On Thursday night, the Sim Auto Racing Association’s premiere division, the RB Performance Super Late Model Series made their first ever trip to the Concord Speedway for a 125 lap event. A smaller field of just 18 cars would run the event, but that would set the race up for plenty of green flag action throughout the night.
In group qualifying, Justin Brooks would set the fast time in qualifying on his first lap out, and then improved it some more to take the pole with a lap time of 15.907 seconds for his 28th career SARA pole. Just to his outside, points leader Cody Kelley would also set a fast time to join Brooks at the front of the field.
At the drop of the green flag, Brooks would jump into the lead while Cody Kelley fell in line quickly behind him, but Kelley wasn’t going to let the leader get too far away as he rode within a couple of car lengths in the opening laps. Parker Traves, Ty Spearman, and Kevin Myers all settled into the top five early on as well, until both Traves and Myers would get loose out of the dogleg which allowed cars to get by them. Traves would drop back down in behind Spearman in 4th, while Myers would fall back a bit further after getting loose once more, dropping him towards the back of the field.
At the front, Brooks and Cody Kelley were able to pull away from the field until a single car spin on lap 14 would bring out the first caution. During the yellow, most of the field would head down pit road, while Myers and Matt Eddy would keep their cars on track to move up into the front row. But behind them, a couple of different strategies would be played out as Derek Robinson, James Linkiewicz, and Matt Rolfe would all take two tires to gain track position, while Brooks and Cody Kelley would take four.
On the restart, Myers would get the jump on Eddy for the lead, but the older tires for Eddy would hurt him a bit as he would begin to drop back as the cars with newer tires would all look to get by. Robinson was able to follow Myers up the inside to grab 2nd, but Brooks was right there looking to move up. Brooks would grab 2nd away, and then started working on Myers for the lead. He would close in on the back bumper of the leader, and then made his move coming out of the final turn on lap 23, but the two drivers would make contact heading down the straightaway and caused Myers to get turned around. Myers would keep his car from hitting anything, but the spin would bring out the next caution.
On the following restart, Brooks jumped back into the lead with Cody Kelley staying right on his bumper to move into the 2nd spot where he would follow the leader’s tire tracks as the run started off. Linkiewicz would move up to 3rd, but he would have his hands full as Robinson, Spearman, and Casey Kelley, and Traves were all right there looking to get by.
On lap 41 as Cody Kelley continued to follow Brooks, Kelley would finally get the run he needed to make a move and would dive to the inside to take the lead away in turn one. Brooks would drop back in line behind him but wouldn’t let him get away as it was his turn to ride on the rear bumper of Kelley. But just two laps later, Kelley would get tight out of the dogleg and into turn three, which allowed Brooks to slip back underneath him to regain the lead. The run would continue on until lap 50 when a couple of cars would get tangled back in the pack to bring out the caution.
During the caution, the leaders would again head down pit road. Myers once again would come out with the lead after the stops, grabbing two tires this time around. Linkiewicz would come out second, moving Cody Kelley and Brooks back to the second row on the restart.
Myers would get a good jump on the lap 56 restart from the outside lane which would also allow Brooks to move up the outside lane with him into the 2nd spot. And from there it didn’t take long for Brooks to get by as he would make his move heading into turn three and came out on the other side with the lead. It took a little bit longer for Cody Kelley to work his way up to the front, but would take the 2nd spot on lap 61, and then he set his sights on the leader once more.
As the run continued on, the older left side tires on Myers car would start to show some wear, allowing both Spearman and and Casey Kelley to get by Myers to take 3rd and 4th.Just a few laps later Linkiewicz and Robinson would also move Myers back some positions to 7th, as the two of them battled for the 5th and 6th spots. Just behind them, Traves ran in the 8th position ahead of Ryan Borges in 9th, with Rolfe holding onto a spot in the top ten during the run. The green flag run would continue on until lap 86 when a couple of cars outside the top ten would get together for the next caution.
During the caution, another round of pitstops would see some more pit strategy as this time it was Spearman who would take two tires to move up into the lead. Brooks would come out 2nd with a four tire stop, ahead of Linkiewicz with two tires, and Cody Kelley with four. At the drop of the green flag, Spearman would take off but Brooks would get a good start as well and would hang it out in the high lane as the headed into turn one. Brooks would carry the momentum up top to pull around Spearman for the lead, and Kelley would do the same thing to take away the 2nd spot as well. Just a couple of laps later, a battle just outside the top five would see Myers in trouble once more as he would get into the outside wall off of the final corner and then contact with Robinson would see both cars into the wall. Robinson would get minor damage to drive away, but Myers ended up on his roof to bring out the caution on lap 95.
On the following restart, Brooks would jump back into the lead with Cody Kelley again falling in line right on his bumper, while Casey Kelley was able to use the outside lane to get into the 3rd position. Spearman would get loose off of the restart on his older left side tires, which would slow up Linkiewicz behind him and allowed Rolfe to move up the outside to get ahead of Linkiewicz for the 5th spot.
Again the top two would pull away, while 3rd through 5th would all spread out during the next few laps. Linkiewicz was able to hang onto the 6th spot and would separate himself from the cars behind him as they battled for the 7th spot. Traves was running in 7th but his car was starting to loose grip and the back end would try to come around on him. Robinson was able to sneak by while he could, while others were being held up as Traves tried to gather his stuff back in just ahead of Mike Belanger and Eddy. On lap 106, Traves would eventually pull up the track to let the others by and to let his tires cool down a bit. On lap 114 as the run continued, Linkiewicz would get loose coming out of the final turn and would spin sideways without hitting anything to bring out the final caution, setting the field up for a 6 lap shootout to the finish.
Brooks would get the jump on the final restart, and the top 6 cars would all fall in line single file. Cody Kelley would look to make a move to try and find a way by for the lead, but couldn’t get the run he need for the spot until the final lap as Brooks would bring his car off the of the final turn, but would get a little loose allowing Kelley to make one last attempt as the raced back to the line.
Brooks would hang onto his car and was able to beat Kelley back to the stripe by just .057 seconds, and he would pick up the victory after holding off Kelley for a majority of the race. Brooks would lead 106 laps total on the night, to pick up the win, and his 33rd career SARA victory. Cody Kelley would come up just short in 2nd, ahead of Casey Kelley in 3rd, with Spearman and Rolfe rounding out the top five.
With his 2nd place finish, Cody Kelley extends his points lead out to 31 points over 2nd place in the standings. Next time out, the division will be heading to New Hampshire for a 103-lap event at the Magic Mile.