Martin Picks Up Opening Night Sweep



Last night, the Sim Auto Racing Association kicked off the 2015 Spring Season with an NEO Racing News double header event, which included both the Legends League and the SK Shootout Series hitting the track for the first time. The Legends would start the night off with a 50 lap event at New Smyrna, before the SK Mods got their season started at Iowa.

Twenty four Legends showed up at New Smyrna for opening night, and it was Bill Martin who would pick up right where he left off last season and would take the pole with a lap time of 20.220 seconds, just ahead of Parker Traves who would join him on the front row.

Martin led the field to the green flag and jumped into the lead early on, while Traves would fall in line behind Kevin Myers who was able to work his way up into the second spot before a quick caution early on. Unfortunately, the field would have some early season jitters, and a string of cautions throughout the race wouldn’t allow for many green flag laps to be run.

While Martin and Myers had things in control at the front of the field, Traves would end up getting turned around from the 3rd position in the early laps, which also collected Matt Rolfe from 4th. This moved TJ Graves and Ryan Borges up into the top 5, but both of them would get tangled up and involved in their own incident that also dropped them out of the top 5 in the early laps. Todd Sipe and Travis Warling would benefit from that incident to move up, and the two of them would remain near the front of the field for the rest of the race.

Over the last couple restarts of the race, Martin continued to control things at the front of the field, but Myers was right there putting pressure on him during the restarts. Myers would try to get the run on the outside groove and would hang tough out there through turns one and two, but Martin would gain the edge in turns three and four to clear himself into the lead.

One last restart on lap 44 would see Martin jump back into the lead, but a quick caution shortly after the restart, the race would end under the caution flag. Martin would lead the field around on the final lap, to pick up the opening night victory. Myers would come around in second, followed by Warling and Sipe who finished 3rd and 4th respectively. After his early race incident, Traves would work his way back through the field to end up with a top 5 finish.

Shortly after the Legends finished up, the SK Mods got things underway at Iowa, and the theme for the night would continue when Bill Martin bested the 25 car field to pick up his second pole of the night with a lap time of 24.534 seconds, just ahead of defending champion of the division, Stan Bragg.

Martin led the field to the green flag, and the leaders would quickly sort things out and looked to run single file in the draft as the laps began to tick off. Martin and Bragg ran 1-2 through the opening laps, while Traves, Rolfe, and Borges were right there behind them in line. Each driver took a turn peeking a nose out to try and get a run, but the leaders all looked content to ride in the early laps. Further behind them, the rest of the field was slicing and dicing with drivers trying to work their way up to the front before the first caution would come out on lap 10.

Over the next portion of the race, a couple of cautions would come out to slow the pace of the race until just before half way. A restart on lap 45 saw Martin jump back into the lead, but the battle was on for 2nd as Bragg and Traves would swap the position a couple of times over the next few laps. Bragg had Traves cleared, but would get loose off of turn two which allowed Traves to get the run on the outside and to gain the advantage. As the came off of turn four, Bragg would get loose and slip up, and into Traves causing both drivers to go around to bring out the caution on lap 54.

The incident would move Rolfe into the 2nd spot behind Martin, followed by Gary Belling, Anthony Celentano, and Myers into the top 5. After another quick caution, the battle would heat up for the top spot after the lap 65 restart. Martin got the quick jump into the lead but Rolfe would get a good run off of turn two and ducked to the inside for the lead. Rolfe would gain the advantage ever so slightly, but Martin wasn’t giving up as the two drivers would battle side-by-side for the top spot over the next 13 laps.

Rolfe was able to get a nose ahead to lead three laps before Martin got a run to take the lead back for a lap. Rolfe battled back and looked to nearly have Martin cleared for the position, but the two would swap the lead back and forth 6 times before Martin would finally get the momentum off the high line to clear Rolfe to hang onto the lead. As they battled, this allowed Myers to catch up to them and then put pressure on Rolfe for 2nd. The two drivers would make contact on lap 79 which saw Myers get sideways to bring out the next yellow, but he was able to save the car from spinning and was able to hold onto 4th.

A couple of quick cautions would set the field for one last run to the finish with a lap 91 restart. Martin and Rolfe would drag race to the restart but Martin would gain the advantage and pulled back into the lead while Rolfe would face pressure from behind. Cameron Hobbs moved into the top 3 and looked low for the 2nd spot but would get loose and lost control, ending his good run with just a handful of laps remaining.

The race would stay green but with just two laps to go, the final caution would come out, which led to the field coming around under the checkered and yellow flags. Martin was dominant all night and held off some strong charges, to pick up the victory, which would make it a clean sweep of opening night. Rolfe would hang onto the 2nd spot ahead of Ryan Borges who worked his way up to 3rd, with Myers and Celentano rounding out the top 5 with some strong runs.

Next week the SK Shootout Series has the week off, but the Legends will run their second and third races of the season with a double header at Oxford and New Hampshire.