The NEO Racing News Legends League returned to the track to start off Week #8 of the season as they rolled into North Carolina for the NC Cup Double Header. The night would start off with a 40-lap event at the Concord Speedway, before then traveling to Charlotte to run a 12-lap race on the large road course.
In the oval portion of the double-header, Bill Martin would start things off by setting the fast time in qualifying to pick up the pole with a lap of 18.166 seconds. The pole would be Martin’s 8th career SARA pole. He would lead the field to the green with Matt Rolfe to his outside as the race got under way. Rolfe would quickly settle in behind him, but an early caution would bring out a quick yellow to reset the field.
On the restart, once again Martin got the jump and led the field into turn 1 with Rolfe quickly ducking in behind him. Points leader Travis Warling had moved up into the 3rd spot and would put pressure on Rolfe, just as Rolfe was putting pressure on Martin for the lead as all three cars were within a half-second of each other in the first few laps of the run. Behind them, Mike Rhyno was holding on tough to the 4th spot, but Clay Snider wasn’t too far behind and was chasing him down. Snider would get the run he needed through the dogleg and made his move to the inside on lap 13 to take over the spot. Back up front, the top 3 remained the same as Martin began to put a small gap between him and the cars behind him.
The run would continue on, and another driver on the move was Ryan Borges after an early spin in the opening laps. He had worked his way through the field and moved up into the 6th spot, while chasing down Rhyno for the 5th spot. He would move ahead of Rhyno for the spot on lap 19, just before the caution would come out for the 2nd and final time. This would set up a 16-lap run to the finish, and would give the field one more chance to see if they would have anything for Martin who continued to lead up front.
On the lap 24 restart, Martin took off into the lead. But once again Rolfe would settle into the 2nd spot, and continued to put pressure on Martin, hoping the leader would make a mistake. Warling would continue to run in the 3rd spot, until Borges looked to move up in the top 3 after Snider would get shuffled back on the restart. Borges would run right on the back bumper of Warling for a few laps until he made his move to the inside to take over the 3rd spot. Snider would fall back into the 5th spot after the restart, but he would have to hold off Rhyno for the spot for a few laps before Snider pulled back away. Behind Rhyno, Stan Bragg had moved up into the 7th spot, followed by Patrick Hahe, Zach Wroblewski, and Bill Prisco who were all running in the top 10.
Back out front though, Martin would continue to lead and held off the pressure from behind to go on and lead all 40 laps en route to his 7th career SARA victory, and his 3rd of the Legends season. Rolfe would finish off his strong run with a 2nd place finish, followed by Borges who made a great recovery back into a top 3 finish. Warling would finish in the 4th spot, with Snider rounding out the top 5.
After things got wrapped up in Concord, the drivers would make the trip over to Charlotte, and would switch their setups over to prepare for the road course portion of the double header. Open qualifying would start things off in Charlotte, and it was David Krikorian who would get the fast time to put himself on the pole with a lap time of 1:22.189 seconds. Krikorian has been a road course ace, as 4 out of his 5 SARA wins entering the night were on road courses.
The race would be started from a standing start, and Krikorian would head into the Charlotte infield with the lead, as the rest of the field looked to sort things out early. In the opening laps, Warling would run close behind in the 2nd spot, followed by Borges in the 3rd spot. As the first couple of laps ticked off, the top 3 would begin to separate themselves from the rest of the field. Behind them, Rolfe had moved into the 4th spot but Martin was looking to take the spot back from him, and would do so on lap 3 as he moved to the inside to take the spot down the long backstretch.
At the front of the field, Krikorian had begun to pull away from Warling and out to a sizable lead. But Warling was still looking to push hard and would slide two tires off the track in the infield portion of the road course. That was just enough to suck his car all the way into the grass and his car would get loose as he looked to recover. But as he tried to save it, his car would slide back across the track, and into the only barrier in sight in the inside of the track. This would drop Warling to the back of the field, but some quick repairs by his crew would get him back on track without losing a lap.
Borges would move up into the 2nd spot after the incident, but by that time Krikorian was long gone and continued to pull away. Martin and Rolfe would move up into the 3rd and 4th spots, while behind them the battle was on for 5th. Snider and Rhyno had a battle on their hands for the top 5 once again, just as they had in the oval portion of the night. They would exchange the spot a couple of times over the course of a couple laps, until Snider moved ahead and settled into the 5th spot. But as they got past halfway, Snider’s night would end early as he would get loose re-entering the large Charlotte oval, and as he looked to save it, his car would spin into the outside wall, flipping his car onto it’s roof.
As Rhyno moved into the top 5, the new battle was on behind him for the 6th spot. Bragg held onto the spot, but Jeff Hoggard was chasing him down as the race began to wind down. But as Hoggard closed the gap, another driver was making his way back through the field as Warling was tracking down both drivers. Warling would catch them, and quickly got by both of them to take over the 6th spot on lap 11. Bragg and Hoggard continued to battle though, and Hoggard would make his move on the final lap, as he looked to move to the inside in the infield portion of the track. But in doing so, he entered the corner early and clipped the inside dirt curbing in the corner, and he would slide through the corner as Bragg pulled ahead to hang onto the spot.
As the race drew to a close, there was no competition for Krikorian out front as he pulled out to over a 7-second lead, and would dominate the race to pick up his 6th career SARA victory, and his 5th on a road course. Borges would finish in the 2nd spot, followed by Martin and Rolfe who hung onto the 3rd and 4th postitions, with Rhyno finishing out the top 5.
With a 4th place finish in the oval race, and a nice recovery back to 6th in the road course event, Warling would hang onto his points lead but the gap was closed down to just 34 points.
Next week the series will head to Indy to take on the Lucas Oil Raceway for a 40-lap race.
For full results from both events, and full standings, click HERE.