On Monday night, the Grassroots Vintage SK Shootout Series opened up the 2016 Summer Season with a 100-lap race at the Richmond International Raceway. A total of 35 SK Modifieds would show up, attempting to make the field for the Richmond 100.
In Time Trials, Ty Spearman topped the speed charts with a lap of 21.626 seconds, setting a new SK Modified track record. The top 26 cars on time would make the show, and with just two provisionals being handed out, 28 cars would make the starting grid while seven drivers would have to pack up early. The top ten cars from Time Trials advanced into the Qualifying Dash for some extra bonus points, and a 9-car invert would drop Spearman back in the pack, with David Krikorian would be inverted to the front and had no issues holding off the field for the Dash win.
After a short delay in the action due to some iRacing server issues, the feature event finally got under way with Krikorian leading the field to the green flag where he would lead through the first caution just three laps in. Shortly after the restart however, Cody Kelley made a charge to the front of the field and took over the top spot on lap 10.
While the front of the field was slicing and dicing to sort things out over the next couple of runs, Bill Martin and Spearman were working their way towards the front. Spearman worked his way up into the top five before some contact between himself and Austin Yarbrough sent Spearman around in front of the field, collecting a number of cars in the aftermath and ending Spearman’s night early.
After the lap 25 restart, Kelley continued to lead out front, but Martin was also continuing his charge as well as he moved up into second and challenged for the top spot on lap 34. Martin made his move to the inside of Kelley and came around to lead lap 35 by just .003 seconds, and cleared him on the next lap to take over out front. That lead would be short lived however, as during the next caution period, Martin experienced some technical issues which resulted in him making contact with the wall, and knocking him out of the race early.
With Kelley inheriting the lead back, he continued to control things out front as the race crossed the halfway point. Things wouldn’t be easy out front as the rest of the top five rode nose-to-tail behind him. Yarbrough had worked his way up into 2nd, with Matt Rolfe climbing his way through the top five into 3rd, and Krikorian, Darrell Hamlin, and Charlie Kuzma battled it out behind them.
After a pair of quick yellows, Kelley led the field back to the green flag on lap 73 which would be the final restart as the race went green the rest of the way. As the laps began to wind down, the grip levels began to decrease leaving some of the leaders with loose race cars. Rolfe was able to get by Yarbrough for the 2nd spot on lap 78, and then set his sights on Kelley for the race lead.
Rolfe closed the gap on Kelley and then made his move on lap 84, and completed the pass to take over the top spot with just 17 laps to go. And with other cars behind him fighting loose handing cars, it allowed Rolfe to build a small gap which he would carry to the finish. Rolfe came around to take the checkered flag by just over six-tenths of a second to pick up his first career SK Modified victory. The win for Rolfe would be his 14th career SARA victory.
Behind Rolfe, Yarbrough brought his car home with a 2nd place finish after running inside the top five for most of the race. Kuzma picked up a podium finish after he fought multiple times from the outside grooves on restarts to work his way back up late to take 3rd. After falling off late in the run, Kelley dropped back to finish in the 4th spot after he led a race-high 67 laps on the night. Clay Snider qualified 25th in Time Trials, but fought his way through the field picking up spots all night before he worked his way up 20 positions to a 5th place finish.
After leading laps and running in the top five early, Krikorian fell back but maintained a 6th place finish. Matt Eddy started back in the 23rd position before climbing into the top ten prior to halfway and ended up finishing in 7th. Also gaining 20 spots on the night, Eric Block used a provisional to make the field and made progress towards the front all night to finish in 8th. Both Samuel Roush and Evan Sorensen were caught up in the early “big one” and made a number of stops to repair damage, and worked their way back up to finish in 9th and 10th respectively.
The Grassroots Vintage SK Shootout Series will leave Richmond and head to Irwindale next week, with Matt Rolfe leading the standings by just 3 points.