On Wednesday night, the MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series took on the Irwindale Speedway, for not one, but two features events for the first double header races of the season. Race 1 would see the series take on the Outer configuration of the track, while in Race 2 they would take on the Inner bullring, for 75 laps each.
In Race 1, Bill Martin grabbed the pole for the race, his 31st career SARA pole, and led the field to the green flag. Martin got the jump on each of the five restarts to pull ahead, but would have his hands full all race long, as Windell Stratton was right there on his bumper putting the pressure on for the lead. Stratton would peak to the inside a couple of times, and the two drivers would make contact just prior to lap 50, but Martin was able to hold him off, and brought the field around to take the checkered flag after leading all 75 laps of the race. The win for Martin was his 28th career SARA victory.
Just behind Martin, Stratton would get shuffled back, and it was Parker Traves that had worked his way up to take the runner up spot after running in the top five all race long. Rounding out the podium was Hunter Combs, after he started just outside the top five before moving up into 5th where he ran for most of the race, but took advantage of a late restart to work his way into a 3rd place finish. While the two leaders battled, Ty Spearman was right behind them in the 3rd spot for most of the race, but also wasn’t able to make the move up and dropped back into a 4th place finish. Tyler Hudson rounded out the top five after he qualified up front, but chose to start at the rear of the field and spent much of his race making passes up the inside groove before moving into a 5th place finish after moving up on a late restart.
*The finishing order of Race 1 was adjusted after the final incident of the race forced the race to end under caution, and some drivers results have changed due to a conflict with the way iRacing scored drivers after the incident.
In Race 2, the lineup was set by a full invert of the cars that finished on the lead lap of Race 1, which ended up being a 22 car invert. This brought Ian Layne to the front of the field, while the leaders in Race 1 would have to start closer to the rear of the field which would be a challenge for some on the Inner configuration.
Ian Layne led the field to the green flag, and quickly jumped out ahead as the field set off on a 22 lap green flag run. That caution wasn’t what Layne wanted to see, as Darrell Hamlin was able to make the pass for the lead just a couple laps after the restart. Hamlin looked strong out front, but a couple of the drivers that had started out back were making their way to the front, and Parker Traves was the first of those to do so, moving into 2nd just past lap 50 before making his way into the lead with just 12 laps to go. One last caution set up a two lap shootout to the finish, but Traves was able to hold off the field and hold onto his car after a big stack up, and was able to take the checkers for his 5th career SARA victory.
Just behind Traves, Hamlin was able to hang on for a 2nd place finish, after leading 35 laps but would come up one spot short. Matt Rolfe would end up finishing on the podium after running up and down throughout the top ten during the race, but would move up to take the 3rd spot. Windell Stratton would end up finishing 4th, after he too also had an up-and-down race, getting shuffled outside the top ten at the halfway point of the race before working his way back up. Bill Martin would round out the top five after being inverted way back to the 21st starting spot, and was able to pick his way up through the field to take 5th.
With a win, and a 5th place finish, Bill Martin extends his points lead in the standings out to 63 points, and will lead the field into the only road course on any schedule this season when the field takes on Watkins Glen.