“That was a heckuva understatement,” the defending Kingsport Speedway track champion responded.
Shell’s frustration ended Friday night as his No. 1 Ford led all 60 laps of the Late Model Stock feature for his first win of the year. It wasn’t just a lift for the Johnson City driver, but for everyone who helps him on the car.
“It means everything. The team morale needed to come up,” Shell said. “We had a rough beginning of the season. This definitely helps us.”
While Shell led every lap, it wasn’t a runaway. Nik Williams, the winner of the previous three races at Kingsport, battled him much of the race. His No. 32 Chevrolet bumped Shell’s Ford a few times, but never got it out of control.
Williams also made multiple bids for the lead, getting inside of Shell a few times — but ultimately ended in the runner-up spot.
“It was good racing,” Shell said. “He got into me and he could have turned me around, but he didn’t and I have respect for him. He stayed on me the entire time, but we had a good race.”
Shell started the race from the pole alongside Bryson Dennis after an inversion of the top four qualifiers. Williams moved past Dennis into second place on lap 5 and was there to battle Shell the rest of the way.
Despite the win, Shell believes there is room for improvement with his car.
“The car is handling better than it has been, but it’s still not quite there,” Shell said. “We’re trying new things, which is the whole point of doing this. There’s no point in coming back the way you left unless you like second place.
“We’re always trying to evolve, although 99 percent of the time you find a way to slow down. I’m always happy to try something new and I’ll drive 1,000 laps if that helps.”
Greene County drivers Williams and Dennis finished second and third. Joey Trent of Gray, who set fast time in qualifying, finished fourth. He and fifth-place driver Derek Lane got together on lap 51, which sent both their cars spinning before they rallied for the top-five finishes.
MOD STREET FAMILY
Kingsport driver Royce Peters won the Mod Street feature, first outdueling his son, Austin, and later another Kingsport driver, Trey Lane.
After a late-race caution, Lane got loose while battling Royce Peters for the lead and lost several positions. It meant Austin Peters finished second and Rusty Clendenin ended third.
Kevin Canter kept his undefeated run in the Mod-4 ranks going. The Abingdon, Va., driver and three-time defending class champion passed Dennis Arnold for the lead and led the rest of the way. Arnold was second and Billy Duty finished third.
Defending track champion Bruce Crumbley from Kingsport prevailed for a second straight week after breaking a five-race winning streak by Keith Helton. Josh Detwiler captured the runner-up spot with Kenny Absher third.
Tony Dockery from Dunngannon, Va., ended Doug Austin’s six-race winning streak in Pure Stock. Austin finished second with defending track champion Jay Swecker in third.