Ross Bailes’ gamble on a lap 11 restart paid off on Saturday night at Fayetteville Motor Speedway (NC), as he made a bold high-side pass of Kyle Hardy to take the win in the Ultimate Super Late Model Series 40-lap feature.
Hardy started on the pole for the race after setting the fast time in Group A during qualifying, and led the first 11 laps before the caution flew for a Willie Milliken spin in turn one.
This set the stage for Ross Bailes to take his shot at the lead. Bailes ran third at the time of the caution, making him the first car on the outside line for the Delaware-style restart. Using the topside of the track, Bailes rocketed around second-placed Dustin Mitchell and Hardy for the lead in turns one and two.
“We went and looked at the track before we went out,” Bailes told Speed51.com after the win. “It was a lot softer up top, so I knew there was something there. I just didn’t know if they had thrown too many crumbs up there.
“On that restart, I just gave it a try,” Bailes continued. “If it works, I’ll come out leading. If it doesn’t, I might be fifth or sixth. So I gave it a shot and it stuck.”
From there, Bailes maintained his lead over Hardy to take his first Super Late Model win of 2018.
“After we got the lead, I was just riding,” Bailes said. “It was really good. I could maneuver wherever I needed to.”
For Hardy, it was a disappointing runner-up finish, feeling he had the car to win and had played the strategy perfectly before Bailes’ pass.
“Everybody told me, bottom, bottom bottom,” Hardy explained. “I went to the bottom and he passed me on the outside. It’s a bad deal. I wish we could have gotten one more. We had 40 laps to beat him, just wish we had one more.”
Could Hardy have held on for the win if not for that restart?
“Oh, absolutely,” Hardy said. “I was on his bumper at the checkers.”
Bailes hopes this win will propel him to a strong second half of 2018, after spending several months looking for a return to victory lane in his Super Late Model.
“It feels really good, because this is our first Super win on the year,” Bailes said. “This will maybe help with our confidence and help us feel good about the car. We’ve got a good setup underneath us now, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”
Race fans can relive all of the action from Saturday night at Fayetteville Motor Speedway by visiting our Trackside Now coverage of the event. Click here to read our live updates.
Next week, the Ultimate Super Late Model Series heads north to Virginia Motor Speedway in Jamaica, Virginia for one of its crown jewel events. The 42nd Annual USA 100 pays $20,000 to win, the richest race on the Ultimate schedule.
-Story by Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com