Nicholson outdueled Johnny Herrera in the early rounds and then denied Kevin Swindell’s last lap bid to post the victory in his No. 16 entry, securing a spot among the front three rows of Saturday night’s $15,000-to-win, $2,500-to-start STN Championship Feature event.
“If you would have told me a couple days ago that I would even make the show, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Nicholson commented after topping Friday’s 56 car field that brought this year’s STN total to 106 competitors. “I’m just beside myself right now!”
While Nicholson locked into his first career STN finale with the triumph, Kevin Swindell landed a spot in his fourth STN championship feature by snaring runner-up honors while Herrera raced into his just his second STN finale and first since 1990 by claiming third.
While Nicholson’s third overall win of the year to go along with a pair of USCS scores may have come as a surprise, the Millington, TN, shoe was clearly among the fastest cars all night. Nicholson raced from sixth to win his heat race then held on to the high point total by advancing from sixth to fourth in his qualifier to earn the pole position for the feature.
With Herrera starting to Nicholson’s outside, the duo battled in side-by-side fashion for the opening pair of circuits before Herrera took command to complete lap three. But Nicholson took quick advantage of a turn two bobble to reclaim the lead on lap four before the red flag flew for Greg Wilson’s flip in turn two after being unable to avoid a sideways Brandon Hahn.
After Hahn’s front axle broke and he spun a lap later collecting Paul Nienhiser in the process, the balance of the race ran off in non-stop fashion.
With Nicholson holding Herrera and Chad Kemenah at bay, tenth-starter Kevin Swindell was sixth by the lap four red flag stoppage before disposing of David Gravel and Shane Stewart for fourth by the eighth circuit.
Reaching the tail of the field on the 18th lap, Nicholson’s pursuers closed in on his tailtank. As the leaders bunched up in the final handful of laps, Swindell took to the high side to rally around Kemenah for third on the 23rd lap and then past Herrera for second on the white flag circuit.
As Nicholson stuck to the low line, Swindell made a valiant effort in the final pair of corners to make it a Swindell sweep of preliminary action after Sammy won Thursday night’s feature. But, when he missed the cushion coming off of turn four, Nicholson was able to secure the landmark victory.
“We were good on the bottom and I knew there were some guys there, I was gonna make ‘em go by on the high side though,” Nicholson explained.
Swindell settled for a close second in Bernie Stuebgen’s Indy Race Parts No. 71x with Herrera third in the Print Place No. 45x.
After running third from the outset, Kemenah fell one spot shy of a lock-in position in Ron Hammon’s No. 6s machine in fourth with Shane Stewart rounding out the top five in the Gaerte No. 3g.
Gravel was sixth, with Sam Hafertepe, Jr., advancing nine positions by racing from 16th to seventh. Dustin Morgan crossed the stripe eighth, with Wednesday’s STN Open winner Danny Lasoski in ninth and 18th-starter Kraig Kinser completing the top ten.
Parker Price-Miller, Joe Wood, Jr., Jack Dover, Nicholson, Claud Estes, Patrick Stasa and Kemenah topped heat race action, with Brandon Hahn, Paul Nienhiser, Tony Bruce, Jr., Swindell and Morgan winning qualifying races.
Wilson, Hafertepe, Jr., and Gary Taylor won the “B” Main.
After Shawn Dancer flipped on the opening lap of hot laps, fellow Ohio shoe Beau Stewart was among heat race flippers that also included Kolt Walker, Tyler Smith and Jerrod Roller. All returned to action except Smith.
Wyatt Burks walked away from one of the wilder rides of the night as the green flag flew upon the First “B” Main.
The 26th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires at I-30 Speedway wraps up with Saturday night’s championship slate of feature events, with hot laps getting under way at 6:00 p.m.
26th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Friday Night Results:
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. 9p-Parker Price-Miller, 2. 49-Shawn Dancer, 3. 3g-Shane Stewart, 4. 87r-Aaron Reutzel, 5. 4pm-Whit Gastineau, 6. 13T-Taylor Tidmore, 7. 99-Blake Jenkins, 8. 01-Roger Crocket (Disqualified; Failed to report to scales after finishing third).
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 2. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 3. 10-Terry Gray, 4. 17m-Austin Brown, 5. 51-Matt Ward, 6. 5r-Jerod Roller, 7. 5s-Tyler Smith, 8. 12m-Kolt Walker.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. 53-Jack Dover, 2. 82-David Gravel, 3. 2j-Gary Taylor, 4. 45b-J.P. Bailey, 5. 26-Marshall Skinner, 6. 3n-Nate Van Haaften, 7. 1h-Kyle Hirst. DNS: 12h-Jerrod Hull.
Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 2. 21k-Ryan Kitchen, 3. 88m-Scottie McDonald, 4. 59-Kraig Kinser, 5. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 6. 36-Jonathan Beason, 7. 42-Henry Gustavus, 8. 27-Beau Stewart.
Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 74e-Claud Estes, 2. 17b-Ryan Bickett, 3. 87b-Jason Barney, 4. W20-Greg Wilson, 5. 71x-Kevin Swindell, 6. 8-Alex Sewell, 7. 17wx-Cole Wood, 8. 27-Beau Stewart.
Sixth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 11s-Patrick Stasa, 2. X-Charlie Louden, 3. 29-Brandon Hahn, 4. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 5. 93m-Dustin Morgan, 6. 39-Brad Bowden, 7. 8a-Wyatt Burks, 8. 31-Brandon Berryman.
