“That was a heck of a understatement,” the defending Kingsport Speedway track champion responded.
Shell’s frustration ended Friday night after his No. 1 Ford led all 60 laps of the Late Model Stock feature for his first win of the year. It wasn’t just a lift for the Johnson City driver, but for everyone who helps him on the car.
“It means everything. The team morale needed to come up,” Shell said. “We had a rough beginning of the season. This definitely helps us.”
Though Shell led every lap, it wasn’t a runaway. Nik Williams, the winner of the previous three races at Kingsport, battled him much of the race. His No. 32 Chevrolet bumped Shell’s Ford a few times, but never got it out of control.
Williams also made multiple bids for the lead, getting inside Shell a few times before ultimately ending in the runner-up spot.
“It was good racing,” Shell said. “He got into me and he could have turned me around, but he didn’t and I have respect for him. He stayed on me the entire time, but we had a good race.”
Shell started the race from the pole alongside Bryson Dennis after an inversion of the top four qualifiers. Williams moved past Dennis into second place on lap 5 and was there to battle Shell the rest of the way.
Shell still believes there is room for improvement with his car.
“The car is handling better than it has been, but it’s still not quite there,” he said. “We’re trying new things, which is the whole point of doing this. There’s no point in coming back the way you left unless you like second place.
“We’re always trying to evolve, although 99% of the time you find a way to slow down. I’m always happy to try something new and I’ll drive 1,000 laps if that helps.”
Greene County drivers Williams and Dennis finished second and third. Gray’s Joey Trent, who set fast time in qualifying, finished fourth. He and fifth-place driver Derek Lane rallied after getting together on lap 51, spinning both cars.
MOD STREET FAMILY
Kingsport’s Royce Peters won the Mod Street feature after first outdueling his son, Austin, and later Trey Lane, also of Kingsport.
After a late-race caution, Lane got loose battling Royce Peters for the lead and lost several positions. Austin Peters finished second and Rusty Clendenin third.
Kevin Canter kept his undefeated run in the Mod-4 ranks going. The three-time defending class champion from Abingdon passed Dennis Arnold for the lead and led the rest of the way. Arnold was second and Billy Duty third.
Defending Pure-4 track champion Bruce Crumbley of Kingsport prevailed for a second straight week after breaking Keith Helton’s five-race winning streak. Josh Detwiler captured the runner-up spot with Kenny Absher third.
Dungannon’s Tony Dockery ended Doug Austin’s six-race winning streak in Pure Stock. Austin finished second and defending track champion Jay Swecker third.