Pope Gets First Whelen All-American Series Victory of 2013 at Kingsport Speedway

Pope Gets First Whelen All-American Series Victory of 2013 at Kingsport Speedway

by May 25, 2013 0 comments

pope-lm2KINGSPORT, Tenn. (May 24) — The Memorial Day holiday weekend is the traditional kick-off into summertime fun spent grilling out, camping with family and friends, fishing and boating on lakes or just relaxing while on vacation. But more importantly, Memorial Day is when we pause to honor those men and women who lost their lives or are missing in action from defending our country during wartime. We also remember those currently serving in the military, because we all know the price of our freedom is not free.

Daniel Pope II of Smyrna makes the long haul weekly from his Middle Tennessee home to race at Kingsport Speedway in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, and the journey back across the state will be a happy occasion after he finally broke through to capture his first “Dalton Direct Carpets” Late Model Stock win of the season on Five Star Race Car Bodies Night at the Races.

Zeke Shell laid down quick-time in qualifying at 15.122 seconds, but an invert-five relegated Shell to an inside third row starting berth.

Paul Nogradi Jr. and Ronnie McCarty led the 19-car Late Model Stock field to green from the front row. Nogradi grabbed the lead over McCarty, Lee Tissot, Pope and Chad Finchum.

While Nogradi was in command riding out front, the veteran Tissot was pressuring McCarty for second. Racing off the fourth turn on lap 7, Tissot grabbed the spot and set his sights ahead on leader Nogradi. Pope seized the opportunity to get around McCarty for the third spot when Tissot opened the door and had McCarty stuck up on the outside line.

Nogradi saw his advantage over Tissot quickly go away on lap 15, when he encountered slower cars running at back of the field and had difficulty negotiating his way around them. Pope was lurking in the shadows just three car lengths back of Tissot.

Finchum had his hands full in trying to hold off the advances of Shell, and the two tangled and spun between turns one and two on lap 26 to bring out the caution.

The double-file restart had Nogradi and Tissot on the front row. Back under green, neither would give an inch as they battled around the .375-mile banked concrete oval. After running side-by-side for five laps, Tissot suddenly began to drop back as the right-front tire on his car began to lose air pressure.

Pope moved into the runner-up position, while Kres VanDyke got around McCarty to take over third. Just past the halfway point, both Shell and Finchum had climbed their way back inside the top-10.

On a very cool night in the Model City, the 25-year-old Pope was bringing the heat on Nogradi in a challenge for the lead. Over the course of eight consecutive circuits, Pope would stick the nose of his ride under Nogradi racing off the corners only to see Nogradi maintain his advantage.

But racing up off (turn) two down the backstretch on lap 47, Pope, driving the Right Way Logistics/Storage Plus of Murfreesboro/D & D Repair Inc./AR Bodies/Superior Sandblasting & Powder Coating/KMF Racing Engines/HarCor Race Cars/Daniel Pope Racing/No. 16 Chevrolet SS, powered into  the lead. Erika Schmidt spun in turn one on lap 52 to bring out the caution, setting up one final restart.

Pope executed a flawless restart to jump back ahead of Nogradi to earn his first trip to victory lane in 2013. Rounding out the top five at the checkered flag were VanDyke, Shell and Finchum.

Derrick Lancaster, McCarty, Ryan Stiltner, Tyler Goodwin and R.J. Stanley completed the top-10.

With Pope’s win and a fifth-place finish by Finchum, Pope will carry a two-point advantage in the track standings into next Friday’s Allied Waste Night at the Races.

“If you’d told me at the beginning of the season it would take us until the ninth race to get our first win, no way would I have believed that,” said a smiling Pope in the pits. “We’ve had a good car each race this season, and with just a little bit of luck I feel we should’ve already won at least a couple of races. Our goal is to win the Kingsport Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship, and you’ve got to make each race count and be running when the checkered flag waves.

