KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The Nat’l Hot Rod Ass’n Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway wasn’t the only racing in Northeast Tennessee over 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 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 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.
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.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Bruce Blessing, Bohanon, Justin Fontaine, Joey Trent and Phil Harris.