On Wednesday night, the MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series made their seasonal trip to a road course when they visited the New Hampshire Motor Speedway as a part of SARA Speedweek at NHMS, for a 40-lap feature event.
Coming into the event, the early favorite was David Krikorian who had won four of the last five road course races in the division, and he started off on the same foot as he set a new track record with a lap of 1:04.884, to pick up his 15th career SARA pole. However a 7 car invert dropped him back a little bit into the field, while Marc Gammack was inverted to the front to lead the field to the green flag.
Gammack led the field out of the road course and onto the front stretch and quickly jumped ahead to lead the field through the first couple of turns as everyone tried to sort things out behind him. James Wenzel was the first car to put the pressure on for the lead by lap 3, and after a couple more laps, Gammack slipped up coming out of the final turn which gave Wenzel the run down the straightaway to take over the lead on lap 6.
As Wenzel moved up into the lead, it also brought along Krikorian behind him who was looking to get by. The two cars ran nose-to-tail for the next five laps with Windell Stratton in tow as well, and eventually Krikorian forced Wenzel to slip up, and made his way by him on the outside of a sharp right hand turn to take over the top spot.
As the race continued, the pit window opened up fairly early as cars would have to pit at some point during the race to add fuel, and the first cars that came down was on lap 13, opening up the pit cycle.
Krikorian led until just prior to halfway before he pitted on lap 18, handing the lead over to Stratton who pit just two laps later. This then gave the lead back to Wenzel who stretched his fuel run out to lap 25 as one of the last cars to make their pit stop. Once everything finally cycled out, Krikorian found himself back in the lead with a four second gap out front in front of the field.
The gap that Krikorian had built up during the pit cycle was all that he needed, as he then went on to pull away during the second half of the race, and came around to take the checkered flag by over nine seconds. The win for Krikorian was his first of the season, his 11th career SARA road course win, and 18th career SARA overall win.
Behind Krikorian, Stratton was the only car that kept pace with the winner for portions of the race but eventually fell off, and finished in the 2nd spot. Wenzel ended up finishing in 3rd after leading laps and running inside the top three all race long. Gammack dropped back during the pit cycle and had to fight his way by Matt Rolfe to finish 4th, while Rolfe finished 5th after being the first car down pit road but hung on inside the top five.
Anthony Celentano finished in 6th after battling for a top five spot for most of the race. Ian Layne ended up as the last “survivor” by finishing on the lead lap in 7th. Clay Snider was the first car a lap down in 8th, while Scott Dunlap and newcomer Sean Disbro rounded out the top ten.
Drivers at the top of the points standing either missed the event, or struggled on the road course, and with a 13th place finish Russell Berry takes over the points lead by 22 points heading into next week’s race at Lanier.