KINGSPORT, Tenn. — There’s a saying that good things will eventually come to those who patiently wait. Well, Ronnie McCarty’s patience was wearing thin and he was growing tired of waiting.
He’d shown everybody at Kingsport Speedway he was chauffeuring a fast ride over the past couple of seasons by finishing in the top-five on several occasions. It’s just varying circumstances had kept the 27-year-old racer from the Model City out of victory lane.
Ronnie McCarty (No. 5) and Kres VanDyke (No. 15) battle for the lead in the Wallace Kia Late Model Stock feature. (Randall Perry photo)
McCarty flexed his muscle early Friday night by jumping out into the lead at drop of the green for the Wallace Kia Late Model Stock feature, and for just the second time this season the event went caution-free to the checkered flag. When all was said and done, McCarty had completed a flag-to-flag run to capture his first-ever NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victory.
“Amazing, it’s truly amazing to finally shake this monkey or whatever it was off my back and capture our first-ever NASCAR Whelen All-American Series win,” said McCarty with a smile on his face after climbing from his race car in victory lane. “Winning your first-ever NASCAR sanctioned race is a very special deal. It’s something you dream about and once it happens, you’ll never forget the awesome feeling. I’ll always look at the trophy and remember this very special night.
“It’s tough to put into words just how much getting this win means to not only myself, but to my parents (Ron and Gina McCarty) and everybody on the race team that’s a part of us winning our first race. We’ve been oh, so very close to winning here at Kingsport Speedway in the past. We’ve had several solid top-five finishes but had just never been able to seal the deal and park in victory lane.”
Kres VanDyke set fast-time at 15.168 seconds, but following the roll of the dice the top four from qualifying were inverted for start of the race putting McCarty on the pole and Chad Finchum starting on the outside of the front row.
McCarty moved into the lead over Finchum and VanDyke at the start, with VanDyke getting around Finchum for second on lap 3 racing off turn two. Behind the front-running trio, Ryan Stiltner, Zack Walton and Zeke Shell were running nose-to-tail until Shell moved around Walton on lap 13 racing off the fourth turn to take over the fifth spot.
With the race running clean-and-green, at the halfway point McCarty held a four car-length advantage over VanDyke, while Finchum was running in the third position and right at a full-straightaway behind.
With 10 laps remaining, McCarty had a rearview mirror full of the hard-charging VanDyke. Only two laps from the finish, between turns one and two VanDyke looked underneath McCarty. Contact was made and both cars momentarily got out of shape before McCarty and VanDyke reeled their mounts back in.
But McCarty, driving the Luv Homes of Kingsport, Ron’s Mobile Home Parts (located just out from Kingsport Speedway along John B. Dennis Highway), Bill Parsons Insurance in Bristol, Va., A-Hood Bail Bonds, Corner’s Nest Antique Mall in Elizabethton, The Candleberry Co., Marlowe Racing Chassis, Charlie Long Race Engines, No. 5 Chevrolet Impala, would not be denied his first victory.
The win for McCarty also marked the first time this season a Chevy built-engine had won a race over a Ford crate-engine at “The Concrete Jungle.” Finishing behind McCarty were VanDyke, Finchum, Stiltner and Walton.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Shell, Lee Tissot, Wayne Hale, Tyler Goodwin and Justin Fontaine.
“While this is our first NASCAR Late Model Stock win at Kingsport Speedway, I actually captured my first-ever win in a full-bodied stock car at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Va.,” said McCarty. “I’ve won two races over at LPR, and in 2012 we earned the Late Model Stock Rookie-of-the-Year title. We won the 2001 Legends track championship here at Kingsport Speedway while I was still attending Sullivan North High School. Besides winning Legends races, we also won quite a few Pro Challenge races too. I want to thank my mom and dad for all they do to allow me to live out my dream to be a race car driver and all the opportunities they’ve given me through the years to let me race. A lot of fans who attend racing probably don’t really understand all the hard work and sacrifices that you go through to field a race team.
“You put in long hours working back in the race shop during the week if you want to run well on race nights. I’ve got a great crew chief in Mark Ketron. Back in the day when he was behind the wheel racing, Mark won several Late Model Stock races and when he first began racing he captured the 1999 Limited Late Model track title here at Kingsport Speedway. We’ve also got Mark’s brother John Ketron on the crew, along with Jay Swecker, Kevin Street, Kellie Hooper, Billy Ketron, Mike Lloyd, and then I’ve got great support from my fiancée Patricia Dygert. And I want to thank all the sponsors we have onboard that help support our race team. Racing is a very expensive deal and you’ve got to have great sponsors to help you along the way. A lot of people say the first race is the hardest one to win, and once you get the first victory out of the way many others will follow. That sounds great to me. We’ll work on the car this coming week and hopefully come back next Friday and get another win.”
