On Thursday night, the RB Performance Super Late Model Series made their second trip of the season to the Irwindale Speedway, but this time they would run the Inner bullring configuration for a 125 lap feature event. Last week the Sim Auto Racing Association’s premiere division was at their largest track at the Milwaukee Mile, but the drivers would have to switch it up a bit as they battled it out on the smallest track on the schedule this week. In qualifying, it was Justin Brooks who picked up the pole for the race, with points leader Cody Kelley starting to his outside.
At the drop of the green flag, Brooks and Kelley quickly fell in line in the first two spots, and while the field battled it out behind them, they were able to pull away out front. The inside lane was the preferred line on the speedway, but on the initial green flag, drivers found out the could hang on the outside for a few laps before needing to find a hole in line. David Krikorian and Parker Traves ran side by side for the opening couple of laps before Traves would drop down in behind for the 4th spot, while just behind them Ty Majeski made his way into the top five early on after starting in the 6th position.
After about five laps, the field had settled in and ran single file, as the top ten all looked content to ride early in the run and began to pull away from the second pack of cars behind them. The opening run of the race would stay green until lap 19 when a pair of incidents further back in the field brought out the caution. Ken Belanger found himself turned the wrong way before rejoining the field when a second incident between Dale Owen and Derek Kraus would see Kraus spun around to bring out the first caution.
During the caution, a majority of the field would stay out on track, but it was Majeski that was the first car to hit pit road for tires, dropping out of the 4th position to do so. On the restart, Brooks jumped back into the lead as Kelley fell in line once again, but this time he had some pressure as Traves was looking to use the outside. Traves pulled up alongside Kelley for the 2nd position, until a little bit of contact from behind would shuffle Traves back on the outside groove. This moved Krikorian back into 3rd, while James Linkiewicz and Ty Spearman followed him into the top five.
In the next run, it didn’t take long for Majeski to begin working his way back towards the front as he quickly moved up to 6th within a couple laps after the restart. On lap 33, Linkiewicz would enter turn one and slipped up, which allowed Spearman and Majeski to get by, keeping Linkiewicz stuck on the outside as he fell outside the top five. By the time Linkiewicz found a hole to get back in line, he tried to find a hole in front of Traves for 9th, but the two drivers would make some contact. They enter turn three on lap 38, and a bump from Linkiewicz sent Traves up the track, but the next time around, Traves would return the favor, and as a result both cars would find themselves at the back of the field for the caution.
Under yellow, the race would see its first big round of pit stops as most of the leaders headed down pit road for tires. With the quick caution laps, most drivers were forced to only take two tires in order to get off road before the pace car got there, but Brooks who had been leading was the first car on pit lane, and took four tires while just barely coming out ahead of the pace car. He would end up restarting back in the 10th spot however.
Out front on the restart, it was Mike Belanger and Matt Rolfe who stayed on track during the caution to gain some track position. Belanger was able to jump out in front when they took off, with Rolfe tucking in behind him. But while they were still on their initial tires, it didn’t take long for newer rubber to start knocking on the door. Majeski would get under Rolfe on lap 47, and then just two laps later he got the run under Belanger to grab the lead on lap 50, just before an incident further back in the pack would bring out another yellow. After seeing how important tires were, both Belanger and Rolfe dropped out of the top five to head down pit road while the others stayed out with less than ten laps on their tires.
On the lap 55 restart, Majeski launched into the lead, with Kelley and Brooks following him up the inside into the top three. Krikorian dropped back into 4th just ahead of Spearman who ran in the 5th spot. With Brooks now in the top three, he began to show his speed as he started tracking down Majeski out front who had pulled out to a five car length gap. By lap 64, Brooks had closed that gap and was up to the bumper of the leader, and was looking for a way by. As they came out of turn four, Majeski’s car drifted up a little bit which opened the door for Brooks. He filled the hole on the bottom groove, but when they got to the middle of the turn, their lines met which resulted in some door to door contact, and with Majeski getting turned around as a result of it for the next yellow. With only 9 cars on the lead lap by this point, Majeski would rejoin the field in 8th for the restart.
