Rising tensions reached a boiling point in the Pro Late Model class on Night #3 of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing under the full moon at New Smyrna Speedway. Once again, the focal point was on Jett Noland and Jamie Skinner, which ended in a destroyed race car for Noland and an early exit for Skinner.
The two found themselves next to each other in the front row for a restart just after halfway, one night after the two tangled on-track. They raced door-to-door for a lap and a half, making contact several times in the process before Noland cleared Skinner. Skinner then drove into the back of Noland going into turn three, sending the No.50 around and into the wall hard.
Noland would climb out of the car under his own power while two tow trucks were needed to tow the car behind the backstretch wall.
Skinner would later be black flagged for rough driving after contact with another driver a couple laps later. With Saturday night’s race in mind, the end result of the contact was not what he intended.
“He got me up the racetrack again and I meant to hit him getting into three, I didn’t meant to hit him that hard. The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt anybody but I don’t want to be door-slammed going into the corner,” Skinner told. “He obviously didn’t do it intentionally, he was on the bottom and going in there hard. There was smoke coming off our cars under the caution coming to the green and it’s just intense racing.
"I meant to hit him but I didn’t mean to hit him that hard, and I definitely didn’t mean to tear up Mr. Jett’s car as bad as it’s tore up. Unfortunately, ours was tore up last night, I hate it for those guys.”
He would later go on to apologize to Noland and the Jett Motorsports crew, explaining what he was attempting to do when the incident occurred.
“I respect all of Jett’s crew, but we don’t need to be door-slamming each other, we don’t need to be racing like that. I apologize for the kid wrecking as hard as he did, I definitely wasn’t intending to wreck him like that. I wanted to move him up the racetrack and get back under him.”
Noland started seventh and worked into the top two by the halfway point as he was looking to score the win for the second night in a row. An upset Noland did not have much to say when asked about the incident.
“He turned us on purpose, it was 100 percent his fault,” Noland said. “Yesterday we went up a little bit, I didn’t mean to put him in the wall. I saw the replay, the 28 (Mosack) lifted him up and push him into the wall. But whatever, if he wants to race like that it’s his problem. It’s ridiculous. We had him passed. He’s a fast car, he could’ve passed us back.”
The drama did not end there. A war of attrition left just four cars left for the final run to the checkered, and it looked to be a race between Connor Mosack and Hayden Sprague for the win. Sprague would make contact with Mosack in the final corner of the last lap, sending him around while going on to take the checkered flag. However, officials black flagged Sprague for rough driving, relegating him to a fourth-place finish.
The Michigan driver took full responsibility of the contact and subsequent penalty, explaining what led to the incident coming to the checkered.
“They should’ve penalized me, there was nothing I could do at that place,” Sprague stated. “I’m driving it into the end of the earth trying to get in and he just came to a complete stop in the corner. It is what it is, I expected him to at least be going a little bit harder, I ran him down from like eight car-lengths back. There was nothing intentional, I’d never do that when there’s only three cars left on the track, that’s just not cool.
“He laid all the way down on the brakes, I had nothing to do. It’ll show on the camera I have in here, it’ll show on everything,” he added. “It’s no big deal, there was nothing intentional. I was on the brakes completely when the guy was sideways, if it was intentional I would’ve drove right through him and he would’ve been in the inside wall.”
Mosack would be relegated to a third-place finish after the spin. The night wasn’t a complete loss for him and KBR Development as they took over the Pro Late Model points lead at the conclusion. He gave his take on what happened during the final lap.
“I don’t know what else we could’ve done there. I felt like I was running as hard as I could, I don’t really know what else to say,” Mosack said on the NBC Track Pass broadcast. “I heard half back, I just didn’t want to overdrive the corner and give it to him. I felt like I hit the corner as hard as I could. We got a good restart there at the end, we maybe could’ve put together a few better laps there.”
Rising through the ashes for the win was Sprint Car ace Gio Scelzi, who had restarted on the front row before missing a shift and falling back to third. He would inherit the win after Sprague’s penalty, his first-career Pro Late Model win and second overall on asphalt. The events leading up to the finish had Scelzi himself wondering how he ended the race in victory lane.
“I don’t even know what you call that. I thought we had a shot at the win there and missed a shift. I don’t even know what to say, you have so many good cars and everyone was just crashing,” Scelzi said. “This is pretty cool, I guess you take them any way you can get them. There might be an asterisk next to this one but it is what it is.”
The Pro Late Models will have Monday night off as the ARCA Menards Series East headlines Night #4 with their season-opener. The mighty Tour-type Modifieds will also make their well-anticipated debut.
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Pro Late Model Official Results - Night #3
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo