This past Monday night, the Grassroots Vintage SK Shootout Series visited the Southern National Motorsports Park for the fourth race of the season. Entering the night, Bill Martin led the field into the 150-lap feature event with a slim 8-point lead in the standings.
The night got started with Ty Spearman picking up his 14th career SARA pole with a lap of 13.435 seconds for a new track record. The top ten cars from Time Trials advanced into the Qualifying Dash, and a 9-car invert would drop Spearman into the pack while Charlie Kuzma was inverted to the front. Kuzma led the field to the green flag in the Dash but it was Joe Schaffer that would take over the top spot to pick up the Dash victory.
As the field rolled off for the 150-lap feature event, Kuzma led the field back to the green flag and got the quick jump into the lead. The field settled in early which allowed the cars near the front of the pack to fall in line single file. Schaffer was the first car to make a move as he moved back up into the 2nd position on lap 15, and then set his sights on the leader by lap 19. Schaffer made his move to the inside of Kuzma on lap 19, and came around to lead the next lap while Kuzma was shuffled back a few spots.
By lap 30, the green flag run continued and Schaffer had built himself a lead over one second as he began to catch the back of the field to put them a lap down. As Schaffer began putting cars a lap down, one of those cars would experience some technical issues that forced him up into the wall down the backstretch, leaving others with no where to go on lap 35 to bring out the first caution of the race.
After the caution, Schaffer continued to lead with Tim Bills in 2nd, while Billy Martin was the big beneficiary as he moved up into the 3rd spot. One more quick yellow set up a lap 48 restart where Schaffer jumped back out in front, but Martin made a quick move to get into the runner-up spot, setting up a battle for the lead that would last most of the race.
After a restart on lap 64, Martin looked to fall back in line behind Schaffer, but a little bit of contact got Schaffer loose and nearly spinning him out, while Martin was able to take over the top spot from the incident. On the following restart, Schaffer had only fallen back to 3rd, but quickly regained the runner-up spot and then began to chase Martin back down for the lead. On lap 81 Martin clipped the outside wall, allowing Schaffer to make a move back to the inside to take over the lead.
Fast forward to the final restart of the race on lap 113, and Schaffer took off into the lead, but this time Martin got shuffled back on the outside as he fell to the 4th spot. At lap 120, Martin was nearly 1.5 second back from the lead but started to find his groove. He moved back up into 3rd, and then got by Matt Rolfe to take over the 2nd spot with just 18 laps to go, but the gap was still nearly 1-second.
With the laps winding down, Schaffer continued to lead with Martin closing in on his rear bumper, but Schaffer made no mistakes and never gave Martin the chance to make a move. Schaffer would come around on the final lap to pick up the checkered flag after leading 115 laps of the event. His win was his first in an SK Modified, and his 12th career SARA victory.
Martin came up just short in his charge back to the front, but had a solid points night with the 2nd place finish. Tim Bills ran up and down the top five all race long and worked his way back up to finish 3rd during the final run of the race. Cody Kelley qualified at the back of the field and charged his way up to 2nd by lap 100, but an incident forced him back before he recovered to finish 4th. Matt Rolfe spent his race running in and out of the top five and ran as high as 2nd late before slipping back to a 5th place finish.
Just outside the top five, Ty Spearman was never able to make it back to the very front of the field where he qualified and eventually finished in 6th. Kyle Odaynik picked up back-to-back 7th place finishes after running near the back half of the top ten for most of the race. Windell Stratton also started at the back of the field and made his way up into the top ten, and after a late incident he made his way back up to finish 8th. After leading the first 18 laps of the race, Kuzma dropped back into the back half of the top ten where he would finish in the 9th spot. Russell Berry rounded out the top ten after running outside of it for most of the race before finishing in 10th.
With his 2nd place finish, Billy Martin continues to lead the points standings and extends it out to 20 points after four races, and will lead the division into next week’s double features at New Smyrna.