The Grassroots Vintage SK Shootout Series entered the second half of their season on Monday night when they visited the Lucas Oil Raceway (IRP) for a 100-lap Triple Crown event.
Bill Martin picked up his 3rd fast time of the season with a lap of 21.795 seconds, which was also his 44th career SARA pole. Martin led the top ten cars from Time Trials into the Qualifying Dash, where a 7-car invert dropped Martin back into the pack, and Evan Sorensen was inverted to the front. Sorensen, the leading SK Rookie, led the Dash field to the green and had no problems holding off the pack to pick up the Dash win for some extra bonus points.
In the feature event, Sorensen led the field back to the green and jumped out ahead early as Matt Rolfe settled into the second spot in the opening laps. The first run of the race lasted just three laps before the first caution flew, and yellow flags would become a theme throughout the night as the narrow-grooved track proved to be tough for drivers throughout the field.
After a couple of quick yellows, the field took off on the lap 22 restart where Sorensen jumped back out front, but a short green flag run allowed some jockeying for positions up front. On lap 24, James Linkiewicz was the first one to chase down the leader to make a move at the top spot, and as he looked to the low side, the two would make contact coming to the line. Both cars would continue on, but Linkiewicz would come out on top in the next corner to take over the lead. Martin would follow him up through into second, while Sorensen dropped to 3rd before the next caution.
After a second quick caution, the field set out on another green flag run, and Linkiewicz jumped back out into the lead with Martin following in his tire tracks. The two cars would run within a couple of car lengths for a number of laps before Martin began looking for the lead by lap 55. Martin looked to the low side a few times but couldn’t make anything stick. After a few attempts, Martin tried it once again on lap 59 and pulled up beside Linkiewicz for the lead. Coming out of turn two, the two leaders would make contact and both got sideways, leaving Davey Riendeau in 3rd with no where to go, and the three leaders would each spin around to the infield, knocking them all out of contention for the win.
With the top three being taken out up front, it left Sorensen back in the lead but he decided to use the caution to get new tires, handing the lead over to Rolfe on lap 61. With Rolfe now out front, he would have to hold off Ty Spearman for the remainder of the race.
After a lap 72 caution, Spearman would have his first shot at the lead as he looked to the inside of Rolfe a few times as Rolfe kept up his momentum on the high side. Spearman would pull up beside Rolfe for the lead twice during the run, but his progress was cut short by yet another caution.
The yellows continued to fly, for a total of 10 times on the night, leading the race to it’s final restart with just two laps to go. Rolfe jumped back out front, but coming to the white flag Spearman closed the gap back in and looked to the low side once more. It didn’t stick in turn one but Spearman would try it once again in turn three, but similar results gave Rolfe the run out of turn four to the checkered flag for the victory. The win for Rolfe was his 3rd of the season, going back-to-back, for his 16th career victory.
Spearman recovered from one of the early cautions to battle for the lead late, but the cautions didn’t fly his way and he would have to settle for 2nd. Sorensen picked up his second straight podium finish after leading the opening laps and hung inside the top five to finish 3rd. After starting at the rear of the field, Hunter Combs worked his way up into the top five and stayed there to score a 4th place finish. Charlie Kuzma recovered from a mid-race incident to rebound for a 5th place finish.
Eric Block scored his best career finish with a 6th place run after moving inside the top ten in the second half of the race. Bill Martin and Davey Riendeau recovered from their incident while battling up front and ended up finishing in 7th and 8th respectively. Rounding out the top ten were a pair of rookies as Christopher Alcares and Rob Roberts who finished 9th and 10th.
With his 7th place finsih, Martin hangs onto the points lead but it shrinks down to 12 points as the division will head into next week’s race at Five Flags.
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