The second event of the 2016 SARA Big 3 Series took on the Southern National Motorsports Park last week for the Summer Heat event. SARA’s top division, the Super Late Models, headlined the event with not one, but two 150-lap feature events on Wednesday evening, broadcasted live on LSRTV and iRacing Live. After a full night of qualifying on Tuesday night, the grid was set for the Super Late Model portion of the Summer Heat, and the driver with the best combined finish after Wednesday night’s features would be crowned the Summer Heat Champion. Here’s how the top drivers fared on their way to earning top ten finishes:
1st – Cody Kelley – 2 points (1st and 1st)
Cody Kelley started off the Super Late Model portion of the Summer Heat by setting the fast lap in Time Trials with a lap of 13.401 seconds, putting him as the number one seed in the new Knockout Bracket. After getting knocked out of the bracket on Qualifying Night, Kelley would start the first feature event from the 3rd position which set him up in a good spot near the front of the field.
When the field took the green for race one, Joe Schaffer Jr. jumped out in front and was setting the pace for a while, but Kelley was riding in his tire tracks and appeared to be saving his tires. Just prior to lap 100 he fell back to the 3rd spot after a restart, but then followed Ty Spearman through as they both got by Schaffer and again looked to be riding in 2nd as he stayed within a couple car lengths of the leader. As the laps began to wind down, Kelley made his move and took over the top spot with 23 laps to go, but then set sail out front to take the victory in race one by over two seconds.
In race two, Kelley had to start a little deeper in the field from the 9th position but wasted no time in working his way to the front. He cracked the top three on lap 17 and then moved up into 2nd ten laps later. After a caution on lap 50, Kelley restarted to the outside of Spearman and again didn’t waste much time as he continued his charge to the front. On lap 61, Kelley took over the top spot once more, and never looked back. He would go on to lead 90 laps on his way to picking up the second win of the night, giving him a total of two points between the two races to pick up the Summer Heat overall victory.
2nd – Tim Bills – 8 points (6th and 2nd)
Tim Bills started off race one from the 6th spot but quickly got shuffled back outside the top ten after being stuck on the outside. Being stuck on the outside on restarts was a common theme for Bills in race one as he would be out there on two of the three restarts which led to him giving up some spots. But when the green flag was out, Bills was making up ground as he worked his way back up to finish in the 6th spot.
In race two, Bills once again started from the 6th position but had a little better luck with restarts this go around. Although he dropped on the opening start back to 8th, he used a later restart to move up from 7th to 5th, and once again moved up from 5th to 3rd on the lap 86 restart. From this point, Bills spent the second half of the race dueling with Austin Yarbrough for the 2nd spot. One last restart with 9 laps to go caused Bills to get stuck on the outside one more time, but quickly dropped into 3rd and worked his way by Yarbrough one more time in the closing laps to finish in 2nd. Ended up in a tie for 2nd overall for the Summer Heat, the runner-up finish in the second race would be the tie-breaker to earn Bills the 2nd spot on the podium.
3rd – Joe Schaffer Jr. – 8 points (3rd and 5th)
Joe Schaffer Jr. worked his way through the Knockout Bracket on Qualifying Night to pick up the pole starting spot for race one. He used that to jump out in front with the lead in race one, and held that lead for over 100 laps before he would eventually give up the lead. Schaffer would only fall to the 3rd spot though, and was able to hold on for the remainder of the race to finish 3rd in race one.
Schaffer would have a tougher challenge to run up front in race two as he would start back in the 10th position. He would run in the back half of the top ten for the entire first half of the race as the front of the field worked itself out and he took his time working his way up, and Schaffer would eventually crack the top five on a lap 92 restart. He settled into the 4th spot which would have clinched him a 2nd place finish overall, but would drop a spot in the late laps after a late race restart and would end up finishing in the 5th spot. The top five finish resulted in a tie for 2nd overall, but would lose the tie-breaker and would be scored with a 3rd place finish in the Summer Heat.
4th – Matt Rolfe – 9 points (5th and 4th)
Matt Rolfe started in the 10th spot for race number one and was another driver that got shuffled back on the outside in the opening laps of the race. From there, Rolfe began working his way up through the field from outside the top ten and eventually picked up the 5th spot just past halfway. After moving up inside the top five by lap 87, Rolfe ran there for the remainder of the race to pick up a top five finish in race one.
In race two, Rolfe was moved up to the front row for the initial green flag where the outside shuffled him back to the 6th spot. From there he ran between the 4th and 6th positions throughout the rest of the race, battling for a top five finish. In the closing laps, Rolfe restarted in the 6th spot with 9 laps to go, and worked his way by Spearman and Schaffer to take a 4th place finish late. With a combined 9 points overall between the two races, Rolfe would be scored in the 4th position for the final Summer Heat results.
5th – Ty Spearman – 10 points (2nd and 8th)
Ty Spearman jumped up into the top five by lap 1 from his 7th starting spot and ran inside the top five the remainder of race one. Throughout the middle portion of the race, Spearman climbed into the top three and then began cutting into the gap between him and the two leaders. On a lap 93 restart, he moved up into 2nd, and then on lap 105 he made his move for the lead to get by Schaffer for the top spot. Just 23 laps later though, Spearman would have to give up the lead, and would end up settling for the 2nd spot in race one.
