On Monday night, the NEO Racing News SK Shootout Series made the trip out west to the Phoenix desert for a 75-lap shootout. Just 19 drivers unloaded their SK Modifieds, but with a smaller field, the 3rd race of the season still provided plenty of action.
Time trials kicked off the night and it was Cody Kelley who set the fast time as the only car to break under the 30 second barrier with a lap of 29.981 seconds. Kelley led the top 8 cars to the green flag in the Qualifying Dash and he would lead all 5 laps to pick up the Dash win and some extra bonus points to his points lead. After the Dash, the top 8 cars were inverted which brought Austin Yarbrough up to the front of the field. Kelley would have been inverted back to 8th to start the race, but due to winning the previous two races, he would have to start out back, shotgun on the field.
Yarbrough brought the field to the green flag to start the feature event, but early on in the race there were plenty of battles up front which resulted in a number of lead changes. Yarbrough and Dale Owen swapped the lead a couple times in the opening laps before they got together and dropped to the back. This handed the lead over to Ron Hagolin who led 17 laps before becoming one of the first drivers to use some pit strategy as he headed down pit road for some times. The event at Phoenix marked the first race of the season where extra tires were allowed, and with Hagolin being one of the first to take tires, it handed the lead over to Cody Kelley who led until he too pitted with the majority of the field for tires on the lap 40 caution.
While many drivers took advantage of their extra set of tires, it was Ty Majeski who chose not to pit and took over the lead as he stayed out on old rubber. But the older tires didn’t matter for Majeski as he was able to hold off charges from Yarbrough and Derek Robinson as the laps wound down, but he was able to hold off the field to hang on for the victory. The win for Majeski was his 37th career SARA win.
Yarbrough rebounded for a 2nd place finish after his early incident at the front of the field. Robinson rounded out the podium in 3rd after running in the top five all race and using a two-tire strategy to pick up spots late. Kelley charged back up through the field after his pit stop to finish in the 4th spot, and Matt Rolfe rounded out the top five by also using a n0-tire strategy to gain track position and a 5th place finish.
Just outside the top five, Owen rebounded from the early incident and some damage to grab 6th. Cameron Hobbs finished 7th after an up-and-down race, just ahead of Matt Eddy who picked up a quiet 8th place finish. Michael Baxter also had an up-and-down race, running as high as 4th during the middle stretch of the race before finishing in the 9th spot which was his first career SARA top ten. Cody Leland finished in the 10th spot, just ahead of the race’s biggest mover as Russell Berry gained 6 spot to finish 11th.
With two wins and a 4th place finish, Cody Kelley leaves Phoenix with an extended points lead as he now tops the standings by 46 points over 2nd.