Schaffer Wins In Wild Finish At Phoenix



The MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series made the trip out west to the desert in Phoenix, for the second event of the PLM Triple Crown Series, and the 10th event on the schedule.

The event got kicked off with time trials and it was Casey Kelley who set the pace up front for the pole, the 9th of his SARA career. He would lead the top 8 cars into the Qualifying Dash and continued to show his speed as he went on to pick up the Dash win. An invert of 5 would see Casey move back to 5th to start the feature, while Joe Schaffer was inverted to the front.

Schaffer brought the 26-car field to the green flag for the 85-lap feature event, and quickly jumped into the lead. The field would settle in for a 34-lap green flag run prior to the first caution, which shuffled up the field as the first round of pit stops took place, which brought Schaffer down pit road as the leader for new tires while others stayed out. Ty Spearman found himself in the lead after staying out, but it didn’t take long for the fresh rubber to make it’s way back to the lead as Ryan Borges changed into the top spot with his new tires on lap 42.

Borges continued to lead as the race continued on, but a caution on lap 67 would bunch the field back up, and allowed the drivers who hadn’t pitted yet for tires, to make their way onto pit road. This set up a wild finish as drivers on old tires were looking to hold off the fresh rubber. A couple cautions came out late in the race, setting up a 1-lap dash to the finish.

Borges led the field to the green on the final lap with Bill Martin on his outside, but as they exited turn two they would make contact, resulting in both drivers ending up in the wall as the field rushed into turn three. As the two leaders wrecked out, it left Schaffer back in the lead, trying to hold off the field around the final half of a mile. Schaffer entered turn three, with Davey Riendeau to his outside and Ty Spearman on his bumper, and it would be a shootout coming to the finish line. Spearman and Riendeau would give it all they had, but would get together, setting off a multi car incident coming to the finish line and out ahead of the wreck was Schaffer as he came around to take the checkered flag to pick up the win, his 3rd career SARA victory.

Behind Schaffer, Cody Kelley had restarted 10th on the final restart and also made it out of turn four just ahead of the wreck and would finish the 2nd spot as he passed 8 cars in the final lap of the race. A total of 6 cars were involved in the incident coming back to the checkered flag, but it was Mickey Kudlicki that crossed the line first out of the group to end up on the podium in 3rd, with Marc Gammack, Riendeau, Matt Eddy, Darrell Hamlin, and Spearman who all crossed the line with wrecked raced cars but finished 4th through 8th respectively. Matt Rolfe finished 9th, while Martin made limped his way across the finish line in 10th after his final lap wreck on the backstretch.

After finishing 8th, Ty Spearman hangs onto the points lead by just 11 points over 2nd place, heading into the final two races of the season which includes next week’s race at USA. And with the victory, Joe Schaffer leaves Phoenix with the Triple Crown points lead, with one final race to go at South Boston.