KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The Southeast Super Truck Series made its first of two scheduled visits this season to Kingsport Speedway on Friday, with a big crowd of fans present from around Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
There’s an old saying that once you leave home, you can’t go back. But Wade Day, from Seymour, Tenn., proved that to be wrong as the former Kingsport Speedway champion made his first-ever Southeast Super Truck Series start one to remember by parking in victory lane. Day moved into the lead on lap 13 of the 75-lap event and once out front remained there until the checkered flag waved for his 28th career victory at the track.
Day entered stock car racing from a racing background that saw him win over 800 go-kart races all up-and-down the East coast and around the Southeast during the 1990s, plus capturing several World Karting Association championships along the way. The Whitesburg, Ky.-native made his debut behind the wheel of a full-size race car at Kingsport Speedway in 1998 one to remember, as he parked in victory lane after winning the Open Wheel Modified feature.
That turned out to only be the beginning of Day’s success racing in the ModelCity, as he’s gone on to record 25 NASCAR Late Model Stock feature wins at the track. In 2000 he captured both the Kingsport Speedway title and the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Blue Ridge Region Championship. Besides the Open Wheel Modified and Late Model Stock victories, in 2012 Day also won the CARS Pro Cup Series touring event.
He’s also a past International Sport Compact Auto Racing Series (formerly NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series) champion, and also two-time NASCAR Weekly Racing Series regional champion. Day’s also a veteran competitor from the Hooters Pro Cup Series and American Speed Association and for the past several years has served as racing mentor to several teenage drivers just getting started, and currently oversees the racing operation for JPF Motorsports and 16-year-old NASCAR Whelen All-American Series rookie Justin Fontaine of Fletcher, N.C. Day was also crew chief for 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne when the current Roush Fenway Racing driver competed in the Hooters Pro Cup Series as a teenager.
Lee Tissot set fast-time at 15.569 seconds, but following the invert of the top three from time trials Matt Leicht started from the pole and Randy Porter on the outside of the front row, with Tissot inside of row two beside of Tim Lollis.
On the first attempt to start the race, with the green flag waving it appeared Matt Leicht missed a shift and behind him mass chaos ensued with trucks wrecking all along the front straightaway. Besides Leicht, also involved were Tissot, David Flynn, Dakota Slagle, Kevin Leicht, Kaleb Pressley, Cole Glasson and Bennie Davis. With the red flag displayed while the track safety crew cleaned the accident scene, the pits were busy with activity as crews tried to pull mangled sheet-metal to get their truck back on-track for the race.
The second try to get under green proved to be much more successful. Over the first five circuits Porter and Lollis raced side-by-side before Lollis move ahead of Porter. But right behind them lurking was Day.
Day rode to the outside of Porter on lap 10 racing between turns one and two and moved into second, setting his sights ahead on Lollis. Some say the number 13 is unlucky, but for Day it was lucky as he passed Lollis for the lead on lap 13 – also bringing Porter along for the ride into the runner-up position.
Tissot was working his way back forward after getting caught up on the opening lap wreck. He passed Zack Franks for the fourth spot on lap 16 racing off turn two and, just two circuits later he got around Lollis for third. Caution waved on lap 28, when Pressley stopped high between turns one and two, which erased almost a full-straightaway advantage Day and Porter held over Tissot.
The race was only back under green for six circuits before caution waved on lap 34 for debris on the track. Off the next restart, Day once again jumped back out into the lead over Porter and Tissot.
There’s a saying around racing that cautions breed cautions. On lap 35, racing off the fourth turn, Tyler Worley and Taylor Nesbitt wrecked hard with Worley making heavy contact with the outside concrete wall. The caution quickly was unfurled and then the red flag to stop the field so emergency crews could get to both Worley and Nesbitt to check on their conditions. After catching their breath, thankfully both climbed from their badly damaged trucks to cheers from the crowd.
With several trucks still in action showing “battle scars” from a tough night of racing at “The Concrete Jungle,” over the last half of the race Day showed the way out front leading Porter, while Tissot was having to get-up-on-the-wheel and manhandle his truck after losing power steering.
