Woods, a Providence Academy alumnus, stormed through the field after a mid-race spin with points leader Kres VanDyke and passed Zeke Shell for the lead on a restart with 15 laps to go to win the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series 60-lap feature.
The 22-year-old Piney Flats driver said the win had been a long time coming. He dominated action a few years ago in Legends cars, winning championships at both Kingsport Speedway and Lonesome Pine Raceway. However, he had struggled in the Late Model cars and a few weeks ago was his first time back to the track as a driver in two years.
"It was a big win for us,” Woods said Saturday. “It was big for the team and all the crew, all the guys who work hard on the car. I think I’m driving the best I ever have, personally. I feel I’m good in the race car, I have my head on straight and I’m just keeping the tires under the car until the end. Everything worked out last night the way it was supposed to.”
Driving a No. 87 Chevrolet, Woods finished third the previous week before putting it all together on Friday night. He led time trials with a lap of 15.062 seconds but started fourth after an inversion of top qualifiers.
Longtime racing publicist Robert Walden described Woods' victory as a spin and win, reminiscent of Danny Sullivan's famous victory in the 1985 Indianapolis 500. For the most part, Woods kept his emotions in check after the contact.
"It was just a total racing accident, no intention there,” he said. “I’m trying to get under Shell and VanDyke is trying to get under me. VanDyke walked up to me in victory lane and I just joked, ‘You’re just trying to make my first win come hard.’ I got mad for a second when it happened, but then I just got back under control and it gave me more determination to get back up front.”
After a charge through the field, he passed the previous week’s winner, Robbie Ferguson, for second before taking the lead from Shell.
“I was passing cars and I was trying to get to the top three,” Woods said. “I got back up there and then I transitioned back to winning the race. I put a quick game plan together and got past Ferguson on the second-to-last restart and then I noticed Zeke was slow rolling on his restarts. We took off together and I was able to get by him.”
Shell, driver of the No. 1 Ford, held on for second. It was a good bounce-back for the Johnson City driver who was credited with a last-place finish and also last-place points the previous Friday after being parked by officials for refusing to talk to them on the heels of being involved in two accidents.
Shell gained a point in the championship standings on VanDyke, the defending track champion from Abingdon, whose No. 15 Chevrolet roared through the field to finish third.
REST OF THE TOP 10
Ferguson, a Jonesborough driver, finished fourth in the No. 7 Ford. Trey Bayne, the younger brother of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Trevor Bayne, rounded out the top five in his No. 21 Ford.
Gray driver Joey Trent, who started on the pole, finished sixth. Bryson Dennis, a Greeneville driver for whom Woods served as a spotter at the beginning of the season, finished seventh.
Wayne Hale of Bluff City, Derek Lane of Kingsport and Maryland driver Kyle Lockrow rounded out the top 10.
Kevin Canter of Abingdon recovered from getting together with Brad Ball on lap 18 and restarting at the back of the field to drive his black No. 3 to his seventh Mod 4 win of the season. His 74-year-old grandfather, Hershell Robinette, finished second.
Royce Peters of Kingsport passed Rusty Clendenin for the lead on lap 5 of the Modified Street feature and led the rest of the way for his third win of the year. Bruce Crumbley of Kingsport emerged victorious from a hard-fought battle among Brandon Sutherland, Keith Helton and him for his third Pure 4 win.
Joey Sykes of Dante, Va., captured his fourth Pure Street win of the season, and Jeremy Mullins of Clintwood won for the second time in the Vintage cars.