By Robert Walden
Kingsport Speedway Media/Public Relations
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (April 27) — There’s nothing that keeps race fans coming back for more than exciting racing action taking place all around the track. And once again, another good crowd surrounded Kingsport Speedway Friday night for the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program.
Zeke Shell of Johnson City got around Nate Monteith between turns one and two on lap 48 during the “Dalton Direct Carpets” Late Model Stock 60-lap main event to take the lead. And even though Monteith kept applying pressure to the finish, the 24-year-old Shell clicked off flawless laps and never allowed Monteith to overtake him and captured his second feature win on the season.
Lee Tissot set fast-time in qualifying, but an invert-six dropped him back to third row for the start. Ryan Stiltner, who earlier in the week had celebrated his 19th birthday, led the 23-car field to green from the pole position, with defending track champion Monteith alongside on the front row. Completing the opening lap Monteith led Stiltner, Shell, Paul Nogradi Jr. and Tissot.
Action was fast-and-furious in the early laps around the .375-mile banked concrete oval, with cars racing side-by-side which brought many in attendance to their feet to cheer for their favorite driver. Working lap 2 racing off the second corner, Shell got around Stiltner for second and right behind them Tissot passed Nogradi to move into fourth. Racing down the backstretch into the third turn on lap 4, Tissot got to the inside of Stiltner to grab the third spot.
Making a move to get inside the top five, 15-year-old Blake Jones got around Nogradi for fifth on lap 5 between turns three and four. And with the door open and Nogradi up high in the groove, Daniel Pope II also got past Nogradi to move into sixth in the running order, dropping Nogradi back to the seventh spot.
Jones got to the inside of Stiltner racing into the third turn on lap 8, and racing up off the fourth turn he made the pass to move into fourth place. Pope was glued to Jones’ rear bumper and between turns one and two working the ninth circuit, with Stiltner stuck up in the upper groove both Pope and Nogradi advanced their running positions by passing Stiltner.
Pope began applying pressure on Jones for the fourth spot, while just ahead of them Tissot was battling Shell for the second position. Tissot got under Shell for second on lap 12 racing off (turn) two, and set his sights ahead on leader Monteith.
Racing up off the corners, Tissot kept sticking the nose of his car underneath Monteith. But Tissot never could manage to maintain the inside position at the end of the straightaway until lap 18 racing into the third turn. Over the following 12 circuits, Tissot and Monteith raced side-by-side and neither could gain an advantage.
Just behind them, Shell was licking his chops thinking the duo might tangle and he’d move into the lead. But Shell had more pressing issues at hand, with both Jones and Pope riding in his rearview mirror. Pope passed Jones for fourth on lap 28 racing off turn two.
Tissot got a good run off the fourth turn on lap 30 to move into the lead over Monteith, and just behind them Pope was overtaking Shell for the third spot. The caution waved on lap 31 when Ronnie McCarty spun between turns one and two, with a little help coming from behind by Royce Peters. Both McCarty and Peters had to restart from rear of the field.
Going back green, Tissot led Monteith, Pope, Shell and Jones. Pope got under Monteith racing off turn two on lap 32 to move into second place and powered right to the back of Tissot’s rear bumper. A buzz from the crowd erupted on lap 32, when Pope got into the back of Tissot between turns one and two – sending the race leader spinning and bringing out the caution. With Tissot looping his mount to bring the yellow (flag) out, and Pope being involved, both had to restart from the tail of the field.
With Tissot and Pope relegated to the rear, Monteith moved back into the lead followed by Shell, Jones, Nogradi and Stiltner. Back up to speed, Shell stayed glued to Monteith’s rear bumper while behind them the trio of Jones, Nogradi and Stiltner battled for position.
Both Tissot and Pope were charging their way back up through the field. Tissot got around Aussie chauffeur Clayton Pyne, who was making his first-ever start at Kingsport Speedway driving for Marcos Ambrose Motorsports, for 10th-place on lap 41. Also on lap 41, Nogradi got under Jones for third racing off the fourth turn, and just a couple circuits later Stiltner passed Jones and moved into fourth in the running order.