Seventh Heat (10 Laps): 1. 6s-Chad Kemenah, 2. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 3. 9-Paul Nienhiser, 4. 1m-Danny Lasoski, 5. 27x-Andy Shouse, 6. 12s-Adam Schmidt, 8. 88-Tim Crawley.
Qualifying Races – Top 14 in Combined Passing/Finishing Points to “A” Feature; Balance to “B” Mains
First Qualifier (10 Laps): 1. 29-Brandon Hahn, 2. 6s-Chad Kemenah, 3. 1m-Danny Lasoski, 4. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 5. 45b-J.P. Bailey, 6. 17m-Austin Brown, 7. 4pm-Whit Gastineau, 8. 36-Jonathan Beason, 9. 99-Blake Jenkins, 10. Charlie Louden. DNS: 31-Brandon Berryman, 12-Jerrod Hull.
Second Qualifier (10 Laps): 1. 9-Paul Nienhiser, 2. W20-Greg Wilson, 3. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 4. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 5. 26-Marshall Skinner, 6. 9p-Parker Price-Miller, 7. 21k-Ryan Kitchen, 8. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 9. 12m-Kolt Walker, 10. 42-Henry Gustavus. DNS: 5s-Tyler Smith.
Third Qualifier (10 Laps): 1. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 2. 82-David Gravel, 3. 3g-Shane Stewart, 4. 2j-Gary Taylor, 5. 53-Jack Dover, 6. 88-Tim Crawley, 7. 5r-Jerod Roller, 8. 17wx-Cole Wood, 9. 27x-Andy Shouse, 10. 88m-Scottie McDonald, 11. 8a-Wyatt Burks.
Fourth Qualifier (10 Laps): 1. 71x-Kevin Swindell, 2. 59-Kraig Kinser, 3. 87b-Jason Barney, 4. 10-Terry Gray, 5. 49-Shawn Dancer, 6. 8-Alex Sewell, 7. 01-Roger Crockett, 8. 27-Beau Stewart, 9. 74e-Claud Estes, 10. 12s-Adam Schmidt. DNS: 13T-Taylor Tidmore.
Fifth Qualifier (10 Laps): 1. 93m-Dustin Morgan, 2. 17b-Ryan Bickett, 3. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 4. 1h-Kyle Hirst, 5. 39-Brad Bowden, 6. 17x-Josh Baughman, 7. 51-Matt Ward, 8. 6b-Ryan Beechler, 9. 11s-Patrick Stasa, 10. 3n-Nate Van Haaften, 11. 87r-Aaron Reutzel.
“B” Features – Top 2 from Each Advance to “A” Feature
First “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. W20-Greg Wilson, 2. 59-Kraig Kinser, 3. 88-Tim Crawley, 4. 9p-Parker Price-Miller, 5. 27-Beau Stewart, 6. 74e-Claud Estes, 7. 17m-Austin Brown, 8. 36-Jonathan Beason, 9. 45b-J.P. Bailey, 10. 88m-Scottie McDonald, 11. 5r-Jerod Roller, 12. 42-Henry Gustavus, 13. 3n-Nate Van Haaften, 14. 8a-Wyatt Burks.
Second “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 2. 53-Jack Dover, 3. 26-Marshall Skinner, 4. 11s-Patrick Stasa, 5. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 6. 12m-Kolt Walker, 7. 27x-Andy Shouse, 8. 4pm-Whit Gastineau, 9. 21k-Ryan Kitchen, 10. 49-Shawn Dancer, 11. 12s-Adam Schmidt, 12. 17wx-Cole Wood. DNS: 87r-Aaron Reutzel, 31-Brandon Berryman.
Third “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 2j-Gary Taylor, 2. 87b-Jason Barney, 3. 1h-Kyle Hirst, 4. 39-Brad Bowden, 5. 8-Alex Sewell, 6. 17x-Josh Baughman, 7. 01-Roger Crockett, 8. X-Charlie Louden, 9. 6b-Ryan Beechler, 10. 51-Matt Ward, 11. 99-Blake Jenkins, 12. 13T-Taylor Tidmore. DNS: 5s-Tyler Smith, 12h-Jerrod Hull.
“A” Feature – Top 3 Finishers Locked into Saturday night’s $15,000 to win STN Finale.
A Feature (25 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 16-Anthony Nicholson (1), 2. 71x-Kevin Swindell (10), 3. 45x-Johnny Herrera (2), 4. 6s-Chad Kemenah (3), 5. 3g-Shane Stewart (4), 6. 82-David Gravel (6), 7. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (16), 8. 93m-Dustin Morgan (11), 9. 1m-Danny Lasoski (12), 10. 59-Kraig Kinser (18), 11. 87b-Jason Barney (20), 12. 03-Joe Wood, Jr. (5), 13. 17b-Ryan Bickett (8), 14. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr. (9), 15. 2j-Gary Taylor (17), 16. 53-Jack Dover (19), 17. 9-Paul Nienhiser (14), 18. 10-Terry Gray (7), 19. 29-Brandon Hahn (13), 20. W20-Greg Wilson (15).
Lap Leaders: Anthony Nicholson 1-2, Johnny Herrera 3, Anthony Nicholson 4-25.