When the green flew once more, Brooks jumped out ahead of Kelley and Krikorian who found themselves up in the top three once more. Ken Belanger made his first appearance up in the top five as he ran 4th, until both Tim Bills and Majeski would get by him to shuffle him back. Majeski would get by Bills a couple laps later, but by that point the top three had pulled out ahead by just over two seconds. Both Brooks an Kelley were running nose-to-tail up front as the run went on, until lap 83 when the next caution came out.
During the caution, the leaders brought their cars back down pit road once more, as Brooks, Kelley, Krikorian and Bills all pitted from their top five spots. Majeski looked as if he would follow them into the pits but made a last second decision to stay out on track, and he would inherit the lead for the lap 89 restart. Majeski took off out front alongside Ken Belanger on the front row, but it was Trey Jarell who quickly pulled into the 2nd spot. Spearman had worked his way back towards the front and was looking to take 3rd away on the restart when he got loose entering the corner, allowing Belanger to get down in 3rd, and it also allowed the rest of the pack behind Spearman to pounce on him as he dropped back to 8th before getting back in line.
Majeski and Jarrell had pulled out to a ten car length lead in the first couple of laps after the restart, but again it didn’t take long for newer tires to work their way back towards the front. Brooks and Kelley had already worked their way into the top five and quickly closed in on the back bumper of Jarrell for 2nd. Jarrell started looking for a way to get by Majeski for the lead, but before he knew it, Brooks was peeking his nose to the inside and would take that spot away, dropping Jarrell back into 4th. Then on lap 104, Brooks looked to the inside of Majeski for the lead, as Majeski closed the door on him. But Brooks was able to keep his car pinned to the inside and got the run out of the corner to pull up along side Majeski, and took the lead away, just before the next caution came out.
With less than 20 laps to go for the next restart, most of the field elected to stay out on track during the caution, except for Jarrell who went in to put two tires on for one last charge, but he would have to see what he could do from restarting in the 8th position.
On the restart, Brooks and Majeski would drag race on the front row into turn one, battling side-by-side for the lead as the laps began to wind down. They would run next to each other for a couple of laps, with Majeski holding a slight edge on the outside, but eventually the inside lane would start to gain the advantage. Brooks pulled ahead in turn one on lap 112, but when Majeski went to tuck in behind him, he would clip the rear bumper of Brooks, spinning Brooks from the lead and to the outside of turn two. While Brooks was able to avoid any damage, he would pull off track and his race would end a few laps early.
All of this led to the final restart of the race with just 8 laps to go when Majeski brought the field to the green flag. Kelley was alongside him for the restart and was hanging his car on the outside groove as the top two battled for the lead. But while they battled, the newer tires had made their way to the front once more when Jarrell quickly worked his way into 3rd, and would close up on the rear bumper of Majeski. Jarrell would give him a little tap to let him know he was there on lap 119. When Majeski slipped up, Jarrell got the run out of the corner and made his move to the inside, making it three wide for the top spot with just five laps to go.
Jarrell gained the advantage heading into turn three, but Majeski would make the crossover move, getting back to the inside as they race back to the line with four laps to go. As these two battled, Kelley was still hung out on the high side three wide, before he found the room to get back down just behind Majeski. But the battle for the lead wasn’t over quite yet as Jarrell was hanging tough on the outside, alongside of Majeski as they remained side-by-side for the top spot. That was until they crossed the line with just two laps to go, with Majeski starting to gain the edge, when Jarrell and Kelley would make slight contact for the 2nd spot, and Jarrell would end up spinning around to bring out the final caution after battling so hard for the lead in the laps prior.
This would allow Majeski to lead the field back around to the checkered and yellow flags, and would cross the line as the race winner after fighting off Jarrell and Kelley in the late stages. Kelley would finish up his strong run in 2nd, with Spearman running a solid 3rd. Dale Owen would recover from an incident early in the race to finish up 4th, with Rolfe rebounding to a top five finish as well.
With his 2nd place finish, Cody Kelley remains at the top of the points standings with a 76 point lead heading into the final three weeks of the season. Next week, the Super Late Models will be at Thompson for a 100 lap feature event.