Last Thursday night, the Sim Auto Racing Association’s top division, the RB Performance Super Late Models took to the unforgiving flats of New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the New Hampshire 103, and their 6th week of racing in the 12 race schedule. The feature event would be a 103 lap endurance with 23 drivers entering the show looking to capture the magic of The Magic Mile. After practice and group qualifying, Bill Martin would take the pole over Ty Spearman with a time of 30.486 seconds.
As the green flag flew, Martin would take the early lead with Spearman following in 2nd and being closely tracked by Nicolas Moreau, with Mickey Kudlicki and current series points leader Cody Kelley also in the top five during the opening laps. For the first 12 laps everyone ran single file, biding their time and getting comfortable when the first caution flew from an incident further back in the field between Martin Daviau and Michael Rennebu when they got together.
This would lead to the first round of pitstops as drivers were eager to make adjustments after their first green flag run. Martin and Cody Thompson would be the front row on exit as they would only take two tires while a majority of the field would take on a full set of new stickers.
As the green flag flew, a couple of cautions would shortly follow as Ricky Arbeau lost the tail of the car exiting turn two and spun on lap 20. Another caution would follow with Tim Bills sliding up into Gil Gauck sending him around but avoiding any contact with other drivers. Unfortunately, these pair of yellows were again followed up by a third with Spearman tagging the rear of Moreau as they ran up front, sending Moreau into the grass on the backstretch on lap 34.
The green would fly again on lap 38 with Martin and Todd Sipe moving up to leading the field to the green. Thanks to Spearman’s incident with Moreau, Kelley was now up to a strong 3rd position and looked to pounce on Sipe to take over the 2nd spot. Kudlicki moved up to the 4th position with Cody Thompson rounding out the top five. The field would make it to lap 41 where the yellow would fly from contact between Gauck and Daviau. Ken Belanger would just sneak through without any contact, but after having to go to the back from the previous caution, Spearman wasn’t so lucky and had Daviau’s car right in front of him. The contact caused minimal damage to Spearman’s already banged up car from an earlier incident, but he was able to continue on.
The second round of pitstops came during the caution where some new pit strategy played out through the field. This would be Martin’s first time looking for a full set of fresh tires along with others who previously only took two, shaking up the order upon pit exit. Kelley would be the first to leave the pits, but not everyone pitted as five drivers opted to stay out for track position giving the lead to Sipe with the James Linkiewicz taking the other half of the front row. Also staying out and taking the 3rd spot was Matt Rolfe with Arbeau and Clay Snider rounding out the top five. Kelley would come out 6th despite being the leader off pit road putting previous leader Martin back to the 8th position.
The green flew again on lap 47 with Sipe taking a commanding lead. Linkiewicz would take 2nd with Rolfe in 3rd, but thanks to new tires it would only take Kelley a lap and a half to quickly get to the bumper of Sipe in the lead. Martin was two spots back picking the field off as well. On lap 49 Kelley would take the lead as Martin moved into 3rd behind Sipe, but on lap 50 the drive is haulted by another caution flag. Drivers who previously did not pit at the front of the pack decided it was time take on new tires while most of the field stayed out. Sipe, decided to take the risk on the old rubber and stayed out with drivers on new tires to maintain his 2nd position upon the next restart.
The race would restart on lap 54 with Kelley taking a powerful lead over Sipe, with Kudlicki moving into the 3rd position. Martin and Thompson were also closely in pursuit, as Sipe would get trapped on the bottom with a couple drivers making their way past on the outside. On lap 55, Martin took 2nd place away from Kudlicki and looked to track down Kelley who had already increased his lead by about 15 car lengths. Martin was able to close that gap as he chased down the leader and would take the lead from Kelley on lap 62. Quietly further back in the top ten, Spearman in his damaged Mustang had managed to get back on the lead lap from earlier issues and moved into the 7th position just behind Bills who was also involved in an earlier incident. Unfortunately for Sipe, he would be the next to suffer an incident as his old tires finally caught up with him and a slight miscalculation put him into the wall on lap 62 and ended his day early.
Lap 63 would again see a large number of drivers pitting, but this time around Derek Robinson would inherit the lead by taking the risk of staying out on slightly older tires in the hopes the track position would play to his advantage. The green would fly again on lap 67 with Robinson taking an immediate strong lead with Martin and Kelley battling for 2nd behind him. Bills would follow in 4th, and after a pair spins earlier in the race, Gauck would find himself in the 5th position. On lap 68 new tires would prevail and Martin and Kelley would both get past Robinson taking the top two spots. Cody Thompson would also begin showing some signs of speed moving himself back into the top five.
As the race started to wind down into the final 25 laps, the field started to spread out. A quick caution brought everyone back together only to spread out almost immediately upon the next green flag. At this point it was all about track position and everyone would stay out to make sure to not lose any ground on their positions. For the next 20 or so laps, the field would have a green flag run to almost the checkered flag, with Martin holding a strong lead out front while Kelley and Thompson would battle side-by-side for a number of laps. Kelley would finally nose ahead, until the yellow flew on lap 94 when Robinson looped off of turn two to the infield while battling with Rolfe.
This set up the final five lap run to the checkered flag with the green flying on lap 98. The field would battle strong trying to get every spot possible as the laps were winding down. Thompson found himself moving into the 2nd position on the restart, but with stronger tires Kelley was looking to regain 2nd place as quickly as possible to try to track down Martin in the lead. It would only take Kelley a lap and a half to take a strong 2nd place with Thompson in 3rd, Spearman with an impressive 4th place followed by Kudlicki in 5th.
With only a couple laps left, one last caution would fall on the field and bring the race to its end with Bill Martin taking the win after a very strong performance. This would be Martin’s 2nd ever career SARA win in the RB Performance Super Late Model Series, and his 20th career SARA victory.
Cody Kelley maintains his points lead and increases it to 39 points with a 2nd place finish over Ty Spearman, heading into week 7 at Lanier this Thursday.