While racing for position on lap 45 between turns three and four, there was some contact between Tissot and 16-year-old rookie Hayden Woods. Racing into the first turn on lap 46, Tissot got into the corner hard on the bottom of the track – climbing up on the driver’s side of Woods’ car, with both spinning to bring the caution out. Tissot was able to drive his damaged car back into the pits calling it a night, while Woods’ car required a wrecker to tow it away from the scene. After trashing a car last week when the throttle stuck at the end of the front straightaway and slamming hard into the concrete wall surrounding turns one and two, after climbing from his torn-up car an obviously upset (feeling he’d gotten a raw deal from Tissot) Woods had to be escorted back into the infield pits by track officials and crew members following the incident with Tissot.
Ready for a 14-lap shootout to the checkers, Monteith led Shell, Nogradi, Stiltner and Jones going back green. With the field accelerating off the fourth turn down the front straightaway, Jones’ night ended when the rear-end in his car broke to bring and end to a strong race he had going.
Shell got under Monteith between turns one and two on lap 48 to move into the lead. Once out front, Shell, driving the Fairway Ford/Shell Media (Printing, Design, Graphics, Wraps, Promotions, Marketing, Advertising)/Nickels Speed Shop/Bobby Myers Performance Racing Engines/Hy-Tec Specialty Coatings/Marlowe Racing Chassis/Zeke Shell Racing/No. 97 Ford Fusion, led the remaining distance to record his second win in 2012 over Monteith, Nogradi, Stiltner and Pope, who worked his way back from the incident with Tissot to finish in fifth.
Completing the top-10 finishers were Wayne Hale, Tam Topham, Austin Peters, Royce Peters and Mark Christian. Twelve cars were running on the lead lap when the checkered flag waved.
“We definitely had to work for this win tonight,” said Shell in the pits following his victory lane celebration. “We had a good car, but to be quite honest we didn’t have the fastest car during the race. I feel (Daniel) Pope was the car to beat, but after the deal between him and Lee (Tissot), that helped open the door for us to get our second victory of the season. Circling the track under caution, I truly felt I had a better car than Nate (Monteith) when we restarted there on lap 46. And sure enough, in just a couple of laps I was able to make the pass for the lead.
“I want to thank my dad (Pat Shell) for giving me the opportunity to race. Racing is a passion he and I both share, and it’s great we get to enjoy this together. And besides dad, the rest of the crew helps make winning races happen – with Scott Clark, Matthew Ford, Josh Stephan, Mike McKnight, and my girlfriend Amber Abram being strong contributors to this race team. I also want to give thanks to John King for being a part of this ‘dream’ in helping us win races, one last year and tonight getting our second this season.”
The old veteran racer Paul Shull led the opening circuit of the 30-lap “Absolute Plumbing” Street Stock feature before Rob Austin of Castlewood, Va., powered his St. Paul Builders & Block/Poor Boy Auto/Pro Image Graphics/No. 25 Chevrolet Camaro into the lead and never looked back en route to capturing his first feature win of the season, and thus bringing to an end Roger Neece’s five race winning streak. With Austin showing the way out front, on lap 23 Neece got around Roby Orr to move into the runner-up position. But over the final seven laps, Austin stayed ahead of Neece to ensure his first trip to victory lane this season. Behind Austin and Neece, Orr, Joey Sykes and Chris Tunnell rounded out the top five finishers.
Keith Helton jumped into the lead over Kenny Absher at start of the Pure 4 feature and appeared like he might be headed to victory lane for the first time this season. But just before halfway in the 20-lap event, Kingsport’s John Ketron, driving the ServPro of Kingsport Fire & Water – Cleanup & Restoration/K&K Auto/No. 26 Honda, moved around Helton for the lead. Chasing Ketron to the checkers were Helton, Chris Neeley, Jason Ketron and Absher.
Riding an eight race win streak dating back to last year and firmly planted atop the Legends point standings in 2012, Tyler Goodwin of Kingsport had to work overtime to visit victory lane for a ninth straight occasion.
In the early going of the 20-lap event, a spirited battle for position among Greg Turner, Aaron Lawson, Drew Shortridge, Zack Walton, first time visitor Joey Padgett from Tallahassee, Fla., and Goodwin saw them two- and three-wide. Goodwin got into the rear of Padgett between turns three and four on lap 5, with both spinning to bring out the caution and having to restart at back of the field.
