Stratton’s Engine Survives For First Win



This past Wednesday night, the MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series hit the track at Martinsville for their 8th race of the season, and 20 cars would show up for the 100-lap feature event.

In time trials, Joe Schaffer Jr. picked up his 2nd career SARA pole by setting the fast lap. Schaffer led the top 8 cars into the Qualifying Dash, and showed his strength by winning the Dash by over a full second. However an invert of 7 would send Schaffer back to 7th to start the feature, with Todd Sipe being inverted to the front.

Sipe led the field to the green flag for the race, and held onto the top spot for the first 12 laps, before James Linkiewicz made his move into the lead on lap 13 to take over. However one of the major stories of the race started on lap 16 as the engine in Schaffer’s car blew up, leaving other cars worried about their own. During the remainder of the race, six more cars would lose an engine, taking out some of the heavy hitters both in the race and in the points.

Back out front, Linkiewicz led until lap 55 when Davey Riendeau would get by, but Riendeau was one of those cars who would face engine troubles as he blew up a couple laps later, handing the lead over to Ty Spearman. Spearman looked in control as the laps began to wind down, until lap 88 when Windell Stratton closed in on the leader, gave a little bump and run to Spearman, and took over the lead with just 12 laps to go. From there, Stratton was able to hang on and would end up picking up hist first career SARA victory.

Behind Stratton out front, Spearman would end up finishing 2nd after leading in the late stages of the race. After also leading earlier in the race, Linkiewicz would run inside the top three during the second half of the feature and brought it home on the podium in 3rd. Ian Layne had one of his best career runs as he stayed inside the top five all night and picked up his career best 4th place finish. Bill Martin used one of the early cautions to come down pit road, and had to come from deep in the field to work his way back up into a 5th place finish at the end of the night.

Just outside the top five, Sipe spent the early laps of his race out front before settling in to the 6th position. Marc Gammack started back in the 15th spot but found his way inside the top ten just past halfway before moving up into a 7th place finish. Anthony Celentano had a quiet night, running just inside the top ten for most of the race before finishing out the night in 8th. Both Matt Eddy and Russell Berry started deep in the field as well before making their way into the top ten, with Eddy taking the 9th spot and Berry rounding out the top ten in 10th.

Despite blowing up early in the race, Joe Schaffer Jr. hangs onto the points lead by just 3 points over 2nd place, and with drop weeks now being factored into the standings, the top four drivers in the points are separated by just 20 points.