KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The Fourth of July is known for fireworks, and Kres VanDyke of Claypool Hill, Va., lit up the nighttime skies in impressive fashion over Kingsport Speedway Friday to record a convincing $2,000 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Wallace Kia Late Model Stock victory in the Independence Clash 125.
The event, the first night of a holiday weekend doubleheader between Kingsport Speedway and Lonesome Pine Raceway, was presented by Freedom Ford of Wise, Va., WQUT FM 101.5 in the Tri-Cities, and Century 21 Pro Service broker/realtor Teresa Isaac of Johnson City.
Defending track and state NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Chad Finchum set fast-time at 15.081 seconds to earn the pole position for the Independence Clash 125, with VanDyke second quickest at 15.095 to nail down the outside front row starting berth.
VanDyke jumped into the lead over Finchum, Ronnie McCarty, Ryan Stiltner and Zeke Shell at the start. With a clear track ahead, VanDyke quickly pulled out to a 10 car length advantage and set the cruise control in the early going.
“I knew right from the start that we had a very good car,” said VanDyke about his No. 15 Ford Fusion. “I quickly moved out ahead of Finchum and the rest of the cars and I wasn’t even running the car hard. We’ve just got our car to where it’s handling very well through the corners. I can really pick the throttle up and the car’s got great forward bite coming up off the turns, and that right there will really give you momentum to launch you down the straightaway.”
Caution waved on lap 11 when Greg Bohanon Jr. spun between turns one and two, and only four laps back racing the yellow waved once again when sixth-running Lee Tissot slowed with a shower of sparks under his car between turns three and four after breaking a right-front wheel.
Back under green following the double-file restart, VanDyke once again began to flex his muscle and put some distance between himself, Finchum and McCarty. Stiltner and Shell were battling for fourth in the running order, while behind them Kyle Barnes, Nate Monteith, Zack Walton, Thomas Beane, Tyler Goodwin, Lance Gatlin and Wayne Hale were in a mad scramble for positions.
Monteith, the 2011 and 2012 Kingsport Speedway and state NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion was making his first start of the season, and he passed Barnes for sixth on lap 14 racing off the fourth turn. Three circuits later Monteith got around Shell to move into fifth.
Out front VanDyke was in command, holding a comfortable lead over Finchum and McCarty. A strong run for Finchum ended on lap 38, when he suddenly slowed racing off the fourth turn and coasted around the track into the pits for attention from his crew. While slowly making his way back around to the pull into the pits, Finchum told his crew over the radio the gas pedal had broken off.
Meanwhile, both Stiltner and Shell had gotten around McCarty to hold down second and third in the running order. Lap 45 racing off the fourth turn, Shell passed Stiltner to take over second. Right at the lap 60 mark, with the leader VanDyke beginning to work lapped traffic, Shell closed to his rear bumper to hopefully mount a challenge for the lead.
A strong fifth place run for Monteith ended on lap 74, when the rearend broke in his car and he slowly entered the pits. Barnes, Walton, Gatlin and Austin Peters had a good race going on between them as they ran fifth through eighth.
With VanDyke and Shell leading the way up front, as they worked lapped traffic Shell was hoping to trap VanDyke behind a slower car and make a move to pass for the lead. But VanDyke continually made his way past the slower cars without opening the door for Shell to make a pass.
At end of the front straightaway entering the first turn, caution waved on lap 101 when the right-front tire exploded on Peters’ car.
VanDyke and Shell were on the front row for the double-file restart, but when the green flag waved Shell’s car failed to come up to speed due to the alternator having gone bad and drained the battery.
“Yeah, the car had kind of got to where it was missing before the caution flag there on lap 101 waved,” said Shell regarding his troubles. “This is not the first time this year we’ve had issues with the alternator draining the battery. We’ve definitely got to figure out what’s causing the problem.”
Barnes got turned racing off the fourth turn just one lap back under green and spun down the front straightaway, which spelled disaster for Justin Fontaine and Phil Harris as they tangled to bring out the caution as both their cars sustained significant damage.
