Fast on the track and quick on restarts, VanDyke captured his second win of the season in the 60-lap Late Model Stock feature.
The Abingdon driver started the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race third after an inversion of top qualifiers. His No. 15 Chevrolet passed the No. 1 Ford of defending track champion Zeke Shell on lap 15. Eight laps later, he made the winning pass, pulling away from the No. 32 Chevrolet of Nik Williams on a restart.
Once out front, VanDyke fended off challenges from Williams and Shell for the win.
“Zeke was hammering it up in the corners pretty hard,” said VanDyke, a two-time track champion. “One lap, he got a little bobbley and I took advantage of it. I knew we had the fastest car on the racetrack and the car stayed consistent.
“I just kept the tires from spinning on the restarts. Williams gave me the outside and he must have spun the tires because we got by him. I had pressure from those guys, but I was racing my own car, racing myself and not really worried who was around me.”
Shell fell back to sixth on one of the mad-scramble restarts but charged his way back to second. The Johnson City driver was happy to simply finish after mechanical issues had sidelined him the previous two races.
“I didn’t think finishing a race would be something to celebrate,” Shell said. “I finished the race, am going home without a scratch on the car and not a lot of work to do. I’m happy.”
Although he didn’t know it during the post-race interview, Shell was fortunate to finish Friday’s race. His right front tire was sliced on the sidewall from the hard racing, but it held air in it long enough for him to finish.
Even with the tire pressure staying up, he didn’t have enough to overtake VanDyke.
“We were waiting to the final 20 (laps) to hit the button and I just didn’t have enough on my button,” Shell said. “Kres ran me clean and there was a little side-by-side action. Maybe a little door rubbing would have been better, but I can’t complain.”
Making his first start of the season, Hayden Woods of Piney Flats finished third. He held off Williams in a furious battle over the final few laps. After the two made contact with five laps to go, Woods got his No. 6 machine nearly sideways coming off turn 2 before straightening it out and maintaining the position.
“We need more racing like that. Rubbing is racing. We pushed, we shoved, we got pushed and we got shoved,” Woods said. “We got shuffled back to seventh, but I was able to pick up a bunch of positions on that one restart. I like to think that restarts are my specialty. But I’m just so happy to be back in the seat.”
Williams ended up fourth, two-time track champion Nate Monteith was fifth and Gray’s Joey Trent finished sixth. Wayne Hale, Bryson Dennis, Rick Pannell and Jimmy Acito rounded out the top 10.
Jeff Maupin, who started from the pole, finished 11th. Two-time track champion Ronnie McCarty, who won the most recent race prior to Friday night, finished 12th with a busted radiator.
TWO WINS FOR CAR NO. 3
Kevin Canter, driving the black No. 3 with a tribute paint scheme to Dale Earnhardt, continued to dominate the Mod 4 ranks.
Coming off a season in which he won 10 races and the track championship, Canter moved to 4-for-4 this season following his sweep of twin 15-lap features Friday night. He edged Zack Fritz for the win in the first race then held off his grandfather, Herschel Robinette, to take the nightcap.
Canter said it’s also a family affair with his race car.
“I owe it all to my stepdad, Rocky Yates, who owned this car and won multiple championships,” Canter said. “He set me up for success when he put the wheel in my hand, although I’ve paid him a pretty penny for the car. We’ve raced three seasons and have three track championships. We’re 3-for-3 and looking at going 4-for-4.”
Joking about his Earnhardt-inspired scheme, he said: “You put the No. 3 on anything and it will pick up two-tenths.”
Kingsport racers Keith Helton and Doug Austin continued to pace the field in their respective divisions, both with three wins this season.
Helton held off Bruce Crumbley and Billy Byington to win the Pure 4 race. The action heated up behind them when Kenny Absher took exception with Craig Phelps and pinched the No. 00 car into the outside wall. Asher pulled ahead and then backed into Phelps’ wrecked car on the backstretch.
Austin emerged with the Pure Street win ahead of Kevin Darnell and Jay Swecker.
Another Kingsport racer, Derek Lane, drove the No. 9 Dodge Challenger to the Mod Street win. Kevin Wolfe of Abingdon finished second and Erwin’s Alex Miller third.