KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The calendar showed it to be April Fool’s Day, but many in attendance at Kingsport Speedway were looking up to see if a full moon was illuminating the nighttime skies in the Model City. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car feature Friday ended in a wild finish, with cars sliding along the front straightaway in a shower of sparks and crunched sheet-metal.
Kres VanDyke of Abingdon, Va., the 2014 track champion, powered into a lead he would not relinquish on the third lap and roared to victory at “The Concrete Jungle.”
Hayden Woods set fast-time in qualifying with a lap at 15.050-seconds, but following roll of the inversion dice landing on a three, Zeke Shell started the 60-lap Late Model Stock Car main event from the pole and VanDyke on the outside of the front row, with Woods starting from the third spot.
Shell grabbed the lead at the start before being overtaken by VanDyke, with Woods, Wayne Hale and Justin Fontaine in tow. Caution waved on lap 11, when 2015 track champion Ronnie McCarty cut a right-rear tire down and spun between turns one and two.
VanDyke jumped back out ahead over Shell off the double-file restart. The front four cars of VanDyke, Shell, Woods and Hale began to distance themselves over Fontaine, Austin Peters and Joey Trent.
With the race running clean-and-green and VanDyke in command out front, the last thing he wanted to see was a late race caution. But just four laps from the finish, the lapped car of Greg Bohanon spun in the first turn to slow the action and set up a four-lap shootout for the victory.
“Man, I was really settled into a good rhythm running out front in the lead and just wanting the race to finish without a late race caution,” said a smiling VanDyke in the pits following the race while his winning car was going through technical inspection. “When I saw the yellow caution lights come on, I thought ‘Here we go, with a shootout to the checkers and anything can happen off a restart.’
“I knew Zeke (Shell) would really give it one good shot on the restart to try to surge ahead of me, but we raced alongside one another into the first turn and I was able to clear him as we raced up off the second corner. I quickly glanced up in the rearview mirror and saw Shell battling with (Hayden) Woods and (Wayne) Hale, and I just focused on driving my car and not making any mistakes. When I got the white flag, I knew it was my race to win because the three cars behind me were racing each other hard.”
Indeed they were, and with VanDyke taking the checkered flag for his first win this season, just behind his No. 15 Ford Fusion chaos ensued involving several cars.
Hale got to the inside of Woods between turns three and four on the final lap, and with the duo racing each other hard to the flag-stand, contact was made and just past the stripe Hale spun across the nose of Woods’ car. Also getting collected in the crash with nowhere to escape were Shell and Fontaine, with Fontaine getting up on the outside front straightaway wall before both cars finally screeched to a halt with Fontaine’s ride sitting on top of Shell’s car near the turn one pit gate.
VanDyke got the victory over Hale, Woods, Shell and Fontaine. Completing the top 10 finishers were Trent, Austin Peters, Royce Peters, Tyler Goodwin and Mardy Roberts.
“After coming back around the track on the cool-down lap and seeing the wrecked cars at end of the front straightaway, I was thinking how glad I was to have been out ahead of the mess that took place behind me,” VanDyke stated. “I’ve gotten caught up in deals like tonight and tore my race car up and it costs a lot of money having to repair your wrecked damage. It’s just part of hard-nosed short-track racing, I guess. You give a little and take a little when battling with your competitors, and sometimes there’s just not enough of giving – it’s more taking.
“It was really awesome to win tonight, because this is our first race with new sponsor Gurrnaid Vitamin Infused Energy Drink on the race car. They just came onboard with us, and we hope to give them a lot of exposure this season. They’re just now coming into the market in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, and all Food City stores are carrying the product.”
Another stellar field of Pure 4 competitors encircled the .375-mile banked concrete oval to battle for 25 laps, with Jason Ketron getting the lead over Keith Helton on the start, followed by Billy Byington, John Ketron and Chris Neeley. Helton got around Jason to take the lead on the fifth circuit and showed the way out front before being passed by the patriarch of the racing Ketrons, father John, on lap 11, with Byington moving into third in the running order.
Byington passed Helton to take over the second spot and immediately began challenging John for the lead. Both the elder Ketron and Byington swapped the lead on a few occasions, but once Byington moved ahead with just three laps remaining he stayed out front to capture his second straight Pure 4 victory. Byington was chased to the checkers by John Ketron, Jason Ketron, Helton and Billy Ketron.
David Brown jumped out to the lead at start of the Mod 4 feature, but on the prowl was Billy Duty of Abingdon, Va. Once Duty moved into the lead he never looked back in winning over Kevin Canter, Kirby Gobble, Jason Yates and Jerry Miller.
Chris Tunnell of Wise, Va., got around early race leader Jared Broadbent and went on to capture the Street Stock feature win over Broadbent, Kirby Gobble, Dennis Deese and Gary Crumbley.
Brad Ball of Abingdon, Va., got his second straight Pure Street victory over Marty Tunnell and Dennis Arnold.
KINGSPORT SPEEDWAY – FRIDAY, APRIL 1, 2016
NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES - LATE MODEL STOCK CAR (60 laps)
- Kres VanDyke #15-Abingdon, VA
- Wayne Hale #19-Bluff City, TN
- Hayden Woods #87-Piney Flats, TN
4. Zeke Shell #97-Johnson City, TN
- Justin Fontaine #60-Fletcher, NC
- Joey Trent #26-Gray, TN
- AustinPeters #7-Kingsport, TN
- Royce Peters #38-Kingsport, TN
- Tyler Goodwin #64-Kingsport, TN
- Mardy Roberts #55-Kingsport, TN
- Rick Pannell #33-Kingsport, TN
- Greg Bohanon #17-Leicester, NC
- Taylor Coffman #30-Bean Station, TN
- Ronnie McCarty #5-Kingsport, TN
- Danny Casteel #41-Johnson City, TN
- Derek Lane#28-Kingsport, TN
- Jamie Harrison #8-Church Hill, TN
PURE 4 (25 laps)
- Billy Byington #11
- John Ketron #27
- Jason Ketron #28
- Keith Helton #74
- Billy Ketron #26
- Derek Lane#7
- Brandon Byington #01
- Dylan Bates #6
- Tim Abelseth #66
- Kenny Absher #11
- Kevin Darnell #4
- Daniel McMurray #0
- Robert Young #59
- Robert Darnell #88
- Craig Phelps #00
- Bucky Smith #99
- Larry Stapleton #15
- Bruce Crumbley #33
- Chris Neeley #44
- William Hale #47
- Paul Stanley #98
- Dennis Stanley #21
- Alexcia Ray #99
- Richard Quillen #13
- Jonathan Feagins #14
MOD 4 (25 laps)
- Billy Duty #45
- Kevin Canter #2
- Kirby Gobble #77
- Jason Yates #8
- Jerry Miller #01
- Larry Bowens #18
- Hershell Robinette #9
- Jessie Amburgey #7
- Dennis Arnold #7
- Chris Amburgey #17
- Darrell Whitehead #43
Did Not Pass Post-Race Technical Inspection: David Brown #31
STREET STOCK (20 laps)
1. Chris Tunnell #6
- Jared Broadbent #74
- Kirby Gobble #36
- Dennis Deese #24
- GaryCrumbley #59
Did Not Start: Royce Peters #40; Paul Shull #48
PURE STREET (15 laps)
- Brad Ball #17
- Marty Tunnell #99
- Dennis Arnold #59
-Kingsport Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit: Randall Perry