On Monday night, the Grassroots Vintage SK Shootout Series took on the USA International Speedway for a 100-lap feature event, their first event at the track after competing in the Spring Shootout earlier in the year.
In Time Trials, Ty Majeski bested the 26-car field to take his 71st career SARA pole with a lap time of 20.479 seconds. Majeski and the rest of the top ten in qualifying would advance into the Qualifying Dash, where a 6-car invert would drop him back, while Brian Tedeschi was inverted to the front. However some technical issues for Tedeschi left him in the garage for the night, relinquishing the lead over to Hunter Combs for the night. Combs brought the field to the green for the Dash but it was Bill Martin that charged to the front for the win.
In the feature event, Combs led the field back to the green flag but the results in the opening laps were the same as Martin wasted no time getting to the front of the field. As the race started off with a 35 lap green flag run, it allowed Martin to stretch out his lead up front to nearly 1.5 seconds at times, as Ty Spearman moved up into the 2nd spot and looked to chase him down. Matt Rolfe ran inside the top three during the early run, with Derek Kraus and Hunter Combs joining them in the top five prior to the races first caution on lap 36.
After the restart, Martin jumped ahead once again but Spearman was able to keep pace this time as he hung within a half-second of the leader. As the next 20-lap run continued, Spearman eventually started cutting into the gap and pulled within a couple car lengths of the lead prior to the race’s next caution on lap 61.
During this caution, nearly everyone in the field came down pit road to grab some new tires for the second half of the race. Some strategy shook things up however, as Matt Eddy decided to stay out on old tires to inherit the lead, while Martin and Darek Gress took on just two tires, with the rest of the field taking a full set. The no-tire call for Eddy ended up not being the right call as he would surrender the lead back to Martin who powered by on the outside to take over.
Shortly after the restart however, Kraus was running inside the top five and got up into the wall on corner exit on lap and would collect Rolfe and Evan Sorensen who had a solid run going, dropping them all to the back of the field or out of the race.
On the ensuing restart, Martin was able to jump out ahead while the rest of the pack was sorting things out. Eddy would eventually fall back through the pack, leaving Conner Blaise, Gress, and Spearman to battle it out for spots on the podium. Bliase moved up into 2nd on lap 77 for about ten laps, before Spearman eventually made his way back up into the runner up position. But by that time, Martin was enjoying the battles behind him as he had escaped by nearly two seconds out front as the laps wound down.
The gap out front continued to grow until a caution with just a lap left would seal the deal for Martin out front, as he would come around to take the checkered and yellow flags to pick up the victory. The win for Martin was his 39th career SARA victory.
Spearman never quite got the chance to battle it out with Martin for the win, but ran inside the top three all race before eventually finishing in 2nd. Blaise picked up his first top ten of the season and made it count with a strong run as he took a podium spot in 3rd. Newcomer Christopher Alcares picked up his best career finish so far with a 4th place finish, after running just outside the top five in the first half before moving up late. Hunter Combs battled in the top five all night long after starting out front, and was able to finish in the 5th position.
The two-tire call for Gress worked out as he was running 12th before pitting, and was able to maintain his spot near the front before eventually finishing in 6th. Kyle Odaynik, another newcomer this season also picked up his first career top ten after running outside of it for most of the race but was able to work his way forward after taking tires to finish in 7th. Clay Snider settled into an 8th place finish after running in the back half of the top ten all race long. Ian Layne had to start at the tail end of the field after not getting a qualifying lap in, but steadily worked his way through the field to finish in 9th. Charlie Kuzma was another driver than hung out in the back half of the top ten and was able to hang on for a 10th place finish.
After three events on the season, and with a couple of the early points leaders missing the event or having bad nights, Bill Martin takes over the points lead and will take an 8-point lead into next week’s race at the Southern National Motorsports Park.