It would take Martin a few laps longer to get by for 2nd as Thompson continued to fight on the outside with the older tires. Krikorian and Kelley would both move up as well, and German would join them in the top five by lap 46.

The run would continue on for a while with Traves about a half-second in the lead by the halfway point in the race. But the battle was still on deeper in the top ten as Thompson was still looking to hold off a number of drivers behind him. Linkiewicz would get by to move into 6th, and then Rolfe took his turn on the bottom looking to move up. Rolfe would get by on lap 55, but as they came out of the corner and Rolfe slid up into the outer lane, he would get loose and spun back towards the infield where he would collect Borges with him as well to bring out the caution. Just before the caution had come out though, Martin had made his move out front for the lead, and would nose ahead to take the lead just as the caution flew to give him the top spot.

Matt Rolfe (51) would get loose and collected Ryan Borges (23) just after half way.

Kelley and Thompson would both take two tires to move into the front row for the restart, while Martin and Traves would come out right behind them with four tires. Kelley would jump ahead on the restart but just two laps into the run, and incident just outside the top five would bring out the caution again as German and Ty Spearman would get together. German would end up in the outside wall, and a couple of other drivers behind him would get collected in the wreck as well.

Two more quick cautions would set the field up for the lap 84 restart. Kelley would jump back into the lead off the restart, and Traves would quickly pull up behind him to hold onto 2nd. Thompson and Linkiewicz would battle for the 3rd spot when they would get together allowing Martin to move up into the 3rd spot. Out front, Traves had locked onto the rear bumper of the leader and would look to the low line for a way by.

With the two leaders running side by side for the top spot, this would allow Martin to join the party to make it a three car battle for the lead. Traves continued to use the low lane while Kelley hung tough on the outside with the older tires. Martin was right there waiting for something happen, when he would also pull to the outside of Traves for 2nd. Traves would begin to fall back as he ran the bottom groove and eventually would fall in line as Martin would take his turn to try and take the lead.

Bill Martin (39) looks to get by Cody Kelley for the lead late in the run, with Parker Traves (60) waiting to see what happens next.

With the laps winding down, Martin would peak his nose to the low side of Kelley for the lead on lap 97. As they entered turn three, Martin would slide up and the two leaders would hit doors, but continued on. Again in the next corner they would make contact, but would keep on chugging, as Traves caught back up and was waiting to see what happened. Entering turn three on lap 98, Martin would give it another shot and dove it into the corner, but Kelley would hang tough on the outside, and they would get together once more. This time, they both wouldn’t be able to hold onto it as some netcode between them would assist in turning Martin around and into the outside wall, ending his strong run and bringing out the caution with just a lap to go.

Cody Kelley would cross the line under the checkered and yellow flags to pick up his 3rd win of the season.

This would allow Kelley to hang onto the lead out front, as he would hold off strong charges by others to pick up the win. This would be Kelley’s 11th career SARA victory. Traves would finish off one of his strongest runs in the 2nd spot, with Linkiewicz, Thompson, and Krikorian finishing off the race in the top five.

With the victory, Cody Kelley would again extend his points lead out to 61 points in the standings as the division gets ready to head into the 2nd half of the season when they visit Martinsville next Wednesday.