By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Although the threat of rain kept some fans away, NASCAR star Kenny Wallace thrilled a still-solid crowd with a solid performance Friday night at Beckley Motorsports Park.
Wallace dominated the field in his Jegs open-wheel Modified racer. He had no trouble qualifying and winning his heat, then overcame a first-lap incident in the feature to win by six car lengths over 17-year-old Michael Moore.
“There as some very good competition, but Michael gave me all I could handle,” Wallace said.
Dust flew and metal ripped on the opening lap of the feature. Wallace, 49, cut a little too sharply toward Tate Hughes on the first turn. They bumped, and Hughes spun out.
Moore, who started on the second row, then clipped Hughes.
“It looked like Kenny cut him off on the start,” Moore said. “I couldn’t stop. I had to try my best to stay off him, but not get hit from behind.”
It was smooth sailing afterward for Wallace, however, as he roared into the lead on the restart and smoothly took each curve.
Moore stayed close, occasionally challenged by Joe Meadows. He seemed to follow Wallace’s every move.
“Kenny told me I did a great job running with him like that,” Moore said. “He also said he knew I didn’t have any choice other than to hit (Hughes).”
Meadows finished third, followed by Moore’s uncle, Mike Duncan.
Jason Cochran was fifth, followed by Jacob Shafer.
Moore, whose parents, Joe and Billie Jo Jackson manage BMP, said he kidded Wallace before the race.
“I told him I was going to wear him out, I didn’t care who he was,” he said. “I was trying to get into his head — make him think I had something for him. And I did. The car was great, and I ended up finishing second.”
It was a bittersweet night for Wallace, who had gotten little sleep the night before after traveling from Charleston, Ill., and who had lost a dear friend when Dick Trickle died Thursday.
“It was a really good crowd, although some people stayed home,” he said. “It was a beautiful night for racing. Not even a sprinkle. It’s a shame that the threat of rain kept some people away.”
Wallace, who had raced and won last year at BMP, wouldn’t say if he would be back soon.
“I think I’ve worn my welcome out here,” he said. “Maybe I need to stay away for a awhile.”
The fans who roared when he crossed the finish line might not agree.
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