The NEO Racing News SK Shootout Series made their first ever trip to the Oxford Plains Speedway on Monday night for a 125-lap Triple Crown event.
The night got started with Darrell Hamlin picking up the pole with a lap of 14.212 seconds, for his 4th career SARA pole. The top ten cars from Time Trials advanced into the Qualifying Dash which saw an 8 car invert, sending Hamlin back in the field while Ian Layne was inverted to the front. Layne got the jump into the lead and held off Dale Owen to pick up the Dash win.
Layne led the field to the green flag once again in the feature event, and again jumped out into the lead until he caught the inside curb on lap 12, which resulted in a spin for Layne out of the top spot. Landon Sciacca took over control up front, but wasn’t able to pull away during the course of a 47-lap green flag run, as Dale Owen and Bill Martin hung within a couple car lengths. On lap 58, Sciacca slipped up, allowing Owen to get by him, but the caution flew shortly after on lap 65, and when the pit cycle sorted out, Sciacca found himself back in the lead. After the lap 70 restart, Sciacca jumped back out into the lead, but again Owen and Martin were hot on his tail. Owen was able to regain the 2nd position and was closing the gap for the top spot before the final caution of the race flew on lap 106, which set up a final 12 lap shootout to the finish.
Sciacca pulled ahead on the restart, but Owen was able to quickly fall in line behind him, and was putting the pressure back on the lead as the laps wound down. As the field came out of turn four to take the white flag, Sciacca slid up out of the corner, and Owen peeked his nose to the inside heading into turn one. Sciacca tried to close the door, as Owen was making his move to the inside, and the two would make contact resulting in Sciacca spinning around as Owen continued on towards the finish line. Owen came around to take the checkered flag to pick up the win, the 2nd win this season and the 4th of his career.
Behind Owen, Martin finished in the 2nd spot after lingering inside the top three all race long, but was never able to make his move into the top spot. Hunter Combs had to start at the back of the field after missing qualifying, and was involved in a couple incidents early, but was able to recover and made his way up to finish on the podium in 3rd. Patrick Hahe ran almost the entire race as a lap down, but the late caution allowed him to finally get the wave by and he took advantage to move up into a 4th place finish. After setting the fast lap in Time Trials, Hamlin wasn’t able to find the same speed in the race but was able to hang around inside the top ten and then gained a couple spots late to round out the top five to finish 5th.
With his 2nd place finish, Bill Martin has nearly locked up the championship as he leads the standings by 106 points with one race left in the season. The series will head to South Boston for SoBo Championship Week next week, and all Martin will need to do is attempt to qualifying and he will lock up his 2nd NEO Racing News SK Shootout title, and the 5th overall title of his SARA career.