There are milestone dates in people’s lives, and Hayden Woods of Piney Flats will never forget the date of June 30, 2018. Making just his fourth start of the season, the 22-year-old Woods wrote his name in the Kingsport Speedway record book Friday night as he captured his first-ever NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car feature win.
Woods was fastest in Late Model Stock Car qualifying at 15.062 seconds, but following roll of the dice the top four from time trials were inverted. Joey Trent and Zeke Shell started from the front row, with Kres VanDyke and Woods in row two.
Shell jumped out to the lead at the start of the 60-lap feature over Trent, Woods, VanDyke and Robbie Ferguson. Woods passed Trent for second on lap 5 racing off the fourth turn, which in turn opened the door for VanDyke to slide past Trent and take the third spot. With Wayne Hale and Trey Bayne racing side-by-side for sixth, on lap 21 contact between turns one and two saw Bayne spin to bring out the event’s first caution.
It’s said in racing that cautions breed cautions, and on a full-moon night in the Model City it turned out to be a case of yellow fever.
On the ensuing double-file restart, Shell and Woods brought the field back up to speed from the front row, with VanDyke and Trent behind them in the second row. Coming up through the gears Trent appeared to miss a shift, which in turn created chaos jamming cars up on the front straightaway resulting in body damage to Dillon Hodge, Derek Lane and Bryson Dennis, with Allen Hawkins spinning in turn one to quickly bring the caution back out.
Back under green Shell was leading Woods, VanDyke and Ferguson, while a good three-car battle behind them involved Trent, Dennis and Bayne. Racing down the front straightaway into the first turn on lap 30, Trent and Dennis spun to produce a caution.
Only one lap back up to speed, with Shell once again leading Woods and VanDyke, between turns one and two VanDyke looked to the inside of Woods trying to take the position and contact sent Woods spinning to bring the caution out. Woods was forced to restart at rear of the field, while VanDyke was also relegated to the back for getting into Woods.
When racing resumed Shell was showing the way out front over Ferguson, Bayne, Trey Lane and Hodge. Between laps 31-40, there were two additional cautions for spins by Trey Lane and Kyle Lockrow.
Following the lap 31 incident between Woods and VanDyke, both drivers were working their way back to the front, and the cautions brought out by Trey Lane and Lockrow aided them in advancing forward. Woods made a bold move going three-wide with Bayne and Trent on lap 36 between turns one and two as he moved into third in the running order behind Shell and Ferguson.
Woods began working on Ferguson for second and barely held the advantage at the start-finish line the lap before Lockrow spun on lap 40, thus giving him the position through scoring. Off the restart Shell and Woods raced each other hard, but clean side-by-side for two laps before Shell moved ahead. The final caution waved on lap 44 when Hodge slowed to a stop high between turns three and four.
With Shell and Woods on the front row for the double-file restart, back under green and racing into the first turn Woods got the advantage. Racing up off (turn) two, Woods powered into a lead he would not relinquish.
Woods went on to capture the victory over Shell, VanDyke, Ferguson and Bayne. Completing the top 10 finishers were Trent, Dennis, Hale, Derek Lane and Lockrow.