It’s proving tough to rattle Cole Timm’s cage. The start of Timm’s third Super Late Model season has been marked with some tough battles on and off the track. But after a fantastic mid-race duel with one of the sport’s rising stars, Timm grabbed the biggest victory of his career in the CARS debut event Saturday night at Southern National Raceway Park.

Timm laid down the fastest qualifying lap by a quarter-second ( photo)

Timm laid down the fastest qualifying lap by a quarter-second ( photo)

The win is just Timm’s second career victory in major Super Late Model action and his first since a PASS South victory at South Boston last June. But he’s been steadily improving for a while and has been showing top speed for the last six months of racing.

Timm’s plan at the start of the season was in fact to run primarily with PASS South in 2015. He hadn’t bought a CARS Tour license by the time March rolled onto the calendar. But Timm and PASS management had a dispute after their season opener back at Dillon that ultimately led the Timm team to explore other series to race with.

So Timm and crew came to CARS and they came on a mission. He easily led the final practice. Then in time trials Timm laid down a 14.788, an astounding lap considering that second place Christopher Bell couldn’t crack the fifteen-second barrier.
When asked in between qualifying and the race how he ran that fast of a lap, Timm chuckled and said “honestly, I don’t know.” While a lot of drivers said throughout the day they were having a hard time adjusting to the American Racer tires, Timm said it felt to him just like the Hoosiers he normally runs on.

At the start of the green though it looked like Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Bell would get the upper hand. Bell won his last Super Late Model start (two weeks ago in the South Alabama Rattler) and,. with injured team owner Kyle Busch looking on, squirted out to the lead on the initial drop of the green.

It came as a surprise as Bell was not particularly optimistic during pre-race admitting that this may have been the least confident he’s been with his car since joining KBM. Both Bell and new KBM teammate Kaz Grala struggled with the handling throughout the day and Bell didn’t expect to qualify well, much less take the lead once he started outside pole.

The race would run caution free for the first 71 laps before things began to stack up a bit in the middle portions of the race. Timm, who had been stalking Bell throughout the first run, began to make a serious run at Bell on the ensuing restarts. He would eke ahead of Bell for a few laps before Bell got the upper hand after the next caution.

But Timm got the lead for good on lap 107 and the last fifty laps would run caution-free as Timm began to distance himself from the pack. At the checkered flag it was Timm by a second and a half over Bell. Southern Super Series regulars Kyle Grissom, Bubba Pollard, and Anderson Bowen filled out the balance of the top-five.

Injured NASCAR star Kyle Busch made the trip to Kenly to check up on Christopher Bell's progress ( photo)

Injured NASCAR star Kyle Busch made the trip to Kenly to check up on Christopher Bell’s progress ( photo)

“To come out here and beat some of the bigger names – Chris [Bell], Bubba Pollard, Kyle [Grissom] – means just a whole lot to me,” said Timm moments after popping the champagne bottle in victory lane. “It’s the first CARS Tour race ever so everyone was working for it. I guess you could consider myself just a small-time racer compared to some of those guys. For a while we were just hanging in PASS, going race-by-race, and seeing where we could go.”

“Restarts weren’t honestly to our advantage tonight,” he added when reflecting on giving Bell the lead early. “We kept spinning the tires. I guess the pace car speed was a little slower than we expected. But I knew the biggest thing was going to be tire conservation. When I was trailing him [Bell], I knew I could just run him a little harder than he wanted to go and run his stuff out. It definitely worked out for us in the end.”

Timm also took the opportunity to downplay some of the talk of the conflict with PASS management that’s been growing out of proportion on social media. “We just had a disagreement, a misunderstanding really. Nothing major really,” Timm said. “Obviously I don’t really mind it too much because I have the opportunity to come run this series now. It’s something new and it’s a lot of fun.”

Quick notes:

  • Stephen Nasse and Steve Wallace had a polite conversation after the race after a tight battle for 7th with 15 laps to go. Nasse felt that Wallace blocked him down to the apron while battling for the spot. Nasse finished in that spot while Wallace fell to 11th.
  • Quin Houff had a very strong day in one of the LFR machines. He was fast in both practices and started 9th despite a bad qualifying draw. He fell off a bit in the middle portions of the race but ran in the top-ten more or less all night and finished 10th.
  • Grala had a disappointing debut with the Kyle Busch Motorsports team. He started 12th and never really ran any higher than that, falling a lap down and finishing 15th.
  • Tyler Church was scheduled to race the opener, but had a medical emergency Friday night that forced him out of the event. Series officials told powered by JEGS that Church was okay and resting comfortably by Saturday morning.

CARS Super Late Model Tour Results - Kenly

(powered by 51's Third Turn)
Fin St # Driver Laps Status
157Cole Timm150running
251Christopher Bell150running
1331Kyle Grissom150running
426Bubba Pollard150running
329Anderson Bowen150running
68Dave Garbo, Jr.150running
851Stephen Nasse150running
262Trevor Noles150running
767Clay Jones150running
917Quin Houff150running
1866Steve Wallace150running
2300Lucas Ransone150running
2114Chris Davidson149running
2840Grant Galloway149running
1252Kaz Grala149running
1925Stephen Leicht149running
2771Nick Robinson 149running
224Brandon Lynn149running
1547Chris Fontaine149running
1056Gus Dean149running
2054Matt Craig149running
1118Kiel Spaulding149running
1441LNick Leitz149running
242RClay Rogers148running
1712Harrison Burton137handling
252LRobby Lyons92handling
56Brandon Setzer71crash
1677Zane Smith71crash
2916Lucas Jones69handling

— Story & Photo by Tim Quievryn // Southeast Editor // @thethirdturn

Cole Timm Etches His Name Into CARS SLM Record Book