On Wednesday night, the MRD Pro Late Models took their turn as the final division of the season to tackle the Southern National Motorsports park for the first time, as a 27 car field took on the high banked 4/10-mile track for a 150 lap main event.
In Time Trials, Ty Majeski picked up his 4th pole of the season, and the 65th of his career, with a lap of 13.925 seconds, less than .02 seconds ahead of 2nd place. The top ten cars from Time Trials advanced into the Qualifying Dash to battle it out for bonus points, and a 7-car invert dropped Majeski back in the pack while Tim Bills was inverted to the front. In the Dash, Bills led the field to the green flag and led lap 1, but it was Bill Martin that made his way by to the lead on lap 2 and went on to win the Dash.
For the feature event, Tim Bills led the field back to the green flag as race began with an 18-lap green flag run. Bills jumped out ahead early by a few car lengths but Austin Yarbrough was able to settle into the second position off the start and began to put the pressure on for the lead early in the run. On lap 8, Yarbrough got the run to the inside to take over the top spot, as Bills let him go and dropped down in behind him.
Just a couple laps later, Cody Kelley worked his way up into the 2nd spot, with Ty Majeski climbing through the pack following him up into 3rd just a lap later. The top three began separating themselves from the pack prior to the race’s first caution on lap 18. On the two ensuing restarts, the battle up front was much of the same as the top three pulled away each time, but a pair of cautions led the field to a lap 47 restart where the field set out on their next green flag run.
On the restart, Yarbrough once again jumped out in front, but the following 40 lap green flag run allowed the field to settle in and the battle up front began to heat up. Majeski moved up into 2nd ahead of Kelley off the restart, and the two drivers ran nose-to-tail behind the leader and the three cars began to stretch their lead over the rest of the pack. While Majeski seemed content to ride for a while, he began looking for a way into the lead by lap 60, and finally made his move to the inside of Yarbrough for the race lead, with Kelley following him up into 2nd.
Once Majeski and Kelley moved up into the top two, they left Yarbrough behind as they pulled away and began catching lapped traffic. On lap 88 as the leaders approached, a pair of cars about to go a lap down began battling, and contact between them turned one of them around sideways directly in front of Majeski. As Majeski attempted to go around the outside of the incident, the lapped car was able to correct his car, but made contact with the leader as Cody Kelley snuck by on the inside, nosing ahead of Majeski just prior to the caution coming out, handing Kelley the lead. Majeski would have to come down pit road for repairs, ending his chance at the win.
After a pair of quick cautions, Kelley led the field back to the lap 108 restart and began to set sail out front as the rest of the field battled it out behind him. Kelley built his lead out to over two seconds, but one final caution on lap 138 meant he would have to hold off the field one last time. Much like he had done on the earlier restarts, Kelley had no issues jumping out ahead, stretching his lead, and he came around to pick up the checkered flag for the win. The victory for Kelley was his 2nd of the season, and the 33rd of his SARA career after leading the final 62 laps of the race.
Behind Kelley, Ty Spearman picked up a 2nd place finish after starting in the 9th spot and carefully picking his way to the front, as he moved up to 2nd just prior to lap 100 and maintained his position for the remainder of the race. After getting shuffled back some at the start of the race, Bill Martin also moved up into the top three with Spearman, and finished out the race in the 3rd position. Yarbrough ended up leading 58 laps early in the race but caught up in an incident around lap 100, but he was able to recover and worked his way back up to finish 4th. Tommy Burns came from the rear of the field after missing qualifying, and made steady progress throughout the race to battle inside the top five before finishing in the 5th spot.
Just outside the top five, Windell Stratton picked up a 6th place finish after he also missed qualifying and came from the back, and then battled in the top ten for the second half of the race. Marc Gammack picked up a solid finish, despite running outside the top ten for most of the race before picking up some spots during the cautions around lap 100, but maintained his spot inside the top ten for the remainder of the race to finish in 7th. It was a similar story for the rest of the top ten, as Russell Berry, Eric Block, and Nathan Hurlburt each ran outside the top ten as well for most of the race, but they were each able to work their way up into solid finishes from 8th through 10th respectively.
After a solid 2nd place finish, Ty Spearman leaves Southern National as the new points leader in the standings, as he overtakes Windell Stratton, and now leads by just 4 points. Next week, the division will roll into the Concord Speedway for the first time since November of 2014, for a 100 lap feature event.