Kingsport, Tenn. — The calendar shows it’s spring in Northeast Tennessee and throughout the daytime Friday the sun was brightly shining with temperature in the low 60s. Once darkness arrived the temperature quickly dropped and was on the chilly side, but the action at Kingsport Speedway for Model City Night at the Races was heated.
Derrick Lancaster of Christiansburg, Va., captured the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car victory, while Kevin Wolfe of Abingdon, Va., recorded the Modified Street win.
John Ketron of Kingsport double-dipped in winning twin Pure 4 features, while Brad Ball of Abingdon recorded the Mod 4 victory, with Rob Austin of Castlewood, Va., capturing the Pure Street win.
Zeke Shell was fastest in Late Model Stock Car qualifying at 14.923 seconds, but with an invert of the top four from time trials Mike Looney and Nik Williams led the 19-car field to green from the front row.
Looney got the advantage over Williams on the start and as they raced down the front straightaway into the first turn, Looney got out of shape and slid up the track between turns one and two, stacking the field up behind him and allowing the third-starting Lancaster to take the lead. Lancaster held the lead back around at the flag stand to complete the opening lap over Looney, Wayne Hale, Ronnie McCarty and Kres VanDyke.
VanDyke drove under McCarty for the fourth spot on lap 12 racing off the second corner and immediately began pressuring Hale for third, while at the same time Shell was working McCarty over trying to wrestle fifth away from him. VanDyke passed Hale on lap 20 racing off the fourth turn and right behind them Shell drove around McCarty.
Second-running Looney unexpectedly slowed with mechanical issues on lap 24 and headed into the pits to end a strong run, thus moving VanDyke right behind Lancaster. The event’s first caution waved on lap 29 for debris (right-front fender from Shell’s car) on the backstretch.
Lancaster and VanDyke were side-by-side for the double-file restart, with VanDyke taking the lead while opening the door for Shell to pass Lancaster for second place. Behind VanDyke, Shell and Lancaster, battles were taking place for position involving McCarty, Hale, Robbie Ferguson, Williams, Williams, Derek Lane, Bryson Dennis, Trey Bayne, Joey Trent and Darin Silver.
With the race running clean-and-green, VanDyke pulled out to a 10 car-length advantage over Shell and Lancaster at lap 50 and appeared headed to victory lane. However, caution waved on lap 52 for debris to erase his lead.
VanDyke chose the outside for the ensuing double-file restart, placing Shell on the inside. As the duo raced down the front straightaway, Shell’s car failed to turn on the cold concrete surface and he locked the brakes up getting into VanDyke’s left-rear quarter panel, with both cars spinning and also McCarty was involved, while the whole field had to take evasive action.
VanDyke, Shell and McCarty dropped to the back for the next restart, which immediately produced waving of the yellow flag as cars back in the field jammed together and the 14-year-old Bayne climbed up the side of Trent and sailed over the left-front fender and hood.
It’s said in racing that cautions breed cautions, and indeed that scenario played out at “The Concrete Jungle” as the flagman kept the yellow flag close at hand.
The next attempt to get back under green saw Lancaster take the lead over Hale and Ferguson. VanDyke passed Ferguson for third on lap 53, and the following circuit entering the first turn VanDyke got into Hale’s left-rear quarter panel sending the veteran spinning. Both Hale and VanDyke were sent to the rear for the restart.
Only two laps back green flag racing, on lap 56 between turns one and two rookies Dennis and Bayne tangled and spun to bring what would be the final caution out.
The stage was set for a three-lap shootout for the win, and Lancaster came out firing to hold back the hard-charging Ferguson for the victory. However, in post-race technical inspection Ferguson’s car failed due to a carburetor infraction. With that decision rounding out the top five finishers behind winner Lancaster were Trent, Shell, Hale and McCarty.
Completing the top 10 finishers were VanDyke, Terry Smith, Williams, Lane and Silver.
Trey Lane jumped into the lead of the 30-lap Modified Street feature at the start over Chase Dixon and Nick Cole. However, the trio of Cole, Kevin Wolfe and Royce Peters quickly worked their way past the teenage Dixon.
Cole passed Lane for the lead on lap 8 between turns three and four, which also opened the door for Wolfe to overtake Lane for position. Racing up off (turn) two on lap 9, Wolfe flexed his muscle to pass Cole and move to the point. Defending divisional champion Peters was up on the wheel and worked his way into second place on lap 17, with his sights set ahead on leader Wolfe.
Even though Peters stuck the nose of his machine underneath Wolfe on several occasions racing off the corners, each time Wolfe slammed the door shut to maintain his advantage out front. Wolfe captured the win over Peters, Lane, Cole and Dixon.
The Pure 4 division ran twin 15-lap features, with a strong 24-car field taking the green flag in the first race. John Ketron moved into the lead on lap 9 and remained on the point to the finish in winning over Dylan Bates, Kenny Absher, Brandon Sutherland and Bruce Crumbley.
In the second feature Sutherland paced the field until a late race caution set up a wild scramble to decide the outcome among several drivers. Both John Ketron and Absher powered their way around Sutherland off the double-file restart, and while Absher stayed glued to the elder Ketron’s rear bumper he was unable to get around him for the lead. John Ketron won over Absher, Sutherland, Bates and Billy Ketron.
Kevin Canter (Mod 4 champion in 2016 and ’17) and Brad Ball battled up front throughout the 30-lap Mod 4 feature before Canter took the lead with 10 laps remaining. Canter went on to record an apparent victory, but his car failed post-race technical inspection due to a carburetor infraction. ... Ball was awarded his second consecutive victory to start the season, followed by David Brown, Carey Brown, Billy Duty and Chris Amburgey.
Rob Austin grabbed the lead from David Strong off a late race restart and once out front Austin cruised to his second straight win. Austin was chased to the checkered flag by Strong, Kevin Darnell, Jay Swecker and Ricky Payne.
-Kingsport Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Drew Hierwater