After working his way towards the front late in race one, Spearman wasted no time getting there in race two as he charged up from his 5th starting spot and took over the lead by lap 10 as he worked his way by pole sitter, Evan Sorensen. Spearman held onto the lead for the next portion of the race, but the lead never grew larger than a half-second and when Cody Kelley moved up into 2nd, that gap began to shrink. Spearman held off Kelley up until lap 61 but then began to lose spots during the second half of the race. He would restart in the 5th spot on the final restart, but dropped a couple spots in the final laps and finished in 8th. With a combined 10 points between the two races, Spearman would round out the top five in the results.
6th – Derek Robinson – 11 points (4th and 7th)
In the opening laps of race one, Derek Robinson dropped from his 4th starting spot into the back half of the top ten where he battled for most of the first run. Just prior to the first caution, he moved up into the 5th spot and ran within the top five for the rest of the race. He worked his way by Derek Holzhuasen on lap 85 to pick up 4th and remained in the position for the rest of the race where he would finish in race one.
While Robinson spent much of the first race up inside the top five, he was never quite able to make it back there in race two. After starting in 8th, Robinson dropped out of the top ten early but made up ground quickly as he worked up to 9th on lap 18. From there he battled for the 8th and 9th spot during a majority of the race before moving up to 7th with about 30 laps to go. Robinson would end up maintaining the 7th place finish at the end of the second feature, and scored a total finish of 11 points to finish just outside the top five overall in 6th.
7th – Austin Yarbrough – 12 points (9th and 3rd)
Austin Yarbrough’s race one was a little more eventful than some of the other front runners as he would have an issue at the end of the first run. Yarbrough had been running in the top ten during the first run up until a couple of lap cars would scramble, and he got the bad end of it and got turned around for the first caution. Yarbrough later pitted during a later caution, but recovered to finish in the 9th spot at the end of race one.
While race one was a bit eventful for Yarbrough, the second race of the night went much smoother which resulted in a better finish. He moved up inside the top five in the early laps, and continued to work his way forward during the race. While no one had much for Cody Kelley in race two, Yarbrough moved up into 3rd by lap 50, and up to 2nd by lap 100. Bills and Yarbrough would exchanged the 2nd spot a couple times in the closing laps, before Yarbrough eventually slipped to finish in 3rd. With a combined finish of 12, Yarbrough would score an overall finish of 7th.
8th – Casey Kelley – 13 points (7th and 6th)
An error for Casey Kelley on Qualifying Night resulted in him starting further back than he had planned when he rolled off 13th in race one after winning one of two heat races. Kelley quickly worked his way towards the front of the field, moving up as high as 5th during the opening run of the race, but as the laps continued on, some of the speed Kelley had seemed to fade. He ran in the back half of the top ten for the rest of the race, before ultimately finishing in the 7th spot.
Much like the first feature, Kelley wasted no time in getting up to the top five after starting back in 12th. However after reaching the top five, Kelley would drop back a few spots during the next few runs, falling back as far as 9th. He would roll off 8th on the final restart with just 9 laps to go, and worked his way by a pair of cars in the closing laps to finish in 6th for the second feature. With a combined total of 13 points, Kelley would finish off the night in 8th overall.
9th – Derek Holzhausen – 19 points (8th and 11th)
Derek Holzhausen set the second fastest lap in Time Trials, but after the Knockout Bracket he would start the first feature from the 5th spot. He quickly moved up into the top three in the opening laps and dropped back to 4th during the first run of the race. Holzhausen remained in the 4th position up until a restart at the halfway mark of the race , but lost some spot during the second half of the race before settling into the 8th position where he would finish in the first feature.
Holzhausen showed plenty of speed in the early laps of race two as well when he quickly moved up into 2nd in the opening laps of the race. He would drop a few spots during the next part of the race leading up to the halfway point of the race, and was running just outside the top five during a lap 86 restart. After the restart, Holzhausen would get turned around and fell to the back, but avoided any damage and continued on to recover for an 11th place finish. Holzhausen picked up a total score of 19 points to finish out the Summer Heat with a 9th place overall finish.
10th – Russell Berry – 20 points (11th and 9th)
Russell Berry picked up a Heat Race win on Qualifying Night to earn a 12th place starting spot for the race one. Berry dropped back to 14th in the opening laps but spent the rest of the first half of the race picking up a few spots. He cracked the top ten on lap 90 and looked to have settled into the 10th spot, but would give up a spot in the late laps and ended up finishing in the 11th spot in race one.
Berry would start race two from the 11th position and picked up a few spots early as he moved up as high as 7th during the early stages of the race. Shortly after however, he would fall outside of the top ten for a few laps, before eventually settling into the 10th spot. From there, Berry battled for a top ten spot, and was able to pick up a spot in the closing laps to finish 9th. Berry picked up a total score of 20, to round out the top ten with a 10th place overall finish.
Rest of the field:
11th – Paul Fugate – 27 points
12th – Windell Stratton – 29 points
13th – Scott Dunlap – 30 points
14th – Wes Graham – 30 points
15th – Mark Royer – 32 points
16th – Ben Nile – 32 points
17th – Evan Sorensen – 32 points
18th – Evan Osborne – 33 points
19th – Jason Stewart – 33 points
20th – Darrell Hamlin – 34 points
21st – Travis Warling – 38 points
22nd – Tyler Howell – 44 points