Last Thursday night, the GM Parts XPerts Super Late Model Series took on the Irwindale Speedway for a 125 lap feature event, for the division’s 2nd race of the season after the opener was postponed to later on.
Bill Martin kicked off the night by picking up his 41st career SARA pole in Time Trials, with a lap of 16.843 seconds, over a tenth faster than second place. The top ten cars from Time Trials advanced into the Qualifying Dash, and a 9-car invert dropped Martin back, while Brian Tedeschi was inverted to the front. In the Dash, Tedeschi led the field to the green but started feeling some pressure pretty early on as Jim Caudill Jr. made his move to the low side, and the two drivers would battle it out side-by-side for nearly the entire Dash, before Caudill Jr. was able to get his nose out in front at the checkers for the Dash win.
Tedeschi led the field back to the green flag in the feature event, but this time a caution on the opening laps would slow the pace down. On the restart it was Tedeschi once more, but again it only took Caudill a couple of laps to make his move for the lead as he worked the bottom groove to get clear for the lead on lap 10.
Once Caudill was out in front, Tedeschi was left to try and hold off a pack of cars that extended back through the entire top ten which allowed Caudill to set sail out front. By the time Tyler Price moved up into 2nd on lap 18, Caudill was already out front by over two seconds and that continued to grow out to three seconds prior to the next caution on lap 30.
After a pair of cautions, Caudill led the field back to another restart on lap 44 for another 20+ green flag run. Price still held the 2nd position but it was Bill Martin making a charge back towards the front after being inverted back from the pole, and he moved up into the 3rd position, but it took him until lap 60 to get by up into 2nd. This left Price to fend off Joe Schaffer for 3rd, while Trey Jarrell had moved into the 5th position as the field crossed the halfway point of the race just prior to the next caution on lap 67.
On the lap 74 restart, Caudill got the jump back out ahead Martin and Price had to battle for the runner up spot once more before Martin was finally able to get clear from the high side. The top five drivers sorted it back out into the same order as before with other drivers behind them, such as Camaron Hamilton, David Krikorian, Derek Holzhausen, Kevin J Myers and Tyler Howell battled inside the top ten.
As the run continued the top four cars separated themselves from the rest of the group but it was Caudill and Martin who were pulling away the most as the battled for the top spot. Martin kept the lead within a couple of car lengths through lap 90, and still through lap 100. But as the two leaders reached lap 110, they caught the back of a pack of lapped cars. They cleared the first car right away, but then closed in on the back of about 8 cars battling for positions.
Caudill led the way on the low side, and Martin followed him through by another lapped car, but as they reached lap 115 Martin took a look to the low side of Caudill, and the two leaders would make contact entering turn one. Caudill was sent sideways while Martin was able to escape low and Martin would come out on the other side with the lead leaving Caudill scrambling to gather it back up as the green flag stayed out.
A few laps later, with Martin now in the lead, he would start navigating back through lapped traffic as a couple of cars would get together to bring out the caution on lap 119. The caution would end the race as there weren’t enough laps to get one more restart, and Martin would lead the field around to take the checkered flag. The win for Martin was his 40th career SARA victory.
After leading 105 laps on the night, Caudill would fall back to 3rd after the contact while leading but was able to make it back up one more spot to finish a disappointing 2nd. Price had his best career SARA finish, running solidly inside the top three all night and would finish in 3rd. Derek Holzhausen ran inside the top ten all night within a big pack of cars, before he was finally able to work his way up and picked up a couple spots late to finish in 4th. Hamilton had to start shotgun on the field after missing qualifying, and steadily worked his way through the entire field to finish in 5th.
Schaffer finished in the 6th spot after running inside the top five for most of the race before dropping a couple spots late. Jarrell ran right around the 5th spot all race long and would eventually settle for a 7th place finish. Krikorian ran as high as 5th at one point around halfway before falling a couple spots to finish 8th. Myers came from deep in the field in the 20th starting spot before working his way up the inside lane to the top ten and would finish in 9th. Tyler Howell started 10th and ran around the back half of the top ten before finishing in the same position in 10th.
After the first two races of the season, Camaron Hamilton will lead Irwindale as the points leader by just 2 points in the standings, and will lead the field into next week’s race at Stafford.