Last Thursday night, the 2016 Spring Season came to a close as the RB Performance Super Late Model Series took on the South Boston Speedway for their final race of the season. The division would wrap up their season with a 200 lap feature event as a part of SoBo Championship Week.
Entering the night, Ty Spearman had taken over the points lead and led the standings by just 14 points over Camaron Hamilton, while David Krikorian had fallen behind by 31 points, but each driver mathematically still had a shot to come away with the championship.
In Time Trials, Spearman started his night off on the right foot as he picked up his 11th career SARA pole. However a 9-car invert dropped him back into the field, which brought Tyler Breeding to the front for the race. The top ten cars advanced into the Qualifying Dash where Breeding had no problems out front and went on to pick up the Dash win.
In the feature event, Breeding once again led the field to the green flag and jumped out to the early lead, while Hamilton was able to move up into 2nd. A caution on lap 14 set up a lap-19 restart, and after just a few laps, Hamilton was able to move up into the top spot on lap 25.
With the next green flag run stretching out to 78 laps, Hamilton was doing everything he needed to do to make up points in the championship battle. Hamilton was joined by Jim Caudill Jr. at the front of the field and the two cars began stretching their lead over the rest of the field, while Spearman was only able to advance up into the 5th position during the course of the run.
As the long green flag run continued, the tires fell off and the grip levels lowered which led to many drivers searching around for grip. But that still didn’t slow down the top two, as Hamilton continued to lead while running the bottom groove, with Caudill running up high. By the time the race’s next caution flew on lap 97, only the top 12 remained on the lead lap, but the four second gap that the leaders had built would disappear.
With the caution coming out right around the halfway point of the race, the top three cars all decided to come down pit road with a few others to take on new tires. With some drivers staying out on old rubber, James Linkiewicz would inherit the lead ahead of Spearman who moved up into the 2nd spot, while the drivers on new tires had to restart outside the top five.
On the lap 103 restart, Spearman powered by Linkiewicz on the outside to grab the lead, while Caudill and Hamilton were trying to fight their way through traffic to get towards the front. While navigating the pack, and while other cars were running in multiple lanes, Caudill was the first car to break free as he moved up into the 3rd spot and looked to chase down the leaders. Hamilton wouldn’t have the same luck though as he made his move past a couple cars on older tires, and would get collected with Matt Rolfe and the caution would fly on lap 108 with both cars being forced to restart at the back.
During this caution, Spearman and Linkiewicz took their turn coming down pit road, handing the lead over to Caudill. On the restart, the race would set out on another 70+ lap run, and with the fresh air out front, Caudill had no problems pulling away as the gap extended out to over three seconds over Krikorian who had been running in 2nd.
One final caution set up a lap a 13 lap shootout to the finish, but no one had anything for Caudill in the late stages as he jumped ahead early and quickly build the lead back out to a second. Caudill would come around to take the checkered flag, picking up his first win of the season in the final race, and his 2nd career SARA victory.
Behind Caudill, Breeding ended up with a 2nd place finish after leading laps early and hanging inside the top three all night long. Joining the podium was Krikorian who lost a spot on the late restart, but after running outside the top five in the first half of the race, he would have a strong 3rd place finish. After handing over the lead while taking tires, Spearman was never quite able to charge back to the front of the field, but had a solid finish which is all he needed in the points battle as he need up finishing in 4th. Linkiewicz seemed to run right around Spearman for the entire race and ran the same strategy as him, and would end the night with a 5th place finish.
Outside the top five, Brian Tedeschi worked his way up into a 6th place finish after missing the start of the race. Hamilton was able to recover back up to a 7th place finish after his mid-race incident, but wasn’t able to charge back to the front where he had been running. Derek Robinson start back in the 18th position and worked his way up inside the top ten early where be battled for the rest of the race before finishing in 8th. Tim Bills and Hunter Combs were both involved in incidents during the second half of the race but were able to round out the top ten in 9th and 10th respectively.
With Ty Spearman finishing in the 4th position, it was enough to clinch the title as he picked up his 2nd career SARA championship in as many nights, after picking up the Pro Late Model title as well. Spearman’s championship run consisted of 1 win, 1 pole, 9 top fives, 12 top tens, and 158 laps led.
The Rookie of the Season honors goes to James Wenzel at the end of the night. Wenzel competed in just 8 races, but picked up 5 top tens in those races and would score 74 out of a possible 80 points in the rookie standings during his first season in the Super Late Models.
Spearman also picked up the Qualifying Dash title, earning 24 total Dash points during the season, just one point ahead of Hamilton.
In the Triple Crown battle, at the end of the night both Spearman and Hamilton ended up in a tie with a total finish of 15 in the three races. The tie-breaker would go to the driver with the highest finishing position in the final race, giving the Triple Crown title to Spearman as well.