The GM Parts XPerts Pro Late Model Series took on the Lanier Speedway this past Wednesday night, for not one, but two feature events. Time Trials would set the lineup for the first feature, while an inverted field would shuffle the deck for the second race. A total of 41 cars would attempt to qualify for the night, but only 29 would take the grid after qualifying and provisionals.
In the first race, it was Ty Majeski that led the field to the green after picking up his 72nd career SARA pole. Majeski quickly jumped out into the lead by a few car lengths in the opening laps while the rest of the field was sorting things out. After a pair of cautions within the first 15 laps, the field set out on their longest green flag run of the night on a lap 18 restart.
Majeski took off on the restart while James Linkiewicz took over the runner-up spot from Joe Schaffer, and the three drivers occupied the podium spots for most of the race. As this portion of the race continued on, the top three cars began to separate themselves from the rest of the pack but remained within car lengths of each other up until the next caution of the race flew on lap 35.
Throughout the second half of the race, cautions plagued the green flag action which meant restarts would be crucial for picking up spots. As Majeski pulled out into the lead each time, Linkiewicz was able to fall in behind him to maintain 2nd, but the field behind them continued to shuffle. Schaffer held the 3rd spot up until Matt Rolfe worked his way by on lap 52, and Schaffer fell back on the outside. Hunter Combs, also joined the mix within the top five as laps wound down.
But out in front on each restart, Majeski made no mistakes and would lead the field around under caution to pick up the checkered flag in the first race. The win would be his 68th career SARA win, but he would be forced to start deep in the field for race number two after the invert.
Linkiewicz followed Majeski for a runner-up finish after running in the 2nd position for most of the race. Matt Rolfe maintained the 3rd spot after moving up during some of the late restarts to round out the podium. Schaffer slipped back late but was able to make up some spots in the closing laps to finish 4th. Hunter Combs rounded out the top five after running just outside of it for most of the race before moving up to finish 5th. Scott Dunlap, Anthony Celentano, Mickey Kudlicki, Matt Eddy, and Clay Snider rounded out the top ten.
For the second race of the night, the top 20 cars that finished on the lead lap in the first event, would be inverted to set the grid. This dropped Majeski and others deep in the field, while Scott Bell was the beneficiary of the invert to lead the field to the green.
With the field completely mixed up for the second event, it meant more cautions throughout the entire event, but it didn’t slow some of the faster drivers from working their way back to the front. Bell led the opening 26 laps of the race throughout the first couple of yellows, up until a restart allowed Majeski and Linkiewicz to contend for the lead. It took them just 25 laps to pick up nearly 20 spots, and Majeski was the first to set his sights on the lead.
Majeski ducked to the inside of Bell on lap 27 as he looked for the lead, but when Bell tried to shut the door, there would be contact between them that sent Bell around in front of the field. Majeski would continue on, but had his hands full out front on the ensuing restart.
Majeski jumped ahead, but Linkiewicz was able to get to the bottom from the outside and made a crossover move to the bottom and pulled up alongside Majeski for the lead. Majeski tried to hang tough on the outside, but Linkiewicz was clear on lap 34 for the lead, while Windell Stratton also moved up into 2nd while Majeski dropped to 3rd prior to the next caution on lap 36.
Linkiewicz would lead the field back to the next couple of restarts, but would have his hands full as Majeski was looking for a way back by into the lead. On the lap 59 restart, Linkiewicz pulled out into the lead but Majeski was able to get down in line quickly and then started to work over the rear bumper of the leader. Majeski made his move to the bottom on lap 63, but this time Linkiewicz wasn’t able to pull the crossover move, and Majeski was clear into the lead.
One final caution set up a 1-lap dash to the finish. The two leaders came out of turn four on the restart and it was Linkiewicz that got a jump on the outside, but Majeski was able to hold position on the inside and the two would lead the entire field back to the line as they ran side-by-side. Majeski would gain the advantage coming out of the corner on the bottom, and came aoround to pick up the win by just .046 seconds.
While Majeski swept both wins on the night, Linkiewicz would sweep the runner-up spot in both races as he came up just short for the win after leading 28 laps on the night. Tom Wetmore had to start at the back of the field after missing the invert, but worked his way into the top ten, and put himself in a spot to gain spots late to finish in 3rd. Hunter Combs joined Linkiewicz and Majeski as the only cars to pick up top fives in both races as he worked his way back up to a 4th place finish. Stratton moved up as high as 2nd during the middle portion of the race, but some late contact dropped him a few spots and maintained a 5th place finish. Mickey Kudlicki, Bill Martin, Matt Rolfe, Darek Gress, and Joe Schaffer Jr. rounded out the top ten.
After the two features, James Linkiewicz will leave Lanier as the points leader after a pair of runner-up finishes, and will lead the division into next week’s race at New Hampshire with a 23 points lead.
Race 1 Results
Race 2 Results
Race 2 Results