With 10 laps remaining in Friday’s 100-lap Pro Late Model finale at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, three drivers found themselves in a tiebreaker for the championship. Over the final 10 laps, the winner of the race and championship were decided in exciting fashion.
Jamie Skinner started at the rear of the field for Friday’s race at New Smyrna Speedway. When it was over, he was in victory lane and atop the heap in an incredibly tight points battle.
Skinner removed his car from impound following qualifying for the event at New Smyrna Speedway (FL), forgoing his third-place qualifying effort. The veteran racer methodically worked his way through the field, passing all of the championship contenders for the win.
It may have looked like a hard charge, but it was actually veteran savvy that helped the son of former NASCAR Cup Series racer Mike Skinner get to the point.
“We just rode,” Skinner said on the NBC Track Pass broadcast. “We didn’t run hard. My brother was telling me they were going hard and to just ride.”
With 10 laps to go, there was a three-way tie for the points lead between Skinner, Jett Noland and Connor Mosack. Skinner sat in second-place on track behind his primary on-track rival from the week, Jett Noland.
While the two drivers had confrontations early in the week, Skinner wanted nothing more than to pass Noland cleanly for the win.
He did exactly that with nine laps to go, passing Noland for the win and the championship.
“I didn’t want to touch him,” Skinner told Speed51. “I really didn’t want to touch Jett. He’s a good kid, he’s got so much potential. He’s got so much talent. I know he’s going to go far places in this sport. I wish him nothing but the best, and if there’s anything I can do to help him, I’d be glad to.”
Ultimately, Skinner won the title by just two points over Connor Mosack, equivalent to one position on track. Noland slipped back to third, while Mosack finished fifth.
For Noland, the car just didn’t quite handle well enough to hold off Skinner and maintain his shot at the championship.
“We were just a little bit too tight,” said Noland. “The car was great, just a little bit too tight and that’s what put us back here in third. I think we would have had a really good shot if we were just a little bit more free, but what can you do?”
Earlier in the week, Skinner and Noland had clashed heavily on the track, culminating with a hard crash for Noland on Sunday that sent his team to a backup car. Despite the intense confrontations and the narrow championship defeat, Noland saw the week as a successful one, with two wins and plenty of lessons learned.
“We’re happy with the strong runs,” said Noland. “We wish we didn’t get into what happened on Sunday, but you can’t do nothing about it. It’s hard racing. You learn to get over it and figure it out.
“We’ve learned a lot this week. I learn every race I go to, more and more, from more experienced drivers.”
Mosack entered the night with the points lead, a model of consistency by largely avoiding the drama and excitement. However, a fifth-place finish for his fifth top-five of the week was not enough to take the title.
“It’s not the way we wanted to run,” said Mosack about the night. “We just didn’t quite have the car we needed to be up there.
“Overall, we had a good week. We ran well for most of the week, and logging all these laps is definitely a good experience.”
Througout the week, Skinner had ruffled feathers with his close-quarters racing. While he apologized throughout the week for how Sunday’s race had played out and had since raced cleanly with Noland in the title hunt, he didn’t apologize for rubbing some fenders along the way to the title.
“I grew up watching my dad, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., a lot. I know a lot of these guys don’t like the way we race, but if you’re not wrecking someone and you’re just moving them out of the way, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what built the sport.
“I hope nobody’s mad. If they are, I hope they have a very good Sunday.”
Race fans who missed Friday’s racing at New Smyrna Speedway can visit Trackside Now, presented by FK Rod Ends, for updates from the evening.
Fans can also visit Speed51’s Speedweeks Central for all the news, videos, interviews and more from Florida Speedweeks.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Tiffany Swisher