Last night the Sportsman Street Stock Series visited Stafford Motor Speedway for a 75-lap event, and the second to last race of their season. Entering the night, five different drivers were all within 34 points at the top of the standings, but when the night was over, one driver would escape with the title locked up.
Fifteen street stocks hit the track during qualifying, and it was Bill Martin who had the fast time to pick up the pole for the event, with a lap time of 22.163 seconds. Martin would lead the field around to the green flag and settled into the lead early on.
James Linkiewicz would move up on the bottom from his 3rd starting spot to take over the runner up spot from Kevin Myers who was stuck on the outside. Myers would fall back to 4th by the time he got back in line, allowing Cody Kelley to also get past him and up into the 3rd position. Once Kelley got by Myers, he would set his sights on Linkiewicz in the opening laps. He would make his move on lap 4, and would take the 2nd position away from him, and by that time he was already over a second behind Martin who had pulled away out front.
As the run continued, Martin continued to lead but he wasn’t able to pull away any further. Kelley had settled into the 2nd spot, and the two drivers were running an equal pace and neither one was able to make up any ground. Linkiewicz ran in the 3rd spot with Todd Sipe and Matt Rolfe moving up into the top 5, before the first caution of the race would come out on lap 16.
On the lap 21 restart, the top 5 drivers were quick to fall back in line. Martin pulled back into the lead, with Kelley just a couple of car lengths behind him. As the two leaders battled, a couple of cars just outside of the top 5 were battling as well. Myers had fallen back into the 6th spot and was fighting with Tim Bills for the spot, before the two would get together sending Bills around, which would bring out the second and final caution of the race.
The field would take the lap 28 restart, and would set out on a 47-lap run to the finish. Martin got the jump into the lead once again, and Kelley would fall in behind him. Kelley put the pressure on for the lead in the first few laps of the run, peaking his nose to the inside a couple of times. But Martin would close the door, and after a few laps he would extend his lead, and pulled out to about a half second lead on the field. Linkiewicz remained in the 3rd position once again, and while he would drop back from the leaders, his car was solid enough to pull away from the cars behind to him to hold onto the spot.
Behind the top 3, the battle was on for the 4th position as the run went on. Rolfe was able to take the spot off the last restart, but as the run went on, Sipe was able to stay right on the bumper of Rolfe, and would look to get by for a number of laps. Finally on lap 49, Sipe would make his move and took the spot away. But the battle wasn’t over there as Rolfe would put the pressure right back on for the position and the two would battle for the rest of the race.
Back out front, the gap between Martin and Kelley remained the same until lap 55 where Martin would eventually start to extend the lead even further. After holding pace for much of the run, Kelley would begin to fall off as Martin pulled away out front.
Outside of the top 5, Stan Bragg had run in the 6th spot for a number of laps before Parker Traves would charge up into the spot. Traves put together a strong run and looked to chase down the top 5, but as he drew close to them, he would begin to fall off and wasn’t able to make up any more ground. Bills had recovered and moved up into the 8th spot, while Mike Belanger and Clay Snider ran inside the top 10. Snider had put the pressure on for the 9th spot for a number of laps before finally making his move with just a few laps to go to take the spot away.
But at the front of the field, Martin wouldn’t be denied as he would go on to lead all 75 laps of the event, and pulled ahead by nearly 1.5 seconds. He would lead the field around for the final time and came across the line to pick up his first Street Stock victory of the season in dominating fashion, which would also be his 11th career SARA victory. Kelley would finish off his strong run with a 2nd, and Linkiewicz would run 3rd all night to finish on the podium. Sipe was able to hold off all the pressure to hang onto the 4th spot, with Rolfe rounding out the top 5.
Next time out, the Street Stocks will finish off their season with a 100-lap event at South Boston.
While five drivers entered the night within reach of the points lead, with the victory, Bill Martin would end up taking over the points lead and gained enough points event with drop weeks, to lock up the championship. The title is now Martin’s second SARA championship, after locking up the Pro Late Model title last week as well. Congrats to Bill Martin, your 2014 Sportsman Street Stock Series Fall Season champion!
For full results and points, click HERE.