The RB Performance Super Late Model Series opened their season at the Richmond International Speedway on Thursday night. The premier division at SARA saw 46 of the best Super Late Model drivers come out to attempt to qualify for the 116-lap feature event.
In Time Trials, it was Justin Brooks that set down a blistering lap time of 19.736 seconds for a new track record and his 35th career SARA pole. Only the top 25 cars from Time Trials made the field based on times, with a couple provisionals handed out to make a grid of just 30 cars, sending 16 cars home early. The top ten cars from qualifying advanced into the Qualifying Dash, and a 10-car invert sent Brooks back in the pack, while Richard Bruce was inverted to the front. Bruce got the advantage early before Darrell Hamlin made his move to the front but he slipped up allowing Cody Kelley to take advantage and Kelley went on to take the Dash win.
In the feature event, Bruce once again led the field back to the green flag, but Hamlin took over the top spot on lap two. Both of their leads were short lived though as Cody Kelley quickly charged towards the front and made his move into the lead by lap 7. As the field settled in early, they set off on a 71 lap green flag run to start things off, and it allowed Kelley to set sail at the front of the field with his lead growing to nearly two seconds just past lap 30. That lead started to shrink though when Tim Bills worked his way into the 2nd spot and started to chase down the leader.
During the long green flag run, Bills was able to chase down Kelley, and made his move into the lead on lap 61 while the two worked their way through lapped traffic, and the caution came out 10 laps later. Under the yellow flag, the entire field made their way onto pit road, and it was actually Kelley that came out in front with Bills right behind. The two led the field back to the green flag, and Bills got the jump and was able to retake the lead. The race went caution free to the finish, which allowed Bills, Cody Kelley, Casey Kelley, and Justin Brooks to pull away at the front of the pack.
With the laps closing down, Casey Kelley moved up into the 2nd spot and started cutting into the lead. With just two laps to go, Bills entered turn one and slid up, allowing Casey Kelley to get a run and to make a move to the inside entering turn three. The two drag raced down the front stretch to take the white flag, and Bills gained the advantage into one but left the door open for Kelley to stick his nose underneath him. The two made contact coming out of turn two, causing Casey Kelley to check up, and Bills got turned around and collected Cody Kelley behind him. With the top three all getting involved, Brooks was able to keep the pedal down and snuck through the incident to take the lead down the backstretch, and came around to take the checkered flag after going from 4th to 1st on the final lap. The victory for Brooks was his 37th career SARA win.
Just behind Brooks, Casey Kelley was able to get his car moving again after the last lap incident and came across the line in 2nd. Despite some heavy damage from the incident, Cody Kelley finished on the podium in 3rd after leading 57 laps earlier in the race. David Krikorian ran inside the top five all night long and moved up to take 4th on the final lap. Camaron Hamilton dropped out of the top ten during the first long green flag run but was able to make up some ground during the final run and finished in 5th.
Just outside the top five, Bills came up one lap short of taking the victory before that last lap contact dropped him back to a 6th place finish. Matt Rolfe ran at the back half of the top ten for most of the night and picked up a 7th place finish. After leading laps early, Darrell Hamlin dropped back outside the top ten during the race but worked his way up to finish in 8th. Ty Spearman had a quiet night after starting back in the 19th, but could only crack the back end of the top ten to finish in 9th. Bill Martin ran just on the cusp of the top five for a majority of the race and was in line for 7th before getting tangled up in some of the last lap drama and dropped back to finish 10th.
With the victory, Justin Brooks leaves Richmond with the points lead by just 6 points in the standings as the division will head up to Stafford for next week’s race.