As the temperature cooled down, the action on the track heated up for the Pro Late Model portion of the Red Eye 50/50 Saturday night at New Smyrna Speedway. In what turned out to be a battle of local racers pitted against northern invaders, Mike Skinner took the victory after holding off young hot shoe Sammy Smith and veteran Brad May.
“We didn’t really have a fast car all day and we did a bunch of changes right before qualifying,” Skinner told Speed51.com in Victory Lane.
“My crew Dustin and Jamie did a hell of a job. This Toyota was just a little bit better than most of them. The cautions I thought were going to beat me. Brad was coming. He did a really good job on the restarts. I probably overdrove one and two a little bit, but was able to bring it back.”
Smith, a 14-year-old from Johnston, Iowa, impressed many early on in his Late Model debut with Anthony Campi Racing by qualifying on the outside of the front row and securing the pole following an inversion. On the initial start, Smith lost the lead to Skinner going into turn one, but was wise to learn from the former NASCAR Truck Series Champion by following him closely around the speedway until the handling on his No. 81 machine started to go away around halfway.
“I really enjoyed getting to work with Anthony Campi Racing,” Smith told Speed51.com. “They are very knowledgeable and a great group of guys. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot in my first Late Model race. Anthony is a great crew chief, coach and helped me get comfortable in the car. Racing with Mike Skinner was a great experience. I was able to take in some things while racing around him that will help me with in future races.”
Brad May would get his shot at Skinner on a Lap 44 restart in a highly contested battle that nearly took out the two leaders in turn three.
“They were definitely a better car all night,” May admitted. “On that restart he got high in one and two. He got really high in the middle of the corner. We got a good run, got under him a little bit down the back straightaway. He kind of aimed it down towards three, I got into his left rear quarter panel a little bit. He got a little sideways, saved it, and luckily we didn’t crash some race cars.”
Having held on through the excitement, Skinner would go on to take the victory with May close behind across the stripe. Vermont native Todd Stone completed the podium in the 50-lap Pro Late Model race.
Saturday’s racing was a buildup to the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing coming to New Smyrna Speedway February 8 – 16.
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage of the Red Eye 50/50 from New Smyrna Speedway on Speed51.com by clicking here.
-Story by Allick Jorgensen, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @AJorgensen24
-Photo credit: Speed51
Red Eye 50/50 Pro Late Model Unofficial Results:
New Smyrna Speedway – New Smyrna Beach, Florida – January 5, 2019