Ronnie McCarty used the move made famous at neighboring Bristol Motor Speedway to nudge leader Kres VanDyke out of the way with three laps to go and win Saturday’s 60-lap Late Model Stock feature for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
In the battle of former track champions, McCarty in his No. 5 Ford led most of the race before VanDyke’s No. 15 Chevrolet pulled ahead on a late-race restart. He led a couple of laps before McCarty made the winning move and passed him between turns 3 and 4.
McCarty, a hometown driver who is running a limited schedule, talked about the move on Kingsport’s 3/8-mile concrete oval.
“He ran me good, but I wanted to win the race,” McCarty said. “I didn’t really have anything to lose so I went for it. I came out on top this time and I might not next time. We worked really hard on this car, making it fast for the race. I think I had the better car today and if it hadn’t have been a five-lap shootout, I would have won easily. The next time I come here, I might be on the other end of it and that’s fine.”
VanDyke, the Abingdon, Va., driver who won the season-opening race, called it good, hard short-track racing. He had a fast car and was the only driver to break the 15-second and 90-mph barriers in qualifying before the top four cars were inverted at the start of the race.
“That was just hard racing, one or two little nudges here or there and then four or five when we get to the center (of the corner). It is what it is,” VanDyke said. “It was good, hard racing and a good race. We will be back.”
With the runner-up finish, VanDyke increased his early lead in the season point standings.
Nik Williams from Chuckey finished third in the No. 32 Chevrolet to maintain a second-place in the points. For a second straight week, he was slightly off the pace of VanDyke, as well as McCarty this time.
“We were really tight with the set-up last week, so we brought a new one this week, but we were still tight and then we got loose off the corners,” Williams said. “We didn’t have anything for the first two, but we will keep working on it and try to get there.”
Bryson Dennis of Greeneville and former track champion Nate Monteith of Bluff City rounded out the top five.
Defending track champion Zeke Shell of Johnson City took another major hit in the standings. A week after the motor seized up in his No. 1 Ford — leaving him unable to start the opener — he used a borrowed motor, had engine troubles again and finished last in the 11-car field.
“It was spewing water. They were kind enough to lend it to us and I know when it’s about ready to blow up, so I didn’t want to burn it up. I shut her down,” Shell said. “The winners put on a great show. I wish I could have been up there racing with them.”
Gray driver Joey Trent started on the pole and was still running in the top four when he had a wheel break on his No. 26 Chevrolet. He recovered from the misfortune enough to finish sixth.
WINNING BY INCHES
As exciting as the featured race was, even it couldn’t match the Mod Street final lap.
Kingsport drivers Austin Peters and Trey Lane raced side-by-side the entire final circuit. Peters was leading in the No. 48 Dodge at the white flag, but Lane’s No. 9 Dodge pulled ahead slightly on the back stretch and on the final corners.
Peters powered off turn 4 and literally won by inches at the finish line.
“I didn’t know if I had won or not when I first crossed the line,” Peters said. “I got inverted and got the pole and luckily the 37 (Alex Miller) battled the 9 most of the race and I got a good lead on them. I saw the 9 get closer and closer, and it was all I could do to hang on. I appreciate Trey for racing me clean and I hope the fans enjoyed it.”
OTHER DIVISION RACES
Defending track champions Kevin Canter and Keith Helton continue to pace their respective classes.
Canter, driving the black No. 3 with a Dale Earnhardt tribute paint scheme, won for a second straight week in the Mod 4 class. Billy Duty, driving a black No. 45 Adam Petty tribute car, finished second.
For a second straight week, Helton’s No. 9 Saturn made a late-race pass of Brandon Sutherland’s No. 48 car to win in Pure 4.
Doug Austin won for a second straight week in the Pure Street division, beating Kevin Darnell to the finish line.