Weather finally allowed the Spring Nationals mini-series to return to action on Friday night at Tazewell Speedway. At the end of the evening, it was Ewing, VA driver Dakotah Knuckles who came away from his home track with the biggest win f his racing career. The triumph on the high-banked facility located in the hill country of upper east Tennessee netted the driver a $5,000 first prize.
Knuckles set the pace early on when led the way in Group A qualifying and overall by turning a lap of 11.198 seconds around the third-mile clay oval. That effort beat out Eric Wells, Forrest Trent and Donald McIntosh. Those four drivers were locked into the feature starting lineup from Group A.
Carder Miller was the leader in Group B time-trials with a time of 11.674 seconds to better the laps of Vic Hill, Shannon Buckingham and David Crabtree. Those four competitors were also locked into the starting grid for the main event.
Jason Jameson beat out Casey Roberts, Billy Ogle, Jr., Aaron Ridley, Brian Smith and Robby Moses int eh first heat race of the night as each of those drivers transferred to the feature from the preliminary.
Ryan King took the second heat of the evening by winning over Chicky Barton, Zach Leonhardi, Brandon Kinzer, Mitchell Burke and David Payne with each of those drivers moving on to the main event.
At the start of the 40-lap feature it was Knckles who went to the early lead with Wells, Miller, Hill and Trent following. Trent improved his position on lap 2 as he moved by Hill to grab fourth. After a caution for a spin by Jameson, McIntsoh would also get by Hill as he secured the fifth position in the running order.
Wells kept pace with Knuckles and applied pressure throughout the early laps. However, a yellow flag for a multi-car incident again slowed the pace on lap 5.
During the race’s mid-section, Knuckles and Wells separated themselves from the pack while Trent, McIntosh and Buckingham found themselves engaged in a tight battle for positions 4-6 on the leader board. Jameson also began to assert himself when he took the the high line and began to move forward. He wrested sixth away from Buckingham on lap 15.
McIntosh, driving in only his second race for Big Frog Motorsports, became a factor on lap 19 when he took fourth away from Trent. He then grabbed third from Miller five laps later.
Several contenders then experienced tire issues that would hamper their efforts. Miller slowed to a stop on lap 25 while Trent did the same on lap 28. During that caution period, the then fourth running Jameson was also forced to pull in with a soft tire.
Wells had taken the led away from Knuckles on lap 27 and a hard fought battle between those along with McIntosh and Buckingham ensued as the four cars ran in tight formation are the high-speed oval. Knuckles was finally able to regain the lead on lap 35 as Wells faded.
It was then Knuckles who lead the field to the checkered flag to score the victory in front of a cheering crowd.
Feature Finish: 1. Dakotah Knuckles, 2. Donald McIntosh, 3. Billy Ogle, Jr., 4. Shanon Buckingham, 5. Eric Wells, 6. Casey Roberts, 7. Chicky Barton, 8. David Payne, 9. Robby Moses, 10. Jason Jameson, 11. Brian Smith, 12. Brandon Kinzer, 13. Forrest Trent, 14. Jeff Neubert, 15. Ryan King, 16. Zach Leonhardi, 17. Carder Miller, 18. Vic Hill, 19. Stacy Boles, 20. David Crabtree, 21. Aaron Ridley, 22. Mitchell Burke