By Steven Young
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Mar. 20, 2021) – The inaugural Bristol Dirt Nationals has come to an end, and it was an exciting event all the way to the finish as five more drivers were crowned champions on Saturday night.
Chris Ferguson and Kyle Larson led the field to the green flag to start the M&W Transport Super Late Model championship main event.
Ferguson, who won Friday night’s main event, led the opening round building a one second advantage by the conclusion of lap two.
Scott Bloomquist stalked Frank Ingram relentlessly throughout the next handful of laps before Larson reeled in Ferguson on lap nine. The leaders caught up to the tail of the field one lap later, allowing Larson to take the point on lap 11. Ferguson then protected the lowside of the track to remain second over Bloomquist.
Larson split a pair of lapped cars and began to open up a solid lead as Bloomquist took second before a caution on lap 13. Bloomquist made an attempt at the lead before another caution on lap 17.
As the field roared back to life, 10th place starter Jonathan Davenport made his way into the top three, then into second after another yellow flag slowed down the field just before the halfway point.
Davenport flew past Larson on the restart and began his domination of the remainder of the race. Davenport was able to abandon the cushion and negotiate through lapped traffic seemingly with the greatest of ease, building a three second advantage with six laps left.
Davenport continued on to victory over Larson, Bloomquist, Bobby Pierce and Frank Ingram.
The Stars & Stripes Tool Hornet feature was next on the card, as 32 cars aligned around the World’s Fastest Half Mile.
John Windham and Jonathan Sarratt paced the field to green. Windham, who won his qualifying heat earlier in the day from the 14th starting spot, led the opening trip.
Walker Windham and Brandon Gibson, Jr., who won his qualifying feature with a textbook ‘bump-and-run’ earlier in the day, completed the top three on a lap three restart.
Gibson made multiple attempts in the following circuits to take the lead before he lost a tire on the seventh lap.
Hunter Anthony moved past Walker Windham for second on the restart when John Windham’s powerplant gave up the ghost on lap eight.
Anthony walked away from the field on the restart, as a six car war for the runner-up spot began behind him.
Two final cautions in the waning laps included an eight car pileup that eliminated some contenders.
Jake Benischek, who started 18th, went from fourth to second on the final restart, as Anthony was first across the line.
Anthony was disqualified post race for a safety violation, giving the victory to Benischek. Jason Ketron from 17th, Kyle Stark from 13th, Travis Brown from 14th, and Matt Pederson, who started 29th, completed the top five.
The Hypercoil Open Modifieds hit the track next, and Kyle Strickler and Michael Asberry made up the front row at the start, though that order came very close to changing in the minutes leading up to the race.
Strickler made it back just in time from another Late Model show in Indiana to take his spot on the pole, leading through a pair of cautions early.
Matt Crafton completed the lead duo early, as he also had to travel back to Bristol from the NASCAR Truck Series race at Atlanta earlier in the day.
Strickler began to make his way through lapped traffic at the midway point of the 20-lapper, finally being able to put enough traffic between him and a rapidly closing Crafton with six laps to go.
Strickler continued on to victory over Crafton, Curt Spalding, Asberry, and Rich Michael, Jr.
Following the Open Mods was the Father-Son duo of Damon and Dallon Murty, who won qualifying features earlier in the week, leading the SRI Stock Car championship to green.
The younger Murty paced the field early, holding off a hard charging Jason Rogers in the opening laps.
Damon Murty moved back to the runner-up spot on lap six and continued to lap behind his son who led by a second at the halfway point.
Rogers and Derrick Agee swapped back and forth for the final spot on the podium as the Murty family continued to lead with five circuits left.
Kyle Brown joined Rogers and Agee in the battle for third as Dallon Murty continued on to victory over Damon Murty, Agee, Brown, and Rogers.
The FASTRAK Racing 604 Late Model main event capped off the event with qualifying winners Austin Dillon and Ross White leading the field to the line at the start.
Dillon led by nearly three seconds by the time five laps were completed and by two seconds at the midway point of the 20-lap race.
Lapped traffic caused Dillon some concerns late, however, as White closed fast in the waning circuits.
White closed to within a few car lengths, but ran out of time as Dillon continued on to victory. Shan Smith, Justin Hobgood, and Oscar McCown rounded out the top five.