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VanDyke avoids 'big one' in Kingsport sweep

Jeff Birchfield • Aug 10, 2019 at 5:51 PM

KINGSPORT — Kres VanDyke avoided Kingsport Speedway’s version of the “big one” to sweep twin Late Model features Friday night.

After rolling to the win in the first of two 35-lap races, VanDyke weaved his way through a multicar accident in the second feature to come away with his red No. 15 Chevrolet unscathed. VanDyke, sent to the rear of the field after earlier contact with points leader Nik Williams, found himself running third after the chaos.

From that point, there was no holding him back on the three-eighths-mile concrete oval.

“I hate the crash happened. I was coming down the backstretch and I was really being alert,” said VanDyke, a two-time track champion from Abingdon. “I saw it happening coming into (turn) 3 and everybody was starting to accordion a little bit.

“I saw one of the cars starting to break loose and knew what was going to happen. I got on the brakes. When I saw one car starting to yaw out, I went to the outside, followed through and kept it in the wood.”

With the pedal to the metal, VanDyke avoided the accident that collected six of his competitors and was positioned behind Wayne Hale and Bryson Dennis on the restart. Dennis passed Hale for the lead on lap 5 and VanDyke moved into second on lap 7.

With former track champion Robbie Ferguson as a spotter, VanDyke pressured Dennis over the next several laps before taking the lead on lap 22.

Dennis was pleased with the racing and his second-place finish.

“It was a good run. I knew we were faster than the cars in front of us and I took my time to get around them,” Dennis said. “When that caution came out on lap 4, I was able to get around them and lead about half the race. I saw Kres closing on me. His car had a better roll in the center (of the corners) and I figured he would get by me.

“I appreciate that he ran me clean. We had a good battle for a few laps. He could have nudged me and took me out, but he ran me good.

Friday’s feast gives VanDyke five wins in six Kingsport starts this season.

He led all 35 laps of the first race, holding off defending track champion Zeke Shell of Johnson City for the win. However, the day had a few tense moments after VanDyke ran over a piece of debris during practice.

“We were late getting here, got a piece of metal in the right front tire and ended up having to plug the tire,” he said. “We were worried to death that thing was going hold in there, but it held. Other than that, everybody worked hard and it was one of the best handling cars we had down here in a long time.”

Two-time track champion Ronnie McCarty finished third behind Dennis in the second feature. Hale and Chase Dixon rounded out the top five after the wheel completely broke on Shell’s car on the final turn of the final lap.

Shell was running third when the wheel came apart. He finished sixth, costing him valuable positions in his track championship battle with Williams.

“Honestly, we’re not that disappointed,” Shell said. “Everything that happened was racing. Nobody really got into us. It was parts failure and I can handle that. We will go home and make it better.”

Shell was coming off a runner-up finish to VanDyke in the opening race. Williams, McCarty and Dennis formed the rest of the top five.

Shell said he was pushing hard with a track rule that allows only full-time Kingsport drivers to get two new tires per race. He bounced the No. 1 Ford off the wall, which he felt led to his problem in the nightcap.

“I got into the wall and messed up the stagger a lot,” Shell said. “That slowed us down. We had a disadvantage with tires again, but there’s nothing you can do about that. It’s racing. We had the parts break about lap 10; luckily, it didn’t come all the way off the car until the last turn.”

TOUGH NIGHTS FOR LOONEY, TRENT

Mike Looney, a regular competitor at Motor Mile Speedway in Fairlawn, Virginia, made a visit to Kingsport trying to build on his lead in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national points.

Slowed by brake problems in the white No. 87 Chevrolet, Looney finished 10th out of 16 drivers in the first race. He didn’t start the second feature.

Gray’s Joey Trent, who entered the evening battling Shell for second in the track standings, finished eighth in the first race.

Following an inversion of finishers, he started on the pole for the second race. After Hale and Williams bolted to the front at the start, Trent, along with VanDyke, was sent to the back of the field along following Williams’ spin. Trying to make his way through the field, Trent got collected in the big accident on lap 4 and finished 13th.

FAST LANES STRIKE AGAIN

Trey Lane raced to his seventh win of the season in the Mod Street division. He powered the No. 9 Dodge Challenger from a fifth-place starting spot to pass defending division champion Royce Peters for the victory.

It was the 10th win overall for the No. 9 car this season; Trey’s brother, Derek, drove it to the other three victories. Peters finished second ahead of Rusty Clendenin, Colby Higgins and Paul Shull.

NEW RIDE FOR HELTON

Keith Helton raced a black No. 29 Honda instead of his usual orange No. 9 Saturn in the Pure 4 event.

It proved to be a successful ride for the Kingsport driver, who won the first of two division features. There was wild racing throughout the 25-car field as Helton made a four-wide move through traffic to maintain his lead over Josh Detwiler late, earning his ninth win of the season.

Detwiler finished second, followed by Bucky Smith, Kenny Absher and Billy Byington.

Absher and Smith got the best of Helton on a pair of late restarts to finish 1-2 in the second Pure 4 feature. Absher, the 2017 division champion, won for the first time this season. Helton finished third, William Hale fourth and Byington fifth.

HOT STREAKS CONTINUE

Abingdon’s Kevin Canter continued his seasonlong domination of the Mod 4 division, winning for the 13th time in 14 starts. Driving the Dale Earnhardt-inspired black No. 3, Canter moved to the lead on lap 7 and led the rest of the 25-lap feature.

Dennis Arnold, the only driver to beat Canter this season, finished second. Chris Amburgey, Billy Duty and Canter’s grandfather, Hershell Robinette, were the other high finishers.

Tony Dockery of Dungannon scored his third consecutive victory in the Pure Street division, holding off Bruce Blessing over the 25-lap race. Points leader Doug Austin finished third, Ricky Payne fourth and Kevin Darnell fifth.

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