By Steven Young
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Mar. 16, 2021) – The first features of the inaugural Karl Kustoms Bristol Dirt Nationals are in the books, with 10 drivers becoming the first winners on a dirt covered Bristol Motor Speedway in nearly 20 years.
The ProFABrication 602 Late Models kicked off the first set of features on Tuesday night, as Sunshine State natives Trey Mills and Brenden Smith led the first feature to the drop of the green flag.
Mills built a lead of half of a straightaway before John Brooks lost a podium spot due to a wreck on the front stretch.
Gage Griffin gained the runner-up position on the restart and held it through another caution one circuit later. Griffin was able to close in on Mills for the lead before the final caution flew with eight laps complete.
Curtis Thomas took the second spot on the restart while Logan Walston took the final podium spot one round later. Mills picked up the win by over a second to second place runner Griffin. Walston rounded out the top five.
Spencer Singleton held off a hard charging Cass Fowler late in the second feature to earn his spot in Saturday’s main event.
Seth Wimpey had a big lead erased late in the third and final 602 feature, but continued on to victory over Dustin Diem.
In the Velocita-USA Modified division, Wisconsin’s Tyler Wilson and California’s Jerry Flippo were the first to the stripe for the first of three qualifiers.
Flippo took the early lead and brought Iowa’s Justin O’Brien with him into the runner-up spot. The lead duo pulled away from the rest of the field, but O’Brien relentlessly stalked Flippo for the top spot through seven circuits. O’Brien’s first attempt at the lead came the following lap as he peeked to Flippo’s inside. Flippo remained the leader as the battle for the lead caught up to the rear of the field, but a caution saved Flippo from having to protect the lead in lapped traffic.
Ricky Alvarado made a stab at the second spot on the following restart, but O’Brien closed back in on Flippo after he pushed hard on the exit off of turn two near the halfway point of the 20-lapper.
The field re-stacked one final time after the last caution of the race with four rounds remaining.
Mark Noble moved past Alvarado for the final spot on the podium as Flippo continued on to victory over O’Brien.
Kyle Heckman made it two-for-three for the Golden state, as he won qualifier number two over Minnesota’s Aaron Johnson, while Iowa’s JD Auringer dominated the final feature over Clay Money.
In Tire Demon by Love Tap Sport Mod action, Cody Smith of Texas and Minnesota’s Adam Bohlman led the field to the start of the first of three qualifying features.
Trey Stamper used a lap three restart to climb from seventh to first in the opening three circuits.
On the following restart, Brady Bjella charged from fifth to second as Stamper built a two-and-a-half second lead by the halfway point.
Bjella caught Stamper in traffic, running to the leader’s inside down the backstretch with a lap and a half remaining.
Bjella took the lead on the final trip down the backstretch, stealing the win late in the 18-lap event by two-tenths of a second.
Justin Blevins of Virginia and Andrew Durham from North Carolina dominated the second and third features respectively, winning over runners-up Scott Busch and Zack Tate.
NASCAR star Austin Dillon capitalized on a late restart to win his heat race in the 604 Late Model division, earning enough passing points to score the pole position for the opening qualifying feature. Dillon led every lap of the 20-lap event, the final feature of the evening.