The veteran racer Porter, a three-time track Late Model Stock champion in the Palmetto State at Greenville-Pickens Speedway who also competed regularly back during the 1990s in the NASCAR Busch Series (known today as the Nationwide Series), pressured Day over the final 10 laps of the race for the lead.
But the 41-year-old Day, driving the Myers Auto Sales/Weaverville Tire & Wheel/Catch 22/No. 2 Chevrolet, would not be denied his first-ever Southeast Super Truck Series victory, with Porter, Tissot, Lollis and Slagle rounding out the top five at the checkered flag. The top seven trucks finished on the lead lap.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Matt Leicht, Flynn, Pressley, Greg Bohanon and Glasson.
“Man, I don’t really know what to say about getting a win in my first start with the Southeast Super Truck Series except, it’s great,” said the personable Day with his ever-present smile following the race in victory lane. “I was kind of concerned a little following qualifying after seeing we were sixth on the (speed) chart, but I knew we had a really good truck. I really thought we’d qualifying better than what we did, to be quite honest. I felt like our truck would be really good during the race, and it turned out we were very good – especially it seemed like when we could go several laps under green-flag racing conditions.
“That’s when we would kind of put some separation between us and (Randy) Porter and Lee (Tissot). But both those guys are tough, hard-nosed racers and I knew they weren’t going to let me get completely away from them. There’s several good trucks with this series and for us to be able get the lead early like we did on lap 13, and then stay out front until the checkered flag and get the victory, man, it just doesn’t get any better. I really want to thank Jeff Myers who owns the truck for giving me the opportunity to drive for him here at Kingsport Speedway.”
For any racer, winning is always good. But now that Day has basically stepped aside from behind the wheel to instead guide drivers and race teams, it’s still a special moment to be able to share with your family and show them what you once were accustomed to doing on a regular basis “back in the day” – winning races and also championships.
“With Kingsport Speedway being my home-track, where I got my start racing stock cars back in the late ‘90s, it’s great to be able win another race here,” Day stated. “But you know what’s really awesome? This is a very special deal having all my family with me; my wife Jessica, daughter Allison and sons, Connor and Ethan. Plus, with Father’s Day coming up next weekend, it’s great having my dad (Rick Day) here with me tonight. Dad’s been with me from the time when I started out racing go-karts. I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have won many races here, but my daughter was just a baby back then and my sons hadn’t been born yet. So, yes, they’ve all heard stories about dad winning races, and to now have all them standing with me in victory lane, well, that’s just icing on the cake. Who knows if I’ll ever even drive a race car again? This could be my last time to ever win a race again. Every win is special.
“Larry Collins and I go way back in racing, and he was helping in the pits tonight, along with Duke Bare, Kres VanDyke and others, and Jeremy Hughes was spotting for me. Hey, life’s good. Also, it was awesome to see the smile on the face of Justin (Fontaine) after I got out of the truck in victory lane. I began working with him and his dad, Peter Fontaine, heading up their racing operation full-time back last fall. They’re both super-good people and Justin had heard about me winning races, but he looked excited after coming across the wall out onto the track after I stopped in victory lane. He’s beginning to get more comfortable driving his car and I’m really enjoying working with him.”
Prior to start of the 30-lap “Tony Ward Memorial” Street Stock event, Roger Clendenin, owner of RCR Race Cars & Parts in Church Hill and builder of Ward’s race car, drove the No. 7 Chevrolet at front of the field in parade laps. Ward, from Kingsport, always one of the fan favorites and a longtime racer at both Kingsport Speedway and Lonesome Pine Raceway, passed away unexpectedly last year.
Nick Cole of Bristol has been a model of consistency during the 2014 racing season in the Street Stock division, having recorded three runner-up finishes and also three third-place runs through the first six races to solidly plant him atop the point leaderboard. But, Cole was still searching for that elusive first trip to victory lane.
Cole began the evening by setting fast-time at 15.912 seconds, and following an invert of the top-two from qualifying he started on the outside of the front row beside Alan Rich. The duo raced side-by-side for the first two circuits before caution waved when Jamie Meadows spun exiting the fourth turn onto the front straightaway.
