KINGSPORT, Tenn. — Kingsport Speedway held its annual Roger Neece & Tony Ward Tribute Night on Friday remembering two very popular drivers that have passed away over the past few years.
Nik Williams for the second straight week swept the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series twin Late Model Stock Car features, overall making it five consecutive wins for the 21-year-old.
Kres VanDyke was fastest in Late Model Stock Car qualifying at 15.027 seconds, with Williams close behind in second at 15.060. Williams wasted no time in flexing his muscle as he grabbed the lead over VanDyke, Hayden Woods, Zeke Shell and Trey Bayne.
Strong as Williams has been running the past couple of weeks, basically with him out front the race was his to win unless mechanical issues occurred. VanDyke stayed within striking distance, while 14-year-old Bayne worked his way around both Shell and Woods into the third spot.
But there would be no catching Williams out front as he easily captured the win over VanDyke, Bayne, Woods and Shell. Completing the top 10 finishers were Robbie Ferguson, Ronnie McCarty, Wayne Hale, Joey Trent and Trey Lane.
Per NASCAR Whelen All-American Series rules, the top eight finishers are inverted when track’s host twin features. The front row for the second 35-lap race had Hale and McCarty leading the field to green. The veteran Hale jumped out to the lead over McCarty, Ferguson, Woods and Shell.
Hale’s lead was short-lived, as McCarty drove around him on the second lap racing up off (turn) two to move ahead. VanDyke passed Shell for the fifth spot on lap five.
With McCarty all alone out front, behind him the battle for position was intense between Hale, Ferguson, Woods and VanDyke. Kingsport Speedway’s version of the “big one” happened on lap 14, when contact between Hale and Ferguson created chaos exiting the fourth turn onto the front straightaway.
Hale’s car turned sideways and with nowhere to go Woods, VanDyke and Shell all piled in together, with Woods car coming to a rest sitting on top of Hale’s ride to bring the red flag out for the blocked track. With safety crews quickly on the scene along with track officials, Hale and Woods were able to climb from their badly damaged cars while both VanDyke and Shell headed into the pits for attention from their crews.
Off the ensuing double-file restart, McCarty took the lead over Ferguson, Williams, Bayne and Trent. Racing off the fourth turn on lap 18, Williams took second place from Ferguson. The event’s second caution waved on lap 20 when VanDyke suddenly slowed to a stop in the fourth turn.
McCarty and Williams battled for the lead off the double-file restart, and before they could get back around to complete one green flag lap on the scoreboard, Williams nudged McCarty to get his car out of shape in the fourth turn. That was all it took for Williams to take a lead he would never relinquish.
Behind leader Williams, McCarty and Bayne battled for the runner-up position. It’s said in racing that rubbing is racing. Well, it can also lead to wrecking. Caution waved on lap 29 when Bayne spun between turns three and four. Both Bayne and McCarty were sent to rear of the field for the restart.
Williams once again grabbed the lead off the double-file restart and went on to take his second Late Model Stock Car win of the night over Ferguson, Derek Lane, Trent and Trey Lane.
Chase Dixon might only be a rookie in the Modified Street division, but he’s been fast week in and week out all season. The 15-year-old earned his sixth Modified Street fast-time qualifying award with a quick lap at 15.965 seconds.
Dixon backed his speed up during the 30-lap feature as he outran defending divisional champion Royce Peters to capture his second straight victory. Finishing third through fifth, respectively, were Rusty Clendenin, Alex Miller and Hannah Seal.
Craig Phelps grabbed the lead at start of the Pure 4 feature and led a few laps before giving way to Brandon Sutherland. Behind Phelps and Sutherland, Bruce Crumbley, Keith Helton, Jason Ketron, William Hale and Bucky Smith were running nose-to-tail. Helton passed Crumbley for second racing off the second corner on lap 15 and quickly closed in to challenge Sutherland for the lead.
Sutherland was having a strong run out front, but Helton, from Kingsport, took the lead on lap 24 racing off the fourth turn and went on to record his division-leading sixth win on the season. He was chased to the checkered flag by Sutherland, Crumbley, Phelps and Ketron.
Kevin Canter just keeps right on rolling along as he becomes the only driver in any division at the track to reach double digits in wins this season. Canter captured his tenth Mod 4 feature victory over Zach Fritz, Billy Duty, David Brown and Hershell Robinette.
Penny Hurd paced the field in the Pure Street feature for the opening three circuits before being passed by the trio of Dave Strong, Rob Austin and Jay Swecker. Strong and Austin battled for the lead, with each running out front.
Austin passed Strong racing off the fourth turn on lap 21 and went on to win for the second consecutive week Finishing third through fifth, respectively, were Swecker, Hurd and Mike Blair.