Johnson City Press: Shell, Williams provide the spark in Kingsport victories
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Shell, Williams provide the spark in Kingsport victories

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Jul 6, 2019 at 1:35 PM

KINGSPORT — Zeke Shell, Nik Williams and the rest of the Late Model Stock division provided plenty of sparks on the track Friday night before a large fireworks display at Kingsport Speedway.

Shell, the defending track champion, rallied from being disqualified for rough driving in the first of twin 35-lap features in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, to win the second race. Williams, the driver deemed the victim of Shell’s rough driving, won the first 35-lap race despite his car missing its hood and front fenders.

In the second race, Shell started sixth, but passed Bryson Dennis for the lead on lap 5 and set sail out. At that point, there had already been three lead changes and two cautions.

Rick Pannell started on the pole and led for two laps before surrendering the top spot to Wayne Hale. Dennis passed Hale for the lead on lap 4, but couldn’t hold off a determined Shell in the fast No. 1 Ford.

“My crew makes me look more talented than I probably am,” Shell said. “We knew when we unloaded today, there was nothing that was going to be faster. We qualified on the pole, set the fastest time in the first race before the track black-flagged us. We won the second race from the back. I’m really glad to make the comeback and we’re definitely going to celebrate tonight.”

Shell finished nearly a straightaway ahead of runner-up Wayne Hale, who had earlier made contact with third-place finisher Derek Lane.

Hale and Lane finished in the same positions in the opening race, but had to be separated by track officials after taking exception with the way they raced each other. They went at it again in the second race as Lane attempted to go three-wide off turn two, and ended up spinning out after making contact with Hale.

“You don’t go three-wide like that here,” Hale said. “It happened, but his day will come again. Overall, it was a good night. We’ve got to go back, do a little homework and find a little more (speed). We’re close, but we have to have a little bit extra.”

Lane had to go to the back of the field after the accident, but stormed back to finish in the final podium spot ahead of Dennis and Joey Trent. He had a different take on the contact with Hale.

“He was trying to block me and we were fast,” Lane said. “I did everything I could to get by him. I stuck my nose in and it is what it is. I got turned around, but rebounded to finish third. We ran third in both races and that’s the best we’ve run in this car this year.”

OPENING RACE

Williams and Shell traded more than their share of sheet metal over the first 35 laps.

The last contact with Shell caused major damage to the body of Williams’ No. 32 Chevrolet. Despite that, the 22-year-old Chuckey driver emerged from the accident with eight laps to go and charged to the front for his fourth win of the season.

“It means the world to battle back like that,” said Williams, the track’s points leader. “I can’t say enough about my crew because we had half the car gone. It handled terrible at the end, but we still came away with the ‘W.’”

TRENT IN THE 26, IN THE 32

Trent, second place in the points, got the front of his No. 26 Chevrolet ripped off as a result of the Shell and Williams accident. For the second race, Williams and his team let Trent drive the race-winning car from the first feature.

Trent finished fifth in the damaged car. It ended up four positions higher than Williams, who finished ninth after the shifter rod broke and his car was stuck in third gear. Trent had high praise for the show of sportsmanship.

“Words can’t describe what kind of upstanding people they are to let me go out in that car when I’m second in points,” Trent said. “Zeke and I are their biggest contenders for the track championship right now, but they offer me a car and I end up finishing ahead of them. They’re first-class people across the board and I can’t thank them enough.”

MOD RACES

Royce Peters of Kingsport drove his No. 48 Camaro to his second Mod Street win of the season, holding off Alex Miller of Erwin. Rusty Clendenin, who battled Miller for the runner-up spot, finished third. Kevin Canter and Lane rounded out the top five.

Canter, driving his familiar black No. 3 Ford for the Mod 4 race, started fifth, but quickly came to the front for his 10th win of the season. Dennis Arnold finished second, followed by Billy Duty, James Deese and Hershell Robinette.

PURE EXCITEMENT

Bruce Crumbley won in Pure 4 for the second week in a row and fourth time this season. Bucky Smith came in second with Josh Detwiler in third. Points leader Keith Helton started last in the 21-car field, but raced to fourth. Kenny Absher rounded out the top five.

Bruce Blessing held off Doug Austin in a battle of Camaros for his first Pure Street win of the season. Mike Mays finished third with Jay Swecker and Tony Dockery in the fourth and fifth positions.

NEXT UP

Kingsport Speedway will host the Southeast Super Trucks Series on Saturday, July 13.

The Limited Late Model and Carolina Vintage classes will also be part of the program. Pure 4 is the only weekly division scheduled, although no points towards the track championship will be awarded.

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