KINGSPORT, Tenn. - The 2017 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing season at Tennessee’s Kingsport Speedway began on a sunny Saturday afternoon back in March, and concluded Friday with Championship Night presented by Richmond Gear and Toyota of Kingsport.
While the temperature was unseasonably chilly in the Model City with everyone in attendance bundled up trying to stay warm, the racing action was heated at “The Concrete Jungle” as both Wayne Hale and Derek Lane became first-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car feature race winners this season.
All Kres VanDyke had to do was take the green flag in the first race and that would secure his second Late Model Stock Car track championship, but he looked to close the season out by trying to add another victory to his total of nine wins and reach double figures.
In the first of two twin 35-lap features, VanDyke jumped out to the lead at the start over Nik Williams, Hale, former NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Danny O’Quinn, Jr. and Joey Trent. Hale quickly got around Williams for second just a couple of laps in, while a little further back Trent was trying to maintain his position and hold Robbie Ferguson off.
Ferguson moved to inside of Trent racing into the first turn on lap 5, and over the next three circuits they raced side-by-side before Ferguson took the fifth spot. Racing up off (turn) two on lap 9, O’Quinn passed Williams to move into third in the running order. The event’s first caution waved on lap 10, when Bruce Blessing’s engine went up in smoke and dumped fluid on the track.
Off the ensuing double-file restart, VanDyke powered back out into the lead over O’Quinn and Hale, with Williams and Ferguson trailing. With VanDyke riding out front seemingly in command, his car suddenly slowed midway down the backstretch on lap 25 with transmission issues and the field sped past him as he made his way around to the pit opening at exit of the fourth turn.
O’Quinn moved into the lead over Hale, Ferguson, Williams and Trent. But first misfortune for Williams when he slowed and entered the pits on lap 25, and just five circuits later Ferguson spun with a flat tire to bring the caution out.
The stage was set for a five-lap shootout for the win, and what unfolded was an all-time classic finish between O’Quinn and Hale. With O’Quinn taking the white flag, racing into the first turn Hale drove in to the inside.
Battling side-by-side down the backstretch into the third turn, it was anyone’s guess who would gain the advantage accelerating off the fourth turn back to the stripe. In a photo finish Hale barely edged O’Quinn out for the win by a margin of victory 0.019 seconds, with Austin Peters, Derek Lane and Trent rounding out the top five.
Allen Hawkins, Sawyer Frady, Darrin Silver, Billy Light and Ferguson rounded out the top ten.
In the second feature, Frady grabbed the early lead over Hawkins and Lane. Lane passed Hawkins for second on lap 5 and closed right in behind Frady, while Hawkins was feeling pressure from several drivers including Trent, Hale, O’Quinn, Ferguson, Williams and VanDyke.
Lane moved past Frady to take the lead on lap 8 and, with the door open the line of Trent, Hale, O’Quinn, Ferguson, Williams and VanDyke all dropped both Frady and Hawkins back in the running order.
O’Quinn moved around both Hale and Trent working lap 10 to settle into the second spot behind leader Lane, with Ferguson and Williams also advancing past Hale and Trent soon after. With the race reaching lap 20, Lane was showing the way out front over O’Quinn, Ferguson, Williams, Hale and VanDyke.
But just as in the first race, transmission trouble once again sidelined VanDyke on lap 25 as he slowed and entered the pits. The top four of Lane, O’Quinn, Ferguson and Williams were running nose-to-tail, with Hale about six car lengths behind.
Meanwhile, Lane never missed a beat en route to capturing his first-ever NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car feature win over O’Quinn, Ferguson, Williams and Hale.
Trent, Frady, Peters, Silver and Hawkins rounded out the top ten.
In other action, Trey Lane capitalized when leaders Jason Leatherwood and Alan Rich tangled on the final lap of the Modified Street feature to score his first ever victory. Rusty Clendenin finished in second, followed by Jared Broadbent in third, Paul Shull in fourth and Royce Peters in fifth. Peters captured the Modified Street.
Kenny Absher was flagged the winner of the “Toyota of Kingsport” Pure 4 feature over Keith Helton, Billy Byington, Jason Ketron and Billy Kentron. But when Absher, his teammate Byington and the Ketron brothers refused to go through post-race technical inspection, they were disqualified, handing Keith Helton his third straight feature win. Despite the disqualification, Absher still scored the division championship title.
