Paul Nogradi Class of the Field in Capturing First Kingsport Speedway NASCAR Late Model Victory
The thermometer reached triple digits around the East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region late Friday afternoon, and that meant the heat index down inside “The Concrete Jungle” for Nickels Speed Shop Night at the Races would be sizzling.
Paul Nogradi Jr. of Clinton was just too hot to handle, as he grabbed the lead at start of the 60-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series “Dalton Direct Carpets” Late Model Stock feature and led flag-to-flag for his first victory of the season.
Points leader Nate Monteith set fast-time at 15.306 seconds in qualifying, but with the top five from time trails being inverted Lee Tissot started from the pole with Nogradi on the outside of the front row.
As the 20-car field roared down the front straightaway with waving of the green flag, Tissot and Nogradi entered the firs turn side-by-side. But racing off the second corner down the backstretch on opening lap, Nogradi powered into the lead and never looked back. Behind Nogradi and Tissot, battles for positions among Zeke Shell, Blake Jones, Monteith, Ryan Stiltner, Kres VanDyke, Hayden Woods, Royce Peters and Ronnie McCarty were heated.
Monteith and 15-year-old Jones dueled for the fourth spot racing door-to-door around the .375-mile banked concrete oval for five laps before Monteith gained the position on lap 12 racing off the fourth turn. Just behind them, VanDyke was all over Stiltner wanting sixth in the running order, but Stiltner wasn’t willing to roll over and give up the spot without going down fighting.
With the race running clean-and-green, action was intense back through the field with drivers jockeying for real estate. But out front Nogradi, a 20-year-old Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Tennessee was in command chauffeuring the Atomic Performance/Atomic Muscle Cars/Fisher Auto Parts/ABJ Custom Powder Coating/Hedgecock Race Cars/No. 02 Chevrolet Impala, as he had pulled out to a half-straightaway advantage over Tissot, Shell and Monteith just one lap past the mid-point of the race.
Monteith had just gotten around Shell for the third spot when the caution flag waved on lap 31, thus negating the advancement in position, when current NASCAR Whelen All-American Series points leader Anthony Anders’ mount briefly erupted in flames from underneath the hood after the engine let loose, thus erasing Nogradi’s huge lead.
Nogradi led Tissot, Shell, Monteith and Jones on the restart. Once again back under green racing conditions, Nogradi flexed his muscle in putting distance between himself and his closest challengers. Monteith got to the inside of Shell on lap 35 to battle for the third spot, and three laps later racing off the fourth turn Monteith dropped Shell back to fourth.
Seeing the door open racing off turn four, Jones got inside of Shell racing down the front straightaway into the first turn and carried Shell up the banking between turns one and two to move into fourth place. With Shell momentarily getting loose in the second corner, Stiltner capitalized and got around him to move into fifth in the running order.
While Nogradi was cruising out front in the lead, Tissot and Monteith were battling for the runner-up spot. Monteith finally got past Tissot on lap 44 and immediately set his sights well ahead on Nogradi. But Nogradi would not be denied his first visit to victory lane in 2012 as he rolled to the win over Monteith, Tissot, Jones and Stiltner.
Completing the top-10 finishers were Shell, and Robbie Ferguson who fought his way up to seventh-place after starting 13th, VanDyke, McCarty and Woods.
“We really had an awesome car tonight and this is such a great feeling to finally get our first win of the year,” said a smiling Nogradi after emerging from his car in victory lane soaked in sweat on the very hot night in the Model City. “There on the beginning of the race, where we passed (Lee) Tissot racing off turn two to get the lead – that was a big deal because it allowed me to set my own pace out front. You’re going to have somewhat of a drop-off on your lap times from the first of the race to the last of the race due to wear on your tires and with heating the brakes up getting into the corners. But really, our car drove the best tonight as it has all season long from lap 1 until the checkered flag waved. We were good, really good.
“We had one win last season here at Kingsport Speedway where we kind of lucked into it when cars ahead of me tangled. But tonight I believe we made a statement as to just how good of a race team we have. This is our sixth top-five finish and 11th top-10 run this season. The caliber of competition every Friday here is tough as it gets at any short-track in the country. We’ll just let the taste of this sweet victory tonight soak in over the weekend and get back to business in the race shop the first of the week in preparations to hopefully be able come back next Friday and get us another win. I really want to thank my car owner Howard Moon for giving me the opportunity to drive such a great race car, and also to my parents Scott and Kathy Nogradi for their support, along with Jody Measamer, Rick Gann, Brian Patterson, Bobby Mitchell, and my girlfriend Hillary Fellers. This win means so much to all of us. I also want to thank fellow racer Daniel Pope II for some advice and setup info he gave me during the week.”
Jared Broadbent jumped into the lead over Rob Austin and John Harrell at start of the “Absolute Plumbing” Street Stock race. But on the move early was Roger Neece as he got around Harrell for third just three laps into the 30-lap feature. It took Neece only four more circuits to pass Austin and move to second in the running order, setting his sights ahead on Broadbent, who had won the previous two races.
