The NEO Racing News Legends League headed up to New England to take on the Connecticut Cup double header events tonight, with races at Lime Rock Park and Stafford Motor Speedway. The field would run a 15-lap race on the Lime Rock road course before making the trip east to Stafford for a 50-lap oval event.
Travis Warling would start the night off by picking up the pole in open qualifying for the road course event, with a lap time of 1:00.768. Coming into the night, Warling trailed by just 9 points in the standings behind Mike Rhyno, and Rhyno would start next to him in 2nd on the grid. At the drop of the green, Warling led the 21-car field down the long straightaway and into turn 1, while the rest of them were patiently trying to sort it out in the opening turns.
Warling and Rhyno settled into the top two spots early, while Bill Martin and Parker ran 3rd and 4th, and Mike Christopher quickly moved up into the top 5 from his 8th starting spot. By the time the leaders came around for lap 1, Warling had extended his lead to nearly a second and by lap 2 it had gone over a full second, and he would continue to add to that lead throughout the race. The battle to keep an eye on was for the 4th spot as Christopher chased down Traves who had a couple off-tracks, and Christopher would close the gap and take the spot on lap 7 before giving it back the next lap. Eventually Christopher would take over the spot for good as Traves’ car wasn’t handling quite as well in the late laps.
Behind the top 5, it was Ryan Borges who would run in the 6th spot, followed by Patrick Hahe in 7th. Mike Testa had moved his way up into 8th, with Jacob Beauchesne running in the 9th spot, and Huston Hamer making a recovery after spinning early to run back up into the top 10 as the race went along.
Back out front though, the top 3 had pulled away from the field, with Warling leading the charge and pulling away from everyone. No one would catch him as he pulled the lead out to over 5 seconds by the end of the race, he would come around to take the victory, leading every lap of the 15 lap race. The win would be his 8th career SARA victory, 7 of which have come on road courses. Rhyno would remain in the 2nd spot, with Martin finishing 3rd. Christopher took the 4th spot, and Borges would move up into the top 5 late for a 5th place finish.
Race 1 Top 10:
1. Travis Warling
2. Mike Rhyno
3. Bill Martin
4. Mike Christopher
5. Ryan Borges
6. Patrick Hahe
7. Mike Testa
8. Parker Traves
9. Jacob Beauchesne
10. Huston Hamer
Full race 1 results: Click HERE.
After the first race concluded, the group would head to Stafford for the oval portion of the night. Things got started with time trials to set the lineup for the race, and Bill Martin would take the fast time with a lap of 22.618 seconds, and Parker Traves would start to his outside. Martin led the 17-car field to the green flag and led the first lap before a quick caution on lap 2 slowed the field down early.
On the restart, again Martin got the jump, while the top 5 behind him looked similar to the road course race earlier in the night. This time it was Traves that ran second for a few laps until Mike Rhyno took that spot away during the 15 lap green flag run. Mike Christopher and Travis Warling both ran in the top 5 early as well, but the rest of the field was right there behind them looking to take those spots. Over the course of the first run, Martin was checking out up front though, pulling out to nearly a 2 second lead before the next caution would fly on lap 22.
On the restart a couple of cars would get together to bring out a quick caution. But once the field took the green flag on the next restart, they would battle it out to the checkers for the final 17 laps of green flag racing. Martin quickly grabbed the lead and pulled away once again, but the fight was on behind him for the rest of the top 5 spots. Christopher had moved up into the 2nd spot on the previous restart, but on this run, Rhyno would keep right on his bumper and was able to grab the 2nd spot on lap 41. But by that point, Martin was long gone out front.
As the laps began to wind down, Christopher was facing more pressure for the 3rd spot as Warling closed the gap and ran on his bumper looking for him to slide up. While they battled, Matt Rolfe had worked his way up to 5th and closed the gap to the two cars in front of him, and he would bring Ryan Borges along with him to the battle for spots 3-6. With 5 to go, these drivers all ran nose-to-tail with Christopher looking to hold off the charge. Warling would look to the inside many times, but the door closed each time, while Rolfe and Borges were right there waiting for something to happen. On the last lap, Borges would get a run to the inside of Rolfe entering turn 1 and Rolfe gave him the bottom. In front of them, Warling had made his move and took to the inside of Christopher for 3rd. Warling took the spot going into 3 but Christopher pulled a crossover move and dove to the inside and sliding up in front of Warling. They would make contact which allowed Warling to get back to the inside of Christopher, as they would drag race to the finish line, with Rolfe and Borges side-by-side right on their bumpers to the finish.
Out front, Martin had the car to beat all race long and pulled away to a 2.4 second lead to grab the victory, his 4th career SARA win and his first in the Legends division. Rhyno finished off his solid run with a 2nd place finish, while the battle for 3rd was about as close as it could get. The next 4 cars would cross the line side-by-side, two-by-two, all within .120 seconds of each other. It would be Warling that edged out Christopher for the 3rd spot as they tangled at the line, beating him by just .017 seconds, and Rolfe would beat Borges to the line for 5th on the outside by just .006 seconds.
Race 2 Top 10:
1. Bill Martin
2. Mike Rhyno
3. Travis Warling
4. Mike Christopher
5. Matt Rolfe
6. Ryan Borges
7. Parker Traves
8. Mike Belanger
9. Mike Testa
10. Ray Farlow
Full race 2 results: Click HERE.
The division has the week off next week, but will return in two weeks with a double header event at Texas.
Rhyno and Warling would each beat each other by one spot in the two races, which allows Rhyno to keep the points lead the same as it was entering the night, at just 9 points. For full results of both races, and the full standings, click HERE.