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THREE FOR THE MONEY: Windham Brothers, Kelly Win Hornet’s Opening Night

VP Racing Fuel Hornets ran three thrilling Features in the first night of the Drydene World Short Track Championship

by Nick Graziano

The passion and ferocious drive of the VP Racing Fuels Hornet drivers came out every lap during the opening night of the Drydene World Short Track Championship on Friday.

Sixty-two Hornet stars, ranging from New York to Florida, took to The Dirt Track at Charlotte for three showstopping races.

The group of drivers were split into three 15-lap Features based on their qualifying laps and each race saw the drivers racing as though they were chasing a crown jewel win.

GONE WITH THE WIND – John Windham, of Lake City, FL, was the class of the field all night and put a period on that in the first VP Racing Fuels Hornet Feature of the night.

In the early stage of the day, Windham was the fastest in the first set of Hot Laps and then set Quick Time in Qualifying. That put him on the pole for the first Feature. Behind him were Payne Pickles and Eddie McGraw, who won at the World Short Track Championship last year.

However, the two previous winners had nothing for Windham. Once the Feature commenced, the Florida-native launched his #65 car ahead of the field and never looked back. Pickles, McGraw and Ryan Owens were left to fight over the runner-up spot. It belonged to Pickles until he had an issue in the closing stage of the race and fell to tenth.

Windham claimed the victory with McGraw finishing second and Tyler Capps made his way from seven to round out the podium.

“It feels good,” Windham said about becoming a World Short Track Championship winner. “We came last year and led laps and had bad luck. We came back and were able to pull it off.”

I CAN DO ANYTHING HE CAN DO – After watching his brother win the first VP Racing Fuels Hornet Feature of the night, Walker Windham, of Lake City, FL, knew the pressure was on to match that in the second Feature of the night.

To get it, he had to go through Donavan Beacham, of Shelby, NC, and Beacham did not make it easy on him. He took the early lead with Windham on his tail the entire time. The two drivers then put on a show worth the price of admission.

Both ran against the cushion of the 4/10-mile Dirt Track at Charlotte, keeping them nose to tail and pulling away from the rest of the field. However, by the halfway point, Windham began pulling moves you’d see from Kyle Larson in World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series events. He entered Turn 1 high and then cut low by Turn 2 to get a run underneath Beacham down the backstretch.

With five laps to go, the two drivers raced side by side from the backstretch to the front stretch, making slight contact before reaching Turn 1. That killed Windham’s momentum and made him lose a car length on Beacham.

However, on the final lap, with Windham closing in again, Beacham had an issue going through Turn 4 and hit the wall, handing the win to Windham. Dan Benson finished second and Willie Fowler got third.

“The car was fast,” Windham said. “I saw my brother win. So, I knew I had to try and make it two for two. I did it. I was hooking up. I didn’t want to be dirty (against Beacham); you know.”

BETTER THE SECOND TIME – In the third and final VP Racing Fuels Hornet Feature of the night, Joey Kelly became a World Short Track champion for the second year in a row. And he did it in dominant fashion by leading all 15-laps in a car he didn’t even have a week ago.

Chase Hopper tried to give Kelly a challenge in the first half of the Feature, but once Kelly got into a rhythm, he pulled ahead of the field by close to two seconds. Everyone was left to battle for second in the closing laps. That honor ended up going to Shannon Barnhill, who caught Hopper by the halfway point. Hopper had to settle for third.

For Kelly, this year’s World Short Track win holds more meaning than last year’s victory.

“Man, it is like a dream,” Kelly said about winning Friday night. “We’ve had a lot going on here lately. I’ve sold all of my race cars. We just bought this one on a whim the other day. Then we brought it up here to win. That was really awesome. My dad got Lou Gehrig’s disease, so we kind of cut back on racing and he told me to come race. This one is for him.”

UP NEXT:

The VP Racing Fuel Hornets will grace The Dirt Track at Charlotte again Saturday night for the second night of the Drydene World Short Track Championship.

You can watch all of the action live on DIRTVision.

VP RACING FUELS HORNET RESULTS:

