The NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series began a big two race weekend on Friday night at Ray Cook’s Tri-County Race Track in Brasstown, NC. And at the end of the night it was Maryville’s Jason Welshan who seemingly had walked away with the $2,000 winner’s check. But an infraction discovered with his car after the race awarded that check to Chattanooga’s Ronnie Johnson.
Virginia’s Walker Arthur bested a field of 27 Crate Late Models in qualifying by posting a lap of 13.600 seconds around the quarter-mile oval. Also locked into their starting position through time-trials were Ronnie Johnson, Chris Noah, Johnny Stokes, Jason Welshan, Jacob Anderson, Paydon Shook, Jimmy Elliott, Jacob Grizzle and Mack McCarter.
Chase Edge and Tanner Works won the two B-main races used to set the remainder of the starting lineup.
At the start of the 40-lap feature, Hall of Fame driver Ronnie Johnson outdueled Walker Arthur to take the early lead as close quarter racing was the order of the day all around the high-banked bull ring. However, it became obvious early on that Welshan would be a factor in deciding the outcome as the driver of the #29 MasterSbilt car began moving toward the front out of his 5th starting spot right from the beginning.
While Johnson led in the early going, Arthur was constantly challenged by Welshan and Anderson for the second spot, often going three-wide in the process. But a lap 10 caution for the spinning Brian Kinnersly proved to be just what Welshan needed to clear himself of that battle.
On that lap 10 restart, Welshan went to the 2nd spot and immediately set his sights on the race leader. The #29 quickly chased down the legendary #5 machine and moved to the inside and around on lap 13. From there, Welshan checked out from the field.
But just because the leader built an advantage did not mean the racing was over. Johnson, Arthur and Anderson engaged in a spirited fight for the runner-up spot that was literally carried out over the course of the race’s entire second half. The three drivers traded positions on virtually every lap and were often two and three wide in the process. In the meantime, McCarter moved up from his 10th starting position to take part in the skirmish as well.
Welshan would go unchallenged in the closing laps to grab the win. Johnson emerged from the battle behind the leader to score a 2nd place result with Arthur, McCarter and Anderson rounding out the top-5.
*Editor’s Note: As it turned out, the racing behind Welshan proved to be for the win as the #29 car was disqualified after the race for a tire infraction. Chattanooga’s Ronnie Johnson was named the winner while Walker Arthur came home second and Jacob Anderson was third.
Johnson wrested the lead in the series standings away from McCarter on Friday night, but the NeSmith DLMS will head to the 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, TN on Saturday evening for the $4,000-to-win J.T. Kerr Memorial.