VanDyke and McCarty were beside one another on the front row for the double-file restart on lap 102, but like he had done the entire race following caution periods, VanDyke once again pulled back out into the lead. But McCarty was up-on-the-wheel and stayed right with VanDyke.
Making a move back behind the front-running duo was Gatlin, who passed Goodwin on lap 110 racing off the fourth turn to take the fifth position. Two laps later he got around Barnes for fourth, and then on lap 115 Gatlin passed Stiltner to move into third. Gatlin caught up to VanDyke and McCarty.
As VanDyke, McCarty and Gatlin raced off the fourth turn to take the white flag, they were running nose-to-tail. But VanDyke, driving the Service Fuel Inc., Pizza Plus, Catch 22, Wheel Chill, RW Race Engines, Townsend Race Cars, WD Performance, AR Bodies, Pro Image Graphics, 84EXPO, No. 15 Ford Fusion, would not be denied the Independence Clash 125 victory, his fifth win of the season at “The Concrete Jungle.”
“Man, this is awesome,” said a smiling VanDyke after getting out of his car in victory lane to cheers from the crowd. “I guess the key to our strong run tonight was our good qualifying effort that locked us in to start on the front row. With a competitive field of cars like we had tonight, it’s just so much easier on your equipment when you can jump out into the lead and not have to abuse your tires and brakes when you’re racing hard for position. We were just riding out front.
“We’ve got $2,000 in our pockets from winning tonight, and we’ll give it our best effort tomorrow night over at Lonesome Pine Raceway as we try to go for the weekend sweep. Now that would be cool if we could pull that off and get another $2,000 for winning, plus we’d get the $1,000 bonus for winning both nights for $5,000.”
VanDyke was chased to the checkers by McCarty, Gatlin, Stiltner and Barnes.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Goodwin, Beane, Walton, Sam Steffey and Rick Pannell.
Rob Austin of Castlewood, Va., had recorded four runner-up finishes this season in the Street Stock division, and had to be wondering if he was ever going to break through for his first victory. Austin grabbed the lead at the start and never looked back en route to earning his first visit to victory lane in 2014, winning over Royce Peters, Jared Broadbent, Nick Cole and Chris Tunnell.
If you like racing action at its best, then you enjoyed the three-car battle between Kingsport’s John Ketron, his son Jason Ketron and Keith Helton in the Pure 4 feature. Lap after lap, they jockeyed back and forth up front for the lead and at times running three-wide around the .375-mile banked concrete oval and yet never touching. But at the finish it was the elder Ketron prevailing for his fifth win on the season, winning over Jason and Helton. Finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, were Kenny Absher and Jon Pittman.
Kirby Gobble of Abingdon, Va., has been a dominant force in Mod 4 racing for many years, winning championships at both Kingsport Speedway and Lonesome Pine Raceway. While Gobble captured his fifth straight Mod 4 victory this season at Kingsport, things got interesting behind him with just a couple of laps remaining when Rocky Yates and Billy Duty, who were running second and third, tangled and wrecked between turns three and four.
But the wrecking wasn’t over, as on the ensuing restart the caution quickly waved for action between turns one and two, which left more bent sheet-metal on the Yates and Duty equipment, along with Chris Amburgey and Lynn Shaffer suffering damage. Gobble claimed the win over Duke Bare, Mike Brooks, Duty and Luke Fox.
Rusty Clendenin of Church Hill battled several laps with Brandon Crumbley for the lead in the Rookie Pure 4 feature. But once Clendenin moved into the lead he went on to record his third victory, with Crumbley, Andrew Hill, Michael “Mook” Jeter and William Hale rounding out the top-five finishers.
