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Volunteer dirt race turns into 'Nightmare' event

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 6, 2018 at 1:13 AM

With a huge car count and one of the biggest crowds ever for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series at Volunteer Speedway, all looked set for a great night of racing. It actually turned into a “Nightmare” event.

On a terrific night of racing by all accounts, three-time Late Model national champion Jimmy Owens — nicknamed the “Newport Nightmare” — passed points leader Chris Madden for the lead with three laps to go to take the 50-lap, $10,000-to-win East Tennessee Shootout.

Madden and Owens won their respective heat races on the four-tenths-mile Bulls Gap dirt track. After a redraw of starting positions, Michael Chilton started on the pole with Madden second.

Madden and Owens had both worked their way around Chilton by lap 15, setting up their spirited battle for the win.

“That was a heck of a race there between me and Chris, and I hope the fans enjoyed it,” Owens said. “The way we’re out traveling all around the country racing, it’s always great to be able to get back home and race before the awesome fans here in East Tennessee.

“This was just great winning here tonight, and I really want to thank all of the fans for coming out.”

Georgia racing veteran Dale McDowell finished third, Kentucky driver Chilton was fourth and Illinois racer Brandon Sheppard rounded out the top five.

Jonesborough racer Jensen Ford jumped out to the lead over Heath Alvey at the start of the Crate Late Model feature and stayed out front. Ford, a Science Hill alum, got away from the pack on the final double-wide restart, while Josh Henry got around Alvey for the runner-up spot. It was the first win of the season for Ford.

Three-time track champion Tim Byrd of Johnson City finished 14th in the 24-car field.

Brad Davis of Tazewell led flag to flag to win the Modified Street feature, and Lee Merritt of Knoxville captured his fifth Classic win on the season.

Volunteer Speedway is off this Saturday before returning with a weekly racing program on Saturday, June 16.

TWIN BILL AT KINGSPORT

Kingsport Speedway’s program, which was offering twin features for the Late Model Stock division, was rained out last week.

Instead, the three-eighths-mile concrete oval will have twin Late Model features this Friday night to headline its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly program.

Johnson City’s Zeke Shell, who recently added a sponsorship from AutoZone, holds a six-point lead in the standings over defending track champion Kres VanDyke of Abingdon. Wayne Hale of Bluff City, Nik Williams of Chuckey and Joey Trent of Gray round out the top five in points. Robbie Ferguson of Jonesborough sits sixth.

Royce Peters of Kingsport leads the Mod Street points. Other points leaders are Bruce Crumbley (Pure 4), Kevin Carter (Mod 4) and Jay Swecker (Pure Street).

DER BRACKET SERIES

Rain continues to play havoc with the DER Bracket Series at Bristol Dragway with a little more than one round completed in some classes on Saturday and only two rounds completed on Sunday.

There won’t be bracket racing at Bristol Dragway this weekend in preparation for the NHRA Fitzgerald USA Thunder Valley Nationals. The DER Bracket Series is scheduled to resume June 22-24.

MOTOCROSS ACTION

The Hot Summer Nights Supercross Series is scheduled to return to action Saturday at I-81 Motorsports Park.

With this year’s abundance of wet weather, it has been a slow start to the season for the Hot Summer Nights Series.

Tickets remain on sale for the sixth annual AMA Red Bull Tennessee National at Muddy Creek Raceway on June 23. It’s the only Lucas Oil Pro Motocross National in the South.

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