Last Wednesday night, another title was on the line as the MRD Pro Late Models finished off their season with a 150 lapper at South Boston as a part of SoBo Championship Week.
After a post-race penalty from the Week 11 race at USA, Joe Schaffer entered SoBo with the points lead by 15 points over Ty Spearman, and Schaffer would need a 2nd place finish no matter where anyone else finished to claim his first championship.
Schaffer got off to a good start when he picked up his 3rd pole of the season. He then brought the top 8 cars into the Qualifying Dash and had no issues picking up the win. But from there, his night would be a little tougher as he would be sent to the rear of the field after picking up the victory in the prior two races, while a 6-car invert would bring Ryan Borges to the front of the field.
When the green flag flew, Borges led the field to the green flag and continued to lead early. Ty Spearman, who was 2nd in the points, found himself running near the front of the pack in 2nd, while Schaffer was having to pick his way through the field. During the course of a 90-lap green flag run, Spearman’s ill-handling car made contact with the wall a couple of times, and unfortunately that damage would force him to retire from the event early, just prior to halfway.
With Spearman out of the event, Schaffer found his way into the top 3 with the title wrapped up and just needed to finish off the night with a solid run. Once the green flag run ended on lap 103, the field came down pit road for their round of pit stops. Borges who had led up until that point took four tires, while Schaffer took two tires to take over the lead. The four tires prevailed though as Borges charged back up to the top spot, and went on to lead the field for the remaining 35 laps to pick up the victory. Borges would lead a total of 140 laps on the night, and picked up his first victory of the season after losing one last in Phoenix earlier int he season on the final lap. The win for Borges was his 11th career SARA victory.
After giving up the lead, Schaffer would make a return trip down pit road to get his two other tires, and used that to work his way up to a runner-up finish. Brandon Wilkinson picked up his career-best SARA finish in 3rd, after running just inside the top ten for most of the race, but was able to gain some spots from some late race incidents. Matt Rolfe ran as high as 2nd, and would fall back after a late race spin, but was able to recover for a 4th place finish. Marc Gammack rounded out the top five for his 3rd straight top five finish, after starting back in the 18th position and working his way through the field.
Just outside the top five, Matt Eddy picked up a solid 6th place finish after he ran outside the top ten for most of the race and used some late tire strategy to come on strong towards the end of the race. Davey Riendeau missed the start of the race, but used an early lucky dog to get his lap back and worked his way up into a 7th place finish. Russell Berry took the 8th spot as the first car a lap down, after running outside the top ten for most of the race as well. Dale Owen had an up-and-down race and found himself inside the top five late in the race before an incident dropped him back to a 9th place finish. Shane Williamson made his first SARA start in over a year and ran well early, before a spin on lap 103 dropped him a couple laps down, but was able to round out the top 10 with a 10th place finish.
For Schaffer, he did exactly what he needed to do on the night, carefully working his way through the field and ended up with a 2nd place finish, which was enough to clinch his first career SARA championship, taking the title by 53 points. The title was Schaffer’s first career SARA championship.
Schaffer’s 2nd place finish also sealed up the PLM Triple Crown title as well, using finishes of 3rd, 1st and 2nd in his three Triple Crown events.
Congrats to Joe Schaffer Jr., the 2015 Summer Season MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series Champion.