The Piney Flats driver won Friday night’s NASCAR Advance Auto Weekly Series Late Model Stock feature at Kingsport Speedway in a complete turnaround from the previous Friday.
Last week, Hale watched helplessly as his No. 19 Toyota was towed to the pits after getting wrecked on the opening lap of the race. This time, Hale used his bumper to get by leader Nik Williams on lap 41 and stayed out front the rest of the 60-lap feature.
“It’s a shame what happened last week because I thought we could have given them a run for their money,” said Hale, who started seventh. “We went back to the shop, got everything repaired, and we were still a little off, but it was a good night.”
Because of coronavirus-related restrictions, this was the first NASCAR points race of the year. The racetrack had sanctioned the first two nights of racing.
“This is what we’re after,” Hale said. “We’ve won championships at Lonesome Pine (Raceway) and other places, but we’ve never won one at Kingsport. We’ve been second and third about 15 times. This is our 30th year racing and we’re going to try to win this thing this year.”
Greeneville’s Bryson Dennis — the driver who hit Hale from behind last week — finished second in his white No. 15 Chevrolet. This time, Dennis was patient throughout the race and was rewarded with the runner-up finish.
“We’ve worked hard on our car and got it within a tenth (of a second) of where it needs to be,” Dennis said. “Man, that was a fun race. If I had to run second, I’m glad it was to Wayne. He deserved that. I hate I took him out last week. It wasn’t intentional as I don’t race like that, so congrats to him on getting the win.”
Williams, the defending track champion, passed early leader Chase Dixon for the top spot on lap 28. His No. 32 Chevrolet pulled out front on a lap 40 restart, but the Chuckey driver fell back to fourth after Hale executed a bump-and-run. Williams finished third.
“I got moved out of the way,” Williams said. “That’s all right. It’s short-track racing and I will be on the opposite end of it next time.”
Kres VanDyke, the previous Friday’s winner, set the fast time in qualifying, powering around the three-eighths-mile concrete oval in 15.042 seconds at 89.749 mph.
He was running second to Williams when he spun to avoid Dixon’s car, which had spun out between turns 3 and 4. VanDyke was put back to sixth on the restart but was back battling Dennis for second just four laps later when the motor let go in his red No. 15 Chevrolet.
“It was pretty good at the beginning, but the motor kept going down on his all night,” said VanDyke, who finished last in the nine-car field. “It wouldn’t get up to speed after we had charged up to second.
“I couldn’t understand why we were put back in sixth anyway. The rules state if you’re involved in a wreck, you go to the back of the field. If you try to avoid getting in the wreck, you blend in and get your spot back.”
Dixon recovered from his spin to finish fourth. He was one spot better than Keith Helton, who started from the pole after an inversion of the top-five qualifiers.
Outside pole-sitter Kyle Barnes took the lead over Derek Lane on the opening lap and led flag to flag to win the Sportsman feature.
Barnes’ No. 00 Chevrolet wasn’t seriously challenged out front. Kirby Gobble passed Lane for second halfway through the race and they maintained the second and third positions.
Fast qualifier Alex Miller finished fourth and Rusty Clendenin was fifth.
Kevin Canter improved to 3-for-3 for the season in his No. 3 Ford featuring a Dale Earnhardt-tribute paint scheme.
The defending class champion passed Gobble for the lead on lap 8 and led the rest of the 30-lap feature.
Gobble emerged from a back-and-forth battle with Dennis Arnold to finish second. Arnold was third, followed by Brad Ball and Chris Amburgey. The race ended under caution because of Tristen Barnes’ spin on the final lap.
Ben Barker grabbed the lead at the start and led all 30 laps to record his second straight victory.
Bucky Smith, who pressured Barker throughout, took second in the 21-driver field. Billy Byington was third ahead of defending class champion Keith Helton and Kenny Absher.
Tony Dockery made a daring three-wide pass for the lead on lap 3. Once out front, his No. 05 Camaro set sail for his third win of the season in as many races.
Rob Austin raced to a second-place finish in his Camaro. Billy Walters, Jamie Meadows and Ricky Payne rounded out the top five.