On Thursday night, the RB Performance Super Late Model Series made their first return trip to the Five Flags Speedway since the SARA Fall Brawl, for a 150-lap feature event.
The night got underway with Time Trials, and Bill Martin picked up his 36th career SARA pole, setting a new track record at 15.494 seconds. The top ten cars from Time Trials advanced into the Qualifying Dash, and an 8 car invert dropped Martin back into the pack while Ian Layne was inverted to the front. Layne jumped out to the early lead in the Dash, but it was Tom Wetmore that made the charge up to the front at the halfway point to take the lead and went on to get the Dash win.
When the field rolled off for the feature event, Layne was supposed to lead them to the green but some technical issues prevented him from making the start, which handed control over to Jason Williams on the outside of the front row. Williams took advantage to jump into the early lead, until Derek Robinson took over on lap 10. From here, a number of lead changes took place in the first half of the race, as mechanical issues dropped Robinson out early, Wetmore paced the field for a while until Williams took back over for a handful of laps, and then Tim Bills grabbed the top spot just prior to a lap 60 caution.
Under the lap 60 yellow, a couple drivers decided to try an early pit strategy and come down pit road to take tires. Wetmore was the first of the cars to do so and had no problems shooting right back up into the lead. After the restart, the race appeared as if it would stay green for the duration which allowed Wetmore to extend his lead out to nearly 3 seconds up front. One last caution flew on lap 109 however, allowing the rest of the field to come down pit road for tires.
The first car off pit road with new rubber was Bills, and after a couple laps on the restart he found himself back in the lead. Bills had to hold off a couple other drivers on new rubber as well, but he made no mistakes out front and went to lead the field to the checkered flag for the win. The win was Bills’ 3rd career SARA victory, and his first in the Super Late Models, after starting back in the 17th position on the night.
Behind Bills, Matt Rolfe ended up taking a 2nd place finish, after he had to recover from an early spin, but was able to make his way to the front after taking tires late. Williams had another impressive run, leading 23 laps on the night and ended up rounding out the podium in 3rd. Dale Owen had an up-and-down night, making his way into the top five a couple times throughout the race, including during the late stages to take a 4th place finish. Wetmore rounded out the top five, despite being on older tires on the final run but ended up taking 5th after leading 78 laps.
Just outside the top five, James Babb ended up taking a 6th place finish after he pitted early and lost track position but steadily made his way back towards the front the rest of the race. Chuck Sweeting had a strong showing, working his way up as high as 2nd a couple times on the night but just missed the right pit strategy and had to settle for a 7th place finish. Ian Layne was another one of the cars that tried the early pit strategy to move up to 3rd, but dropped back to finish 8th on the final run of the race. Josh Hart rebounded from a late spin to finish in the 9th spot, while Russell Berry rounded out the top ten after battling right around that spot for most of the night.
With his 2nd place finish on the night, Matt Rolfe has officially locked up the Super Late Model championship, and will lead the field into SoBo Championship Week next Thursday night to claim the title.