KINGSPORT SPEEDWAY – FRIDAY, JULY 4, 2014 – “INDEPENDENCE CLASH 125” – PRESENTED BY FREEDOM FORD OF WISE, VA; WQUT FM 101.5 (TRI-CITIES); CENTURY 21 PRO SERVICE REALTOR TERESA ISAAC (JOHNSON CITY)
NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES LATE MODEL STOCK (125 laps)
Showing Finish Position, Starting Position In Parentheses, Driver Name, Car Number, Hometown, Laps Completed In Parentheses
1. (2) Kres VanDyke #15-Claypool Hill, VA (125)
2. (4) Ronnie McCarty #5-Kingsport, TN (125)
3. (14) Lance Gatlin #52-Morristown, TN (125)
4. (3) Ryan Stiltner #22-Grundy, VA (125)
5. (5) Kyle Barnes #15-Draper, VA (125)
6. (13) Tyler Goodwin #64-Kingsport, TN (125)
7. (10) Thomas Beane #31-Hudson, NC (125)
8. (8) Zack Walton #38-Blountville, TN (125)
9. (20) Sam Steffey #35-Abingdon, VA (120)
10. (19) Rick Pannell #33-Kingsport, TN (120)
11. (16) Joey Trent #26-Gray, TN (120)
12. (24) Luke Fox #94-Weaverville, NC (117)
13. (6) Zeke Shell #97-Johnson City, TN (102)
14. (11) Justin Fontaine #60-Fletcher, NC (101)
15. (15) Austin Peters #66-Kingsport, TN (101)
16. (18) Phil Harris #55-Johnson City, TN (99)
17. (23) Mardy Roberts #55-Kingsport, TN (81)
18. (9) Nate Monteith #50-Bristol, TN (74)
19. (12) Wayne Hale #19-Bluff City, TN (68)
20. (25) Jamie Harrison #76-Church Hill, TN (53)
21. (17) Royce Peters #48-Kingsport, TN (51)
22. (1) Chad Finchum #19-Knoxville, TN (42)
23. (21) Allen Hawkins #77-Kingsport, TN (31)
24. (22) Greg Bohanon Jr. #17-Leicester, NC (31)
25. (7) Lee Tissot #7-Asheville, NC (15)
STREET STOCK (25 laps)
1. Rob Austin #25
2. Royce Peters #48
3. Jared Broadbent #74
4. Nick Cole #63
5. Chris Tunnell #6
6. Mark Christian #43
7. Sam P. Hurd #11
8. Jared Bruner #8
9. Dennis Deese #24
10. Danny Casteel #41
11. Bruce Crumbley #33
12. Todd Duff #16
PURE 4 (20 laps)
1. John Ketron #27
2. Jason Ketron #28
3. Keith Helton #74
4. Kenny Absher #11
5. Jon Pittman #00
6. David Trent #57
7. Billy Byington #01
8. Dylan Bates #6
9. Matthew Ford #97
10. Todd Cross #41
11. Richard Quillen #14
12. Billy Ketron #26
13. Kenneth Street #47
14. Tim Abelseth #66
15. Chris Neeley #94
Did Not Start: B.C. Penley #34; Nick Jennings #16
MOD 4 (20 laps)
1. Kirby Gobble #88
2. Duke Bare #2
3. Mike Brooks #77
4. Billy Duty #45
5. Luke Fox #94
6. Jessie Amburgey #17
7. Rocky Yates #3
8. Lynn Shaffer #6
9. Chris Amburgey #7
ROOKIE PURE 4 (15 laps)
1. Rusty Clendenin #11
2. Brandon Crumbley #7
3. Andrew Hill #97
4. Michael Jeter #53
5. William Hale #47
6. James Deese #25
7. Craig Phelps #00
8. Derrick Gilliam #34
9. Larry Stapleton #14
10. Tammy Cross #41
11. Dennis Stanley #19
12. Larry Bowens #18
13. Dennis Cross #7
14. Dalton Lady #15
Did Not Start: Chris Wilhelm #99; Tim Jennings #16
– Kingsport Speedway PR. Photo credit: Randall Perry