NEWPORT — Coleman Pressley dived into turn three on the final lap of the UARA-Stars 150 at Newport Speedway as the race leader.
When Pressley’s car finally emerged from turn four, however, it was hooked to the back of a tow truck.
After 149 laps of rough-and-tumble racing Saturday night, something broke under Pressley’s car, sending a machine seemingly destined for victory lane into a tailspin that ended against the outside wall.
That cleared the way for Alex Yontz, who became the UARA’s seventh different winner in the first seven races of the season..
Yontz said the moment the No. 59 spun out about five car lengths in front of him, he could hardly believe his eyes.
“We were all screaming over the radio,” he said. “I hate that for (Pressley), but we’ll take them any way we can get them.”
Pressley had to settle for a disappointing 12th-place finish.
Yontz started fifth and did his best to save his brakes and tires until the end of the race.
He slowly worked his way toward the front, but with the laps winding down, he found himself locked in a fierce battle for second with Kyle Grissom as Pressley set sail.
By the time Yontz finally got around Grissom on lap 141, he thought he’d been a little too patient.
“When they said five to go, I thought we’d waited too long,” he said.
Yontz was making up ground on Pressley, but when the No. 59 took the white flag, it seemed that time had run out.
Then, in the blink of an eye, there was nothing but clean racetrack standing between Yontz and his first UARA-Stars victory of the season.
Grissom wound up finishing second after leading the first 101 laps of the race. Setting the pace in front of such an aggressive field, however, seemed to take a toll on Grissom’s No. 32 car as the race wore on.
“When you’re out front here you just have to run so hard to keep people behind you,” he said. “There at the end, it got loose and we were just trying to hang on.”
Pressley finally took the lead on lap 102 by making a daring pass on Grissom’s high side. Although the bottom groove was the preferred path around the track, Pressley blazed his own trail and made it work.
“Coleman just kind of came out of nowhere there,” Grissom said. “Nobody could run the line he was running.”
Stephen Gahangan finished third in his first race of the season, which was an amazing feat after he started 15th.
Gahangan said he saw his share of aggressive driving as he picked his way toward the front.
“They just started racing real hard in front of me, bouncing off each other, and I just kept easing by them,” he said.
Scottie Hicks and Brennan Poole rounded out the top five. Robert Johnson, son of NASCAR legend Junior Johnson, locked up a ninth-place finish.