Off the double-file restart, Cole jumped out ahead of Rich and with the race running clean-and-green following the early caution period all the way to the finish, Cole drove to his first win of the season. Rich crossed the stripe just behind Cole, but his car failed post-race technical inspection and thus Rob Austin, Chris Tunnell, Paul Shull and Sam P. Hurd rounded out the top five finishers.
John Ketron of Kingsport grabbed the lead at start of the Pure 4 feature over his son Jason Ketron and Kenny Absher. But Absher was quickly on the move getting around the younger Ketron for second on lap 2 and began mounting a challenge on the elder Ketron for the lead. Just as Absher was making his move to take the lead, a multi-car wreck in the fourth turn collected Dylan Bates, Dean Slagle, Nick Jennings, Mike Anderson and Boots Slagle.
Off the double-file restart Absher moved ahead of John Ketron for the lead. But working his way forward after starting from the sixth row, Keith Helton passed Brandon Sutherland for fifth on lap 7 and one circuit later Helton got around Chris Neeley to move into fourth in the running order.
With Absher riding on the point, behind him the Ketrons were battling for second place. John got around Jason for the position on lap 11 racing off turn two, which also opened the door for Helton to drive past Jason into third. But Jason Ketron fought back to reclaim the spot two laps later.
Racing down the backstretch into turn three on lap 19, John Ketron drove to the inside of Absher to challenge for the lead and (racing) off the fourth turn he moved ahead. Once out front he went on to capture his fourth victory of the season, with Absher, Jason Ketron, Helton and Neeley rounding out the top five finishers.
Rusty Clendenin of Church Hill recorded his second Rookie Pure 4 win of the season over Michael “Mook” Jeter, Brandon Crumbley, Craig Phelps and Andrew Hill.
SOUTHEAST SUPER TRUCK SERIES – JUNE 6, 2014 – KINGSPORT SPEEDWAY
1. Wade Day #2-Seymour, TN
2. Randy Porter #51-Easley, SC
3. Lee Tissot #88-Asheville, NC
4. Tim Lollis #50-Easley, SC
5. Dakota Slagle #13-Asheville, NC
6. Matt Leicht #23-Arden, NC
7. David Flynn #29-Maryville, TN
8. Kaleb Pressley #16-Candler, NC
9. Greg Bohanon #17-Leicester, NC
10. Cole Glasson #12-Dallas, TX
11. Taylor Nesbitt #92-Swannanoa, NC
12. Tyler Worley #84-Fairview, NC
13. Zack Franks #1-Asheville, NC
14. Ed Surrett #8-Asheville, NC
15. Kevin Leicht #25-Mills River, NC
16. Bennie Davis #66-Canton, NC
17. Justin Fontaine #21-Fletcher, NC
STREET STOCK (30 laps)
1) Nick Cole #63; 2) Rob Austin #25; 3) Chris Tunnell #6; 4) Paul Shull #48; 5) Sam P. Hurd #11; 6) Jamie Meadows #11; 7) Dennis Deese #24; 8) Steve Sims #10; 9) Danny Casteel #41; 10) Brian Russell #22 – Did Not Pass Post-Race Tech: Alan Rich #03
PURE 4 (25 laps)
1) John Ketron #26; 2) Kenny Absher #11; 3) Jason Ketron #28; 4) Keith Helton #74; 5) Chris Neeley #94; 6) Brandon Sutherland #22; 7) Bruce Crumbley #33; 8) Jon Pittman #00; 9) Tim Abelseth #66; 10) David Trent #57; 11) B.C. Penley #44; 12) Boots Slagle #99; 13) Billy Byington #01; 14) Matthew Ford #97; 15) Todd Cross #41; 16) Kenneth Street #2; 17) Richard Quillen #14; 18) Mike Anderson #92; 19) Nick Jennings #16; 20) Dean Slagle #13; 21) Dylan Bates #6
ROOKIE PURE 4 (15 laps)
1) Rusty Clendenin #11; 2) Michael Jeter #53; 3) Brandon Crumbley #7; 4) Craig Phelps #00; 5) Andrew Hill #97; 6) William Hale #47; 7) James Deese #25; 8) Larry Stapleton #14; 9) Tammy Cross #41; 10) Larry Bowens #18; 11) Dennis Stanley #19