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Williams wins third straight at Kingsport Speedway

Jeff Birchfield • Updated May 18, 2019 at 2:04 AM

KINGSPORT — Nik Williams raced to his third win in a row Friday night at Kingsport Speedway after a couple of early incidents put him at the back of the field.

Williams, driver of the No. 32 Chevrolet, first made contact with Zeke Shell’s No. 1 Ford on the sixth lap of the 60-lap Late Model Stock feature. It sent Shell spinning off turn 4. Just four laps later, Williams was involved in another incident with two-time track champion Nate Monteith as the drivers were battling for the lead coming off turn two.

Monteith’s car spun out of control and slammed into the inside retaining wall. His heavily damaged car was done for the night, while Williams raced on for the win.

“It’s a bullring and rubbing is racing,” said Williams, a 22-year-old from Chuckey. “I got into Zeke and that was totally my fault so I felt bad about that. We were so bottled up and I was impatient and got him spun.

“Nate, I don’t know what the heck he was doing. I was under him, he cut down on me and spun himself out. But, we had a good car and I’m glad we could bring it home.”

After the incidents, Williams was sent to the back of the field and Gray driver Joey Trent took over the lead. Only three laps later, Shell, the defending track champion from Johnson City, passed Trent for the top spot.

Shell maintained an advantage until lap 38 when his car slowed on the back stretch with smoke pouring from the rear end housing. Trent reassumed the lead at that point and successfully held off Williams over the next few laps. Williams found an opening on lap 45 and pulled inside Trent for the winning pass.

Trent held on to second in the No. 26 Chevrolet. It was his second straight runner-up finish and his fourth top-three finish of the season.

“The car was really good and when Zeke fell out, I thought tonight is the night,” Trent said. “We were 22 laps out. Unfortunately once again, Nik was a little bit better. I did everything I could to try to hold him off, probably pushed him a little high coming off (turn) 2. He still battled back and got me. We’ll keep working on it until we get that top spot.”

Bluff City driver Wayne Hale emerged from a tight battle with Kingsport racer Derek Lane to round out the top-three finishers. It was the first podium finish of the season for Hale in the No. 19 Chevrolet.

“It was a good race. He was holding us up pretty bad and once we got around him, we were gone,” Hale said. “We had some differences last week, but I was trying not to wreck him and to take care of our car. We raced real hard with him for sure.”

Lane came up to Hale after the race and talked about how much fun the battle for position was. It was Lane’s second straight top-five finish. He also won the Mod Street feature the previous week.

“We’ve finally gotten up on the motor package and it changed our whole set-up,” Lane said. “The car is getting there. It’s a work in progress. Give it a couple of weeks and we will be there.”

Kingsport racer Rick Pannell rounded out the top five and scored a career-best finish in the process.

MOD STREET AND MOD 4

Lane’s brother, Trey, drove the No. 9 Dodge Challenger to the win in the 30-lap Mod Street feature. It was Trey’s second win in three weeks, sandwiched around Derek’s win in the car.

Kevin Wolfe finished second after he won the second of two Mod 4 features the previous week. Rusty Clendenin rounded out the top three. Paul Shull, a 78 year-old veteran from Church Hill, started the race on the pole.

Kevin Canter, in the black No. 3 Dale Earnhardt tribute car, was wrecked on the first lap of the Mod 4 race, putting his undefeated record for the season in jeopardy. Crew members removed the hood from the car under caution, but it didn’t hamper its performance.

Canter passed Dennis Arnold for the lead before the halfway point of the race, and rolled to the win. Arnold finished second, ahead of Canter’s grandfather, Herschel Robinette, in third.

PURE STREET AND PURE 4

Doug Austin passed defending track champion Jay Swecker for the lead on lap 12 of the Pure Street feature to also remain unbeaten this season. Swecker put up quite a fight and finished second, while Tony Dockery rounded out the top three.

Bruce Crumbley put an end to Keith Helton’s season-long win streak in the Pure 4 division. Helton had to come in the pits after cutting his tire on lap 20 while battling Brandon Southerland for the lead. Crumbley raced to the front with Josh Detwiler in second place and Southerland third. Helton powered through the 20-car field to finish sixth.

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