Zeke Shell is down to his final shot at becoming Kingsport Speedway track champion for 2013.
The Johnson City driver trails Chad Finchum of Knoxville by nine points heading into Friday night’s season-ending, twin 60-lap features at the 3?8-mile concrete oval.
Shell was unable to make up any ground on Finchum this past Friday night despite a strong effort. Shell set fast time in qualifying, but started on the second row after the top four qualifiers were inverted. It meant Kingsport driver Ronnie McCarty started on the pole with Finchum on the outside pole.
Finchum grabbed the lead at the start and held it for the first 29 laps until being passed by eventual winner Ben Rhodes.
Rhodes, a 16-year-old from Louisville, Ky. who is part of the NASCAR Next program to identify rising stars of the sport, started fifth. He overtook Shell on lap 3, moved to the runner-up spot on lap 13 and passed Finchum for the lead on lap 29.
Finchum remained in second place over the second half of the race, holding off several strong challenges from Shell.
Virginia driver Ryan Stiltner and Hayden Woods of Piney Flats rounded out the top five.
With their strong runs, Finchum and Shell were able to put some distance on Daniel Pope II of Smyrna who finished eighth. Finchum now leads Shell 495-486 in the Late Model standings with Pope third with 471 points.
In Friday’s preliminary races, NASCAR Division III national points leader John Ketron of Kingsport passed Kenny Absher with five laps to go to score his ninth Pure 4 win of the season.
Alan Rich won the Street Stock feature holding off Chris Tunnell. Brandon Byington of Kingsport won his fourth Rookie Pure 4 race, while Trey Lane of Kingsport won his second straight Legends feature.
Volunteer Speedway hosts the $5,000-to-win Steel Head Late Model Championship this Friday night.
The race is also open to the Crate Late Models with the first 16 cars in the 24-car field locked in by qualifying. Heat races will fill the remaining eight spots.
The Modified Hobby and Mini Stock divisions will also be racing. Grandstands open at 6 p.m. with practice laps to begin around 8 p.m. followed by qualifying and racing.
Appearances by Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. highlight free fan events at area Walmart locations next week.
Keselowski, the defending NASCAR champion, will be at Walmart off Volunteer Parkway on Thursday, Aug. 22 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Earnhardt, the 10-time Most Popular Driver, will be at the same location from 10-11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 23.
Another driver appearance will take place next Wednesday, Aug. 21. Nationwide Series driver Eric McClure will be at Walmart on Ft. Henry Drive in Kingsport from noon to 1 p.m.
The Johnson City Walmart locations will also host special events.
The West Market store will have show cars, simulators and the House-Autry Ultimate Tailgate Truck from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20.
If you miss that opportunity, more displays will be set up at the Browns Mill location on Thursday, Aug. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Are you ready for some racing, a Saturday night party?”
Bristol Motor Speedway announced Tuesday that Hank Williams Jr. will headline the IRWIN Tools Night Race pre-race show on Saturday, Aug. 24.
Fans wanting a front-row seat to Williams’ performance can purchase a Pre-Race Super Pass for just $80 with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. The pass puts fans front-and-center at the stage for the Grammy-winning artist’s show, and later for driver introductions.
For more information on the pre-race SuperPass or to purchase, call (855) 580-5525 or visit www.bristoltix.com.
Tickets options are also available for the August race weekend, with single-day tickets starting at $75 for the IRWIN Tools Night Race and $99 for weekend packages.