KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The National Hot Rod Association Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway wasn’t the only racing in Northeast Tennessee over the Father’s Day weekend, as Kingsport Speedway held its weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program Friday.
Mother Nature threatened to wash out the night’s activities just after qualifying was finished, but following a brief shower and then the track drying process, racing finally got underway in the Model City.
Chad Finchum (No. 19) and Kres VanDyke (No. 15) battle for the lead in the Late Model Stock feature. (Randall Perry photos)
Chad Finchum of Knoxville, roared into the lead off a lap 45 restart and once out front never looked back en route to conquering “The Concrete Jungle” for his third Wallace Kia Late Model Stock victory of the season.
Finchum set fast-time at 15.254 seconds, but following the roll of the dice the top five from qualifying were inverted for start of the 60-lap main event.
Kres VanDyke, winner of three features this season and currently leading the Late Model Stock points chase, led the 19-car field to the green flag from the pole position, with Ronnie McCarty starting from outside of the front row.
VanDyke grabbed the lead at the start over McCarty, Ryan Stiltner, Zeke Shell and Finchum. Finchum got around Shell for the fourth spot on lap 3 as they raced off (turn) two, and he battled with Stiltner for the next five circuits before passing him to move into third in the running order.
Lee Tissot, who qualified seventh-quickest but was relegated to having start at the rear of the field after coming up light at the scales, cracked the top-10 after passing Greg Bohanon Jr. on lap 11. The event’s first caution waved on lap 13, when Wayne Hale slowed to a stop on the high-side between turns three and four.
VanDyke and McCarty were on the front row for the double-file restart, with Finchum and Stiltner in the second row. VanDyke powered into the lead, while Finchum stayed glued to the leader’s rear bumper to take over the second spot, with McCarty, Stiltner and Shell following in the running order.
Just seven laps back under green, by lap 20 VanDyke and Finchum had pulled away to almost a half-straightaway advantage over McCarty, Shell and Stiltner. With the race reaching the halfway point at lap 30, Finchum was sticking his nose up underneath VanDyke on both ends of the track as they raced off the corners. But VanDyke would maintain his grip on the lead lap-after-lap.
Finchum finally was able to get alongside VanDyke to challenge for the lead on lap 32, and the duo raced side-by-side over the next 10 circuits before caution waved when Shell got into the back of McCarty racing into the first turn on lap 42, spinning McCarty. With track rules dictating if you run over a driver from behind and the caution waves, both McCarty (for spinning) and Shell (for contact) had to restart as the last two cars running on the lead lap.
VanDyke and Finchum resumed their battle up front for the lead, but the green (flag) racing period would only be for three circuits before the caution waved when McCarty spun in the fourth turn on lap 45.
Off the ensuing restart, VanDyke and Finchum raced door-to-door down the front straightaway into the first turn, with Finchum taking the lead racing off turn two. VanDyke was up-on-the-wheel trying to get back to Finchum’s rear bumper over the final 15 laps, but Finchum continued to hit his marks all around the .375-mile banked concrete oval on his march to win number three on the season.
Finchum’s slim margin of victory over VanDyke was 0.833 seconds, with Shell, Tissot and Kyle Barnes rounding out the top five. Finchum entered the night’s racing fourth in points, but will move past both
Completing the top 10 finishers were Bruce Blessing, Bohanon, Justin Fontaine, Joey Trent and Phil Harris.
Entering the night’s racing, VanDyke led Stiltner, Shell and Finchum in the Late Model Stock point standings. But following the race, VanDyke still remains atop the leaderboard, while Finchum leaps from fourth to second, followed by Shell and Stiltner.
Rob Austin sped out to the early lead in the Street Stock feature over Royce Peters and Chris Tunnell. But fast qualifier (15.858 seconds) Nick Cole, who started fifth following the invert, passed Tunnell to move into third on lap 3, and the next circuit he got around Peters for second.
On lap 8 between turns one and two, Cole powered past Austin to take a lead he would never relinquish. In capturing his second straight victory, Bristol’s Cole was chased to the checkered flag by Austin, Peters, Tunnell and Jared Broadbent.
Tim Abelseth jumped out to the lead at start of the 20-lap Pure 4 feature, while behind him racing action was two- and three-wide among the Ketron family (Billy and Jason, and their father John), Keith Helton, Brandon Sutherland and Kenny Absher. Just seven laps in, Sutherland and Absher tangled between turns one and two, with both cars hitting the outside concrete wall to end their races prematurely as they had to be towed back into the pits.
