The MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series returned to the Five Flags Speedway on Wednesday night, making the first trip back to the track since the Fall Brawl a few weeks ago, for a 125-lap feature event.
The night got started with Cody Kelley picking up the pole in Time Trials, his 3rd of the Pro Late Model season and the 20th pole of his career. The top ten cars would advance into the Qualifying Dash where an invert of 8 would drop Kelley back, while Tim Bills would be inverted to the front. Bills led the first couple of laps in the Dash, but it was Joe Schaffer that quickly worked his way to the front and went on to pick up the Dash victory.
Bills led the field to the green flag in the feature event as well, and held the lead for the first 10 laps of the race before Darrell Hamlin made his way to the top spot on lap 11. The race would remain under the green flag up until the half way point of the race, and shortly before the first caution on lap 60, Cody Kelley had worked his way around Hamlin for the lead. When the first yellow came out, most of the field took advantage of it to head down pit road to take tires, while Kelley and a couple other cars would remain on track.
On the restart, it didn’t take long for fresh tires to make their way to the front of the field as Hamlin quickly retook the lead, while Kelley tried to play damage control as he fell back while waiting for another caution. With Hamlin out front, Kelley finally got his chance to take tires on lap 88 but would have to restart in the back portion of the top ten with about 30 laps to go. As the laps wound down, Hamlin was trying to run and hide out front with Windell Stratton in tow, while Kelley climbed to 3rd and a caution on lap 112 was the break Kelley needed. On the restart, Stratton would grab the lead away for a lap, but Kelley on the slightly fresher tires was able to make his way into the top spot on lap 118, and was too strong from there as he went on to pick up the victory, the first of his Pro Late Model season, and the 27th win of his career.
Behind Kelley, it was Jason Williams that stole the 2nd spot away in the closing laps after he made a three-wide move on the final lap to take the runner-up position, after running outside the top five for most of the race. Joshua Hart would also run outside of the top five for a majority of the race, and would climb a couple spots in the late laps to finish on the podium in 3rd. After winning the Dash, Schaffer was never quite able to make it to the top spot in the race but ran inside the top five all night and would finish 4th. Jeff Hoggard had a strong run in just his 3rd start this season, after qualifying back in 17th and cracking into the top five after taking tires at the halfway point of the race, and was able to stay near the front of the field to finish 5th.
Outside of the top five, it was James Babb that finished in the 6th spot after running outside of the top ten until just about five laps to go, gaining 13 positions on the night from his 19th starting spot. Dale Owen ran up-and-down the top ten order all night before moving up into a 7th place finish. Tom Wetmore, fresh off of his first league win in the Street Stocks, had a strong run going as he moved up into the 2nd position in the closing laps until some contact got him sideways dropping him to an 8th place finish. Darrell Hamlin led a race-high 83 laps but would drop back and got caught up in some contact that also dropped him back to a 9th place finish. Scott Dunlap had a quiet night, running outside of the top ten all race long but would move up in the late laps to finish in the 10th position.
Despite not racing in the event, Bill Martin hangs onto the points lead in the standings with the help of some drop weeks, as the division will head out to the desert to race their first triple crown event of the season at Phoenix.