After car owner Jack Roush replaced him with Matt Kenseth in the No. 6 in selected races starting May 12 at Kansas, Bayne wanted more than ever to win at Talladega. Unfortunately for him, he was victimized by a wreck that started when Erik Jones’ car got turned sideways and collected Bayne in a multicar accident that he could do nothing to avoid.
“We went into turn 1 and I saw Kyle Busch kind of get rooted up high,” Bayne said. “The third lane seemed to be the best for us. The car was on the splitter and the higher I could stay, the better off we were. I went to the top to keep my run going and coming off the corner I didn’t see what happened. But watching the replay, it looks like the 20 got turned and turned up into us.”
The pressure is on the 27-year-old Knoxville driver more than ever now that his every race is going to be measured against Kenseth’s performance. Bayne has expressed his displeasure at Roush’s decision, but the driver’s only option at this point is to simply do the best he can and hope it’s enough. However, the Roush team hasn’t shown much speed other than at the restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega, and that’s why Bayne was so upset about the wreck and missing out on a rare chance to run up front.
“It stinks. You try to manage your highs and lows, though,” Bayne said. “We will move on and go to Dover. It is frustrating because Talladega is one of the ones you know you can win at and we wanted to do that.”
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Volunteer Speedway ended its racing program at 10:48 p.m. last Saturday night.
Over the years, an often-heard complaint is how no one wanted to go to the dirt track because you’re there half the night. That isn’t the case at the Bulls Gap dirt track these days.
On the other hand, Kingsport Speedway has been blessed with great crowds and big car counts, but a problem the last two weeks has been races not starting on time. With the increased number of cars, qualifying has taken longer, meaning instead of racing starting at 8 p.m., it’s been closer to 9. Furthermore, a number of wrecks in last Friday’s preliminary races threw everything way behind schedule. The Late Model Stock race didn’t start until after midnight, which meant half the crowd left before the featured race of the evening.
My wish is that Kingsport Speedway would run more Saturday afternoon shows, but since that likely won’t happen, some other options are time limits for the undercard races or moving the Late Model feature up in the program.
Originally scheduled as the final race of the night, track officials did move up the Late Model race ahead of a second 15-lap feature for the Mod 4 division. But in a case where everything is so far behind schedule, Late Models need to be moved up even further. As the featured class, that race should never start later than 10 p.m.
Kingsport Speedway offers great racing and thrilling action. The fans I’ve talked to love the action and commend the job general manager Karen Tunnell has done in promoting the track. Fans just want to see the program move a little quicker.
Another weekly racing program is scheduled for Friday night.
COOLER HEADS PREVAIL
Fans and participants braved cool temperatures last Saturday night at Volunteer Speedway, where Tom Juhl Jr. of Rogersville edged Tony Trent to score his first-ever win in the Classic division at the four-tenths-mile dirt track.
Other winners were Newport’s Josh Henry (Crate Late Model), Maryville’s David Crabtree (Steel Head Late Model), Harrogate’s Travis Fultz (Sportsman Late Model) and Tazewell’s David Clark (Modified Street).
Another six-division program is scheduled for this Saturday night.
BREAKER, BREAKER, 1-9
For tractor-trailer enthusiasts, the Fitzgerald Peterbilt Semi Casual Truck Show visits Bristol Dragway on Saturday.
The slate features two stunt shows, at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., plus truck drag races from noon to 4 p.m.
Legendary 1970s rock band Foghat — of “Slow Ride” fame — will perform at 7:30 p.m.
HAMMER DOWN IN HAWKINS
Cherokee Raceway Park hosts its 423 Street Cars, a program designed to get racing off the streets, on Thursday and heads-up racing on Saturday.
After visiting the eighth-mile Rogersville drag strip last weekend, the IHRA Summit SuperSeries, the largest and most prestigious bracket-racing program in drag racing, returns on May 12.
The Hot Summer Nights Supercross Series also returns to action this Saturday night at I-81 Motorsports Park in Greeneville. It is the third race in the 16- round series.