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VanDyke earns third straight win at Kingsport Speedway

Jeff Birchfield • Jul 4, 2020 at 3:21 AM

KINGSPORT — Racing under a full moon, the sparks were flying at Kingsport Speedway even before Friday night’s fireworks show.

Familiar names paced the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series fields on the three-eighths-mile concrete oval, which saw Kres VanDyke score his third straight Late Model Stock win. The victory was his division-leading fourth of the season.

Kevin Canter in Mod 4 and Tony Dockery in Pure Street stayed undefeated on the season. Kyle Barnes won for the second time in Sportsman, although the fans were more intrigued by the conflict involving Derek Lane and Kirby Gobble behind him.

Kingsport drivers Keith Helton and Craig Phelps each scored a win in twin Pure 4 features.

VanDyke set the fast time in qualifying, his red No. 15 Chevrolet touring the track in 15.060 seconds (89.641 mph). An inversion of the top six qualifiers, however, meant he had to battle his way to the front.

The Abingdon driver did just that, charging into second by lap 20. He moved early leader Ashton Higgins out of the way and then raced side by side with Wayne Hale for four laps before moving to the front on lap 31.

VanDyke led the rest of the 60-lap feature.

“I was running the high line on Wayne when Ashton moved up into my line so I gave him a little bump-and-run going for the lead,” he said. “Wayne got by me and that made it interesting. It was like chess. It’s pretty hard to play, but once you figure it out, it’s good.”

Hale finished runner-up in the No. 19 Toyota.

The Bluff City driver earlier created a gap between himself and Higgins after a spirited battle for the lead, and Hale didn’t have anything for VanDyke over the second half of the race.

“He could get through the corner better than we could,” Hale said. “We’ve got to go back and figure out why we were tight in the center of the corner. If we get this tightness out of it, we’ve got a rocketship, too, and we’re going to give him a run for his money.”

Higgins, a North Carolina driver, was third in the No. 9 Chevrolet. The former winner at Kingsport Speedway in the Southeast Super Trucks and Limited Late Model classes is still looking for his first Late Model Stock victory.

“That was a rough race, but it was fun,” Higgins said. “It’s been a long time since I had to race for anything that hard.”

Bryson Dennis in the white No. 15 Chevy made a last-lap pass on Chase Dixon in the No. 07 Chevy to finish fourth.


Barnes passed Gobble for the lead on 19th circuit of the 30-lap race and led the rest of the way.

Lane and Gobble traded paint over the final couple of laps, Lane muscling his way past to take the runner-up spot. Both drivers continued to run into each other’s cars after the race.

“Last week, he ran over my brother and about put him in the wall,” Lane said. “He jumped the nose on me. It’s the white-flag lap and I’m going for it. Every time I get around him, I see him beating and banging on everybody.

“If that’s how he wants to race, that’s how we will race. It’s not a big deal.”

Gobble, who held onto third ahead of Rusty Clendenin, offered his version of what happened.

“I like to rub. I rubbed with the 00 car a little and that’s racing,” Gobble said. “That’s putting a show on for the fans. When you get hit hard enough to knock the tire off the wheel, I don’t know. We ain’t done and the year ain’t over.”


It took three attempts to start the race, which included an opening-lap crash in which Billy Duty’s No. 2 car found the hood on Dennis Arnold’s No. 71 machine.

Once the tumult settled, Canter jumped out front in the No. 3 Ford with the Dale Earnhardt paint scheme.

Canter led all 25 circuits, and Gobble finished behind him in the runner-up spot. Freddie Taylor Jr. posted a third-place finish and Chris Amburgey was fourth.


Dockery passed Bruce Blessing for the lead on lap 11 of the Pure Street feature and set sail in his orange No. 05 Camaro.

Rob Austin charged past Blessing to finish second. Jay Swecker was the last driver on the scoreboard in fourth.


Helton led all 20 laps to win the first of two Pure 4 features. He held off a tough challenge from Billy Byington, who took second. Kenny Absher finished third and Bucky Smith fourth.

The second race proved to be much more eventful.

Byington passed Helton and Phelps in a three-way battle for the lead on lap 9. Three laps later, contact between Byington and Helton saw track officials park Helton for rough driving and send Byington to the back of the pack.

With those two eliminated, Phelps took over the top spot and drove to his first-ever Pure 4 victory. He held off David Trent, Larry Yeary and Jason Haribans over a couple of late restarts for the win.

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