The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour for the Pro Late Model division would be among those featured in the 3rd annual U.S. Short Track Nationals at the Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. At the end of the evening it was 61-year-old former NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion Mike Skinner who left the famed upper east Tennessee racing facility with the win and the prestige that goes along with winning on the high-banked track noted for intense NASCAR competition.
Skinner proved to be the fastest on the concrete surface in qualifying for the Pro Late Models as he turned a lap in 14.939 seconds around the half-mile speedway. That time beat out the efforts of Martin Latulippe, Mason Keller, Jake Garcia, defending JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour champion Jack Dossey III, Kyle Ivey, Mandy Chick, Clay Greenfield, Trey Craig and James Kirby III.
The invert of the top-10 qualifiers would place Kirby on the pole for the main event followed by Craig, Greenfield, Chick, Ivey, Dossey, Garcia, Keller, Latulippe and Skinner.
At the start of the 100-lap feature it was Craig who charged to the early lead with Kirby, Greenfield, Garcia and Ivey trailing. But the action would be slowed quickly as a caution flag waved on lap 3 when Ivey made hard contact with the turn 1 wall. Skinner and Keller suffered damage to their cars when they hit some of the debris strewn from the Ivey machine.
Greenfield moved into second on the lap 3 restart and immediately went to work on the lead machine of Craig. Greenfield went to the top spot when Craig slipped high on lap 9. Dossey also passed by Craig just one lap later which moved his No. 20 into the runner-up spot.
Dossey closed in on Greenfield as they two drivers approached a slower car. Greenfield had to slow dramatically to avoid the car he was working to lap. As a result, Dossey got into the back of Greenfield’s machine turning him sideways. Kirby and Latulippe were left with no where to go and slammed into the prone machine.
All three drivers involved were able to walk away from the hard crash but their cars were heavily damaged and retired from the race.
The race then went into a long stretch of green flag racing with several drivers making moves while Dossey built a relatively comfortable advantage over the rest of the pack. Skinner proved to be the big mover. After his early troubles related to the lap 3 accident, the former NASCAR racer found himself mired in 14th position. However, he quickly began to march forward, breaking into the top-5 on lap 25. Eventually, he would pass by Chick take take the runner-up spot and immediately began closing in on the front runner.
Chick, Wes Griffith, Jr. and Brandon Curren were among those who mixed it up during the green flag stretch as they raced within the top-5.
A lap 40 caution for a crash by Craig bunched the field and provided Skinner with the opportunity he needed. On the ensuing restart the veteran driver bolted to the lead and began pulling away from Dossey, Chick, Garcia and Griffith as the race clicked passed the halfway mark.
The final 60 laps of the Pro Late Model event ran caution free and it was the Mike Skinner show as he built a big lead over the race’s second half and maintained that advantage over the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Dossey held station in the second position for the rest of the way.
Garcia moved into third around Chick on lap 64 to take third. From there, the top-5 runners just clicked off laps until Skinner led them under the checkered flag.
Feature Finish: 1. Mike Skinner, 2. Jack Dossey III, 3. Jake Garcia, 4. Mandy Chick, 5. Mason Keller, 6. Ricky Moxley, 7. Ryan Herbert, 8. Wes Griffith, 9. Josh Reeves, 10. Lee Tissot, 11. Dan Leeck, 12. Trevor McCoy, 13. Carson Ware, 14. Jaden Cretacci, 15. Brandon Johnson, 16. Brandon Curren, 17. Trey Craig, 18. Shawn Szep, 19. Matt Maurer, 20. Clay Greenfield, 21. James Kirby III, 22. Martin Latulippe, 23. Terry Horak, 24. Kyle Ivey, 25. Jordan Miller
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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96- Josh Reeves last year’s winner