16-year-old Dillon Bassett of Winston-Salem, N.C. wonhis second consecutive UARA Late Model Touring Series race at Kingsport Speedway Satruday night. (Photos courtesy of UARA)
KINGSPORT — Track regular Kres Van Dyke broke the Kingsport Speedway qualifying record prior to Saturday’s UARA-Stars “Model City 150 presented by Bloomingdale Car Care” — but it was series regular Dillon Bassett who took home the trophy.
It was the second consecutive Kingsport Speedway win on the UARA tour for Bassett. The 16-year-old Winston-Salem, N.C., driver started near the back of the pack but dominated the last 30 laps.
Although the series usually brings 20-25 cars to when it stops at Kingsport, there were only 12 cars in the UARA Late Model field Saturday night, and five of those were locals.
But what the competitors gave up in numbers, they made up for in aggression, which led to several passes for the lead, and a couple of on-track altercations.
Three local favorites were out of the race within the first dozen laps. Lee Tissott suffered a broken brake line which caused him to spin shortly after the initial drop of the green.
On the restart, Paul Nogradi’s motor detonated going into turn one, causing him and several other cars to spin in his oil, and bringing out a red flag for cleanup.
Van Dyke set a fast qualifying time of 14.978, but slipped deep into the field on the second restart. He then suffered a broken left front suspension which forced him onto pit lane, sparks flying from beneath the car.
Van Dyke and Tissott would eventually return many laps down to make a few more circuits, but neither saw the checkered flag.
Racing the day before his 14th birthday, Garrett Jones of West Palm Beach, Fla., started at the tail end of the field due to working on the car after qualifying. But near the midway point of the race he was on a serious move to the front, albeit at the expense of roughing up a couple of drivers along the way including, 17-year-old Chandler LeVan.
Jones was running fifth on a caution-flag restart with about 50 laps to go when LeVan made contact with Jones on the frontstretch, sending Jones hard into the wall.
LeVan, of Statesville, N.C., went on to finish fifth, and said after the race the contact with Jones wasn’t intentional. Based on their angry gestures, however, the Jones crew apparently felt the contact was intentional, and track officials were called into keep the teams separated.
Bassett didn’t appear to be a contender early on, but he took the lead from local favorite Daniel Pope shortly after racing resumed from the Jones crash. Although the top four cars had been either nose-to-tail or side-by-side for most of the race, after taking the lead Bassett stretched his advantage to a full straightaway by the time he took the checkered flag.
Pope, a multiple time winner in the Kingsport Speedway regular season, earned a UARA career-best finish of second, followed by series regulars Garrett Campbell, Travis Swaim and LeVan.
Fifth through 12th were: Kaz Grala, Thomas Bean, Garrett Jones, Bruce Blessing, Kres VanDyke, Lee Tissot and Paul Nogradi.