Off the ensuing double-file restart, Abelseth appeared to possibly miss a shift coming up through the gears and quickly was overtaken for position by Billy Ketron, Helton, John Ketron and Jason Ketron. Helton, from Kingsport, got around Billy Ketron for the lead on lap 14 racing off the fourth turn and would go on to capture his third win of the season over John Ketron, Billy Ketron, Jason Ketron and Chris Neeley.
Kirby Gobble of Abingdon, Va., and Rocky Yates raced side-by-side for six laps midway through the 20-lap Mod 4 feature before Gobble moved into the lead on lap 14. Once out front Gobble went on to capture his division-leading fourth victory over Yates, Billy Duty, Dennis Arnold and Chris Amburgey.
Having grown up attending stock car racing with his late father, Craig Phelps of Kingsport hoped someday to get behind the wheel of a race car. With no previous racing background entering the 2014 racing season to his credit, Phelps enrolled in Racing 101 to gain experience on the job. The 32-year-old Phelps proved to be good student and in just his eighth start, he parked in victory lane to celebrate his first-ever Rookie Pure 4 win over Michael “Mook” Jeter, James Deese, William Hale and Rusty Clendenin.
Trey Lane of Kingsport recorded his second Legends victory over Derek Lane, Jerry Lane, Hayden Ottinger and Hannah Ottinger.
KINGSPORT SPEEDWAY – FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2014
NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES LATE MODEL STOCK (60 laps)
Showing Finish Position, Starting Position In Parentheses, Driver Name, Car Number, Hometown, Laps Completed In Parentheses
1. (5) Chad Finchum #19-Knoxville, TN (60)
2. (1) Kres VanDyke #15-Claypool Hill, VA (60)
3. (4) Zeke Shell #97-Johnson City, TN (60)
4. (17) Lee Tissot #27-Asheville, NC (60)
5. (7) Kyle Barnes #15-Draper, VA (60)
6. (13) Bruce Blessing #55-Gate City, VA (60)
7. (12) Greg Bohanon Jr. #17-Leicester, NC (60)
8. (8) Justin Fontaine #60-Fletcher, NC (60)
9. (10) Joey Trent #26-Gray, TN (59)
10. (14) Phil Harris #55-Johnson City, TN (59)
11. (15) Rick Pannell #33-Kingsport, TN (58)
12. (16) Luke Fox #94-Weaverville, NC (53)
13. (6) Zack Walton #1-Blountville, TN (52)
14. (3) Ryan Stiltner #22-Grundy, VA (45)
15. (2) Ronnie McCarty #5-Kingsport, TN (45)
16. (9) Tyler Goodwin #64-Kingsport, TN (45)
17. (11) Wayne Hale #19-Bluff City, TN (13)
18. (18) Keith Stiltner #22-Grundy, VA (3)
19. (19) Austin Peters #9-Kingsport, TN (2)
STREET STOCK (20 laps)
1) Nick Cole #63; 2) Roby Austin #25; 3) Royce Peters #48; 4) Chris Tunnell #6; 5) Jared Broadbent #74; 6) Sam P. Hurd #11; 7) Danny Casteel #41 – Did Not Start: Alan Rich #03
PURE 4 (20 laps)
1) Keith Helton #74; 2) John Ketron #27; 3) Billy Ketron #26; 4) Jason Ketron #28; 5) Chris Neeley #94; 6) David Trent #57; 7) Billy Byington #01; 8) B.C. Penley #44; 9) Tim Abelseth #66; 10) Matthew Ford #97; 11) Todd Cross #41; 12) Richard Quillen #14; 13) Kenneth Street #2; 14) Bobby Buckles #04; 15) Brandon Sutherland #22; 16) Kenny Absher #11; 17) Jon Pittman #00
MOD 4 (20 laps)
1) Kirby Gobble #88; 2) Rocky Yates #3; 3) Billy Duty #45; 4) Dennis Arnold #7; 5) Chris Amburgey #7; 6) Hershel Robinette #9; 7) Luke Fox #94; 8) Jessie Amburgey #17; 9) Mike Brooks #77; 10) Zack Walton #2
ROOKIE PURE 4 (15 laps)
1) Craig Phelps #00; 2) Michael Jeter #53; 3) James Deese #25; 4) William Hale #47; 5) Rusty Clendenin #01; 6) Andrew Hill #97; 7) Larry Stapleton #14; 8) Tammy Cross #41; 9) Larry Bowens #18
LEGEND (12 laps)
1) Trey Lane #28; 2) Derek Lane #19; 3) Jerry Lane #9; 4) Hayden Ottinger #94; 5) Hannah Ottinger #97