The NEO Racing News SK Shootout Series returned to the track on Monday night after an unexpected week off, for the 2nd race of their season. The 85 lap feature event at the Phoenix International Raceway marked the first event of the Triple Crown for the division.
Ty Majeski kicked off the night by setting the fast lap in Time Trials with a lap of 29.852 seconds to pick up his 53rd career SARA pole. The top ten cars from Time Trials advanced into the Qualifying Dash, and an 8-car invert sent Majeski back into the pack while Dale Owen was inverted to the front of the field. It didn’t take long for Majeski to work his way to the front as he charged to the lead to pick up the Dash victory and some extra bonus points.
Dale Owen led the field back to the green flag for the feature event and jumped out into the lead by a couple car lengths. In the opening few laps, Majeski climbed his way back up towards the front, when just behind him coming out of turn four on lap four, the “big one” happened when Bill Martin and Mike Alexander got together. The two drivers ended up in the wall in front of the field, leaving most of the pack with no where to go, and the wreck ended up collecting 12 of the 23 cars.
After a pair of restarts, Owen continued to lead at the front of the field until lap 21 when Majeski got the run down the backstretch and made his move to the outside of Owen to take the lead. A caution on lap 38 brought a majority of the field down pit road for a round of pit stops and some new tires, while Tyler Howell stayed out on track. After the restart, Owen got by quickly, but just a couple laps later it was Majeski that retook the lead by lap 44.
One final restart on lap 75 set up a 10-lap run to the finish, and Majeski was able to jump back out into the lead but this time had pressure from behind in the final laps. Michael German had moved his way up into 2nd and was looking to keep up with the leader, staying within a few car lengths of Majeski in the closing laps, but he ultimately came up a little short. Majeski was able to hold off German in the final laps, and came around to take the checkered flag, leading 60 laps on his way to victory. The win for Majeski was his 51st career win.
Behind Majeski, German came up a few car lengths short in his charge to the front as he ran inside the top five all race long and ended up finishing 2nd. Chuck Sweeting picked up his best career SARA finish as he made his way towards the front of the field from the 11th starting spot to finish on the podium in 3rd. Ian Layne started 2nd after the invert and hung around the top five all race and eventually moved back up in the late stages of the race to finish 4th. After leading 22 laps earlier in the race, Owen dropped back a few spots and finished in the 5th position.
Clay Snider started back in the 20th position and made his way up during the race to fight for a top five spot before settling into a 6th place finish. Tom Wetmore recovered from being caught up in the early wreck and made his way back up to finish 7th. After staying out during the mid-race caution, Howell was able to pit for his tires later in the race and made his way back up to finish 8th. In his first SARA race, Thiago Izequiel managed to miss some of the early cautions and made his way into the top ten and finished 9th. Richard Bruce rounded out the top ten as another car that recovered from the early race wreck and worked back up to finish in 10th.
After the first two races, and a pair of victories to start off the season, Ty Majeski leads the points standings by 24 points and will lead the field into next week’s race at Lanier.