Qualifying – 1. 65-John Windham, 19.71; 2. 777-Alan Carter, 20.075; 3. 88-Joey Kelly, 20.156; 4. O5-Payne Pickles, 20.271; 5. 72-Walker Windham, 20.314; 6. 21H-Chase Hopper, 20.323; 7. 16-Ryan Owens, 20.382; 8. 221-Donavan Beacham, 20.502; 9. X-Shannon Barnhill, 20.505; 10. 4M-Eddie McGraw, 20.535; 11. D5-Willie Fowler, 20.673; 12. 311-Jonanthan Sarratt, 20.678; 13. 21X-Marc White, 20.717; 14. 21C-Dan Benson, 20.81; 15. 4W-Daniel Wright, 20.828; 16. 117-Clay Shumake, 20.838; 17. 74-Bruce Denman, 20.839; 18. 3B-Brad McManus, 20.853; 19. 2-Tyler Capps, 20.882; 20. 41K-Kevin Saam, 20.923; 21. O4-Daniel Moody, 21.017; 22. 95-Jacob Bright, 21.024; 23. 42X-Michael Selig, 21.052; 24. 1X-Hunter Wallace, 21.147; 25. 27X-Mitchell Rex, 21.167; 26. F1-Travis Lankford, 21.258; 27. 91Z-Zack Slone, 21.266; 28. AOO-Andrew Rich, 21.299; 29. 26-Trevor Battoia, 21.313; 30. 1H-Justin Harris, 21.34; 31. C11-Cody Paige, 21.352; 32. 79-Brian Tate, 21.377; 33. 64-Mike Budka, 21.672; 34. O-Clayton Seling, 21.685; 35. T3-T.J. Hill, 21.696; 36. 23-Michael Bruner, 21.728; 37. 801-Doug Morris, 21.776; 38. 7L-Marcus Locklear, 21.838; 39. 777C-Blaze Coggins, 21.964; 40. 27G-Joe Grant, 22.068; 41. 80-Doug Winebarger, 22.231; 42. 2D-Daniel Tate, 22.326; 43. 25J-Josh Whitfield, 22.407; 44. 68-James Akers, 22.542; 45. 41-Parker Griffin, 22.622; 46. D2-Danny Tate, 22.659; 47. 13B-Brandon Collins, 22.735; 48. 91G-Michael Slone, 22.772; 49. 41JR-Michael Banks, 22.85; 50. 888-Chris Martin, 22.923; 51. 24-Tyler Fister, 23.122; 52. 18E-William Estep, 23.146; 53. B59-Billy Whitfield, 23.246; 54. 35-Kyle LeDoux, 23.258; 55. 38-Rodney Grant, 23.352; 56. 66-Ryan Waller, 23.409; 57. 49-Tim Justice, 28.453; 58. 2K-Keith Sikes, NT; 59. 5-Tyler Hopkins, NT; 60. O.5-Shawn Hayes, NT; 61. 9C-Jay Tate, NT; 62. 9-C.J. LaVair, NT; 63. 12C-Christopher Canterbury, NT; 64. 13X-Ben Messer, NT; 65. 15-Kenneth Colf, NT; 66. 21M-Mike Mellon, NT; 67. 37-Tyler Bennett, NT; 68. 42-Anthony Harris, NT; 69. 78-Steven Herring, NT; 70. 111-Lane Spangler, NT

Drydene Feature #1 (15 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer

  1. 65-John Windham [1]; 2. 4M-Eddie McGraw [4]; 3. 2-Tyler Capps [7]; 4. O-Clayton Seling [12]; 5. 117-Clay Shumake [6]; 6. AOO-Andrew Rich [10]; 7. 25J-Josh Whitfield [15]; 8. D2-Danny Tate [16]; 9. 38-Rodney Grant [19]; 10. O5-Payne Pickles [2]; 11. C11-Cody Paige [11]; 12. 18E-William Estep [18]; 13. 21X-Marc White [5]; 14. 801-Doug Morris [13]; 15. 16-Ryan Owens [3]; 16. 27X-Mitchell Rex [9]; 17. 311-Jonanthan Sarratt [25]; 18. 41JR-Michael Banks [17]; 19. 95-Jacob Bright [8]; 20. 27G-Joe Grant [14]; 21. 2K-Keith Sikes [20]; 22. 13X-Ben Messer [22]; 23. 37-Tyler Bennett [23]; 24. 111-Lane Spangler [24]

Drydene Feature #2 (15 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer

  1. 72-Walker Windham [2]; 2. 21C-Dan Benson [5]; 3. D5-Willie Fowler [4]; 4. 26-Trevor Battoia [10]; 5. F1-Travis Lankford [9]; 6. 79-Brian Tate [11]; 7. 7L-Marcus Locklear [13]; 8. T3-T.J. Hill [12]; 9. 80-Doug Winebarger [14]; 10. 888-Chris Martin [17]; 11. 221-Donavan Beacham [3]; 12. 66-Ryan Waller [19]; 13. B59-Billy Whitfield [18]; 14. 74-Bruce Denman [6]; 15. 41K-Kevin Saam [7]; 16. 42X-Michael Selig [8]; 17. 68-James Akers [15]; 18. 13B-Brandon Collins [16]; 19. 777-Alan Carter [1]; 20. 5-Tyler Hopkins [20]; 21. 9-C.J. LaVair [21]; 22. 15-Kenneth Colf [22]; 23. 42-Anthony Harris [23]

Drydene Feature #3 (15 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer

  1. 88-Joey Kelly [1]; 2. X-Shannon Barnhill [3]; 3. 21H-Chase Hopper [2]; 4. O4-Daniel Moody [7]; 5. 1X-Hunter Wallace [6]; 6. 3B-Brad McManus [4]; 7. 2D-Daniel Tate [12]; 8. 91Z-Zack Slone [9]; 9. 49-Tim Justice [19]; 10. 91G-Michael Slone [14]; 11. 35-Kyle LeDoux [16]; 12. 1H-Justin Harris [8]; 13. 64-Mike Budka [11]; 14. 23-Michael Bruner [10]; 15. 24-Tyler Fister [17]; 16. 4W-Daniel Wright [5]; 17. 777C-Blaze Coggins [13]; 18. 41-Parker Griffin [15]; 19. O.5-Shawn Hayes [18]; 20. 12C-Christopher Canterbury [21]; 21. 21M-Mike Mellon [20]; 22. 78-Steven Herring [22]