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 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock feature.
In the battle of former track champions, McCarty in his No. 5 Ford led most of the 60-lap race before VanDyke’s No. 15 Chevrolet pulled ahead on a late-race restart. He led a couple of laps before McCarty passed him between turns 3 and 4 with the winning move on Kingsport’s three-eighths-mile concrete oval.
“He ran me good, but I wanted to win the race,” said McCarty, a hometown driver running a limited schedule. “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 driver who won the season-opening race, 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,” he said. “It was good, hard racing and a good race. We will be back.”
VanDyke increased his early lead in the season points standings with his runner-up finish.
Chuckey’s Nik Williams finished third in the No. 32 Chevrolet to maintain second in the points. For a second straight week, he was slightly off the pace.
“We were really tight with the setup 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.”
Greeneville’s Bryson Dennis 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’s Joey Trent started on the pole and was still running in the top four when a wheel broke on his No. 26 Chevrolet. He recovered enough to finish sixth.
WINNING BY INCHES
As exciting as the featured race was, even it couldn’t match the final lap of the Mod Street event.
Kingsport drivers Austin Peters and Trey Lane raced side by side the entire final circuit. Peters in the No. 48 Dodge was leading at the white flag, but Lane pulled slightly ahead on the backstretch and the final corners in his No. 9 Dodge.
Peters powered off turn 4 and 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 continued 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.
Also 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.