Kingsport, TN – Fan Appreciation Night is always one of the most anticipated events each season at Kingsport Speedway, as fans are allowed to go down onto the front straightaway prior to start of the night’s racing action to meet drivers and take up-close looks at the race cars. Once activities concluded, one of the largest crowds of the season was treated to an exciting NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program at “The Concrete Jungle.”
Ronnie McCarty of Kingsport, who entered this weekend’s racing leading the “First Kingsport Credit Union” Late Model Stock Car point standings, passed Wayne Hale for the lead on lap 47 and remained out front to the checkered flag to capture his division-leading sixth victory of the season.
McCarty earned his fifth pole award of the season during qualifying with a fast-lap at 15.210 seconds around the .375-mile banked concrete oval, to narrowly edge Zeke Shell’s time of 15.218. But following a roll of the inversion dice, the top four on the speed chart were inverted for the 60-lap main event putting Tyler Goodwin and Wayne Hale on the front row.
“Man, we really had to work hard for this (win) tonight,” said a smiling McCarty after climbing from his car in victory lane. “The competition is really tough in the Late Model Stock Car division, because you’ve got 10-12 really good cars that are just separated by thousandths of a second when it comes to qualifying times. If you make the slightest mistake on your qualifying laps, it can mean the difference of starting at the front of the field or back in the fourth or fifth row.
“Just look at tonight’s qualifying with our fast-time at 15.210 seconds, but Zeke (Shell) was second quickest at 15.218 and you can’t even blink your eyes that fast. With the top four from qualifying being inverted, you’ve just got to be patient and run a good, solid race and hope the setup under your car is just a little better to help enable you to get around those (cars) running ahead of you. Wayne (Hale) and I raced each other very hard there for several laps off that restart before I was able to take the lead, and once we got out front I just had to make sure to hit my marks and run flawless laps to stay ahead to the finish.”
The veteran Hale grabbed the lead at start over Goodwin, McCarty, Shell and Lee Tissot. Goodwin was feeling pressure from McCarty, who passed the teenager on lap 4 racing off the second corner to move in behind leader Hale. With the door open, Shell also made the move to drop Goodwin back another position into fourth in the running order.
Tissot began working on Goodwin and finally was able to get around him to take away the fourth spot on lap 12 as they raced off (turn) two. Joey Trent, who has run in the top five during the season and contended for that ever elusive first career win, saw a solid sixth-place run end on lap 25 when he was forced into the pits with engine trouble.
With the race reaching halfway, the top five of Hale, McCarty, Shell, Tissot and Goodwin were running nose-to-tail. The caution waved for Goodwin on lap 41 as he slowed to a stop on the track in the fourth turn with a flat tire.
McCarty and Hale brought the field back to green on the double-file restart from the front row, and before one lap could be completed, the night went from bad to worse for defending track champion Kres VanDyke. Racing off the second turn in tight quarters Derek Lane, VanDyke and Austin Peters wrecked on the backstretch, with both Lane and VanDyke’s cars suffering extensive damage.
With the field circling the track slowly under caution, tough luck for both Tissot (running fourth) and Taylor Coffman (running sixth) as they saw their race end prematurely with mechanical issues sidelining them.
Off the ensuing restart, McCarty and Hale put on a show as they battled side-by-side for six laps before McCarty took the lead. Once out front, the 28-year-old McCarty, driving the Luv Homes of Kingsport/Ron’s Mobile Home Parts & Service of Kingsport/Corner’s Nest Antique Mall in Elizabethton/Bill Parsons Insurance Agency in Bristol, Va./A-Hood Bail Bonds/Charlie Long Race Engines/Marlowe Race Cars/Performancenter Racing Warehouse/No. 5 Ford Fusion, clicked off perfect laps to keep both Hale and Shell behind him to record win number six on the season. Finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, were Justin Fontaine and Allen Hawkins.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Peters, Rick Pannell, Jamie Harrison, Goodwin and Tissot.
“With us leading the point standings, you get people saying ‘You’re running really well and leading the points,’ but you kind of don’t want to hear that,” said McCarty. “You don’t really want to get all wrapped up in thinking about points. But when you get this deep into the racing season and you’re on top of the point standings, well, you’ve got to start to race really smart and not allow yourself to get into risky situations where you’ll be in trouble. If you get caught up in a wreck, you’re parked in the pits with a torn-up race car and not getting maximum points from being out on the track.
“There’s no doubt about it, we’re having a really awesome season. I know we’ve got a really good race team and we spend considerable time back at the shop during the week working on our equipment, because when we show up to the track we’ve usually pretty much got the car dialed-in and we’re fast right off during practice. We’ve been fortunate enough to qualify well and start races near the front, and that’s put us into contention to get victories. We won our first-ever NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race last year, and that was pretty special. But to have now won six features this season, plus be leading the point standings, it’s just a super-good feeling. I want to thank my dad and mom (Ron and Gina McCarty) and my crew chief (Mark Ketron) and all the guys on the team, along with my fiancée Patricia Dygert for her support.”
Royce Peters jumped out into the lead over Jared Broadbent and John Harrell at start of the Street Stock race. But his run out front was short-lived as the clutch assembly disintegrated, busting the bell housing and scattering debris from end of the front straightaway all around turns one and two to bring out the caution and ultimately the red flag to allow track safety crews to clean the track surface.
