Last night, the MRD Pro Late Model Series took their turn at South Boston for a 125 lap event during SoBo Championship Week. Much like the Street Stocks, the championship had already been locked up as Bill Martin had clinched the title in the weeks prior, but one last chance at the win was up for grabs.
Tim Bills would set the fast time in qualifying with a lap time of 15.194 seconds which would be his first career SARA pole, and he would lead the field to the green flag. Bills got the jump into the lead ahead of Cody Kelley, but Kelley would quickly reel him back in to grab the lead on lap 4, just before the first caution of the race would come out.
On the restart, Kelley would pull out into the lead ahead of Bills who ducked back down into 2nd. Bill Martin used the outside groove on the restart to move ahead of Ty Speaman in 4th. Behind them, Colin Allman and Ryan Borges battled it out for a couple laps until Allman would gain the advantage and Borges would lose some ground on the outside. Out front, Kelley began to pull away some, before another caution would come out on lap 13 for a two-car incident in the middle of the pack.
The next restart would see Kelley get a good jump into the lead, and Bills would try to get down in behind him. But coming off turn four, Martin would get a run off the corner and would get to the inside of him for the 2nd spot. The inside groove seemed to hold the advantage early in the race as Martin would get by for the spot, and Allman would look to follow him through. Bills and Allman would battle for a number of laps before Bills was able to use the momentum from the high side to gain the edge. Allman would fall back to 4th as Borges moved into the 5th spot. Kelley looked content out front as he extended his lead to over a second before another caution would come out on lap 26.
After another quick caution, the field would see a lap 39 restart, and Kelley would pull back into the lead ahead of Martin and Allman, as Bills got back in line in 4th, and Jeffrey Nichols would use the outside groove to advance into the top 5. Shortly after though, Borges and Myers would get the run on Nichols and looked to the inside to battle for 5th. Nichols and Borges would swap the spot a couple of times during the run, trading lanes as they fought for 5th, but out front the top 4 had begun to pull away from the field until the next caution on lap 50.
The field would use this caution to head down pit road for some new tires. Martin and Myers would both take just two tires to gain some track position and would be on the front row for the next restart. Martin jumped into the lead as Myers looked to get in line behind him, but Kelley was right there to fill the hole with the four fresh tires. With Kelley and Myers battling for 2nd, Martin was able to begin to pull away out into the lead. The battle for 2nd would go on for a handful of laps before Kelley was able to take the spot away just before the next yellow flag.
On the lap 68 restart, Martin led the field to the green with Kelley getting down right behind him, looking to put the pressure back on for the top spot. Martin wouldn’t be able to pull away this time and Kelley would make his move to the inside of him out of turn four and to the line on lap 71. The two would run door-to-door with Martin holding the edge on the outside groove to lead the next few laps, before Kelley would finally get the nose ahead to lea lap 75. Despite giving up the lead, Martin would hang tough on the outside for a couple more laps until he would fall in line in 2nd, with Allman and Nichols closing in on his bumper. A couple of laps later, yet another caution would come out, slowing the pace of the field once more.
Kelley jumped back into the lead on the lap 85 restart and began to pull away out front. A battle for the 3rd spot between Allman and Nichols would result in some contact on lap 86, which sent Allman up the track allowing Nichols and Bills to get by, and Allman would slide back trying to hold off Spearman for the 5th spot. The battle would continue to lap 91 when the two drivers made contact off the corner which sent Spearman into the inside wall. Allman would drive off while Spearman tried to save his car and would get pressured from behind. Once he gathered it up, he remained in the 6th spot while drivers behind him were trying to sort out spots among the top 10.
A caution on lap 97, unfortunately would end any green flag racing the field would see until the end of the race. A string of three straight cautions would set the field up for one final restart.
Kelley led the field to the start, but Nichols had moved up to 2nd and would fight it out with him to the finish. They ran side-by-side through turns one and two, but they would make contact in turn three sliding Nichols up the track, and Kelley would win the drag race to the finish line to take the victory. The win for Kelley would be his 3rd career SARA victory. Nichols would pick up his best career finish with a 2nd, while Martin finished in the 3rd spot. Allman would cross the line in 4th, just ahead of Jacob Linkiewicz in 5th.
TJ Graves – Retaliation – EOL in results + 50 point penalty
James Linkiewicz – Aggressive Driving – EOL in results
Kevin Myers – Aggressive Driving – Warning
With the championship already locked up, Martin would finish off his race with a 3rd place finish for the second night in a row, to finish off his championship season. Martin’s championship season consisted of 12 starts, 3 poles (Richmond, Thompson, NHMS) with an average starting position of 5.73, 5 wins (Richmond, Irwindale, NHMS, Concord, IRP) with an average finishing position of 5.75, 9 top 5 finishes, 10 top 10 finishes, 1,058 laps completed and 278 laps led. Congrats to Bill Martin, your 2014 MRD Pro Late Model Series Fall Season champion!
For full results and standings, click HERE.