After the final off-week of the season, the NEO Racing News SK Shootout Series returned to the track at New Smyrna on Monday night, for a 100 lap feature event.
The night got under way with Time Trials and Bill Martin put his car on the pole with his 4th fast time of the season and his 35th career pole. The top ten cars advanced into the Qualifying Dash, and a full 10-car invert would send Martin back in the pack, and Mike Belanger was inverted to the front. Belanger got the quick jump into the lead, and held off Hunter Combs to pick up the Dash victory.
Belanger led the field to the green flag in the feature event as well, and again was able to jump out into the lead but a quick yellow slowed the pace early. After the restart, Belanger held off Michael German for the top spot, but it didn’t take long for Martin to work his way towards the front as he picked his way through the top ten and was quickly putting the pressure on the top two. Martin moved into 2nd by lap 18, and just a few laps later he made his move on Belanger for the lead, and grabbed the advantage to take the lead on lap 21. Much like the rest of the season, once Martin took over the top spot, there was no looking back for him. Martin went on to lead the final 80 laps to pick up his 5th win of the season, and his 33rd career SARA win.
Behind Martin, Conner Blaise had a quietly strong run to finish 2nd, after initially missing the green flag but was able to recover and made his way towards the front of the field throughout the race. Clay Snider started outside of the top ten and steadily made his way to the front, battling around the top five for the second half of the race, before picking off some spots late to finish on the podium in 3rd. After leading laps early, Belanger was able to maintain his spot inside the top five for the rest of the night, and had to hold off a couple cars late in the race before ending up in the 4th spot at the finish. Patrick Hahe had a rough start to his race, getting caught up in a couple incidents before he started making his way towards the front and ended up with a 5th place finish.
After picking up another victory on the season, Bill Martin extends his points lead out to 88 points in the standings. The series will head to Oxford next week after the race was postponed from earlier in the season, and a strong run from Martin could clinch the title for him.