The NEO Racing News SK Shootout Series kicked off SARA Speedweek at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Monday night, running a 75 lap feature event at the 1-mile oval.
With points leader Ty Majeski missing the event, it left the door wide open for someone else to pick up their first win of the season. In Time Trials, Bill Martin set the fast time with a lap of 30.792 seconds for a new track record, and his 39th career SARA pole. The top ten cars from Time Trials advanced into the Qualifying Dash, and an 8-car invert sent Martin back into the pack while Matt Eddy was inverted to the front of the field. Eddy led the opening laps of the Dash, but it was Kevin J Myers that charged to the front to pick up the Dash win and some extra bonus points.
Matt Eddy led the field back to the green flag for the feature event and got the early jump into the lead. However much like the Dash, it only took a few laps for Myers to catch up to the leader, and made his move on the low side to take the lead by lap 4, with Dale Owen and Bill Martin in tow behind him. The race started off going 25 laps caution free, and it allowed the three car tango to pull away at the front of the field while the rest of the field battled behind them until a lap 26 caution.
During the caution, the top three stayed out to maintain track position, while most cars behind them went down pit road to grab fresh rubber early with the anticipation that the race could go green the rest of the way. After the restart, despite new tires behind them, the top three pulled away once again with Myers leading the charge. On lap 38, Martin made the first move and looked to the inside of Myers, and they ran side-by-side for the next few laps. But as Myers battled on the outside he ended up catching a piece of the outside wall, and began to fall back through the field, leaving Martin and Owen to battle it out up front.
The race stayed green until the next caution on lap 56, and as the saying goes: “cautions breed cautions” and two additional incidents happened on the ensuing restarts, bringing the field to one final shot at a restart with just four laps to go. Martin brought the field to the green and this time had Matt Rolfe along side him, but Martin quickly pulled ahead and was clear into turn one. The pack stayed within a couple car lengths of Martin in the final few laps, but no one could close the gap as Martin went on to take the checkered flag, and picking up his first win of the SK Modified season, and 36th career SARA victory.
Behind Martin, Rolfe was able to move up into a 2nd place finish in the final stages of the race after hanging around in the top five all race long. Owen had a top three car all night but never quite got his shot at the lead and ended up settling for 3rd. Michael German had to battle back from dropping into the back half of the top ten a couple times before moving up to finish 4th. Clay Snider rounded out the top five after getting caught up in a couple incidents, but recovered up into a 5th place finish.
Just outside the top five, Ian Layne picked up a 6th place finish after running up-and-down the top ten all race long. Dylan Schriner was involved in one of the late cautions but it allowed him to make a late pit stop before moving up into a 7th place finish. Eddy dropped back after leading laps early in the race but maintained his spot in the top ten to finish 8th. Myers recovered from a green flag pit stop after getting damage while leading the race, and was able to use a lucky dog to get back on the lead lap and finished 9th. Eric Block picked up his first career SARA top ten after battling around the 10th spot all race long before finishing in that position.
With Dale Owen’s third place finish, and with Majeski missing the event, Owen takes over the points lead in the standings by 22 points, and will lead the field into next week’s race at Concord.