Helton headlines list of winners at Kingsport Speedway opener

Published 2:13 pm Monday, April 1, 2024

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KINGSPORT — Keith Helton debuted his new race car in fine fashion Saturday afternoon at Kingsport Speedway.

 Driving a black No. 4 Chevrolet, Helton led all 75 laps of the Late Model feature around the 3/8-mile concrete oval. After a late-race caution, he pulled away from runner-up Derek Lane’s No. 28 Chevrolet in a seven-lap shootout. Both of the top finishers dedicated their performances to the memory of former crew chief Drew Nelms who died in January.

 “We switched to this R&S car this year and it’s a great race car,” said Helton, the defending NASCAR Weekly Series Tennessee state champion. “Chase Dixon (car owner) and everybody back at the shop went above and beyond during the winter and made this thing a rocket ship. It just never gave up.” 

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 The day featured 76 cars entered in the different races including 13 in the Late Model class. Helton commented he thought the racers put on a good show for a strong contingent of fans.

 Lane charged from a sixth-place starting spot to finish second in the battle of Kingsport drivers. While it was perfect conditions, Lane had trouble tuning in his car earlier in the day. He found speed during the feature and was glad to be part of the 1-2 finish.

 “We were up here testing the last couple of days and it was really good,” Lane said. “We unloaded it today and it was really tight where it wouldn’t turn. After qualifying, we back through the car and threw the kitchen sink at it. We came back and ran second. It didn’t matter if Keith won or I won, Drew was his crew chief a couple of years ago and it meant a lot to remember him.”

 Tristen Barnes and Kyle Barnes, substituting for Alan Miller, finished third and fourth in Chevrolets. Defending track champion Jacob York drove his No. 97 Ford to a fifth-place finish.



Kevin Canter, a seven-time track champion from Abingdon, got his season off in style by dominating the Mod 4 feature. Chris Amburgey, the 2023 track champion, battled past Canter’s stepfather Rocky Yates to finish second as Ford took the top-three spots. Ryan Griffin posted a fourth-place run and John Fox rounded out the top five.

 It’s always great to start off with a win,” Canter said. “We showed up today, had it all cocked out and ready to go. We changed a couple of things after practice, took off the small sway bar we had. We had a little tire issue and started to fall off during the race, but it’s always great win the season opener.”

 Brandon Sutherland made a charge from last in the 19-car field to first for the Pure 4 victory. The Johnson City driver in the familiar No. 25 stayed out front the second half of the 35-lap race. Brayden Powers from Church Hill finished second with Kingsport drivers Kenny Absher, David “Animal” Trent and William Hale the rest of the top five. Hale spun out his No. 47 Chevrolet on two different occasions to avoid wrecks and keep the good finish.

 There were only four cars in the Super Street feature, but it turned into a three-car battle for the victory with Greg Bohanon from Asheville capturing his first-ever victory. He and Kyle Barnes made contact late as Bohanon rode to the win with David Brown second and Barnes third. Sam Hurd took the fourth spot.



Daniel McMurray from Fall Branch drove his Chevy Monte Carlo past Rob Austin’s Camaro to win Street Stock feature shortened by a time limit due to a pair of five-car pileups. It was McMurray’s second career win with his first coming two years earlier. Austin finished second ahead of defending track champion Jamie Meadows. Luke Fox and Jay Swecker were the fourth and fifth-place finishers.

 Kingsport racer Justin Wright was the Beginner Front Wheel Drive winner. His No. 5 Chevy Cavalier was able to stay ahead of the hard charging Keith McMurray driving a Ford Fusion. Tyler Swecker, Dakota Collins and Roger Wright rounded out the top five.