The MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series visited the Concord Speedway on Wednesday night, for not one, but a pair of 75-lap races for their Week 9 visit to the track. The series would qualify for the first race, while the lineup for the second race would come by a random invert after the finish of race one. In qualifying, Jarrid Boiros would put himself on the pole for the first race, with a lap time of 16.662 seconds.
Boiros would lead the field to the green flag and settled into the top spot early on. Behind him, Bill Martin, Tim Bills, James Linkiewicz, and Matt Rolfe all fell in line and were running single file while it seemed like a lengthy green flag run could be in store early on. The top 5 looked content to ride for a while, but the first caution would come out on lap 12, as Rolfe’s engine would let go forcing him to stop on track. This would bunch the field back up, and set them up for a lap 17 restart.
On the restart, Boiros would look to jump back in the lead, but Martin would get a good start as well as the two would battle it out side-by-side. Boiros had the spot on the first lap by, but Martin would hang tough and grabbed the lead by lap 18. Bills would follow Martin through to the 2nd spot while Boiros fell back into 3rd ahead of Anthony Celentano and Linkiewicz in the top 5. Just a couple laps later, the caution would come out once more on lap 21.
After the second caution of the race, the yellow flag would start to come out more often as drivers were fighting hard on the restarts. This allowed Martin to stay in the lead over the next couple of restarts as he jumped out to the lead each time. While Martin was pulling out ahead, Bills, Celentano and Boiros would all battle it out for the next couple of spots on the restarts, running side-by-side as they sorted it out.
As the laps began to wind down, the final restart of the race came out with just 11 laps to go. Martin would use the outside lane on the restart to jump out ahead, as Bills would restart on the inside in 2nd. Martin got a great jump while Bills was a little slow to the gas, which allowed Celentano to slide up into the 2nd spot from the outside groove in 4th. Just behind the top 3, Boiros was facing a challenge on his outside as Trent Brown was pressuring for the spot, with Stan Bragg right behind them waiting for a hole. The two would battle it out next to each other for a couple laps before Boiros would edge ahead for the 4th spot, and Brown would fall in behind to 5th.
At the front of the field though, Martin had pulled ahead to a 1-second lead, just as the yellow flag would come out on lap 71 and ending the race under caution. Martin led the field around to the checkered flag, after leading the final 57 laps of the race to pick up the win, and his 10th career SARA victory. With the win, Martin becomes just the 10th driver in SARA history to pick up at least 10 victories in their career. Bills would make a late pass before the caution flew to finish in the 2nd position with Celentano coming around in the 3rd spot. Boiros would finish off his run in the 4th spot, ahead of Trent Brown who rounded out the top 5.
In the second 75-lap event of the night, the random invert at the front of the field would be lucky number 7, which would put Michael German on the pole. Bragg would start in 2nd, with the top 5 from the previous race right there behind them.
German brought the field around for the green flag and got the jump into the lead, and he would come around on lap 1 to lead his first career lap in SARA competition. He would face some pressure from behind from Bragg in the opening laps, but Bragg would have his own battle on his hands as Brown was looking to move into 2nd. Those two would battle it out which allowed German to pull away out front, but it also allowed Martin to catch them as well as he was working his way back to the front. Martin would take the spot from both drivers by lap 7, and had his sights set on German who had a 1.3-second lead by that time.
As the run continued, Martin’s pursuit of the lead continued as he was reeling in the leader. He would pull within striking distance by lap 13, and just two laps later he would grab the top spot from German who would fall behind him in 2nd after leading the opening 14 laps. Just a few laps later, the first caution of the night would come out for a single car spin further back in the field, which would bunch the field back together after an 18-lap run to start the race.
On the restart, Martin would get the jump back into the lead, but German wouldn’t get the start he needed as he would be shuffled back outside of the top 5 by the next time the field came around. Bragg followed Martin up the inside to take the 2nd spot, while Cody Kelley, Justin Brooks, and Bills would all slide up into the top 5 after the restart. As the next run went on, Martin again began to pull away out front to a 1-second lead, while behind him Kelley and Brooks worked their way inside the top 3 ahead of Bragg who fell back to 4th.
Bills remained in the 5th spot during the middle run of the race, as German, Boiros, Celentano and Jeff Hoggard held the 6th-9th positions. But the biggest battle was for a spot inside the top 10, as 10 different drivers were all running nose-to-tail, and side-by-side for a number of laps trying to move up. Brown would eventually be the first car to emerge for that 10th position, while just a few laps later a couple of those cars would get together to bring out the caution on lap 32. While much of the first event was spent under caution with 7 yellows in that race, this would be the second and final caution of the second race, setting the field up for a 38-lap run to the checkered flag.
Under the caution, for the first time all night in either event, most of the field would head down pit road for new tires. But Matt Eddy would stay out on old rubber to take over the lead on the restart. To his outside on the restart, Brooks used a two tire strategy to move into the 2nd spot, while Martin would come out in 3rd as the first one with four new tires.
Eddy led the field to the green, but Brooks would use a crossover move out of the first turn to get to the inside of him, and would take over the lead as they came around the next time. Eddy would get shuffled back outside the top 5 on the restart, much like German did earlier in the race, before he settled into the 6th spot. For the next 10 laps, the battle was on for the lead as Brooks was facing plenty of pressure from behind from Martin. Martin would stay right on the bumper of the leader and even poked his nose to the inside a couple of times, but Brooks would close the door on each attempt.
As the leaders got to lap 50, the two-tire versus four-tire strategy seemed to even out, as Brooks then began to pull away from Martin out in the lead. Bills ran in the 3rd spot at the start of the run, but Kelley was chasing him down and Bills would give him the spot on lap 58. By this point in the run, most of the field had spread out quite a bit, and the leaders began to catch lapped traffic by lap 60. Brooks would navigate his way through the traffic fairly easily, and he would use that to his advantage to extend his lead at the front of the field. As Brooks and Martin both cleared the lapped group of cars, Brooks’ lead had already extended to over a second, with just a handful of laps to.
After starting at the back of the field for the second race, Brooks would bring the field around after leading the final 38 laps of the race to pick up the win, and his league leading 26th career SARA victory. Martin would come around for a 2nd place finish after leading 19 laps earlier in the race, while Kelley would finish in the 3rd spot. Bills would finish in 4th, with Bragg rounding out the top 5 in 5th.
Next time out, the Pro Late Models will head to the Oxford Plains Speedway for a 125-lap feature event.
With a win, and a 2nd place finish on the night, Martin would extend his points lead out to a commanding 168 points, with just three races remaining in the season. For full results and standings, click HERE.