On Wednesday night, the MRD Pro Late Model Series made the trip out west for their first ever time visiting the Phoenix International Raceway for a 75-lap event. After the NHMS race got postponed to the week before, Phoenix became the second straight 1-mile track on the PLM schedule. When open qualifying got underway, 23 cars would take times and it was Ty Majeski who put in the fast time to grab the pole with a lap time of 30.377 seconds.
Majeski would bring the field to the green flag and they were quick to get in line at the front of the pack, as Cody Kelley settled into second, followed by Justin Brooks, Casey Kelley and Bill Martin. Majeski would lead the first lap, as the top 8 cars were all single file by the time they crossed the stripe for the first time. Jacob Linkiewicz was the first one to make a move near the front as he took the 2nd spot away from Martin in the early laps as the field began to spread out in the early going. As the top 6 broke away from the pack a little bit, the battle was on for the remaining spots in the top 10 until the first caution came out on lap 7 when Jarrett Lawrence and Anthony Celentano would make contact entering turn 1 which sent Celentano around.
During the caution, some of the leaders were eager to bring their cars to pit road, but Majeski would stay on track while the rest of the top 5 went in for some new rubber. Martin was the next one to stay on track followed by Kevin Berg, Matt Rolfe and Cody Leland to become the new top 5.
On the lap-10 restart, Majeski pulled out to the lead and once again the top 5 all settled in quickly, but the action was picking up behind them with some 2 and 3-wide battles within the top 10. Brooks was the first car that had pitted, to break back into the top 5 as he grabbed the spot from Leland on lap 12, while Jacob Linkiewicz would break into the top 5 just a couple laps later. As the run continued on, Majeski and Martin had pulled away from the field, and the guys on newer tires were charging their way to the front as well. The top 10 had begun to spread out around the large track, but a group of 7 cars behind them were all fighting it out for the 11th spot.
As the field got to the 1/3-mark of the race, Majeski continued to lead the field, while Brooks had moved past Martin for the 2nd spot. Martin, Jacob Linkiewicz and Cody Kelley rounded out the top 5, followed by Ryan Borges, Berg, and the battle for the 8th-11th spots with James Linkiewicz, Darren Daves, Rolfe and Casey Kelley, who had all been running 2×2 for a number of laps.
By lap 33, Brooks had narrowed the gap and closed in on the rear bumper of Majeski as the two of them would catch lapped traffic. Majeski would go to the high side around the lapped car as it dropped to the apron, and Brooks would put it in the middle to take advantage to try and grab the lead. But it didn’t work out as contact between all three cars would send both of the leaders sideways. Majeski was able to save it and hang onto the lead, but Brooks would go around and would collect Cody Kelley and Jacob Linkiewicz in the aftermath. This would bring out the 2nd and final caution of the race, setting up a 40 lap green flap run to the finish.
Majeski led the race off of pit road to remain in the lead, followed by Martin, Borges, Casey Kelley and Berg in the top 5. Once again Majeski got the jump, but Martin would stay close behind as the top group of cars all got single file early in the run. As the top 5 broke away, the battle was on or the 6th spot on lap 42 as Darren Daves was looking to the inside to take it away from Rolfe, with Jacob Linkiewicz right there waiting to pounce as well. Daves and Rolfe would battle side-by-side for a number of laps, with Rolfe hanging tough on the high side. After battling door-to-door for 10 straight laps, Daves was finally able to get the run he needed to take the spot, and Linkiewicz was right there to take a spot as well. Unfortunately for Daves, after all that hard work on the long green flag run, he would have to pull off with less than 15 laps to go as he would need to pit for gas.
Back at the front of the field, Majeski still held onto a half-second lead, with Casey Kelley another half-second back. Martin had enough strength to keep up with Majeski, but didn’t have what he needed to close the gap as the laps wound down towards the finish of the race.
Majeski would bring the field around for the final time and would take home the checkered flag, leading 72 of the 75 laps, and taking his 19th career SARA win, and moving into a tie for 2nd place all-time in SARA victories. Martin and Casey Kelley would finish of their strong runs to finish in the 2nd and 3rd spots on the podium. Borges was able to get back by Berg late in the run as those two would battle for much of the 2nd half of the race, with Borges taking 4th and Berg in 5th.
1. Ty Majeski
2. Bill Martin
3. Casey Kelley
4. Ryan Borges
5. Kevin Berg
6. Jacob Linkiewicz
7. Matt Rolfe
8. Jarrett Lawrence
9. Dale Owen
10. Clay Snider
11. Jeff Hoggard
12. James Linkiewicz
13. Russell Berry
14. Scott Dunlap
15. Trent Brown
16. Darren Daves
17. Cody Leland
18. Todd Sipe
19. Anthony Celentano
20. Cody Kelley
21. Justin Brooks
22. Ken Belanger
23. Stan Bragg
Justin Brooks – Actions Detrimental to the League – 2 Week Suspension (through week 8 PLM race) + 100 point penalty per division + Probation
Next time out, the series will head to their first and only road course event of the season as they look to take on Lime Rock Park for 40 laps.
With his 2nd place finish, Martin hangs onto the points lead and extends it to 85 points over 2nd place. For full results and standings, click HERE.