Kevin Canter successfully defended his Mod 4 championship in style as he captured his division-leading seventh feature win of the season and took home the title. Joshua Gobble finished second in the race, with David Brown in third, Kirby Gobble in fourth and Billy Duty in fifth.
Jamie Meadows sped to an apparent Pure Street feature win over Doug Austin and Peter Alley. But when the trio refused to go through post-race technical inspection they were disqualified and it shook up more than just the final race results. Jay Swecker inherited the victory over Jason Herron, Dustin Smith, Bobby Durbin and Bobby Talbert. Austin and Swecker entered the night tied for the points lead, but with Austin’s disqualification and Swecker getting the win, he also captured the Pure Street championship.
For more information on Kingsport Speedway, visit NewKingsportSpeedway.com.
Kingsport Speedway – Kingsport, TN
Race Results (Unofficial) – September 8, 2017
Late Model Stock Car Race 1
1. Wayne Hale #19 – Bluff City, TN
2. Danny O’Quinn Jr. #96 – Abingdon, VA
3. Austin Peters #66 – Kingsport, TN
4. Derek Lane #28 – Kingsport, TN
5. Joey Trent #26 – Gray, TN
6. Allen Hawkins #14 – Kingsport, TN
7. Sawyer Frady #99 – Mills River, NC
8. Darin Silver #12 – Spruce Pine, NC
9. Billy Light #8 – Bluff City, TN
10. Robbie Ferguson #40 – Jonesborough, TN
11. Nik Williams #32 – Greeneville, TN
12. Kres VanDyke #15 – Abingdon, VA
13. Steven Deskins #12 – Sevierville, TN
14. Rick Pannell #33 – Kingsport, TN
15. Bruce Blessing #00 – Gate City, VA
Late Model Stock Car Race 2
1. Derek Lane #28 – Kingsport, TN
2. Danny O’Quinn Jr. #96 – Abingdon, VA
3. Robbie Ferguson #40 – Jonesborough, TN
4. Nik Williams #32 – Greeneville, TN
5. Wayne Hale #19 – Bluff City, TN
6. Joey Trent #26 – Gray, TN
7. Sawyer Frady #99 – Mills River, NC
8. Austin Peters #66 – Kingsport, TN
9. Darin Silver #12 – Spruce Pine, NC
10. Allen Hawkins #14 – Kingsport, TN
11. Billy Light #8 – Bluff City, TN
12. Rick Pannell #33 – Kingsport, TN
13. Kres VanDyke #15 – Abingdon, VA
14. Steven Deskins #12 – Sevierville, TN
DNS: Bruce Blessing #00 – Gate City, VA
1. Trey Lane #40
2. Rusty Clendenin #40C
3. Jared Broadbent #74
4. Paul Shull #48
5. Royce Peters #42
6. Scott Franklin #7
7. Rick Utsman #12
8. Kevin Wolfe #17
9. Bruce Crumbley #33
10. Dustin Dowell #89
11. Jason Leatherwood #29
12. Alan Rich #03
13. Sam Hurd #44
1. Keith Helton #74
2. Larry Stapleton #15
3. Michael Nelson #17
4. Bucky Smith #99
5. Chris Stine #10
6. Craig Phelps #00
7. Kevin Darnell #4
8. Jimmy Thomas #14
9. Paul Stanley #40
10. Jason Francis #6
11. Levi Cox #1
12. Josh Collins #77
13. Richard Quillen #13
14. William Hale #47
15. Mitch Gibson #94
16. Michael Blair #84
17. Alexcia Ray #99
DQ: Kenny Absher #11
DQ: Billy Byington #B11
DQ: Jason Ketron #28
DQ: Billy Ketron #26
1. Kevin Canter #3
2. Joshua Gobble #77
3. David Brown #13
4. Kirby Gobble #57
5. Billy Duty #1
6. Chris Amburgey #17
7. Darrell Whitehead #43
8. Jessie Amburgey #7
9. Hershell Robinette #9
10. Brad Ball #88
1. Jay Swecker #77
2. Jason Herron #22
3. Dustin Smith #5
4. Bobby Durbin #2
5. Bobby Talbert #67
6. Anitra Little #31
7. Virgil Young #13
DQ: Jamie Meadows #11
DQ: Doug Austin #18
DQ: Peter Alley #7
DNS: Ryan Hyatt #24