Back under green, the battle up front between Turner, Lawson, Shortridge and Walton was interesting, but Goodwin and Padgett were mounting charges back towards the front. Goodwin got around Walton for second racing off the fourth turn on lap 14, and just two circuits later passed Shortridge to take a lead he would not relinquish. Goodwin, driving the No. 64 Bank of Tennessee/Bancsec Inc./Rockstar Graphix/McAulay Motorsports ride, captured the victory over Walton, Padgett, Shortridge and Turner.
Dylan Bates of Kingsport, a 15-year-old Sullivan South High School sophomore, driving The Nutty Java of Kingsport/Vinyl Frontier/No. 6 Chevrolet Cavalier, led all 10 laps in recording his second Rookie Pure 4 victory. Finishing behind Bates were Danny Pless, Robin Hughes, Lee Shults and Pie Short.
NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES “DALTON DIRECT CARPETS” LATE MODEL STOCK (60 laps)
Showing Finish Position, Starting Position In Parentheses, Driver Name, Car Number, Hometown, Laps Completed In Parentheses
1. (4) Zeke Shell #97-Johnson City, TN (60)
2. (2) Nate Monteith #44-Blountville, TN (60)
3, (3) Paul Nogradi Jr. #02-Clinton, TN (60)
4. (1) Ryan Stiltner #22-Grundy, VA (60)
5. (5) Daniel Pope II #16-Smyrna, TN (60)
6. (7) Wayne Hale #19-Bluff City, TN (60)
7. (9) Tam Topham #21-Wytheville, VA (60)
8. (12) Austin Peters #66-Kingsport, TN (60)
9. (13) Royce Peters #38-Kingsport, TN (60)
10. (16) Mark Christian #43-Blountville, TN (60)
11. (14) Justin Wright #21-Kingsport, TN (60)
12. (15) Clayton Pyne #9-Cessnock NSW, Queensland Australia (60)
13. (18) Rick Pannell #33-Kingsport, TN (59)
14. (10) Ronnie McCarty #5-Kingsport, TN (56)
15. (20) Wayne Webb #4-Cosby, TN (56)
16. (17) Joey Trent #26-Gray, TN (50)
17. (23) Hayden Woods #63-Piney Flats, TN (50)
18. (19) Dean Barrett #82-Abingdon, VA (47)
19. (8) Blake Jones #80-Sevierville, TN (46)
20. (6) Lee Tissot #27-Asheville, NC (46)
21. (11) Lance Gatlin #97-Knoxville, TN (33)
22. (21) Kres VanDyke #59-Claypool Hill, VA (2)
23. (22) Allen Hawkins #14-Kingsport, TN (1)
“ABSOLUTE PLUMBING” STREET STOCK (30 laps)
1) Rob Austin #25; 2) Roger Neece #22; 3) Roby Orr #52; 4) Joey Sykes #23; 5) Chris Tunnell #6; 6) Tony Vance #07; 7) Jared Broadbent #74; 8) Paul Shull #48; 9) Mark Hawkins #44; 10) Rick Smith #33; 11) Tony Ward #7
PURE 4 (20 laps)
1) John Ketron #26; 2) Keith Helton #9; 3) Chris Neeley #94; 4) Jason Ketron #28; 5) Kenny Absher #11; 6) Jeremy Hughes #57; 7) David Trent #57; 8) Glenn Hughes #75; 9) Billy Ketron #27
LEGENDS (20 laps)
1) Tyler Goodwin #64; 2) Zack Walton #38; 3) Joey Padgett #83; 4) Drew Shortridge #32; 5) Greg Turner #64; 6) Jacob Owens #8; 7) Adam Gray #37; 8) Brian Tinker #14; 9) Tony Wiggins #4; 10) Hubert Whitehead #3; 11) Aaron Lawson #31
ROOKIE PURE 4 (10 laps)
1) Dylan Bates #6; 2) Danny Pless #5; 3) Robin Hughes #75; 4) Lee Shults #74; 5) Pie Short #1; 6) Jimmy Hillard #74; 7) Tim Abelseth #66
Kingsport Speedway is located at 2961 North John B. Dennis Highway. For more information, call the office at (423) 288-5992, track promoter Robert Pressley at (828) 215-2077, or visit the Web site at www.NewKingsportSpeedway.com