Cole Williams Goes Flag-to-Flag for Season Opener at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway

Williams starts 2022 at Nashville the same way he ended 2021 - in victory lane.

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Nashville, TN (Saturday, April 2, 2022) – For the 118th time in history, auto racing came to life at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. A near record 150 cars were on the property with nine races contested in front of a huge crowd on a near perfect spring night. Of the nearly 150 cars, 35 Pro Late Models took the green flag for 118 laps around Nashville’s famed 5/8ths mile oval.

Cole Williams and William Hale brought the field to the green flag as fans rose to their feet to send the drivers off in style. The race was quickly halted on lap two when Brent Crews made heavy contact with the wall going into turn one. The damage to his car would bring an end to his night. On the restart, the drivers settled into a rhythm throughout the field, however, out front it was tight and contested.

The top six drivers were nose-to-tail for several laps, inches away from an incident should someone make a mistake. As Williams led, Jake Bollman and Dylan Fetcho grew impatient behind second place Hale. As Hale lost touch with leader Williams, Fetcho and Bollman raced side-by-side for third, before Bollman finally settled into the position. Another caution flew near the midway point of the race when Justin Blake spun on the backstretch.

Williams survived the following restart and another after Kyle Fletcher spun into the turn one wall following what appeared to be a failed coolant hose. The final restart of the night saw Williams and Fetcho jump away from a battling Hunter Wright and Bollman. The leading duo worked up a nearly full straightaway advantage on third place and Fetcho attempted to run down Williams in the closing laps.

With less than five laps to go, Fetcho’s gap to Williams was closing ever so slightly, from four tenths of a second, down to three, before Fetcho was forced three-wide into turn one with two lapped cars. Fetcho survived the run up the hill, but could not recover to track down Williams. The win was Williams’ second in a row at Nashville, dating back to his All American 100 win last October.

In other action Saturday night, Jeff Templeton survived a wild and time-shortened Limited Late Model race to pick up his first win in three years racing at NFS. Templeton took the lead after Dwayne Hudson spun Josh Pierce coming out of turn two with less than 10 laps to go. The caution filled race was called due to time limit with just four laps remaining.

The BH Holmes Construction Legends had 45 cars on the property, and were split into two feature events. In the Pro/Masters feature, TJ Decair took the lead from Johnathon Taylor just before the halfway point, and never lost it again despite heavy challenges from Michael Crafton at the end of the race. In feature number two, Jenson Jorgenson used strong restarts and patient passes to work his way by Gavin Graham late in the 25 lap event. Jorgenson went on to win by over a second.

In Street Stocks, Travis Arms put on a clinic during the 25 laps feature event. Arms jumped out to the lead early in the race and was hardly challenged by the field. Michael Curran was the only challenger, and he fell to the grips of James Gentry by the time the checkered flag flew.

A total of 15 Pure Stocks waged war around the ¼-mile Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Ronnie Upchurch, despite being collected in an early race incident, crossed the line ahead of the field after nearly giving the race away to Michael Neidert on the final corner of the final lap. Unfortunately, Upchurch failed post race technical inspection, and Neidert was declared the race winner.

The Pest Doctor Front Runners was also a race that took the rest of the field to school. Matt Hamlett led all 20 laps and put a large majority of the field a lap down en route to his season opening win. Ray GAnn and Tony Gann rounded out the podium in the caution free event.

The first race of the night featured the Murfreesboro Fence Company Bandoleros, which were also split into two feature events due to the number of entries. In race one, Hudson Canipe used a late race restart to take back the lead and go on to win ahead of Beckham Malone. Race two saw Austin Harrison lead every lap ahead of Emma Britt and Gavon Veach.

The next event at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway is Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16th featuring the US Legends International Spring Series. Racing begins with Bandoleros and Legends on Friday night, before being joined by the Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers Super Trucks and Pro Late Models on Saturday night. For tickets and more information, log onto www.NashvilleFairgroundsSpeedway.Racing.

Story – Zach Hiser, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway
Photo – Rackley WAR Twitter