By Mike Spieker
BATESVILLE, Ark. (Sept. 28) – Justin Kay captured night two of the inaugural Race For Hope 74 IMCA Modified special at Batesville Motor Speedway Thursday evening. Kay led 21 of the 25 laps en route to the victory, which locked him into the front row for Saturday’s $20,000 to win main event.
“I’ve never been here before. What an awesome race track,” said Kay in victory lane. “I knew what line I needed to run and I just had to hit my marks. Ricky (Thornton Jr.) has been so good lately and Kelly (Shryock) has been doing this a long time … this is just awesome. I’m so excited.”
The race got underway with Kay, Dennie Gieber and Jason Wilkey on the front row for the three-wide start.
The green flag was quickly replaced with the caution on the opening lap as Tyler Droste and Tyler Stevens got together exiting turn four. Droste was able to rejoin the field while Stevens was done for the night.
On the complete restart, Wilkey raced his way to the lead down the back straightaway to pace the 30-car field at the completion of lap one. Kay had reeled in Wilkey and was battling him for the point on lap five, when the yellow flag was displayed once again to slow the field.
As the race resumed, Kay continued his battle with Wilkey while Mark Norris and Thornton also entered the fray. Kay was able to sneak around the outside of Wilkey for the lead as Wilkey soon found himself in a three-wide fight for second. Both Norris and Thornton were able to get by Wilkey, with Thornton taking the runner-up spot on lap nine.
Another quick restart allowed Thornton a shot at Kay for the lead, but Kay was able to fend off the charge.
At the halfway point, Kay held a five car length lead over Thornton but that advantage began to shrink as the race approached the final stages. Thornton closed to within one car length with three laps to go but Kay used lapped traffic as a pick to hold off Thornton Jr.
That’s all Kay needed to regain a five car length advantage and cruise to the feature win. Thornton, Shyrock, Cody Laney and Peyton Taylor rounded out the top five.
Preliminary action for the Race For Hope 74 continues Friday night before culminating with the championship event on Saturday.
Feature results – 1. Justin Kay; 2. Ricky Thornton Jr.; 3. Kelly Shryock; 4. Cody Laney; 5. Peyton Taylor; 6. Jesse Dennis; 7. Mark Norris; 8. John Hansen; 9. Mike Mullen; 10. Jason Wilkey; 11. Jason Ingalls; 12. Dennie Gieber; 13. Ryan Gilmore; 14. Casey Findley; 15. Gavin Landers; 16. Chuck Sanders; 17. Brian Mullen; 18. Jack Sullivan; 19. Randy Weaver; 20. Jesse Richter; 21. Tyler Droste; 22. J.T. Goodson; 23. Heath Grizzle; 24. Chad Andersen; 25. Chadd Avey; 26. Kevin Sustaire; 27. Kurt Kile; 28. Regan Tafoya; 29. Chris Abelson; 30. Tyler Stevens.