It was a wild finish to last Friday night’s Late Model Stock feature at Kingsport Speedway.
With the fastest car in the field, Johnson City driver Zeke Shell appeared well on his way to a second straight victory. After fending off a challenge by Lee Tissot in the middle stages of the race, he was cruising out front with less than five laps to go in the 60-lap feature.
Then, Royce Peters spun out with three laps to go, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
After two botched attempts at getting racing back underway, Shell powered his No. 97 Ford ahead of Tissot’s No. 27 heading into the first turn. Midway through the first and second turns, Tissot plowed into the back of Shell’s car, damaging both as well as the third-place car of Nate Monteith.
As Paul Nogradi of Oak Ridge raced to his first-ever win, Shell had to be restrained by Sullivan County deputies after the race.
“He wasn’t planning on coming out of that turn straight,” Shell fumed. “He went in there a good five car lengths farther than he had the entire race. He knew he couldn’t beat me, so he tried to take me out of the race.
“I took him for a better driver than that and a better person, but he’s got one coming to him.”
Although replays of the accident seemed to indicate otherwise, Tissot gave an entirely different account of what happened.
“I picked up the gas and he just didn’t go,” Tissot said. “When he didn’t go, I got into him. He had me beat. If he gassed up and went like normal, we would have all been happy right now. I’m not letting up for you to play games.”
Making matters worse for Shell and Monteith, they were placed at the back of the pack for a final restart. Monteith charged to a third-place finish behind Nogradi and former NASCAR Truck Series driver Brian Rose.
Meanwhile, Shell ended up seventh instead of racking up consecutive wins.
“After all of that, the track puts everybody in the back that was in the front,” Shell said. “We led every lap and in my opinion, we won. The track or Lee Tissot can’t take that away.”
In the preliminary races, Duke Bare of Meadowview, Va., led flag-to-flag in the 30-lap Street Stock race and to capture his third feature win on the season.
John Ketron of Kingsport led all 25 laps for his second straight Pure 4 victory.
The red flag was displayed for a wreck on lap 11 of the Pure 4 race when Jimmy Hillard’s Honda Prelude got tangled with the truck of Moonshine Mills and slammed into the outside wall. Hillard was transported to the hospital, but released the following day without serious injury.
Hayden Woods of Piney Flats continued his winning ways with his sixth Legends feature win, and Pie Short of Abingdon, Va., won her second Rookie Pure 4 race over Hillard.
Kingsport Speedway has another four-division racing program of Late Model Stock, Street Stock, Pure 4 and Legends scheduled for this Friday night.
n While Shell was left disappointed, another Johnson City driver wouldn’t be denied the following night at Volunteer Speedway.
Dale Ball, the two-time defending Pro Late Model track champion, started on the pole and jumped ahead of Jonesborough’s Jerry Broyles at the start of the 25-lap feature.
Ball went on to lead all 25 circuits, while Mike Smith of Rogersville took the runner-up spot from Broyles.
Finishing third through fifth were Broyles, former ATV champion Tim Maupin of Johnson City and Todd Brooks of Greeneville.
Five-time track champion Vic Hill of Morristown battled past NASCAR Truck Series driver Austin Dillon in the ‘Summer Sizzler 50’ for the Super Late Models.
Dillon led the first 15 laps, but Hill got by as the two worked lapped traffic. Hill soon pulled away, but a late-race caution bunched the field back together.
Hill raced on for the win as California driver Eric Jacobson moved to the inside of Dillon for the runner-up spot.
Making his first start of the season, Shannon Emery of Morristown led all 20 laps of the Hobby Stock feature, and Jesse Wilder of Bulls Gap bounced back from having a flat tire to pass Kyle Hunter just two laps from the end of the Road Warrior feature.
Volunteer Speedway has another weekly program scheduled for this Saturday night, highlighted by the ‘Tennessee Hillbilly 50’ for the Super Late Models.
n Richard Newman drove his 1988 Mustang to victory in the Ford versus the World competition at this past Saturday’s Blue Oval Bash at Bristol Dragway.
In Sunday’s Blue Oval action, Clinton Snead of Bristol defeated Kingsport’s Van Greer in the final round of Super Pro, and Kingsport’s Alan Nelson drove to the Pro win over Lloyd Pierce of Elizabethton.
Rounding out the action, Steve Foley from Barbourville, Ky. earned the win in the Sportsman category.
Racing continues at Bristol Dragway this weekend with the fifth installment of the World Footbrake Challenge. In footbrake competition, drivers are not permitted to use electronic equipment to help them achieve a perfect start.
Jeff Birchfield is a sports writer for the Johnson City Press. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org