VanDyke Keeps Rolling At Kingsport

Kres VanDyke won Friday's late model feature at Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway. (Randall Perry photo)
Kres VanDyke won Friday's late model feature at Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway. (Randall Perry photo)
Kres VanDyke won Friday’s late model feature at Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway. (Randall Perry photo)

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — Kres VanDyke remained perfect to start the season as he flexed his muscle by leading all 60 laps en route to capturing his second straight NASCAR Whelen All-American Series late model victory at Kingsport Speedway.

Defending track champion Chad Finchum toured the .375-mile banked concrete oval quickest in qualifying with a lap of 15.154 seconds to narrowly surpass VanDyke’s time of 15.179, with Lee Tissot timing-in third at 15.189. Following an invert of the top three from time trials, Tissot and VanDyke brought the 18-car field to green from the front row.

VanDyke powered into the lead on the opening lap over Tissot, Finchum, Paul Nogradi Jr. and Zeke Shell. Shell moved around Nogradi for the fourth spot on lap 6 racing off turn two.

The 33-year-old VanDyke, driving the Service Fuel, Inc./Pizza Plus/Pro Image Graphics/84EXPO/RW Race Engines/Townsend Race Cars/No. 15 Ford Fusion, quickly began to distance himself from his closest challengers. With the race running caution free and VanDyke setting a blistering pace out front, at the halfway point he held a commanding 10 car length advantage over Tissot and Finchum, who had a rearview mirror full of Shell.

Caution waved on lap 46, when Tissot and Shell tangled at end of the front straightaway entering turn one. Shell attempted to get inside of Tissot for position, but the resulting contact saw both cars spin between turns one and two. Tissot rejoined at the rear of the field for the restart, while Shell’s night ended prematurely in the pits with a hole in his radiator.

Back under green for the stretch run to the finish, VanDyke once again asserted his strength to pull back out ahead of Finchum. Just behind the front-running duo, Derrick Lancaster and Ryan Stiltner were battling for the third spot. Stiltner grabbed the position on lap 48 racing off the fourth turn and quickly closed on Finchum’s rear bumper.

Stiltner got around Finchum for the runner-up spot with eight laps remaining and set his sights ahead on VanDyke. Stiltner managed to close the gap on VanDyke in the waning laps, but time ran out to catch him.

VanDyke recorded the victory while Stiltner nailed down his best-ever finish at “The Concrete Jungle.” Finishing third through fifth, respectively, were Finchum, Lancaster and Tissot, who worked his way back from the earlier incident with Shell to post a top-five run.

“Man, this is awesome to begin the racing season with back-to-back wins,” said a smiling VanDyke in the pits following the victory lane ceremonies. “Not only have we won both races, but we’ve also led both races flag-to-flag and that’s just incredible when you consider the strong caliber of competition you’re racing against. Our car’s good, it’s really handling well. Some people might think you have to have a brand new race car every season, but that’s just not the case. This Townsend car of ours is over 10 years old (built in 2001), and everybody’s seeing it’s getting the job done.”

John Harrell won the street stock feature and Kenny Absher topped the pure 4 main event. Brandon Crumbley won the rookie pure 4 feature. Robby Orr (pure street) and Jerry Lane (Legend) also won features.