Racing down the front straightaway into the first turn on lap 11, Neece was inside of Broadbent to challenge for the lead. As they raced up off (turn) two Neece, of Clintwood, Va., powered his Johnson Chevrolet of Clintwood/Pro Image Racing Graphics/84EXPO.com/No. 22 Chevrolet Camaro into a lead he would never relinquish as he recorded his division-leading 10th victory. Neece was chased to the checkers by Broadbent, Austin, Harrell and Tony Vance.
The opening six laps of the Pure 4 feature saw two-by-two racing action up front involving Kenny Absher and Chris Neeley running side-by-side, and behind them father and son John and Jason Ketron were also door-to-door. Absher moved ahead of Neeley racing off the fourth turn on lap 7 for the lead, but it was short-lived as on the next circuit he was passed by John Ketron for the point. Jason Ketron moved under Absher for second on lap 12 racing off turn two, and just four laps later the 16-year-old Sullivan North High School student passed his dad to move out front.
Jason Ketron, from Kingsport and driving the ServPro of Kingsport Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration/K&K Auto/No. 28 Honda, captured his fourth Pure 4 victory over John Ketron, Neeley, Absher and Jeremy Hughes.
Adam Gray grabbed the lead at start of the Legends feature over Drew Shortridge and Tyler Goodwin and paced the field for the first five circuits before being overtaken by Goodwin for the point. Goodwin, from Kingsport and driving the Bank of Tennessee/Bancsec Inc./Rockstar Graphix/No. 64 McAulay Motorsports ride, went on to claim his 13th victory in 15 starts on the season over Gray, Shortridge, Aaron Lawson and Hubert Whitehead.
Jimmy Hillard of Knoxville, driving the 4 Way Mini Storage/Hillbilly Auto Parts/Performance Auto Works/No. 74 Honda, recorded his second Rookie Pure 4 victory over Danny Pless, Dylan Bates, Tim Abelseth and Austin Gray.
NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES “DALTON DIRECT CARPETS” LATE MODEL STOCK (60 laps)
Showing Finish Position, Starting Position In Parentheses, Driver Name, Car Number, Hometown
1. (2) Paul Nogradi Jr. #02-Clinton, TN
2. (5) Nate Monteith #44-Blountville, TN
3. (1) Lee Tissot #7-Asheville, NC
4. (6) Blake Jones #80-Sevierville, TN
5. (3) Ryan Stiltner #22-Grundy, VA
6. (4) Zeke Shell #97-Johnson City, TN
7. (13) Robbie Ferguson #32-Jonesborough, TN
8. (7) Kres VanDyke #15-Claypool Hill, VA
9. (10) Ronnie McCarty #5-Kingsport, TN
10. (8) Hayden Woods #87-Piney Flats, TN
11. (11) Austin Peters #66-Kingsport, TN
12. (9) Royce Peters #38-Kingsport, TN
13. (14) Allen Hawkins #14-Kingsport, TN
14. (16) Rick Pannell #33-Kingsport, TN
15. (15) Joey Trent #26-Gray, TN
16. (12) Anthony Anders #36-Easley, SC
17. (17) Duke Bare #44x-Meadowview, VA
18. (18) Don Monteith #4-Blountville, TN
19. (19) Amber Abrams #57-Johnson City, TN
20. (20) Jamie Harrison #76-Church Hill, TN
“ABSOLUTE PLUMBING” STREET STOCK (30 laps): 1) Roger Neece #22; 2) Jared Broadbent #74; 3) Rob Austin #25; 4) John Harrell #19; 5) Tony Vance #07; 6) Jeff Counts #11; 7) Greg Grindstaff #3; 8) Paul Shull #48; 9) Chris Tunnell #6; 10) Tony Ward #7; 11) Mark Hawkins #44; 12) Marshall Sutton #64; 13) Rick Smith #33
PURE 4 (20 laps): 1) Jason Ketron #28; 2) John Ketron #26; 3) Chris Neeley #94; 4) Kenny Absher #11; 5) Jeremy Hughes #57; 6) Jonathan Reed #51; 7) Todd Cross #41; 8) David Trent #57; 9) Darrell Daugherty #44; 10) Glenn Hughes #75; 11) Roger Light #44; 12) Steve Skeen #17
LEGENDS (15 laps): 1) Tyler Goodwin #64; 2) Adam Gray #37; 3) Drew Shortridge #32; 4) Aaron Lawson #31; 5) Hubert Whitehead #3; 6) T.R. Ward #09
ROOKIE PURE 4 (10 laps): 1) Jimmy Hillard #74; 2) Danny Pless #5; 3) Dylan Bates #6; 4) Tim Abelseth #66; 5) Austin Gray #71; 6) Tammy Cross #41; 7) Kevin Hubbard #18
Kingsport Speedway is located at 2961 North John B. Dennis Highway. For more information, call the office at (423) 288-5992, track promoter Robert Pressley at (828) 215-2077, or visit the Web site at www.NewKingsportSpeedway.com