Zeke Shell Goes Flag to Flag For Third Kingsport Speedway NASCAR Late Model Win

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By Robert Walden
Kingsport Speedway Media/Public Relations

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (June 7) — Zeke Shell of Johnson City turned in the most dominating performance of the season Friday at Kingsport Speedway by leading flag-to-flag for his third NASCAR Whelen All-American Series “Dalton Direct Carpets” Late Model Stock feature win on Celebrity’s Hot Dogs Night at the Races.
Paul Nogradi Jr. laid down the fastest lap in qualifying at 15.205 seconds, but following an invert of the top four from time trials Ronnie McCarty moved to the pole position for the start of the 60-lap main event, with Shell on the outside of the front row.
With waving of the green flag, Shell appeared to be shot from a cannon as he blasted into the lead over McCarty, Nogradi, Chad Finchum and Kres VanDyke. Daniel Pope II got around VanDyke for the fifth spot on the second lap racing up off turn two.

All in attendance at “The Concrete Jungle” noticed from the beginning that Shell was in a class of his own, immediately putting real estate between himself and McCarty, Nogradi, Finchum, Pope, VanDyke and Lee Tissot, who were running bumper-to-bumper around the .375-mile banked concrete oval. Nogradi kept sticking his nose underneath McCarty racing off the corners wanting second, while in his rearview mirror Finchum was trying to hold back Pope, VanDyke and Tissot.
With the cruise control engaged, by lap 20 Shell held a full-straightaway lead over his closest challengers. On lap 25 racing into the first turn, Tissot pulled to the inside of Pope to battle for fifth. They raced side-by-side down the backstretch, but entering the third turn smoke began to pour from under the hood on Pope’s Chevrolet SS and that spelled disaster for the point leader entering the night of racing. With the engine failure, Pope, who had recorded six top-five finishes in 10 starts this season without a single DNF (Did Not Finish), slowly coasted back around the track and into the pits to bring out the caution.
The double-file restart had Shell and McCarty on the front row, with Finchum and Nogradi door-to-door in the second row. Once again, Shell pulled ahead over McCarty and Finchum. Tissot passed Nogradi racing off the fourth turn on lap 27 to move into fourth. Still smashing the loud pedal, Tissot got inside of Finchum racing up off (turn) two on lap 30 to challenge for third, before finally making the pass racing off the fourth turn.
Starting the race from rear of the field after pulling out of line in parade laps to drop onto pit road and attention under the hood from his crew, Blake Jones was having a strong showing as he got around first Austin Peters and then R.J. Stanley to move into eighth place on lap 38. Next in his sights was Tyler Goodwin and Jones pulled the trigger to overtake him for the seventh spot on lap 43.
But out front the race clearly belonged to the 26-year-old Shell, driving the X-Stand Treestands/Chef 5 Minute Meals/Fairway Ford of Kingsport/Rouge Salon of Johnson City/Shell Media (Printing, Design, Graphics, Wraps, Promotions, Marketing, Advertising) of Johnson City/Nickels Speed Shop/Bobby Myers Performance Racing Engines/Hy-Tec Specialty Coatings of Piney Flats/AR Bodies/Marlowe Racing Chassis/Zeke Shell Racing/No. 97 Ford Fusion.
Shell had already taken the white flag, when well behind him between turns three and four McCarty and Tissot were battling for the runner-up position. Following a cut tire, Tissot spun to simultaneously bring out the yellow flag with the white flag, signaling the race would get the checkered under caution and Shell would celebrate in victory lane for the third time this season.
Shell was chased to the finish by McCarty, Finchum, Nogradi and VanDyke. Completing the top 10 were Jones, Goodwin, Stanley, Peters, and Tissot following his last lap incident.

A major shakeup in the Late Model Stock point standings heading into next Friday’s racing with Finchum moving to the top of the leaderboard with 291, followed by Shell in second with 286 points, then VanDyke in third at 284 and Pope dropping from the lead back to fourth with 280 points.
Royce Peters grabbed the lead at start of the 30-lap Street Stock feature, while Jason Leatherwood, John Harrell, Nick Cole, and Jared Broadbent jockeyed for position early. Cole got around Harrell for third on lap three and one circuit later passed Leatherwood to move into second.