Back under green, Harrell, from Surgoinsville, roared into the lead and once out front never looked back en route to recording his eighth Street Stock victory of the season over Broadbent, Paul Shull, Greg Grindstaff and Terry Stone.
John Ketron grabbed the lead at start of the Pure 4 feature over Dylan Bates and Keith Helton, but the first caution waved quickly on the second lap when Kenny Absher and Kevin Darnell tangled between turns one and two and spun.
Off the restart John Ketron once again moved out into the lead, with Helton overtaking Bates for second. Racing off the fourth turn on lap 5, Helton passed John Ketron for the lead. Action was heated back through the field involving Bates, the Ketron brothers Billy and Jason, along with Bruce Crumbley, Tim Abelseth, Billy Byington, Chris Neeley, Brandon Sutherland and others.
Abelseth got turned (spun) between turns three and four on lap 18 to bring out the caution, with several cars forced into evasive moves to avoid hitting Abelseth as his machine sat sideways on the track. While under caution, John Ketron entered the pits with a flat right-front tire.
Back under green off the double-file restart, Billy Ketron of Kingsport took the lead over Helton. Even though Billy’s leading the Pure 4 point standings, he was yet to visit victory lane. He would not be denied that first win as he held off Helton, Byington, Crumbley and Jason Ketron for the victory.
Joshua Gobble of Abingdon, Va., recorded his first-ever Kingsport Speedway Mod 4 feature win by outrunning his father, multi-time track champion Kirby Gobble. Rounding out the top five finishers were Billy Duty, Hershell Robinette and Chris Amburgey.
Abingdon’s Brad Ball got his first Pure Street win of the season over Nasty Jones, Hershell Robinette, Gary Crumbley and Travis Stoots.
Chris Wilhelm of Fall Branch captured his third straight and fourth overall Rookie Pure 4 victory this season by winning over Dwayne Banks, Craig Phelps, Ben Barker and William Hale.
KINGSPORT SPEEDWAY – FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2015
NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES “FIRST KINGSPORT CREDIT UNION” LATE MODEL STOCK CAR (60 laps)
1. Ronnie McCarty #5-Kingsport, TN
2. Wayne Hale #19-Bluff City, TN
3. Zeke Shell #97-Johnson City, TN
4. Justin Fontaine #60-Fletcher, NC
5. Allen Hawkins #14-Kingsport, TN
6. Austin Peters #66-Kingsport, TN
7. Rick Pannell #33-Kingsport, TN
8. Jamie Harrison #76-Church Hill, TN
9. Tyler Goodwin #64-Kingsport, TN
10. Lee Tissot #7-Asheville, NC
11. Derek Lane #28-Kingsport, TN
12. Kres VanDyke #15-Abingdon, VA
13. Taylor Coffman #30-Bean Station, TN
14. Joey Trent #26-Gray, TN
15. Steve Deskins #14-Sevierville, TN
16. John Ketron #5-Kingsport, TN
17. Paul Shull #7-Church Hill, TN
18. Jared Broadbent #8-Bakersville, NC
STREET STOCK (30 laps)
1. John Harrell #19
2. Jared Broadbent #74
3. Paul Shull #48
4. Greg Grindstaff #3
5. Terry Stone #34
6. Dennis Deese #24
7. Robbie Allison #12
8. Sammy Ferguson #5
9. Greg Watson #17
10. Danny Casteel #41
11. Royce Peters #48
12. Sam P. Hurd #11
Did Not Start: Mark Christian #43, Todd Duff #16
PURE 4 (25 laps)
1. Billy Ketron #26
2. Keith Helton #74
3. Billy Byington #01
4. Bruce Crumbley #33
5. Jason Ketron #28
6. John Ketron #27
7. Tim Abelseth #66
8. Chris Neeley #94
9. Kenny Absher #11
10. Tim Jennings #16
11. Kevin Darnell #4
12. David Trent #57
13. Jay Swecker #77
14. Richard Quillen #15
15. Brandon Crumbley #7
16. Dylan Bates #6
17. Brandon Sutherland #5
MOD 4 (20 laps)
1. Joshua Gobble #88
2. Kirby Gobble #77
3. Billy Duty #45
4. Hershell Robinette #9
5. Chris Amburgey #7
6. James Deese #25
7. Jessie Amburgey #17
Did Not Start: Dennis Arnold #7, Jerry Miller #01
PURE STREET (15 laps)
1. Brad Ball #60
2. Nasty Jones #13
3. Hershell Robinette #9
4. Gray Crumbley #59
5. Travis Stoots #0
Did Not Pass Post-Race Technical Inspection: Marty Tunnell #99
ROOKIE PURE 4 (15 laps)
1. Chris Wilhelm #99
2. Dwayne Banks #4
3. Craig Phelps #00
4. Ben Barker #54
5. William Hale #47
6. Larry Stapleton #15
7. Robert Young #59
8. Larry Bowens #18
9. Robert Smith #1
10. Kevin Ball #55
11. Alexcia Ray #99
Story: Kingsport Speedway PR
Photo Credit: Randall Perry