COEBURN, Va. — Wytheville’s Dale Cline and former NASCAR driver Danny O’Quinn Jr. turned a large Limited Late Model field into an entertaining two-car race over the final laps Saturday night at Lonesome Pine Raceway.
The legendary track’s first night of weekly racing series action on asphalt since 2017 saw Cline and O’Quinn survive six caution periods, lots of lap traffic and each other — and the final three laps proved to be the most exciting.
Following the final restart on lap 44 of the 50-lap event, Cline and O’Quinn battled side by side for three laps before touching coming out of turn 2. The incident resulted in Cline getting sideways, but he managed to hang on even as O’Quinn slid into the lead.
Two laps later, Cline tapped O’Quinn entering turn 4 and managed to regain the lead for the final circuit around the track.
Neither driver seemed too upset by the beating and banging that occurred.
“It was just a hard run,” Cline said. “Danny ran hard into the corners. It was just a hard-running race. There’s no hard feelings.”
“That was certainly exciting for opening night,” said O’Quinn, who competed against 18 other drivers in his first race of the season. “It was just cool and fun to be in a car again after a year.”
The night was extra special for former track champion Jeff Counts, who won the inaugural division race of LPR’s reopening.
Years after capturing the track’s season trophy, the Castlewood driver won the 30-lap Pure Street event.
“It’s so amazing,” said an emotional Counts. “After all these years, you let this old man come back and play one more time.”
Counts moved into the lead about halfway through the race when the leaders got together coming out of the third turn.
Mike Mays finished second and Rob Austin was third, giving Castlewood drivers a sweep of the top three spots.
CLENDENIN, KETRON, WALLS EARN WINS
Church Hill’s Rusty Clendenin took home the Modified Street victory, and afterward said he’s a fan of LPR’s repaved surface on the backstretch and the turns.
“This is really a fun surface to run on,” Clendenin said. “We threw this car together at the last minute and didn’t get any practice laps until we got over here today.”
Kingsport’s John Ketron collected the Pure 4 win, North Carolina’s Chuck Walls edged Freddie Taylor Jr., a former track regular, in the Mod 4 event, and Brandon Keith won the 30-lap Enduro race.
BACK IN ACTION
After skipping next weekend when NASCAR invades Bristol Motor Speedway, LPR’s weekly program is scheduled to run again on Sept. 26. Racing is slated to begin at 7 p.m.