“We’ve been consistent all season with a couple of runner-up finishes and a couple of third-place runs, with eight top-10 finishes in eight starts entering tonight. And now to get our first victory, it’s awesome. I really feel this just might be what it takes to get us going and we’ll reel off several more wins before the season ends. I want to thank all of my sponsors, because their help is greatly appreciated. I also want to thank my crew chief, Randy Weaver, because I always feel confident that he’ll put me behind the wheel of a great race car.”

John Harrell jumped out to the lead at start of the Street Stock feature over Jared Broadbent and Royce Peters. The event’s first caution waved on the second lap when Bristol’s Nick Cole got loose and spun between turns one and two.

Once again back under green, Harrell led Broadbent and Peters. Chris Tunnell was applying pressure on Peters for the third spot, which he would take racing off turn two on lap 5. Also working his way back up through the field following his early spin was Cole, who got around Jeff Counts for seventh on lap 6 and then passed Jason Leatherwood for sixth on lap 8.

A strong run for Tunnell ended on lap 10 when transmission issues dropped him off the pace, where he slowly coasted around the track and into the pits. All attention was focused on the battle up front between Harrell, Broadbent and Peters. Contact between Peters and Harrell racing off the fourth turn on lap 14 sent Harrell spinning along the front straightaway, where he came to a stop just underneath the flagstand to bring out the caution.

On the double-file restart, Broadbent and Cole were on the front row. Broadbent moved ahead of Cole for the lead back under green racing conditions, but Cole was up on the wheel hustling his ride and got around Broadbent to move out front as they raced off the fourth turn on lap 17. But Broadbent wouldn’t go down easy, as he reclaimed the lead just one circuit later.

Cole got under Broadbent racing off the fourth turn on lap 22 to challenge for the lead, and finally on lap 26 racing up off (turn) two Cole made the pass for the lead. On lap 27, the yellow flag waved when Counts slowed to a stop on the high-side between turns three and four.

Cole and Broadbent were side-by-side on the front row for a three-lap shootout to the checkered flag. Cole, 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, laid down a perfect restart and came up through the gears quickly to power his way back ahead of Broadbent en route to recording his fourth Street Stock victory. Cole was chased to the finish by Broadbent, Harrell, Peters and Rob Austin.

Keith Helton paced the field early in the 25-lap Pure 4 feature, but divisional point leader John Ketron of Kingsport was mashing the loud pedal making the move forward from his tenth starting position to close to Helton’s rear bumper on lap 7. Approaching cars running at back of the field to place them a lap down on the ninth circuit, John Ketron threaded the needle with a daring move between three slower cars to take the lead from Helton.

Behind the front-running duo, it was a dogfight for real estate involving Kenny Absher, Jason Ketron, Chris Neeley, Billy Ketron, Jimmy Hillard and Dylan Bates. Absher and Jason Ketron got together racing off the second corner on lap 13, with Absher taking a wild spin down the backstretch to bring out the caution flag.

Back under green, John Ketron, driving the Sagebrush Steakhouse in Kingsport/K & K Auto/No. 26 Honda, pulled back ahead of Helton and never was challenged the remaining distance in recording his fourth victory. Finishing third through fifth, respectively, were Billy Ketron, Hillard and Neeley.

Billy Byington entered the night of racing with a two-point lead in the Rookie Pure 4 standings over Brandon Sutherland of Johnson City. When the checkered flag waved Sutherland, driving the Catch 22/Spaztix Signs/Ft. Henry R/C Speedway/Bounce Bristol/Renegade R/C in Bristol, Va./No. 22 Chevrolet Cavalier, was parked in victory lane for the third time this season after winning over Billy Byington, Chris Steadman, Brandon Byington and Billy Taylor.

Jacob Owens of Bean Station led all 15 laps in capturing his fourth Legends victory over Trey Lane and Derek Lane.

Press Release
Press Release, source information and photo credits are located at the bottom of the article.

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