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.
“I knew right from the start that we had a very good car,” said VanDyke of 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, VanDyke once again began to flex his muscle and put some distance between himself, Finchum and McCarty.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
Kres VanDyke; Ronnie McCarty; Lance Gatlin; Ryan Stiltner; Kyle Barnes; Tyler Goodwin; Thomas Beane; Zack Walton; Sam Steffey; Rick Pannell; Joey Trent; Luke Fox; Zeke Shell; Justin Fontaine; Austin Peters; Phil Harris; Mardy Roberts; Nate Monteith; Wayne Hale; Jamie Harrison; Royce Peters; Chad Finchum; Allen Hawkins; Greg Bohanon Jr.; Lee Tissot