Kyle Keller (Ethan Smith Photo)

Keller Vaults To Pro Late Model Points Lead

MADERA, Calif. – Kyle Keller drove from tenth to win the Reverend Ron Spencer Red, White, and Blue Classic for the Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Models on Saturday night at Madera Speedway.

The win in the fifth annual 80-lap race gives Keller possession of the points lead after five rounds of competition in 2022.
Ethan Nascimento aimed for an iron man accomplishment as he signed up for triple duty, racing in the Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Models, 51FIFTY Jr. Late Models, and INEX Legends Tour races. With 100-degree temperatures, Nascimento started his bid with fast-times in qualifying for both late model classes and second quickest in the Legends.
The Pro Late Model redraw placed Nascimento fourth alongside incoming points leader Jadan Walbridge behind a front row of polesitter Matthew Meech and outside polesitter Jason Aguirre.
Aguirre used the outside to take the opening lap lead while the first of many two-by-two formations for the third position developed. Nascimento used the outside in a duel with Walbridge to emerge third on lap 12.

Rick Thompson retired to the pits on lap 16. Aguirre paced the action running the top line while Meech tried to make hay on the bottom. Nascimento battled Meech for second before a caution flew on lap 21 for Mike Hensley spinning in turn two.
Meech and Nascimento resumed their battle on the restart, with contact into turn three. Meech slid and was tagged by Walbridge. The incident brought out the caution on lap 22 and relegated both drivers to the rear of the field.
Aguirre picked the outside of Nascimento on the following restart. Nascimento used the inside to take the lead on lap 23. The two-by-two action for third continued with Shelden Cooper winning the position for the moment.

Cooper then challenged Aguirre for second. Cooper made a maneuver to the inside of Aguirre in turn three which resulted in contact exiting turn four. They collided again in turn one on lap 33, then tangled in turn three on the same lap to eventually send Aguirre spinning and require a caution. Both were sent to the rear for their involvement.
Keller had driven up to third at that point, challenging Jacob Smith for second. Another yellow flag waved on lap 43. Nascimento narrowly held the lead on the following restart, using a slide job to slide in front of Keller to lead lap 44. Nascimento led Keller, Seth Wise, Smith, and 2021 Jr. Late Model champion Brody Armtrout into the race break for adjustments on lap 50.
The restart saw Nascimento pick the inside of Keller. Keller predicted a move to the lead during the interviews at the break, then did just that – charging into the top spot on the exit of turn two. Nascimento tried to drive underneath him in turn four but they touched, sending Nascimento spinning and bringing out the caution flag.
Kercie Jung had earlier surrendered an eighth-place starting position during the initial pace laps and went to the back. She overcame that to drive into a battle for fifth with Armtout. The battle ended on lap 54 with Jung going up in sparks in turn three with heavy right-side damage.
When action resumed, Walbridge had worked through the pack to rank fifth in a battle with Aguirre and Kasey Kleyn. Nascimento eventually entered the picture again as well after driving from the rear of the field himself.
Kyle Keller grabbed the Ron Spencer Classic victory over a career-best second place for Jacob Smith with Seth Wise rounding out the podium in third. Armtrout and Walbridge rounded out the top-five. Keller will take an unofficial eight-point advantage over Walbridge into the $5,000-to-win Summer Speedfest on July 30.
Ethan Nascimento won the 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model 70-lap feature for his first career win in the series for drivers ages 10-16 years old. 

In the 15-lap INEX Bandolero feature, Kellen Keller earned his second win of the season. Skyler Schoppe and Andrew Williams finished second and third.

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