Rob Austin and Jared Broadbent jockeyed for the lead over the opening three circuits of the Street Stock feature before Austin moved to the point. Nick Cole got around Broadbent to move into second place on lap 4 and just two laps later John Harrell dropped Broadbent back another spot into fourth in the running order.
The battle between Austin, Cole and Harrell for the top three positions had all eyes focused on their every move. Lap 13 proved to be unlucky for Cole as he and Harrell raced off into the first turn alongside one another, with Cole on the outside and to the inside of Harrell was the slower car of Brian Russell being lapped. Up in “no man’s land” Cole got into the loose stuff (marbles) and spun, where Broadbent tried to avoid making contact but was unable to do so. The race ended prematurely for both drivers.
Harrell, from Surgoinsville, had missed the last four races after having engine issues his last time at the track. But the defending Street Stock champion made his return a victorious one as he recorded his division-leading fourth feature win over Austin, Chris Tunnell, Greg Grindstaff and Sam P. Hurd.
Jason Ketron of Kingsport moved into the lead at start of the Pure 4 feature over his brother Billy Ketron and Keith Helton. Helton passed Billy to move into second on lap 3 racing off turn two. Helton quickly closed to Jason’s rear bumper and between turns three and four on lap 9, he completed the pass for the lead.
But Jason Ketron didn’t just roll over and let Helton waltz into victory lane. On the white-flag lap between turns one and two, Jason passed Helton to take the lead and went on to capture his second win of the season over Helton. Finishing third through fifth, respectively, were Billy Ketron, John Ketron and Kenny Absher.
Brandon Crumbley took the lead from Church Hill’s Rusty Clendenin on lap 6 of the Rookie Pure 4 feature, and once out front Crumbley proceeded run away to apparently his third win. However, in post-race technical inspection Crumbley’s car weighed light at the scales and Clendenin was thus credited with his division-leading fourth victory. Finishing behind Clendenin were Andrew Hill, James Deese, Michael “Mook” Jeter and William Hale.
Derek Lane of Kingsport recorded his third Legends victory over his brother Trey Lane, Hayden Ottinger, Hannah Ottinger and Jerry Lane.
KINGSPORT SPEEDWAY – FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2014
NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES LATE MODEL STOCK (60 laps)
Showing Finish Position, Starting Position In Parentheses, Driver Name, Car Number, Hometown
1. 1) Ronnie McCarty #5-Kingsport, TN
2. (4) Kres VanDyke #15-Claypool Hill, VA
3. (2) Chad Finchum #19-Knoxville, TN
4. (3) Ryan Stiltner #22-Grundy, VA
5. (6) Zack Walton #38-Blountville, TN
6. (5) Zeke Shell #97-Johnson City, TN
7. (7) Lee Tissot #7-Asheville, NC
8. (8) Wayne Hale #19-Bluff City, TN
9. (10) Tyler Goodwin #64-Kingsport, TN
10. (9) Justin Fontaine #60-Fletcher, NC
11. (11) Joey Trent #26-Gray, TN
12. (12) Bruce Blessing #55-Kingsport, TN
13. (13) Rick Pannell #33-Kingsport, TN
14. (15) Luke Fox #94-Weaverville, NC
15. (14) Allen Hawkins #77-Kingsport, TN
16. (17) Austin Peters #76-Kingsport, TN
17. (16) Keith Stiltner #2-Grundy, VA
18. (18) Sam Steffey #35-Abingdon, VA
STREET STOCK (30 laps)
1. John Harrell #19
2. Rob Austin #25
3. Chris Tunnell #6
4. Greg Grindstaff #3
5. Sam P. Hurd #11
6. Dennis Deese #24
7. Danny Casteel #41
8. Royce Peters #48
9. Brian Russell #22
10. Nick Cole #63
11. Jared Broadbent #74
PURE 4 (20 laps)
1. Jason Ketron #28
2. Keith Helton #74
3. Billy Ketron #26
4. John Ketron #27
5. Kenny Absher #11
6. Jon Pittman #00
7. Billy Byington #01
8. Chris Neeley #94
9. David Trent #57
10. Dylan Bates #6
11. Matthew Ford #97
12. Todd Cross #41
13. Richard Quillen #14
ROOKIE PURE 4 (15 laps)
1. Rusty Clendenin #11
2. Andrew Hill #97
3. James Deese #25
4. Michael Jeter #53
5. William Hale #47
6. Craig Phelps #00
7. Derrick Gilliam #34
8. Larry Stapleton #14
9. Tammy Cross #41
10. Dennis Stanley #19
11. Chris Wilhelm #99
12. Larry Bowens #18
Did Not Pass Post Race Inspection: Brandon Crumbley #7
LEGENDS (12 laps)
1. Derek Lane #19
2. Trey Lane #28
3. Hayden Ottinger #94
4. Hannah Ottinger #97
5. Jerry Lane #9
– Kingsport Speedway press release. Photo credit: Randall Perry