The MRD Pro Late Model Series rolled into the Langley Speedway this past Monday night, for the first time since November of 2014, as the series would take on the .4-mile track for a 125 lap feature event.
Joe Schaffer kicked off the night by setting the fast lap in Time Trials, nearly a tenth of a second over the rest of the field for his 6th career SARA pole. The top ten cars from qualifying advanced into the Qualifying Dash to battle it out for some extra bonus points, and a 7-car invert dropped Schaffer back while Anthony Celentano took advantage of the invert to start up front, and went on to pick up the Dash victory.
Celentano led the field back to the green flag to start the feature event, and the race started off clean with a 35-lap green flag run to open things up. Celentano jumped out front into the lead and stretched that lead out to over a second after 20 laps over Darrell Hamlin, but once Hamlin surrendered the 2nd spot to Joe Schaffer, that lead out front began to shrink. Schaffer closed the gap down to just a couple of car lengths before the first caution flew on lap 35.
After the restart, Celentano jumped back out into the lead but Schaffer wasn’t going to let him get away, and put the pressure on for the race lead just prior to lap 50. Schaffer got the run he needed on lap 51 to take over the spot, which was one lap earlier than Celentano wanted as the caution came out on lap 52 after he had shuffled back to 5th.
While the first 75 laps of the race went pretty smoothly, the final 50 laps were a different story as the laps began to wind down and the tempers began to heat up. A number of cautions flew in the late stages which made the restarts that much more important. Schaffer controlled the restarts with Tom Wetmore along side him and the two drivers gained the advantage each time, up until a lap 103 restart. As the two leaders came around to take the green, the first two rows up front got jumbled up and Schaffer’s night ended early as a result as he got turned around before he was ever able to take off.
This handed the lead over to Wetmore as he would have to try and hold off Ty Majeski and Derek Kraus over the final couple of restarts. Wetmore got the jump into the lead as Majeski looked to chase him down over the final run, but one last caution flow with just two laps to go, and Wetmore was able to lead Majeski across the line. However, after post-race review, both Wetmore and Majeski would be penalized and dropped back to the end of the results.
So after the penalties, the race win was handed down to 3rd place finisher Michael German, who despite not leading a single lap, would record his first career SARA victory. German ran as low as 13th in the final 50 laps of the race but kept his car clean and put himself in a position to eventually be given the win.
Windell Stratton ended up finishing in the 2nd spot after he elected to start at the rear and never quite made it back up through the field until the late stages of the race. Scott Dunlap tied his best career Pro Late Model finish in 3rd, after he cracked his way into the top ten early, got shuffled to the back, and then fought his way back towards the front. After leading early, Celentano got into an incident with Ian Layne who both ran inside the top five, and they were both able to recover back up into 4th and 5th place finishes respectively. Matt Eddy, Ty Spearman, Eric Block, Anthony Peeble, and Marc Gammack rounded out the top ten.
Russell Berry was caught up in one of the cautions and ended up finishing 16th, but hangs onto the points lead by 10 points over Michael German. The division will be off for two weeks, and with drop weeks coming into effect next week, the points battle should look completely different heading into the next race at Southern National on the 27th.