Broadbent began battling with Harrell for the third spot, while directly ahead Cole had closed to back bumper of leader Peters. Racing into the first turn on lap 7, Cole, from Bristol and driving the Eaton/United Central Industrial Supply/Matterhorn Mining/Industrial Scientific/3300 Artesian, LLC/Benny’s Pipe & Muffler/Pro Image Graphics/84EXPO/Nicholas Cole Racing/No. 63 Chevrolet Camaro, got to the inside of Peters to take a lead he would never relinquish.
While Cole began to pull away to a comfortable advantage out front, behind him Peters had his hands full trying to hold back the hard-charging Leatherwood. Cole easily rolled to his fifth victory, while Leatherwood got around Peters late to finish in second with Peters winding up third, followed by Rob Austin and Chris Tunnell.
When running at the finish, Kenny Absher of Kingsport had posted five top-five Pure 4 finishes in 2013. But he also was credited with four races parked in the pits before the checkered flag waved due to misfortune of being collected in racing incidents.
Derek Penley, Lloyd Baker, Dylan Bates, David Trent, Absher and Chris Neeley were engaged in a spirited battle for position in the early laps. The event’s only caution waved on the fourth circuit when Baker got spun in the fourth turn.

On the ensuing restart Absher wasted no time in overtaking both Penley and Bates for the lead. Once out front he began to distance himself over his closest challengers because he could view in the rearview mirror divisional points leader John Ketron was working his way forward, getting around Bates and Penley to take over the runner-up position.
John Ketron caught and passed Absher for the lead on lap 15, but Absher wouldn’t go down easy without putting up a fight. Absher, chauffeuring the Toy Auto of Kingsport No. 11 Toyota Celica reclaimed the lead from John Ketron with a couple of laps remaining to capture his first Pure 4 victory of the season. Rounding out the top five finishers were Jason Ketron, Neeley and Bates.
Bruce Crumbley of Kingsport had recorded six top-five Rookie Pure 4 finishes during the season, but hadn’t been able to park in victory lane. But the 33-year-old got up on the wheel and hustled his Honda Prelude to the front and never looked back en route to capturing his first-ever feature win over Chris Steadman, Billy Byington, Mook Jeter and Matt Baker.
Jacob Owens of Bean Station rolled to his division-leading fifth Legends victory in the first of two 10-lap events. Owens won over Trey Lane, Derek Lane, Michael Cobb and Jerry Lane. In the second 10-lap feature Derek Lane of Kingsport captured his second win of the season over Owens, Trey Lane, Brent Baker and Cobb.

1. (2) Zeke Shell #97-Johnson City, TN

2. (1) Ronnie McCarty #5-Kingsport, TN

3. (3) Chad Finchum #19-Knoxville, TN

4. (4) Paul Nogradi Jr. #02-Clinton, TN

5. (5) Kres VanDyke #15-Claypool Hill, VA

6. (9) Blake Jones #80-Sevierville, TN

7. (8) Tyler Goodwin #64-Kingsport, TN

8. (10) R.J. Stanley #18-Bristol, TN

9. (11) Austin Peters #66-Kingsport, TN

10. (7) Lee Tissot #7-Asheville, NC

11. (12) Erika Schmidt #14-Greenback, TN

12. (19) Joey Trent #26-Gray, TN

13. (15) Rick Pannell #33-Kingsport, TN

14. (14) Justin Wright #21-Kingsport, TN

15. (17) Dean Barrett #82-Abingdon, VA

16. (18) Jamie Harrison #76-Church Hill, TN

17. (6) Daniel Pope II #16-Smyrna, TN

18. (16) Jenna Wagner #40-Bristol, VA

19. (13) Allen Hawkins #14-Kingsport, TN

STREET STOCK (30 laps)

1) Nick Cole #63; 2) Jason Leatherwood #29; 3) Royce Peters #48; 4) Rob Austin #25; 5) Chris Tunnell #6; 6) John Harrell #19; 7) Jared Broadbent #74; 8) Sam Hurd #11; 9) Tony Ward #7; 10) Tony Mullinex #70

PURE 4 (20 laps)

1) Kenny Absher #11; 2) John Ketron #26; 3) Jason Ketron #28; 4) Chris Neeley #94; 5) Dylan Bates #6; 6) Billy Ketron #27; 7) Derek Penley #38; 8) Lloyd Baker #7; 9) David Trent #57; 10) Jimmy Hillard #74; 11) Steve Skeen #17; 12) Todd Cross #41; 13) Tim Abelseth #96

ROOKIE PURE 4 (15 laps)

1) Bruce Crumbley #8; 2) Chris Steadman #14; 3) Billy Byington #11; 4) Mook Jeter #53; 5) Matt Baker #7; 6) Allen Qualls #27; 7) Jonathan Faris #14x; 8) Brandon Sutherland #22; 9) Brandon Byington #11; 10) Billy Taylor #75; 11) Brandon Crumbley #7c; 12) Tammy Cross #41; 13) Jon Pittman #96

LEGENDS #1 (10 laps)

1) Jacob Owens #8; 2) Trey Lane #28; 3) Derek Lane #19; 4) Michael Cobb #75; 5) Jerry Lane #9

LEGENDS #2 (10 laps)

1) Derek Lane #9; 2) Jacob Owens #8; 3) Trey Lane #28; 4) Brent Baker #19; 5) Michael Cobb #75

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