Martin Survives for Richmond Victory



The MRD Pro Late Model Series rolled into Richmond last night for their season opener, and with the anticipation of the race being high, cars continued to roll onto the track all throughout practice. 34 cars would start the feature event, but in open qualifying it was Bill Martin who put his car on the top of the speed charts to grab the pole with a time of 22.355 seconds, just ahead of Justin Brooks who also put his car on the front row.

At the drop of the green flag, the 34 car field drove down into turn 1, with Martin leading the way. But shortly after, the first of 12 total cautions would come out on lap 3, bunching the field back together for the restart. Throughout the first portion of the race, it was all Martin out front, but a number of drivers were all close behind looking to pick up spots on the restarts within the top 10. Brooks had stayed in a close 2nd spot, while other drivers including Kenny Lindsley, Jacob and James Linkiewicz, Dale Owen, Anthony Celentano, Cody Leland, Jarrett Lawrence, and Cameron Hobbs all raced within the top 10 throughout the first quarter of the race. And as the field got to lap 23, Martin would slip up and lost his momentum, allowing Lindsley to get by and grab the top spot on the leaderboard.

From that point, it looked like Lindsley had the car to beat over the next stretch of the race. On a lap 37 caution, the entire field headed down pit road to grab new tires, and while Bobby Timmons stayed out to lead a lap, Lindsley would regain the lead on the restart and continued to control the top spot. As the field continued to have a hard time finding room to get a long green flag run in, it allowed Lindsley to continue to lead, up until lap 59 where Brooks, who had been running 2nd, was able to get a run on the leader. The two drivers would make slight contact, but Brooks was able to complete the pass and take over the lead while Lindsley dropped to 2nd. Shortly after though on the next cautions, the leaders would take the chance to come down pit road once again, but this time not everyone came to pit road.

Cody Thompson and Kenny Smith were the first two of about 10 cars that stayed on the track, and the two drivers would lead the field to the lap 69 restart. But as they headed down the front stretch to take the green, they would bang doors a little bit, and each got loose and up into the outside wall, allowing Martin to once again regain the lead after restarting 3rd. On the next couple of restarts, Martin would hold off charges from TJ Graves, David Krikorian, and Darren Daves, but Martin was able to get some good jumps to hold onto the lead. As the race began to wind down into the final laps, it was Thompson who moved back up into the 2nd spot looking to fight for the lead, but he would have to face a hard charge from Brooks for the 2nd spot instead. With just a few laps to go, the two drivers would make contact entering turn 3, ultimately sending Thompson into a spin in front of the field, collecting a number of other drivers before the finish.

But out in front of all that, it was Martin who held the field off, and survived the race to go on and pick up his 2nd career SARA victory after leading 53 laps of the race. Brooks would come around to take the 2nd spot at the finish, but after review he would be sent to the end of the lead lap for the late race contact, handing the 2nd spot over to Darren Daves who had made his way near the front over the 2nd half of the race. James Linkiewicz would inherit 3rd, while Krikorian and Celentano would round out the top 5.

1. Bill Martin
2. Darren Daves
3. James Linkiewicz
4. David Krikorian
5. Anthony Celentano
6. Stan Bragg
7. Jacob Linkiewicz
8. Kenny Lindsley
9. Mike Whited
10. Mike Belanger
11. Cody Leland
12. Jarrett Lawrence
13. Matt Eddy
14. Devan Rittall
15. Cameron Hobbs
16. Justin Brooks
17. Dale Owen
18. Cody Thompson
19. Ian Layne
20. Scott Dunlap
21. Kenny Smith
22. Trent Brown
23. Ken Belanger
24. Russell Berry
25. TJ Graves
26. Bobby Timmons
27. Jeff Hoggard
28. Mike Testa
29. Evan Sorenson
30. Todd Cousins
31. Clay Snider
32. Casey Kelley
33. JayJay Day
34. Jerry Goff

Penalties: -Justin Brooks – Aggressive Driving – End of the Line (16th)
-Dale Owen – Retaliation – End of the Line (17th)

Next week the series heads to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway as they will face the Magic Mile, just 2 days before the real steel ACT Late Models will hit the track on the following Saturday.

With the win in last night’s event, Martin will head to NHMS with the points lead. For full results and standings, click HERE.