On Wednesday night, the MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series visited Lakeland, Florida and the USA Speedway for a 100-lap feature event. Entering the 11th race of the season, Ty Spearman led the standings by just 11 points over Joe Schaffer.
The night got kicked off with Spearman picking up his 4th career pole in time trials. He then led the top 8 cars into the Qualifying Dash, and went on to pick up the Dash victory. The top four cars would be inverted for the feature, which moved Spearman back to 4th for the start, while Ron Hagolin was inverted to the front.
Hagolin led the field to the green flag for the feature event, and would lead the first 15 laps before getting shuffled back, with Colin Allman taking over the top spot. On lap 25, the points battle looked to take a major turn as Spearman was collected in a wreck, but he was able to rejoin the field with minimal damage. With Spearman back in the pack, Schaffer was posting a charge to the front of the field and took over the top spot on lap 39. From there, Schaffer controlled things up continued to lead after the race’s final restart on lap 63, but Spearman had worked his way back towards the front and closed in on the back bumper of Schaffer.
The two drivers would run nose-to-tail for the remainder of the race, with Schaffer holding onto the lead as Spearman looked for a way by. That chance for Spearman came on lap 95 as Schaffer got loose which allowed Spearman make a run to the lead with just 5 laps to go. He would lead the final 5 laps of the race and crossed the finish line as the winner, however, in post race review Spearman was found to have taken extra tires earlier in the race and was penalized one lap by race officials, handing the victory over to Schaffer.
Behind Schaffer, three of his teammates crossed the line from 2nd through 4th. Wendell Stratton ran 3rd or 4th all race long, and would end up finishing in the 2nd position, with Darrell Hamlin finishing 3rd after also running inside the top five for most of the race. Rounding out the top five was Marc Gammack and Matt Rolfe who both started outside of the top ten, with Gammack moving up from his 13th starting spot to 4th, and Rolfe moving up from 16th to 5th.
Just outside the top five, Scott Dunlap ran solidly inside the top ten after starting back in 20th, and ended up with a 6th place finish. Ian Layne and Russell Berry each fell near the back of the pack early on in the race, but steadily climbed back inside the top ten to pick up 7th and 8th place finishes respectively. Michael German recovered from a lap 5 wreck and going a lap down early to move back up into a 9th place finish, while Cody Leland rounded out the top ten after an up-and-down night to finish 10th.
After the victory by Schaffer, and the penalty to Spearman, the points battle flipped at the top of the standings and now Schaffer leads by 15 points heading into SoBo Championship Week. Regardless of what anyone else does in the season finale, Schaffer can clinch his first championship with a 2nd place finish.